Many people nowadays, with their text friendly shorthand, refer to the Fairy Godmother as the Fairy GM.
This is not at all a good idea. The Fairy GM is something altogether different, something other…
Consider the Fairy GM’s achievements: pumpkins as big as carriages? Mice as big as men? Lizards that walk on their hind legs? Kitchen girls dancing with princes? Such behaviour is not naturally occurring in these species.
Do not let her hear your secret sighs, your deepest wish, your heartfelt longing for she draws her power from your thwarted desires. She will strangle your dreams and smother your wishes as her briars grow strong, her toxins thrive and her tendrils bind you forever more.
The Well of the World’s End is the last free pure water source. The Fairy GM has hidden the Well, and is busy poisoning the rest of the Kingdom. She wears at her girdle the lost flower children of the F1-Hybrids, those that will never come true, and enjoys their painful efforts to grow.
She surrounds the Well with a thicket of beastly Bindweed which grown so fast that anyone trying to force their way through will be smothered by a many stranded stem and twisted high above the suffocated forest until their pale dead face smiles at the sun.
The Kingdom is dying. A land smothered by Bindweed, asphyxiated and bled dry. It needs the water from the Well of the World’s End.
There are ways past the Bindweed, past those double-headed pets of hers: the Guardian Dog with eyes bigger than an Olympic stadium full of drugged up athletes cheating to the death; and the Cat of Nine’s tails would make the Torquemada blanche. It is a long and twisted journey, and to drink from any but the Well of the World’s End will enslave you to the Fairy GM forever.
Far away a girl, a child of the ancient unmodified seed, untouched by fertiliser and glyphosate, is chosen to ask the Fairy GM for water. The Girl walked until she reached the edge of the Bindweed. There she chose a small fresh green tendril and bit hard with her sharp little teeth. As the weed started to wrap itself around her, she pulled free her bag of Nine Herbs Charm and flung the contents far and wide. The Bindweed recoiled, dropping her on the barren ground, surrounded high on all sides by a Convolvulus castle.
The Fairy GM thus summoned, looked down on the child. ‘And people call my plants ‘weeds’, she though “I’ve never seen anything more weedy than this girl’. She knew the Girl was sent for the water. She could see her dreams of saving her people. The Fairy GM drew her power from these dreams. The longer the girl hoped and wished, the more powerful the Fairy GM would become. She would keep her in the Bindweed forest for now and wring her heart dry.
The Bindweed slips and slides over its own coils, rearranging itself into a maze. The Fairy GM let the Girl go, and told her that when she reached the Well of the World’s End, she would find a vessel in which to collect the water. She was to use nothing else, and take only that which the vessel would hold without spilling.
Having spoken, she left the Girl to find her way, and did not see her unwrap an apple branch. The branch bore one small apple, one flower, and one unopened bud. This was her key – it would guide her safely on the right path – and not the way of the wrong well.
Several weeks of walking later, the Girl wrinkled her nose and recognised a new smell. It was the pure water. A gentle smell, clean and clear, like nothing she had smelt before. She was reaching the Well. The maze twisted tighter, with more paths opening before her, closing and moving as she walked towards them, then becoming still as she held her apple branch aloft.
The Fairy GM watched her through the forest. She was not surprised the Girl had ancient wisdom to help her, it would have been exceedingly foolish had she not, and would make her disappointment ever more sweet.
With one last struggle of wills against the Bindweed maze, the Girl reached a light, quiet opening. A pool reflected the sky above, and around the edge was mud and low growing soft greenery. The Girl had never seen mud, nor the sky in a hole in the ground, and was afraid. The Fairy GM smiled and grew strong.
The Girl sat down heavily on a rock and looked around her. She knew the Fairy GM was watching her, she knew her progress had been permitted. She knew she was expected to fail.
For three days and three nights, she watched the Well. Watched the water gently rippling at the muddy mossy banks, and saw small strange creatures dart across the mud for a drink. There seemed to be one dryer pathway that the larger creatures used, and it began not far from her rock. She had also seen the vessel she was to use. It was small.
Sighing, she slipped from the rock. The Fairy GM positively purred, and grew stronger.
Carefully the Girl followed the path of the creatures towards the edge of the Well. She did not sink in the mud. She did not slip. She tested the bank with her foot, and carefully reached for the vessel.
It was a sieve.
Realising the futility of her task, the Girl knelt down, weeping. Her pure tears added to the clear water below, the tears of those who have failed before. The mirrored clouds shimmered and distorted, and she rocked forward to throw herself into their depths. The Fairy GM whispered encouragement ‘let go…let go…..let go… ’
But she didn’t fall. Observing her progress was a two-headed Frog. A heavy two-headed Frog. So heavy that as it sat upon the Girl’s cloak, she was held fast to the bank.
She turned and looked the Frog in the eye, all four of them. The Frog, as is the way in Fairy Tales, told the Girl it would help. But of course, and also being the way of Fairy Tales, the Frog wanted help in return, and the Girl must promise this help when the time comes, no matter what.
The promise extracted, the Frog gave the Girl some leaves of mugwort. These she was to wrap in her hair to protect her wishes. The Fairy GM must not hear her hope. The Frog then took a mouthful of mud and hopped into the sieve. Using its cleft tongue, it unfolded the mud from its mouth and pressed it into the holes. It then repeated the action with a mouthful of moss. The Girl watched, and then moved swiftly to reach for the thick mud she had been careful not to walk in, and soon sieve was lined.
Dipping it into the Well, she lifted up the vessel filled with all the water it could hold. Not a drop fell from the sieve.
The Girl grinned, and her face shone like the sun coming out after an eclipse. The Fairy GM would see, she would know. Her dream of success glowed too bright for the mugwort to hide.
A Bindweed tsunami ripped around them. The Fairy GM’s yellow eyes bore deep into the Girl’s head, but it was too late. She had drunk from the Well, and her dreams and wishes were her own now. The Fairy GM had never been so angry. She was beside herself and losing control, she slapped the Girl as hard as she could.
The Girl, and the Two Headed Frog in her pocket, and the sieve with the water from the Well of the World’s End flew high, high above the convolvulus, and out across the Kingdom. And as they flew, the life giving clean water fell upon the parched and poisoned ground, and the old seed began to grow. Each drop of water was as much as a condensed storm and the cracked earth drank it in and spewed out fresh springs.
The lost children of the F1 Hybrids (that never come true) that the Fairy GM kept tied to her dress, began to cry, and their tears became pure rivers, and the Fairy GM’s toxins were washed away.
The Girl and the Frog watch the growth, and the rainclouds gather, listen to the sounds of life, free life, and smile. Then Frog reminds the girl of her promise, and asks her to chop off one of its heads.
This story is a retelling of The Well of the World’s End which is an Anglo–Scottish Border fairy tale, recorded in the Scottish Lowlands, collected by Joseph Jacobs in English Fairy Tales.