This snippet begins one of my favorite stories that I have written so far.
I don’t know if other women would actually read a book about a fairy who has to go back to college, but I’ve been in love with this fairy tale ever since I first scribbled down the opening line on a yellow legal pad.
So while I’m trying to work through the behind-the-scenes for my new website on emotional health, I thought I would share the beginning of this oddball story that doesn’t really have it’s own place in the world yet. I hope you enjoy!
She saw me.
It happened on one of my first jobs as a dream painter, fresh out of Fairy University. I had chosen this particular case because there was a checkbox that the child believed in fairies. My graduation had perhaps made me a little overconfident, and I assumed that like most little girls, she was misinformed about my kind. I was looking forward to painting some corrections to the typical images of tiny, angsty, hummingbird-like creatures.
When Viera first sat up in her frilly pink bed, I assumed it was coincidence that she was looking at the spot where I was standing, so I kicked back on the window seat to take a break. I had been warned that working with young people would be obnoxious for this very reason. It takes forever to get anything done when they keep waking up.
I huffed to myself about how tedious it would be to pick up where I left off, and even more difficult to scan the painting back into her brain since it would look warped. There would be the mess of her next dream bleeding into the old one, causing combined locations like a house and a chapel as one glob of paint, people whose faces morphed into others — all disturbing images that I could not erase. A true shame for an artist like myself.
“Who are you?” Her small, sleepy voice asked. She didn’t seem afraid.
I nearly fell off the cushion. Being seen by a human was not something covered in my training. For a moment, I wondered if I might have done something wrong. But as I watched her standing there, looking into my eyes, I knew that this girl seeing a pneuma-being was a reflection of something extraordinary in her, not a mistake on my part.
I tried to think of something, anything, I had learned in school that might help me proceed. The only thing I could recall was an exercise in my last year of tutelage called, “Preparation for Interrogation: How to Handle Children’s Questions”. Though it was technically about fairy children as a part of our coursework for a teaching certification, I figured it would apply. My memories were of the tutor asking us repetitive questions, interrupting, and then asking the same questions in a high pitched scream. We only passed if we could make it to the end without yelling, uttering profanities, or begging the tutor to stop the test.
I had passed with flying color. Specifically, I had maintained my yellow aura through the end. Purple had diminished first, but she said no fairies had ever made it with their purple field illuminated anyway. This had been one of my only victories in patience while in school. I was prone to fail because of trying too hard, being too desperate to win. But this — this was now a true area of expertise for me, which put a confident smile on my face as I responded in my most eloquent manners.
“Hello, love! I am Opal, the fairy. I’m surprised that you’ve seen me, however, it is nice to officially meet you all the same.”
Viera was skeptical, I could see it on her face. This surprised me, knowing for a fact that she believed in fairies based on the test results in her case report.
“Um, you’re too big to be a fairy, Miss.”
I was a little taken aback, but recovered gracefully.
“Ah, yes, well the notion that fairies are always tiny is a persistent myth, it was started—”
“And you don’t have wings, why don’t you have wings?” The little girl’s eyebrows were crouching closer and closer together as she inspected me. “Fairies all have wings.”
Feeling a prick of annoyance, I took a deep breath.
Another incorrect notion about fairies is that we can only contain one emotion at any given time. The truth is that we are so intuitive and emotionally intelligent that we have the capacity to mix our emotions in exact proportions, much like I mix paints to create shades of color. That doesn’t mean we always choose to do so in a mature way, but simply that we do face a conscious decision when a second emotion attempts to intertwine with whatever feeling we are entertaining at the moment.
I took a deep breath, corrected my emotion, and flew nearer to her.
Viera’s eyes grew large, and I thought she would believe me now that I had flown.
“Would you like to know what fairies really are?” I asked, losing the pretentious voice along with any expectations of her being dazzled by my presence.
Her face relaxed, but she still seemed hesitant.
“Come and sit with me.”
