Do you enjoy the podcast, but you want someone to speak to in English? After all, you’ve learned all these cool new words and phrases, and now you want to put them into practice!
Well, I’d like to recommend italki. italki is the world’s biggest online language learning website. On italki you can take classes with teachers from around the world, at a time that works for you. You get personal, one-to-one lessons from excellent teachers, and it’s much cheaper than in-person classes.
With italki, you can take lessons when you want, how you want. You can have a casual conversation class on the bus, or an exam-preparation class with lots of homework. There really is something for everyone.
If you use that link and buy a class, you’ll even get $10 for free to spend on more classes! Plus, I get a bit of money, too. Thanks!
So that’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/italki. Take your English to the next level today!
OK, let’s start the episode.
Welcome to Easy Stories in English, the podcast that will take your English from OK to Good, and from Good to Great.
I am Ariel Goodbody, your host for this show. Today’s story is for pre-intermediate learners. The name of the story is Taken by the Fairies. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Fairy. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Fairy. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
So the other day, I cut my own hair. I feel like, before coronavirus, nobody thought cutting your own hair was a good idea. I actually cut my hair for the first time in 2016, I believe? And I remember people saying, ‘Oh my God, you can’t cut your own hair! It will look so bad.’ And then when people saw my hair, and I told them I’d cut it myself, they were surprised because it looked much better than they expected.
Here’s the thing. I think the people who work in hairdresser’s and hair salons obviously don’t want us to cut our own hair, because the more people cut their own hair, the less people will go to the hairdresser. So obviously, they don’t want us to do it at home.
And sure, when you cut your own hair, or you get your mum or your girlfriend to cut your hair, it’s not going to be the same quality as a hair salon. You’re not going to get that very modern, fashionable haircut.
But to be fair, when you get those really fashionable haircuts, they look bad very quickly. Usually, after a month or two, your hair doesn’t look as good as it looked before, and then you have to go to the salon again, and it costs a lot of money, especially if you have long hair.
But of course, now with coronavirus, many people are cutting their own hair or getting family and friends to cut their hair, and I think people are realising, it’s not that hard to do a simple haircut. And I say this as someone who has very difficult hair. My hair is very annoying to cut.
So, how did I cut my hair? It was pretty simple because my hair was super super long. It was pretty much down to my waist. So I just tied it up in a ponytail.
So a ponytail is when you tie up all the hair into one long piece.
I tied it up into a ponytail and then I cut the end of the ponytail. The advantage of this is that it’s super easy and super fast. It took me, you know, ten, twenty minutes? The disadvantage is, the hair is a bit uneven, because when you put it in a ponytail, you’re putting it all together, including the front parts and the back parts.
So yes, my hair is a bit uneven. It’s not completely the same length all around. But you know what? I think it looks good, and it’s so nice to lose weight from my hair. My hair was so heavy and thick before. It took so long to brush it and wash it, and now it’s a much nicer length.
So if you want to see a picture of my new hair, you can go to EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Fairy, and why don’t you leave a comment while you’re there and tell me: have you ever cut your own hair? How did it go? Was it a disaster?
I did have one very bad experience. My mum bought some hair clippers when I was younger.
So hair clippers are an electric thing that you can use to cut short hair, right? You just choose the length you want and it goes and shaves all the hair off.
However, I had such thick hair as a child that the hair clippers got caught in my hair, they got stuck. And suddenly, zhoomp! They ripped out, they pulled out, a huge piece of hair, and I had a bald patch. I had a part of my hair where there was no hair! And of course, when you’re that young, you DON’T want a bald patch! I was about ten years old.
But my mum felt so bad that she bought me a Playstation game. So in the end, it was OK.
OK, I’ll just explain some words that are in today’s story.
A fairy is a magical creature. Fairies have wings and can fly around, and fairies can do magic. Sometimes, fairies are very small, like the size of your hand. But sometimes fairies are as big as people.
Your chest is the part of your body between your neck and your legs. You wear a shirt to cover your chest. Some people have breasts on their chest.
When it is very hot, or you do a lot of exercise, you sweat. When you sweat, water comes out of your body, and you start to smell bad. Some people sweat a lot, and others sweat less.
