It’s been a difficult week with Donald Trump becoming President-Elect of the USA. So here’s a piece of total whimsy to lighten the mood!
The wonky wand
The fairy’s name was Gwendolen, and she was dumpy and pasty-faced. Her wings, although iridescent, were lop-sided and looked clumsy despite their delicacy. And, yes, she carried a wand; the star on the end not so much twinkling as flickering like a faulty fluorescent tube. I wanted to hug her, then brush her hair, straighten her wings and fix her wand; but as she was only eight inches tall and a supernatural being, I settled for smiling in a friendly fashion.
“Oh shit!” she said. “That just about wraps up the perfect day. Wrong time of the month, wand goes wonky, lost the rest of the troop and now, stone me, an adult human spots me. Shit. And bugger!” She glared at me. “You can see me, can’t you?” she said. “If I’m hallucinating as well, I might as well top myself.”
“Yes, I’m rather afraid I can. And I wish you hadn’t said that about hallucinating, because I don’t bel….”
“Stop!” Her exclamation was so unexpectedly loud that I jumped. “That Peter Pan stuff about a fairy dying every time someone says ‘I don’t believe in fairies’ is bollocks, of course, but we don’t like it. How would you like it if I said ‘I don’t believe in humans’?”
“You just did,” I pointed out. “At least, you implied that I was a hallucination.”
“Hmmph.” She glowered morosely at me. “You’ve given me a right problem. Really I should cast a spell on you to make you forget me. Or turn you into a frog. Or something. But the wand’s bust. It could turn you into a forget-me-not, or make you lost in a fog. Or nothing.”
“Really? I mean, can you really turn people into frogs?”
“Well, we don’t unless we have to, you know.”
I wondered under what circumstances it could ever be imperative to turn someone into a frog, but the look on Gwendolen’s face discouraged me from asking the question. For all I knew a fairy might consider mild curiosity by a mortal to be ample grounds for amphibian metamorphosis.
“I’m really glad to have seen you,” I ventured. “I never saw fairies when I was a little girl.”
“Well surprise, surprise! What sort of little girl sees fairies, do you suppose?”
“Some of my friends said they did.”
“Some people will say anything. Look, are you going to keep me here all night?”
“What do you mean?”
“As long as you’re aware of me, I can’t leave. Your attention keeps me here.”
“So if I stop looking at you, you’ll vanish?”
“Like a shot.”
I looked her over carefully, the golden hair streaked and in rats’ tails, the slight pot belly, the silky blue dress with a hem that had come down at one side. I wanted to remember her clearly; after all, this was a unique experience. Then I courteously turned my back.
I was just considering turning round again when I heard an embarrassed cough.
“Definitely ‘And bugger’. I seem to be stuck.”
“How d’you mean, stuck?”
She looked pityingly at me. “Have I vanished or am I still here? I am temporally and spatially stuck, and it doesn’t appear to be your attention that’s holding me here. I really can think of better places to be stuck than the bedroom of a cheap hotel.”
“I’m staying here,” I pointed out. “By the way, your wand seems to have died completely.”
Gwendolen looked at the star. Even though it had guttered like a wind-blown candle, the glow had given it a crystalline beauty; with no light at all it looked like a particularly tawdry piece of plastic.
“Ah,” she said.
“Might that have anything to do with your inability to leave?”
Gwendolen tightened her lips and remained silent.
“I’ll take that as a yes, then. So how do you recharge a wand?”
Her eyes flicked right then left. “It’s no good,” she sighed. “If you were eight you might be able to help, but you’re old.”
“I’m forty two, you cheeky so-and-so. How old are you?”
“Oh, er, older than that.”
“I was eight hundred and thirty last birthday. Look, what I need to recharge my wand is someone who wants something really badly, really single-mindedly. Human girls are especially good at that. We offer to grant a wish. They think ‘Oh, I wish I had so-and-so!’, there’s a great surge of energy into the wand, and we use a little bit of that to grant the wish. The rest of the charge will last a month with careful use. If you humans understood properly how to harness the power of your dreams you’d be unstoppable. I don’t suppose you know any eight year old girls locally, do you?”
“You didn’t expect me to be able to see you, did you?”
“Could that mean that I might be able to wish hard enough?”
But I could see hesitation and a dawning hope on her face. She looked almost pretty as her frown receded. “We could try,” she admitted.
“Do I have to tell you what I wish for?”
“Oh no, no, no, no, no, no, no. What small girl would do that? You oldies are so crass; you think too much.”
I closed my eyes. I wished. I felt a surge of energy cascade through me, sparkling and crackling, tingling like intense pins and needles.
“Wow!” I exclaimed, and opened my eyes.
The room was empty. There may or may not have been just the faintest hint of fading sparkle by the television, and the memory of a sweet scent. I smiled, feeling more cheerful than I had for weeks. I strolled down to the bar and ordered a G and T.
“Hi! Are you Fiona? Fiona Last?”
He was tall, dark, well-dressed. His voice was resonant, melodious.
“I shall be working with you on your assignment. I’m Paul. I thought I’d drop by and introduce myself.” His smile was warm and open.
Like an echo in my inner ear, I heard a fairy voice. “Not a very original wish, but good enough. Thanks – and good luck!”