A pinprick of a girl, I consider myself normal for a forest fairy. My wings are relative to those of butterflies and my frame, although small, is proportional. Inching across the dappled carpet, the smoothly edged blades tickle the soft spot between my toes. Despite myself I laugh which causes all my fairy dew to condense in one spot on the ground. My chores consist of spraying the morning dew and gathering the milk weeds that my family drinks for breakfast. The thistles always puncture my tenuous fingers, but hard calluses formed a few years ago so it doesn’t hurt anymore. Since the dew won’t return until the morrow, I scurry about my other task. Tucking the stems into my pouch, I continue toward the hollow.
Laden branches hang low from the ancient willow I call home. Its majesty reaches far above the forest floor as it stretches toward the sun. Peeking through the bushes, I listen in amazement at my siblings. Finished with their chores, they lounge on the lowest branch near the front hole. They are comparing what they call dreams. Some of their ‘dreams’ are nightmarish visions while others sing of the wonderful feeling they elicit. However, I am clue-less as to what they are. You see, I have never had a dream. Mother says they are common among fairy folk. She says maturity brings them on, but I am almost three hundred and still deprived of the experience. Mother assures me they will come, in time. When I rest on my flowery bed and my furry companion blankets me, I tell myself this will be the night. Imagine my disappointment the next morning. Daily changes affect everyone but me. At least, that’s how it feels anyway.
I decided that today, I would weigh my mother with questions until the answers I seek are fulfilled. Her silver touched hair and sheer wings wave hello in the breeze. Atop her mushroom throne, she shines like a flat lake in mid afternoon. The smile she wears lights the horizon at dusk and has for a millennia. Maybe one day I too will be honored with that task. “Mother,” I said, waiting politely for acknowledgment; her head bobbled, “may I ask you a question?”
“Of coarse, Dewina, have a seat. There is always room for you my child.” Her hand bounces off the mushroom top like a child on a trampoline. It makes a comical boing.
Thrusting my shoulder blades together, my wings shoot straight back. When I release the pressure, they fall down and my feet leave the forest floor. Getting used to flying took me a half a century. Although it’s natural for fairies, guiding one’s self takes skill and lots of practice. The swishing sound they make oftentimes trick humans into thinking it’s the wind. It helps me escape the huge hands of those who can see us. Though they are few, they are dangerous, and if ever captured we would surely vanish from existence. A few thrusts and a half one later, my behind sinks into the white hassock. My long legs dangle over the edge and I wiggle my way to a comfortable position.
Mother drifts close, and her soft touch does little to to alleviate my dreaming desires. “Mother, why do fairies dream?”
With a tilt of her head, she raises a brow of curiosity. “Why do you ask, Dewina?”
“Well,” I bit my nail, “I hear my brothers and sister talk about them all the time. They seem so wondrous and I have grown. Is there something wrong with me?”
Her bluebird voice chirped a giggle. “No, dear, you are fine.”
“Then why can I not dream. What is a dream, anyway?”
“I am sure you will dream one day and then you will know the answer. Give it time.”
“But I’m three hundred. I’m left out of all the conversations. I’m just bored with the waiting. My siblings are always laughing at me behind my back and they named me, ‘dream killer’. Why am I so different?”
“You are special.” Disappointed, her pond like eyes glanced at the branch where my siblings sat. “I assure you, I will handle the name calling as well. Be unmindful of their jealousy as it too will pass.”
“But what is a dream?” I refuse to stop asking because at this rate, I may never have one.”
“Dear, there is no way to explain it so that you will understand.” The air whooshed through my lips. Knowing how much it bothered me, she snuggled me tight. “One day, you will know. Would you care to help me with breakfast? I am making your favorite, rose stew.”
Yes, Mother.” She took my hand and we flew into our hole.
