Ilana in between
My name was Ilana and I lived in a small house hidden in the woods, near the swamp. My father was a wood cutter, our only friend was a cunning old man who used to tell us curious stories every night: each night a different one. He seemed to know so many things about gnomes, elves, faeries and goblins that we could've sworn with our hands in fire he had lived among them.
"Some things that seem not to fit in with our picture of reality are kept back dormant in our mind until we are able to put up with them again. A tale says that little beings' dancing circles are meant to lure you and then you forget everything and never come back."
"If I were to choose, what would be your advice? Can I trespass or should I stay the same?"
"You should stay the same. There's no boundary that I know between the realms, but even if there were one, it would be risky: a flesh and blood human can by no means become part of an ethereal realm. Besides, faeries are unhappy: human-sized and beautiful they may be, but they've got to obey strict rules and to live within rigid limits; only few gestures and attitudes are permitted to them and they don't have the right to choose or to experience."
"But their realm..."
"...is hard to endure, just like our world. You should try to come to terms with your life, Ilana."
Then there was this sparkle in his eyes whenever he talked to me. Each night he came to us in a worn out boat that rested on the swamp.
"Why don't you take me with you and show me where you live?"
"If I take you with me, then it has to be for good and you have to be my wife and bear my children." He gave me an innocent smile as if to say: "Don't mind the words of an old man." But he didn't say that. "Can you cook for a husband? Can you sweep out?"
I laughed. But then it wasn't my laugh. "You, old chap, one day I'll row to your place, wherever that is."
"Don't! I will take you there if you wish to see where I live. But you'll remain there."
" No,no,no, I'll come alone so that I can return."
"Don't come like that!"
"I will, I will! What are you afraid of? I won't drown, don't worry! If that boat carries you, it'll carry me too."
One morning I found the boat very close to our house. It was bound to a willow tree and seemed to wait. So I stepped inside carefully and began to row towards the other side of the marsh. The smell of the flames burning woke me up. It was evening. A young and beautiful man came and helped me out of the boat.
"Where am I? Who are you?"
"Are you awake? Are you asleep? Humans sleep and wake up. Now you are in between."
"...here and there, you're in between, like them. Stick to the swamp, you're no more Ilana!"
"I am Ilana!"
"You could've still been, yes, if you had listened to me and had let me bring you here as my wife. You thought for a way to trespass. Faeries are always on the threshold. The swamp is a threshold. Stick to the swamp!"
Few people come across the swamp and none of them dares to approach.
"Holy shit! That looks like a water sprite!"
"A faerie! Let's get closer!"
" Are you out of your mind, dork? Let's sod off this place! If that thing calls you by name don't look back and don't answer!"