“A Man Who Gives Happiness”: Short Story by Magda Olchawska
A long, long time ago there was a little girl called Angie who lived with her mother deep in the English countryside. Their house was small but comfortable surrounded by the green forest and a stream that ran through the woods.
Angie didn’t have any brothers or sisters, but she never felt lonely. She had lots of friends amongst the forest creatures such as elves, fairies, forest rabbits and birds. The rabbits and birds weren’t ordinary ones but unique kinds of talking rabbits and birds that can only be spotted in particular parts of the country.
Her mum didn’t approve of „her imaginary friends“ since her mum couldn’t see them or talk to them, she didn’t think they were real, but at the same time, she didn’t have much time to play with Angie so in a way she had to approve of her unorthodox friends.
Every morning when the sun was rising Angie’s mum had to leave Angie and go to the market where she sold the forest fruits and mushrooms. That was the only way the two of them had any income coming in. Besides, the fruits and mushrooms were very popular and always picked fresh the day before, mostly by the elves. Angie was too busy playing with the fairies to do it herself. In fact, it was Angie’s job to pick fresh fruits and mushrooms during the day when her mum was at the market.
When her mother wasn’t at home, Angie was always running around the forest with her friends playing the most unusual games such as hide and seek on the top of the trees or who is going to climb the tallest tree the fastest or who is going to eat the most berries.
Even though she was at the right age to go to school, her mother didn’t want to send Angie to school.
Her mother told Angie that she wasn’t going to be accepted at school because she was a bit different from the rest of the children. Angie didn’t insist on going to school; she preferred to stay in the forest with her beloved friends. Besides her mother taught her how to read and write and how to count.
However, the truth was that nobody knew that Angie existed. If people found out about Angie, they would start asking questions to which Angie’s mother couldn’t give any logical answers. People wouldn’t believe if she told them that one day Angie had just appeared at her doorstep.
Angie’s mother couldn’t have children, her husband had died many years before, and it was too late to remarry. Without hesitation, she “adopted” Angie and always thought that Angie was the most significant blessing of all.
For all those years the two of them lived happily and in harmony. Angie was a good girl most of the time and tried not to cause any trouble or at least as little as possible. Angie’s mother loved her so deeply that she couldn’t imagine life without Angie.
One day when Angie’s mother was at the market and Angie was running around the house chasing fairies a strange looking man appeared. He was short with pointy ears and a long grey beard. He didn’t say anything or ask Angie any questions. He just sat on the bench and kept observing Angie while she was playing with the fairies.
When Angie’s mother got back from the market, she was stunned to see him since they never had any visitors to their house. Besides this visitor didn’t look like anyone she had ever seen before.
Of course, Angie’s mother invited the stranger for a cup of tea and cake, and while having tea and eating cake, he told Angie’s mother the girl’s story.
It turned out that Angie was a fairy princess who had been very naughty and her father, the Great King of the Fairies, ordered her to leave the kingdom and come back when she was ready to behave like a real princess. However, the years went by, and nobody had heard from Angie. The whole kingdom was worried that there would be no one to take over after the old king died. So the massive search for Angie began but after many months there was still no signs of Angie’s whereabouts. Until one day the forest fairies started talking about this little girl who speaks their language and lives with her mother in the forest.
Without further delay the King sent him, the man who gives happiness, to find out if it was Angie and if so, to bring her back home. He was the best possible choice for the job since the man who gives happiness always gives or brings good news.
But Angie’s mother loved Angie so profoundly that she didn’t want to part with her. The man who gives happiness wasn’t allowed to take Angie away if her mother didn’t want to let her go. One of the rules in the fairy kingdom is to not do anything against somebody else’s wishes and desires.
The man who gives happiness started thinking and thinking some more and came up with an idea. He would give Angie’s mother her youth back so she could have the chance to do things differently. In exchange, she would have to let Angie go.
Angie and her mum spoke for a very long time trying to find the best solution for them, and they both decided that Angie could go if she wanted to.
Angie went back to her father, but she was a frequent visitor to her mother’s house.
The man who gives happiness did as he promised: he restored Angie’s mother’s youth so she could change everything she wanted in her life.
The mother’s new life looked entirely unlike the old one. She married the man she had always loved the most, and they had five children together and many more grandchildren when they were older.
Angie was around a lot, at first playing with the children, later on playing with the grandchildren.
The man who gives happiness still travels around the world looking for people who need him the most. It’s enough to ask for his help, and sooner or later he will appear at your door.