A few days passed since our conversation and they still called me ‘dream killer’, even though Mother reprimanded them all. Until I have a dream, nothing will change. I give up hoping for it, I’m doomed to a dreamless life. Staring up at the knots on the ceiling, I trace the circles with my eyes. It’s a swirling trance of boredom that I face every time I rest my head on the fluffy dandelion cushion I use for a pillow. “Ah, what I wouldn’t give for just one dream.” Air pushes from my lungs and as sleep encumbers, I close my eyes.
Soft flesh meets my head as I push against the bulbous covering that hinders me. Why I am having such difficulties getting out of this place. A force pushes me hard. The light at the end of the tunnel shines like the morning star. I shiver as an unfamiliar air hits my exposed skin. The cold is cut short by a warm fuzzy thing being wrapped around me. I scream out for my mother to turn down the lights but all that escapes my lips are gurgled cries. Looking down at my hands, I notice that they have changed. No longer slender and feminine, they gained a chunky appearance. Where am I? Everything is blurry and I can’t make out anything other than shapes and shades of gray. Delicate fingers slip a weird thing around my waist. “Wah,” I tried to say Mother. “Wah.” What happened to my voice? Why does speech elude me? My legs flail as this new experience grips me with terror.
“Mommy, don’t you see the fairies?” I asked. Her blue orbs twinkled as it reflected the grass. Tiny lights flutter around the willow tree, yet she obviously doesn’t see them. A wide smile revealed her joy as she watches me chasing the invisible creatures that live in our backyard. Sitting atop her mushroom throne, the fairy queen giggles at me. Soft wings flutter, sending a coolness into the world. She tells me this is my dream and I am no longer a ‘dream killer’. What she means, I don’t know but I love our conversations. The breeze ruffles my hair; my mom walks over to scruff my head playfully. My legs wobbled from the force. It took a while for me to master the skills of this surreal world that I have been born into.
Our family spends every weekend together. We play, visit my grandparents, go to movies, and all sorts of stuff that fairies don’t. My favorite thing to do is imagine that I’m a fairy flying around the gigantic willow. Zigging and zagging around the trunk, my feet barely touch the ground. Somehow though, I vaguely remember what it was like. With each passing year, the memory fades but for now, I’m content. This life isn’t so bad and it’s quite an interesting place. When I skin my knee, I find comfort in my mommy’s arms. She combs my hair, buys me toys, and fine clothing which she says is a necessary evil of our society. I prefer running around naked though; there is nothing to be ashamed of and since I am a child, I can get away with it. Mommy says I will begin my first day at school. I await it with nervous anticipation.
“This is the last time we will talk, child,” the fairy queen informed me.
“Well, dear, your sight will change. You have grown wonderfully and I am very proud of you. Remember though, I will see you again and I am always with you, even if you can not see me.”
“I don’t want to loose sight of you. We have so much fun and I can not imagine life without you to play with.”
“I am sorry, child. This is the way dreams work.”
As she tells me good-bye, she waves. That was the last time I saw her or any of them for that matter. Their absence in my willow tree saddens me, but soon I will forget them all together. The little lights no longer grace the bows of its thick branches or the field of flowers beneath. Days pass quickly without their laughter.
I move away to college today. Sitting on the back porch, I absorb my surroundings knowing I would not lay eyes on it for some time. The gentle rocking motion of my mother’s chair does little to calm me. It’s a very big day for me. An adult world expects me to behave in a proper manner; I hope I am ready.
A wrinkled hand rests with reluctance on my shoulder. She ages quickly as we all do and I wonder how many more years we have left. “Mom, I will miss you so much. I wanted to attend the local college but this is an opportunity I can’t pass up. I really want to make this world a better place.”
“You will make a terrific doctor, Diane. Have faith in yourself. The only advice I can give you is to always shoot for the stars and never loose sight of what’s important.”
