Two tiny souls sit quietly on the stoop watching the afternoon go by. The little one looks up, with wonder in her eyes.
“Look!” she says, with a lilting delight filling her words. “Fairies!”
“There’s no such thing as fairies.” Says the older one without much thought. He’s busy counting a line of ants and questioning in his mind why they travel in single file so neatly.
“Yes, there is!” She’s insistent, raising her hands in the air as if she’s caught a fairy on her fingertips.
He looks up at her quizzically then rolls his eyes and goes back to his ants. As an afterthought while his mind travels to matters of ant science, he says, “It’s not fairies. It’s particles of dust that are lighter than air in a ray of sunlight.” He’s studying again, and she is lost in a world of her own making, catching fairies in the sunlight.
Down in the garden they go. He’s fighting an imaginary battle between Romans and the Star Wars Rebel Army using World War One artillery. She’s dancing around the lilies. To his frustration, she’s always in the way. But she has bigger plans. She’s searching for traces of fairy dust on ladybirds. He asks her to stay back, he needs to figure out who has the greater army – Romans or the Rebel force? The Romans are organised, but the Rebels have greater purpose. She hears a crunch. He’s stepped on something in his haste.
“You broke a fairy wing!”
“It’s not a fairy wing its a cicada wing.”
“We need to fix it!”
He looks at her and smiles kindly, knowing he’s right but not wanting to upset her.
“Fairies wings heal themselves. We’ll put it in the lily petals and they will find it.”
She feels better.
As darkness falls she notices the stars peeping out in the dusky sky.
“What are stars made of?”
“Huge balls of gas.” He replies. He’s climbing down from a tree.
“Gas doesn’t sparkle.”
“It does from far away.”
“Well I think its where angels peek down on us.”
“There’s no such thing as an angel.”
“The rain is their tears. That’s why they don’t twinkle when it’s raining.”
“No, the clouds cover it up. There’s no such thing as an angel or as heaven.”
She smiles, knowing she’s right but not wanting to upset him.
They’re getting ready for bed and she suddenly screams.
“No! You’re sitting on Mr Puzzle!”
“What?” He’s surprised, but not entirely shocked because his sister is always coming up with crazy stories.
“Mr Puzzle. You are sitting on him and he wants you to move.”
“He’s not real.” He’s a little annoyed, but he stands up anyway.
“He IS real. He has special powers that make him invisible to everyone but me.”
“Are you sure it’s not just your imagination?”
“There’s nothing wrong with imagination.”
Later I’m walking down the hall. The kids are meant to be tucked up in bed. I’m thinking to myself, worrying as parents do. I wonder if he’ll ever believe in fairy stories, wonder at stars or dream giant dreams. I wonder how much longer he’ll believe in Santa. And then I hear muffled little voices.
She’s crawled into bed with him. She’s worried about the fairy. She asks him:
“What will happen if the fairy never finds her wings? What will she do?”
“Don’t worry,” he says. “I looked out from the balcony after dinner. I checked on our lily and the wing is gone. The fairy must have found it.”
Later I go in to move her to her own bed. I go to his bedside table to turn off his light and see something glimmering. A cicada wing that he has stuck together with sticky tape.
She stirs from her big dreams as I pick her up. “The fairy found her wing mumma.”
“Yes baby, she did.”