“Another one!” Jase held a shiny blue rock in hand. “The seventh one in as many days. I have no idea what’s happening.”
“That’s a lot of stones,” Margo stated.
“You think? I tried to call the local wizard, but he says there is nothing to report.”
“No spell work?” Margo lifted a brow. “So they’re just rocks.”
“Just seven rocks — and possibly more!”
“Must be gifts, then. The solstice is soon.” A flash of recognition came over her round face. “Of course. The birds.”
“The birds?” Jase grabbed his temples. “You’ve lost me already.”
“You didn’t know?” Margo asked. She patted a stool next to her, signally a long story. “Years ago, there was a song humans sung around this time period. A Christmas Carol is what I believe they were called. Their word for bird is close to our faerie word for stone. Over the years, as different faeries wrote down the songs so we could sing them, someone mistranslated it and the mistake was never fixed. Birds became stones. Whoever is giving you gifts is acting out the Christmas Carol — but a later translation.”
“And what does that mean?”
“They want to give you a good solstice, of course! The rocks are a gift. A way to show affection.”
Jase shook his head. He could think of no one who’d treat him so kindly — yet so oddly — save for Margo, his half-sister.
“Just wait,” Margo said. “There are still five days. Maybe the answer will come.”
Jase let the stones pile up until the night was too long to bear. On the eve of the solstice, three minutes after midnight, heavy footsteps disturbed his slumber.
“You,” Jase said as he opened the door.
“Hello.” A troll named Davey took up most of the doorway. He gathered his hands together in front of his large body, but he held no last gift. “Happy Solstice.”
They stared at one another for a long time. “You were the final gift,” Jase said. “In sunlight, you turn to stone.”
With a sheepish grin, Davey nodded. “I will. But it will be pretty.”
“I’m sure it will be.” Jase considered Davey again. He’d passed him at the market, exchanged a handful of words about the weather. He was a kind troll, someone who Jase had never considered beyond a hello. Now he wanted to know so much more, beyond the mysteries of the Christmas Carol. He wanted to know Davey before he turned to stone.
“Come inside. You must be cold.”
Davey stepped over the threshold. Come morning, they both watched the sunrise with a new song in their heads and love in their hearts.
Eve Morton is a writer living in Ontario, Canada. She teaches university and college classes on media studies, academic writing, and genre literature, among other topics. Her poetry book, Karma Machine, was released in late 2020. Find more info on authormorton.wordpress.com.