When you make it clear that you will definitely do something and you don’t care what happens, you can say, ‘I’ll do it whatever happens.’ Usually, you say this when you are making a promise to someone. For example, ‘Whatever happens, I’ll take you on holiday to Seychelles.’
When something makes sense, you can understand it. For example, if your bedroom is wet and then you remember that you left the window open, that makes sense. Or maybe you think someone did something strange, but then you think about their reasons for doing it, and it makes sense.
When someone whispers, they talk like this. They talk very quietly so that other people can’t hear them. It’s bad for your voice to whisper too much, but it’s useful when you want to talk to someone and you don’t want other people to hear. People whisper dramatically a lot in films and TV shows.
When you keep a promise, you do the thing that you promised to do. For example, if you promise your child that you’ll help them with homework, and then you do, you kept your promise. But if you go out and see a film instead, and they have to do their homework alone, then you didn’t keep your promise, you broke it.
Sadness means being sad. Good stories are full of sadness and happiness. When you do something sadly, you do it in a way that shows you are sad. For example, if you smile sadly, people will know that it is not a real smile.
A sword is a long, sharp weapon. We don’t use swords now but they were used in the Middle Ages, about five hundred years ago. In the TV series Game of Thrones, most of the characters fight with swords. For example, Arya Stark is very good at fighting with a sword. In Harry Potter, Harry Potter uses the Sword of Gryffindor to kill the basilisk in the second book.
When you hurt yourself, you wound yourself, that is, you have a wound on your body. If the wound is very bad, blood will come out of it and you will have to go to hospital. Wounds can take weeks or months to heal. It’s better to not get wounded at all.
If you enjoy the podcast and want more, you can support me on Patreon. For just $2 a month you can get exercises with each episode, and for $5, you get an extra story every month, as well as Elevenses with Ariel, a daily conversational podcast for intermediate learners. Last week I talked about warm fuzzy feelings, a novel called Stone Butch Blues, apologising to people you hurt, and more “Have you evers?”. You can support the show and get all the extra content at Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. That’s Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish.
A big thank-you to my new patrons: Saar de Donder and Vasily Kochin. Thank you so much. Your support really means a lot to me.
OK, so listen and enjoy!
Taken by the Fairies
Once, there was a man called Harold who was happily alone. He did not see why other men got so excited about women. He saw them as friends, and he often thought they were beautiful, but that was all. Sometimes, he thought he had made a good friend in a woman, until one day she turned around and said, ‘Oh, Harold! When are you going to ask me to marry you?!’
As the years passed, all of Harold’s friends got married, and he really was alone. He started to wonder if he’d made a mistake. Should he have married a woman, even if he didn’t really love her?
One day, he was walking through the forest when he saw a man. It was more than a man; it was the most beautiful person Harold had ever seen in his life. The man was tall and thin, with skin the colour of an ancient tree, and long hair that flowed over his shoulders. His chest was covered in sweat, like he had been running.
‘Most people don’t come this deep into the forest,’ said the strange man.
‘I’m not like most people. Will you marry me?’
The beautiful man laughed. ‘You don’t even know my name.’
‘What is your name?’
Harold sighed. ‘A wonderful name. So, Jasper, will you marry me?’
Jasper played with his hair. Harold’s breath got quicker.
‘You know,’ said Jasper. ‘Men usually get married to women.’
Harold hadn’t even thought about it, but of course, Jasper was a man.
‘I don’t care what other people think.’
Jasper laughed. He walked up to Harold and put his hands on his shoulders. Harold smelled his sweat, like sweet honey.
They looked into each other’s eyes. Jasper’s eyes were a beautiful green colour, like the leaves of the trees around them. But there was another colour there—a deep, dark red. Like blood.
Harold looked again, and Jasper’s eyes were back to normal.
‘Do you promise to protect me?’ said Jasper. ‘Whatever happens, you’ll protect me?’
Harold gulped. He had never thought of himself as a strong man, but he would do anything for Jasper.
Was that stupid? He had only just met the man. But somehow, he knew, like it was written in the stars.
‘I promise. I’ll protect you, whatever happens.’
