If you head toward the second star on your right and fly straight on till morning, you’ll come to Never Land, a magical island. When you arrive, you might hear something like the tinkling of little bells. Follow that sound and you’ll find Pixie Hollow, the secret heart of Never Land. A great old maple tree grows in Pixie Hollow, and in it live hundreds of fairies and sparrow men. Some of them can do water magic, others can fly like the wind, and still others can speak to animals. Bess is an art talent fairy. She’s the most popular art- talent fairy in Pixie Hollow! But as much as Bess loves painting, she just can’t keep up with all the demands for portraits.
“Everybody! Come to my room!” Tinker Bell flew about tearoom. In a silvery voice she called out to the fairies and sparrow men gathered around the tables. Lily and Rosetta, two garden talent fairies, looked up from their breakfast of elderberry scones.
“What’s the hurry, Tink?” asked Lily.
“Bess has just painted my portrait and you’ve got to come and see it!” Tinker Bell urged.
Rosetta and Lily looked at each other in surprise. It wasn’t every day that Bess painted a new portrait. What was the occasion? They wondered.
“Let’s go,” Rosetta said to lily. They followed Tink through the Home Tree up to her room. They could see Bess standing at the front of the room.
“Isn’t it amazing?” said Tink. And indeed it was. Bess’s painting was so lifelike, if a fairy hadn’t known better, she might have thought there were two Tinks in the room. It was a perfect portrait, as everyone could see.
“It’s lovely!” said Lily. “Bess, you’ve outdone yourself again!”
“You’re too kind. Really,” Bess said. Spreading her wings, she lifted into the air. “Thanks for coming, everyone,” she called. And with a happy wave, Bess zipped off to her studio. As soon as she reached her studio, Bess began to mix her paints. Next she brought out a gleaming cherry wood box. Bess lifted the top of the box. She looked down at the rainbow of powdered pigments inside. Of all the things in her studio, these were the one she treated like gold. “Hmm,” she mused out loud.” “Which colors should I mix first? Orange? Indigo? Hmm… What is that smell?” “Dulcie?” she said in surprise.”Is that you?” Dulcie is a cooking talent fairy. Bess opened the door. “What is it?”
“Oh, nothing,” said Dulcie sweetly. “I was just passing through the orchard and thought I’d say hi. Oh! And I thought you might like some poppy puff rolls. Fresh out of the oven!” The rich scents of butter and tarragon filled Bess’s nose. Her mouth began to water. Bess took a bite. “Mmm,” she said. “Delicious, Dulcie! If there’s anything I can do for you, just let me Know.”
“Well,” replied Dulice, “if you wanted to do a portrait of me that would be fine!”
“Okay,” Bess said. ”Why not? I just need to mix up some paints and pick out my brushes.”
And just then, a knock sounded at door. Bess opened her door to find an enormous bouquet of flowers. “Rosetta? Is that you?” Bess asked.
“Yes, it’s me,” “I brought you these,” she said. “Lily of the valley. My favorite! “Bess exclaimed.” I thought you’d like them.” Rosetta beamed. ”In fact, I thought you might enjoy painting them. Or perhaps it would be better for you if I posed with them! Bess was speechless. “What Bess is trying to say,” Dulcie called from across the room.” First fairy to come, first fairy served! But don’t worry. Bess will let you know when she’s done with my portrait. Won’t you, Bess?” “Oh, I see,” Rosetta said. But within minutes, another knock sounded at door…then another…and another! By midday, fifteen fairies had paid Bess a visit, and fourteen wanted their portraits painted. Everyone wanted a portrait just like Tink’s. Knock-knock-knock. Bess’s stomach did a back flip. Again ? For a second, she was tempted to pretend that no one was home. Slowly, Bess opened the door. ”Oh, Quill! It’s you!” Bess always felt self-conscious around Quill. Perhaps it was because Quill was so unbelievably neat, while Bess was so messy. ”You weren’t coming to ask for a portrait, too, were you?”
The art-talent fairy shook her head and smiled. “No, I just came by to see if you were ready to go to lunch. I’ve heard they’re serving mushroom tarts and buttercup soup!”
“I can’t.” She said. “Everyone is counting on me to finish the portraits as soon as I can.”
“Did you say buttercup soup?” the fairies asked. “Hang on, Quill. We’re coming with you!” Bess watched the fairies go, and she shut the door behind them. Bess picked up a piece of paper and one her best calligraphy twigs. She wrote a sign and hung it on her door: “Out to get more paint. Please come back later. Bess.”
There was one thing for sure, though. From then on, whatever Bess did, it would be her choice and hers alone.
(A Masterpiece for Bess by Lara Bergen)