There was a time in the cool cusp of spring that I completely believed that I was a fairy queen. I was little. I didn’t know that there are adults who spell it faerie queene and purchase butterfly wings at Renaissance festivals…I luckily didn’t grow up to become one of those women, although sometimes I wonder if I grew my hair long and put nothing but Lorena McKennett and Dead Can Dance on if I would be transformed for a few minutes. Into that kind of person, not a true fairy. I know they’re not real (uh-oh! Tinkerbell is starting to fade, hurry hurry, clap!)…
I remember the day clearly…recess, 2nd grade…the playground sloped up to a wooded area, probably only a grove but to me it felt like the Great Smoky Mountains…it was Knoxville, it was already warm, so it could have been April or May…spring's breeze is defeated by summer's heat early there. Myself and friends now unnamed and unknown would take up to that little hill with its mossy slope and run with the abandon of childhood, our arms outstretched, eyes only open enough to see a little in front of us, so we wouldn’t crash into a tree. If we ran quickly and wildly enough, we would become fairies…and I remember actually feeling prickly weight on my shoulder blades, the sprouting of very faint, veiny gossamer wings. It was dark enough in that small grove of hemlock and oak that I couldn’t convince myself that I was imagining things. We hopped from tree root to tree root, our tinsel voices chirping…the only words being, “Hello we’re fairies! (run run run…) Fairies, fairies!”
I recall the last day we played the fairy game…I had stopped in mid-flight and looked up at the tree canopy…the sunlight dappling through perfectly green foliage, and then POP! Something small and strange wriggled in my right eyeball. I shut my eyes and clamped my hand on my face and whimpered. I wasn’t a screaming 7 year old, but a moody one. I slowly walked over to the assistant teacher and said, “Something from above fell in my eye!” and she told me to open my eyes so she could take a look. This was difficult, as every time I moved my eyes or tried to open them the little thing wriggled more desperately. Finally, I was able to hold it open for long enough for her to pull the creature out…I remember her heavily accented voice (they had accents to me, my family was from Ohio and we didn’t talk the Knoxville way…) calling out, “Oh honnnnnnnnnney it’s just a little green caterpillar, LOOK EVERYONE!!”
And then came the thundering of 20 or so feet on the red clay of the playground…everyone clamoring to see the tiny, ¼ inch long fella that had been held prisoner in my eye. How strange it must have felt for it to be in a giant’s orb of blue and white, and black! What sort of cave was this?
After the show-and-tell hands on science lesson…recess was over. In we marched to the classroom…and my friends and I never played the fairy game again. Like all childhood games, it had played itself out. I think I replaced it with pretending I was Mary Poppins and jumping off of our lonesome, empty, rusted storage shed with a black umbrella above me.
- submitting to Scribbit's May Write Away Contest