Jasper smiled. ‘Then we have a wedding to plan.’
They got married a month later. Harold spent most of that time arguing with people who told him he couldn’t marry a man. When they saw Jasper, though, they all said, ‘Wow,’ and stopped arguing. Jasper’s beauty could convince anyone.
The wedding took place in an old castle. Jasper said that it was his, but Harold couldn’t believe it. Jasper had no family, and he didn’t like to talk about those things, so Harold kept quiet. They cleaned up the place and invited many guests, and the day of the wedding finally came.
The ceremony was beautiful, and when Harold kissed Jasper, it felt like for the first time, everything made sense. He could have never married a woman. This was the right thing for him.
But afterwards, Jasper disappeared. Everyone else was drinking and dancing, but Harold ran through the castle, looking for his husband.
Finally, he came to their bedroom. The door to the balcony was open, and Jasper stood there. Something was strange about him. His skin was white, like snow had fallen on it.
‘My love,’ said Harold.
He tried to touch Jasper, but his hand went through him.
‘What is going on?’
‘I’m sorry,’ whispered Jasper. ‘I thought I had escaped.’ His eyes filled with tears.
‘My love, please explain,’ said Harold, wishing he could touch him.
‘I am not like you,’ said Jasper, turning away. ‘I am half-fairy. My father is the King of the Fairies, and my mother was a human. I grew up in the fairy world, but I always wanted to leave. The day I met you, I had run away. I thought, if I was surrounded by humans, they would not come for me. I was wrong.’
Harold’s heart hurt. It all made sense. Jasper had always had a strange beauty, like he came from another world, and he had never spoken about his family.
‘I am not really here,’ continued Jasper. He still wouldn’t look at Harold. ‘Harold, you once made a promise to me.’
‘I promised you I would protect you, whatever happens. And I’ll keep that promise.’
Jasper looked up at him, and his bottom lip shook.
‘But promises are just words. I knew it at the time. I can’t expect you to save me. You could die, or worse. When humans are taken to the world of fairies, things do not go well for them.’
Harold bit his lip, wondering what had happened to Jasper’s mother. The beautiful man had clearly had a difficult life, and he so wanted to take away his sadness.
‘They weren’t just words to me. Living without you won’t be living.’
Jasper sighed. ‘I was worried you would say that. You are too good, Harold.’
He held up his hand, like he was going to touch his cheek, before he remembered that he could not do it.
‘I will come back here every night, although you won’t see me. You must have a cup of your tears ready on the table. That won’t be hard—I know how easily you cry. On the third night, my father and his men will ride back here with me. They want to take back the castle, and kill any humans who are here. You must be brave, my love. If you make a circle of your blood, no fairy will be able to enter. You must steal me from my father’s horse and take me into the circle. Then we will be safe, and they will disappear in the morning light.’
Jasper smiled sadly.
‘It is too much to ask, is it not?’
‘No,’ said Harold. ‘I told you: whatever happens. I’ll keep my promise.’
So over the next few nights, Harold left out a cup of tears on the table. Jasper never appeared, but in the morning, the cup was always empty.
On the third night, Harold took his father’s sword and got ready. He stood outside and made a big circle with his blood. It was hard work, but he thought about Jasper and nothing else.
He waited for hours, and finally he saw lights far away. The fairies were coming, riding horses and dogs and monsters that Harold had never seen before. On one big horse there was a huge man with dark skin, just like Jasper’s. At his side, he had a huge sword, and his eyes were as red as Harold’s blood.
The fairies could not see Harold, it seemed, so he stood and waited. As they got nearer, Harold saw Jasper on the back of his father’s horse. He was covered in cuts. Harold wanted to run out and kill his father right then, but he had to wait.
When the moment was just right, Harold ran forward. The fairies saw him and ran at him, but he was faster, and pulled Jasper off the horse. The man’s eyes opened wide, like he wasn’t expecting Harold to really be there.
But before Harold could get back to the circle, Jasper’s father had come before him, holding his great sword in his face.
‘So, you are the disgusting creature my son has decided to marry.’ He looked down at Harold’s sword and laughed. ‘What can a weak little thing like you do to me?’