Viera softly walked to her bedroom window. She stared wide-eyed through the rest of our conversation. As we talked, I saw she was not like most children. Her questions were not about toadstools or pixie dust. Instead she asked things of substance, about what is was like where I lived, whether it was a faraway place or on Earth.
“Miss Opal, will I see you again?” she finally asked.
Humans are normally prone to assume that if something spiritual in nature is not yet known, it is unknowable, and that’s the end of it. Sadly, this leaves spirits like me to have very boring work lives.
No one cares where we come from, or tries to see us for who we are, and it is because generation after generation does not try that it never happens. That’s why humankind assumes we spirits are all the nasty or silly things that have been told about us in stories. We are seen as emotionally unstable and limited to that small strain of power known as magic. We are sirens, witches, and demons, because bad things fit into the human paradigm more easily than the good in this penultimate age.
But Viera was clearly willing to consider our encounter as real, and that, in full circle, was why she had been able to see me in the first place — belief that something outside of her paradigm could occur.
When Viera had been exhausted of questions and her eyelids were starting to droop, I tucked her in as I had observed many human parents do. I sang a song until her first dimensional dream canvas unfolded yet again. But this time, it was late, and all I had time to do was reuse a simple painting done by her previous fairy, most likely on a similar occasion of a disrupted dream cycle. I also left behind a flower from my hair, wondering if she would able to see it once the strangeness of the evening had melted away.
When I returned to my home, there was a message to meet my superior, Tashere. Her note said she had news for me, requesting I meet her at The Vineyard.
I felt a pang of nervousness that I had overstepped, done something out of line. And Tashere loved being the first one to point out my mistakes.
She was enjoying drinks with several others as I flew in. When she saw me, she choked on the nectar in her glass and fluttered away from the group.
“I just saw the reports on your job tonight,” she began abruptly, landing in front of me in an herb garden.
“Listen, I’ve never had someone see me before. I didn’t know what to do.” I tried to explain, terrified I would be taken off children’s dream painting before I had really begun. I knew she would take any opportunity to stunt my promotion.
“Opal, you’re not in trouble,” she cut me off. “You were assigned to begin painting for her—” Tashere looked around, as if she didn’t want to be overheard “—her Book.”
I was too stunned to think. This was more than I could ever have imagined, being assigned to paint for a child’s Book so soon after beginning work. I tried to sort through the emotions popping up one after the other, but my body ached from the excitement.
Book painting is essentially merging the scenes from someone’s “destiny” as you folk call it now, with the way things actually play out in life. It is a monumental task.
Since the Books are official records, this is considered one of the most important jobs of my kind. I would now be responsible for capturing the significance of Viera’s life so that all of the light, color, and frequency would be recorded and preserved in the spirit realm.
Tashere smiled unconvincingly and started back toward the tables. “See you tomorrow, and don’t forget to sign up for classes before the end of the night, or you won’t get in for this session.”
Tashere smiled a thick, patronizing smile. “Oh honey, you have a lot more tutoring to get through before you can take the assignment on full time. Including the most extensive course on fairy history ever seen.” She seemed a little too amused by my predicament, and I understood why she had seemed almost excited for me. She was reveling in the fact that I would have to go back to school.
I sulked all the way to the Tutor’s Office. So much for my big break into a job. If only the Tutors could have seen me implementing Preparation for Interrogation, they might have passed me through some of the work on merit. I comforted myself that at least by the end, I would be one of the best educated and most prolific artists around.
Back home that night, in my fully renovated, two cave, three pond home in the cleft of one of the most popular mountainside developments on the west end of the kingdom, I thought mournfully of how school would mean a downsize from the overzealous purchase I had made the moment my new income was secured.
The second guest cave of my home was still unfurnished, and the ponds were bare with no lily pads or willow curtains. I ran my fingers over the jeweled walls of my master cave, wrestling with emotional congruence. I didn’t know anyone else with this kind of opportunity, yet here I sat wallowing in self-pity over a couple more years living with other fairies in the required dormitory housing.
My emotional palette was a mash of dull colors as I forced myself to refill the moving crates I had hardly finished unpacking.