Thora was already busy chopping vegetables for the salad when Currie entered the kitchen. Maple cabinets and granite countertops glistened in the sunlight pouring through the huge windows that overlooked the gardens in back of the building. Diced red onion and mango jostled alongside thin slices of cucumbers and summer squash before being added to the mix of greens from the gardens’ fertile beds.
Currie mixed up a quick batch of crepes for the mushroom torte she planned for the first course. She and Thora worked easily with each other. “How was your vacation? Did you have a good time?”
“Two weeks goes too fast, but I love visiting Mom during our breaks.” Thora blushed slightly. “There were a few things I wanted to ask her.”
Currie stopped stirring the mushrooms in the hot sauté pan to study her friend. “Your mother’s a water sprite, isn’t she?”
“Yes, for a small river in Canada. I went to see her a few months ago, but she thought I should stop by again.”
“Is everything okay?” Currie’s mind darted to thoughts of logging camps and pollution. Was man killing the mother’s river, forcing her to find a new home?
“Everything’s fine,” Thora said, smiling. “It’s just that I’m going to have a baby soon, and my mom wants to make sure that everything’s going all right.”
“A baby?” Nothing could have stunned Currie more. She pulled the mushrooms off the heat. “How? When?”
Thora laughed. “There’s a fisherman who drops anchor a few miles off the island’s shore. When I’m traveling--like your mother, in the waves--I’ve seen him. One day, he saw me. That’s how my mother said it would be, when I found the right mortal. She said that he’d look down into the water, and he’d see my face.”
“And what did you do?” Currie asked.
“I climbed right into his boat, and we spent the rest of that day and night together.”
“Do you love him?” Currie asked.
Thora’s laughter tinkled through the room. “We sprites don’t mate for life like your kind do. We come and go, like the winds and the tide.”
“But you made a baby.”
“Yes, and he’ll be mortal, like his father. But he’ll have a deep love of the earth and everything in it. And he’ll be healthy and strong and live a blessed life.”
A pang jabbed at Currie’s heart. How wonderful it must be to cradle a newborn infant, to croon the ancient lullabies while it suckled. She sighed. “I’m happy for you.”
“You nymphs outshine any sprite.” Thora rested a hand on her shoulder. “You could make any mortal love you.”
Currie doubted that. Thora was a slip of a girl with long platinum hair--as white as sea foam--and sea green eyes. An irresistible combination. “It’s not that simple,” she said. Gaia often warned her daughters that men might be entranced by their beauty--Brie with hair as golden as sunlight and eyes as blue as the sky, Saffron with copper curls and eyes so dark they were almost black, like the poppies in the fields, and Currie herself with chestnut waves and hazel eyes like the herbs she picked--“But the earth is full of beauty, and remember how most men treat it,” their mother said. “So choose wisely.”
Thora’s lips curved into a smile. “Our way is simpler. And lots more fun.”
“Maybe, but don’t you miss the mortal you spent time with?”
Thora shrugged. “Fishermen come, and fishermen go. There’ll be more.”
“Only a man who’s worthy can father our children. Nature decides.”
Worthy. Currie wondered what type of man would prove worthy to father her child. Then she shook her head and pushed the thought away. “It won’t happen to me. I agree with Brie. It would be too painful to love a man for his lifetime and then lose him.”
Thora gave her a knowing look before returning to her salad making. “Love isn’t completely rational, or no one would ever take the plunge.”
“You’re a sprite,” Currie said. “You don’t have to worry.”
“And a good thing too.” As Thora squeezed lemon for a citrus dressing, she cast a sideways glance at Currie. “Will this change things? Will I be able to stay on the island to raise my child?”
Currie blinked. She hadn’t stopped to consider the question. She’d just assumed that Thora was a part of their lives. “I sure hope so.”
Thora ran to give her a tight hug. “Thank you. I know you can’t give the final answer, but will you talk to Brie and Saffron for me? Tell them that I hope I can stay.”
“I’ll tell them that I want you to stay.” But it would change the flow of the island. It meant that a mortal child would grow up here. A child that they’d all get attached to, and then he’d leave and eventually die. Just like her father died.
Currie turned to Thora. “When you have this baby, you know that he’ll grow up and grow old like humans do, and you’ll lose him. Doesn’t that bother you?”
“You can’t lose what you never had,” Thora said. “Sprites celebrate the joy of the experience and the good that comes from it. No one owns their children.”
Currie thought about that as she grilled the salmon for the evening meal. “The good that comes from it. . .” Lots of good came from loving her father. She’d celebrate those moments instead of mourning his loss. And she’d move forward--somehow.