Bending over, she shelters me to retain that spark of childhood happiness that she will miss. Gray streaks her long brown hair. Gravity pushes down on her fragile frame. Time takes its toll on all who pass. No one can escape the ravishes of time. We all grow old and eventually die. However, I pray she has many years left. Mom has been my driving force. She never allows me to fail in what ever I do and I will make her proud.
My mother was buried beside my father yesterday . Thankfully, it was a peaceful death. I thought she would follow him to the grave but I didn’t expect it to happen so suddenly. They both lived to see three grandchildren born and one graduate high school with honors. I went on to be a pediatrician. This back porch is lonesome without Mom. The floors screech, the roof is falling down, but I don’t have the heart to sell it. My youngest daughter is running around the yard just like I did when I was young. Here she comes now. “Mommy, mommy, look at the fairies!” She points to the old willow. “See how much fun they are having? Can we stay?”
“Yes, dear, we can. How would you like to live here?” I nodded though I don’t see any fairies.
“Can we really?” A luminous happiness dances in her eyes at my reply. The old tire swing sways back and forth in the whipping wind that seems to have come from nowhere. I miss this old house and I’m glad my husband is willing to move. It’s a small town but it is filled with good-hearted people. The people inside the house are calling me; I don’t want to get up yet. Lily is having so much fun chasing whatever it is she sees. Ah, to see through the eyes of a child again. Life gets treacherous as we grow old and closer to death. I don’t fear it per say, but no one looks forward to dying, not even the bravest of souls.
Lily, Sherry, and Michael are all here with me. The pain subsides as the morphine dribbles into my collapsing veins. I can hear the doctor saying it won’t be long now. I lived to see my own grandchildren born and grow into teenagers. There is nothing more in life I could have asked for other than what I have been given. Leaving this life is what I must do. A younger version of my mother stands beyond the confines of an earthly shell. Her hand reaches out to me, it calls me to join my ancestors. The darkness is serene as is the light at the end of the tunnel. An old world remains in the wake of death. I force my eyes open one last time to look upon their faces. They have the same sad eyes I had when my mother passed. Lily’s blond hair falls in wisps around her oval features. Sherry still looks like a cherry cordial with that flaming red hair. Michael grows more like his father every day. I know I will see them again. My eyes give in to gravity.
There are voices in the background. “Mom, we love you.” Seeing him lifts my spirit above. Below me, the shell I once inhabited loses its last breath. A tugging force drags me through the tunnel once more.
Falling out of bed, a pain shot through me like a lightning bolt as my wings hit the floor first. When I roll over, the fur around my squirrel friend’s eyes puffs with curiosity. His cold nose nudges me into an awakened state. My feet find flight as I rush to my mother’s throne. Was that a dream? It seemed so real. I could feel everything. Surprisingly, the human death was not what I thought it would be. The pain was there but the ardor of love surrounded me which did not make it so scary.
Butterfly wings move me faster. “Mother, I had a dream! I had a dream!” Her gaze raised to greet me with a tenderness I have not experienced since childhood. Now it became as clear as a freshwater spring. Flopping down beside her, I grabbed her tight in my grasp. I’m so happy to hold her that I don’t want to let go, ever.
“So, child, you have dreamed. Was it all you anticipated?” The soft words kiss my heart with content.
“Oh, Mother it was astounding. I dreamed of a extraordinary realm where I lived and grew. There were so many exciting things to see.”
“Do you understand what it means to dream? It appears that you still harbor a question.”
My mother was always this perceptive. I didn’t want to ask, but I had to hear it. “I still do not understand why we have to dream. What is the reasoning behind it? Why does the creator make us dream? Why do fairies dream?”
Frothy laughter tickled my spirit. Her brows softened, her gelatin orbs reflected the stars, her cheeks inflated, and she said, “It is right before you child.” A lock of hair fell in her face as she tossled her head.
“I was a real human?” I didn’t quite view it that way before, but instant realization almost slapped me off the mushroom.
“Yes, dear. Fairies dream so humans can live.”
Written in 2002