‘You should be careful. You might be surprised what a weak little human can do.’
‘Hah!’ cried the fairy. ‘The only thing humans are good for is being toys. Now, shut your mouth and fight!’
And Harold did. But as much as he wanted to, he did not try to kill the fairy. He just needed to live. He let Jasper’s father push him back, and he kept jumping backwards, pulling Jasper with him. Still, the Fairy King managed to cut him several times.
‘Why aren’t you fighting back?!’ cried the fairy. ‘If you won’t fight, then die!’
He attacked quickly, and cut Harold across the chest. Harold screamed and fell back. The Fairy King raised his sword into the air, and Harold closed his eyes and whispered, ‘Jasper, I’m sorry.’
But nothing happened.
‘Where did they go?’ cried one of the fairies.
Harold opened his eyes. They were all looking around. They couldn’t see him or Jasper.
They were in the circle of blood!
‘Raaaaaargh!’ shouted Jasper’s father. He brought his sword down, and Harold closed his eyes, but the sword could not pass through the circle.
They were safe.
The huge fairy panted angrily, and Jasper shook in Harold’s arms.
‘I will get my son back,’ he shouted. ‘I will find a way!’
The rest of the night passed slowly, too slowly. The fairies walked around the circle, touched it, attacked it with swords, used magic on it. But nothing could break through.
‘We just have to make it till the morning,’ whispered Harold.
But that was looking less and less likely. The wound on Harold’s chest was more serious than he’d realised, and his blood was pouring out onto the grass. Jasper did his best to close the wound, but it wasn’t enough.
‘My love,’ said Jasper, kissing him softly. ‘Thank you.’
‘Don’t thank me,’ said Harold. ‘I didn’t keep my promise.’
‘Yes you did. You protected me as best as you could. I’ll always remember that.’
The sun was starting to rise, but it was too late. Harold felt the world disappearing around him, just like the fairies were.
But then, just before he closed his eyes, he heard something. It was a woman’s voice. Who was out here, this early in the morning?
And then everything went black.
Harold woke up in bed. He sat up and screamed in pain.
Jasper ran to his side and made him lie down.
‘You have to take it easy. Don’t move.’
‘My love, you’re alive. I’m alive. But how?’
Jasper smiled. ‘My mother. She arrived and took care of your wound. I thought she had died protecting me from my father. That was what I was told. But she escaped, Harold. She promised herself that one day she would return and save me.’
‘And instead she saved me.’
‘Us,’ said Jasper, putting a finger on his lips. ‘We are one, now. We can be together forever.’
Harold laughed, and pulled Jasper into the bed, kissing him all over.
‘Stop, stop!’ cried Jasper. ‘You’re wounded, remember?’
‘Your kisses will make me better,’ said Harold.
‘Oh, fine then,’ said Jasper, giving up. ‘But let me do the kissing so you don’t have to move so much!’
Later on, after Harold had made sure that Jasper wasn’t going to disappear again, they went downstairs and he met Jasper’s mother.
‘You understand what you’ve done, don’t you?’ she said, giving Harold a bowl of soup. ‘You’re part of the fairy world now, whatever happens. They’ll come for you again, and you’ll have to be ready to fight. Are you sure you can do that? I don’t want anybody breaking my son’s heart.’
Harold just smiled. ‘I made a promise, and I’ll keep it. We are one now. If he is wounded, I am wounded.’
‘Oh dear,’ she said, putting a hand on Harold’s shoulder. ‘You’re making an old woman cry.’
‘You don’t need to,’ said Harold. ‘I already cried enough for all of us.’
So Harold and Jasper didn’t quite live happily ever after. There were battles, dark magic and bad fairies who stood between them. But Harold protected Jasper until his last day on earth, and they never stopped loving each other.
If you enjoyed the story and want to say thank you, you can buy me a coffee on Ko-Fi. Just go to EasyStoriesInEnglish.com and click the orange button that says Buy me a coffee! Then you’ll be able to send me $3 so that I can buy a coffee, but really, I’ll probably get a bubble tea. And I’ll think of you while I drink it! Thank you for listening, and until next week.