Off to the Fairies

by gillis

When my daughter was six or seven, she began a correspondence with two fairies, Clover and Viola. These fairies were attracted to a little house she had constructed in our yard out of twigs, bark, leaves, and acorns. The house had places for the fairies to sit and eat, rest and play. It was not very structurally sound, but she figured fairies would either be handy enough to keep them up or they could use some magic if things started to go downhill quickly, as in the case of a terrible storm or a neighborhood dog who became too curious. She checked the house daily and every broken twig or moved stone showed her that it was being used regularly.

I don’t remember what started my daughter thinking about fairies, but I do remember being very excited that my daughter had this rich imaginary life that allowed her to see evidence of fairies. She was convinced some were using the little house and she wanted to find them. When she wrote a letter to “Any Fairy,” and I decided she needed to hear from some fairies, my husband was less than thrilled. He worried that she would be crushed if she discovered I was behind it. He thought it was dishonest for me to play fairy and self-indulgent to boot. He was right, but I didn’t care, I wanted my kiddo to have fairies in her life, dammit.

I kept things simple at first, some purple ink on white paper, written in a fancy, swirling print that could still be read by a first grader with no cursive experience. Then as the correspondence grew, with questions about size, hair color, etc. I drew small pictures of Clover and Viola in the margins, until eventually I was asked for some fairy dust. I bought some fancy glitter, mixed it carefully and placed into a small screw top container. I painted the lid silver and wrote my daughter’s name on top in swirly letters and slid it under her pillow with another letter.

Each time the fairies came, they left a small sprinkle of fairy dust somewhere obvious so she would know they had visited. The letters became more detailed with stories of the fairy world and stories of my daughter’s life, She asked them questions about being fairies, but also about getting along with other kids, and sticking it our through difficult things. Eventually her interest waned and the fairies were forgotten.

When she later learned, rather abruptly and publicly, about the lack of magical holiday gift bearers, she held on to fairies for a little while longer before asking me if I had been Clover, Viola, or both. I began to cry as I nodded my head. She cried too, and we held each other for a little while. She told me it was okay, and I hoped it was. I hoped it was okay that the magic in the world was what we created for one another.

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