Happy Easter, everyone. I hope you are all staying safe and healthy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
I came up with this story in my Shakespeare class in Fall 2019. We'd gone over A Midsummer Night's Dream and I was inspired to write from the POV of the changeling boy whom Titania and Oberon were fighting over, mostly because we never see or hear from him. All we know about him was that he's Indian, his mother was a votress of Titania's who died in childbirth with him, and very young, although I remain unsure just how young. For this piece, I imagined him being old enough to walk and talk, at least. And because of his Indian heritage, I took a bit inspiration from Hindu mythology, namely the goddess Lakshmi and the lotus flower the symbolizes her, and merged it with the more Eurocentric world of the play.
He didn't have a scene in the play, so I opted to give him one here.
"Parminder," a woman cooed as he meandered through the bushes. It was a voice he was familiar with, but only in his dreams. "Parminder." The leaves and branches were too soft to prick him and the stars and moon provided enough light through the trees.
He finally reached the bank of the pond. In the middle of the pond, the woman beckoning him was nestled on a lotus the size of a hammock. Like him, her long hair was black and her skin the same color as the Faerie Queen's caramel brew. Unlike him, however, her eyes were an iridescent blue while his were an opaque brown.
Parminder waded through the indigo water towards his mother, ripples trailing behind him and beneath the lily pads when his hands touched the petals. She smiled as she leaned down, caressed his cheeks, and kissed him delicately on his forehead. The tips of her fingers stroked down his arms until she was grasping his hands, and then she gently maneuvered him onto the pad, water dripping from his knees and toes, onto her lap…
An incoming parade of footsteps seeped through Parminder's slumber. When he opened his eyes, a colony of mushrooms met his sight. Fireflies and dragonflies were flitting about the night air. The sack he'd been trying to drag across the meadow had rolled over and mushrooms had fallen out. The grass he'd chosen for a bed left imprints on his skin. He looked for where the footsteps were coming from, and recognized the silhouettes of the Faerie Queen Titania and her train making their way through the trees. Grabbing the sack and forsaking the fallen mushrooms, he heaved his way in their direction. He had to meet them on their path, before they got away.
Perhaps sensing his presence, the Queen's pace slowed and her companions followed suit, stopping completely by the time Parminder reached them. Although thrilled at the sight of his guardian, sleepiness still clung to him and he put his forehead on her leg. His grip on the sack of mushrooms slackened.
"I'm sorry," the Queen murmured as she stroked his hair, "did I wake you, my little owlet?" The way his eyes drooped drowsily was enough indication and she scooped him up in her arms, leaving the sack on the ground. "You've been collecting mushrooms again? How many did you eat? Open your mouth, let me smell you." He obediently parted his lips and breathed into her face. Appeased, she said, "All right, now I know you didn't eat any." She turned to the fairies surrounding her and announced, "Change of plans: We'll make our way to Lakshmi's Lagoon. Anemone, take this sack, these will be made into a stew for tomorrow."
"Yes, milady," Anemone responded dutifully.
Parminder rested his head on the Queen's shoulder as they strolled through the forest until they reached the lagoon. She placed him on a hammock woven from cobwebs and branches, overlooking the water and the stepping stones jutting out from it. The Queen peered down at him, wistful, before she began crooning, "Philomel, with melody / Sing in our sweet lullaby," the rest of the train then softly joined in, "Lulla lulla lullaby lulla lulla lullaby / Never harm, nor spell nor charm / Come, our squire's dreaming eye / So good night, with lullaby."
Soothed, Parminder fell asleep to the Queen's lullaby. They departed from the lagoon, where Titania and her beloved votaress Lakshmi had spent so much time together, to face the Faerie King Oberon's court.
Upon their departure and Parminder's bedtime, a pink and white lotus surfaced by the bank where he slept.
"Parminder," a raspy voice pierced through his repose, "Parminder."
When he tried to pry his eyes open, the sun was peeking its way on the horizon, reds and yellows merging with blue. Someone hovered above his hammock, waiting for him to rouse.
"The king is waiting for you." It was the voice of Chrysanthemum, one of the Faerie King's underlings. Parminder never liked either of them, given how displeased the Queen always was around them.
"I don't want to," Parminder protested.
"I'm afraid you have no choice," Chrysanthemum replied, extending a hand to the boy.
Reluctantly, Parminder followed Chrysanthemum to King Oberon's quarters.
"Parminder, my boy," Oberon greeted him as soon as he knelt on the mossy rock in front of him. Smug triumph was etched on the Faerie King's face. "I am very pleased that you've been brought here. You have earned the privilege to be one of my squires."
Through a far off copse of trees, Parminder glimpsed the form of the Queen and her entourage, and began to make his way to them.
Grabbing the boy's shoulder, Oberon declared, "She gave you to me, squire. You belong to me, now."
It's not as long as I wanted it to be, and I realize that there's no Shakespearean dialogue, but I did get some good feedback from the professor and my classmates. And just to avoid confusion, while Parminder's mother is named Lakshmi, she's not meant to be the actual goddess, just sharing the same name as her. If you care to, let me know what you think of this.
Have a good one.