Mummy the Fairy by Isla Robertson

Across the quietening school playground a laughing father pushed his little girl on the swings. “Higher Daddy! Higher!” she sang to the air as she sailed through it. They whooped and laughed, caught in their own private bubble of happiness, oblivious to their emptying surroundings. A young woman looked over to them as she waved the last few pupils goodbye. She smiled at the sight and as she recognised the little girl, a sadness tugged at her heart.

The girl was getting ready to jump off now and the man had to run round to the front to catch her. She soared straight into the sky, arms outstretched like a fairy flying to the moon. The man caught her and swung her round and round as she shrieked with glee. Her little arms around his neck she nestled into his chest and planted a big kiss on his cheeks. He wrapped her up close and started the walk for home. With a sudden squeak the girl jumped down and grabbing the man’s hand she dashed back to the school doors. The woman met them just as they reached it and let them in. “Thank-you, I’m so sorry, she’s forgotten her toy,” the man said. 
“That’s no problem at all. Do you remember where it is Lily?”
“Good girl, run along and find it. We’ll wait in my classroom.” 

The little girl skipped away down the corridor singing a little made up song as the man and the woman entered the classroom. “You must be Lily’s father?” she asked.
“Yes, I am.” His face, which had been following his daughter, spun around to answer the question. In the middle of trying to shake hands, Lily’s books tumbled out of his arms. He smiled bashfully as the woman replaced them. “Thanks...again” He fidgeted with the books. “Oh and em...Jason. I mean, I’m Jason.” The woman smiled, trying not to laugh. “I’m Lily’s teacher, Miss Dixon. Claire.”
“Oh, you’re Miss Dixon! Lily talks about you all the time. Thank you so much for being so kind to her. She’s been finding things hard recently and...” He subsided against the wall, weights pouring off his shoulders.
“She’s a lovely girl,” said Claire warmly, “and very...imaginative”. Claire paused, wavering on the edge of the point.
“Imaginative?” Jason queried, tipping her over the edge.
“Yes” she began. “In fact I’ve been hoping to speak to you at some point.”
“Is she ok?” Jason jumped up, worry in his eyes.
“Well, if I’m being honest, that is what I wanted to ask you”

Jason had turned instinctively towards the open door but at her words he turned slowly back. The sadness Claire had felt tugging at her heart in the playground was mirrored on his face. Claire waited but he did not speak so she drew out a bundle of papers from her satchel. Handing one to Jason she said, “I wonder whether you would read this? As you know we are doing favourite things as our project this term. We did favourite people in art today but this is from creative writing. I asked them all to tell me about their favourite memories. You know, trips to the seaside, Christmas, playing with their dog, that sort of thing, and then I would write it down for them,”

Jason was holding the paper, staring at the first few lines. “She was very determined” Claire said, “she got me to write it down just as she said. It seemed very important to her. I’ll...I’ll leave you to read it.” Claire withdrew to her desk and he sat, sinking into the words on the page.

*               *               *

My Favourite Memory by Lily

My favourite memory is about my Mummy. My Mummy is a fairy. No-one else gets to see her but me. Daddy says it’s because she only comes out for really, really special people like me. And she doesn’t come out in the day time in case the sun burns her wings. She comes to see me in the middle of the night when magic wakes up and we can have adventures.

Daddy and I live near the sea and at night when the magic wakes up lots of sea monsters come out and roar and fight. Sometimes they come right up to our house. I don’t like them very much because they’re scary but it’s ok now because Mummy comes at night time to look after me. She doesn’t come every night though. Daddy says it’s because she’s too busy in Fairy Kingdom but she always tells Daddy what she is doing. Last week she couldn’t come because she was with Queen Cherry Blossom. I met her once with Mummy. She was very beautiful but not as beautiful as my Mummy. Mummy had to make Queen Cherry Blossom her Buttercup soup. I wanted to make Buttercup soup too but Daddy said it was only for fairies so we had lentils instead. I don’t like lentils because they are brown and yucky but Daddy makes me eat them. He says they are good for me. I don’t think they are.

Daddy read me my favourite story last night. It’s called the Pretty Pink Fairy. I used to like Goldilocks and the Three Bears because Daddy gave me a Daddy Bear Hug at the end but now I like the fairy one better. He tucked me in and I waited for Mummy to come. It was really dark last night and it was scary because the sea monsters were roaring. The magic lands were waking up but Mummy wasn’t there yet. I didn’t like it. The growling and roaring was getting louder and louder and I was frightened. I flew up into the trees to hide. Owl let me hide under his wing and together we peeped around the tree to see.

A massive, slithery sea snake was tossing and turning in the waves. The sea was all inky black and it was bubbling and boiling like the picture of the witch’s cauldron that we drew with Miss Dixon. More and more sea monster’s were coming out. There was a big octopus the size of...of...of a mountain! It was so big it could touch the moon. Daddy told me that an octopus has one, two, three, four, five, six, seven...eight legs but this one had hundreds and hundreds. It was a Monsterpus. Owl flew away because he was scared but I was stuck on the tree. I tried to hide so that it wouldn’t see me but it did see me and a leg shot out and grabbed me and I was caught. I wriggled and wriggled and wriggled but it wouldn’t let me go. It wanted to eat me! 

Suddenly there was a big burst of pink sparkly dust and Mummy was there. She shouted at Monsterpus to let me go or else! Monsterpus said ‘NO!’ then Mummy got really cross. She shot some pink sparks out of her wand and they hit Monsterpus right in the face. It was funny. Monsterpus said ‘Ouch! Ouchy ouchy ouch!’ and then he let me go!

I fell through their air. Spinning, tumble, tumble tumble tumble. But I wasn’t scared because I bounced wheeeeee off all the clouds on the way down and at the bottom was Mummy’s big pink bouncy castle. We were safe in fairy land and Mummy was there too. Mummy gave me a big hug. I like Mummy’s hugs the best. I wanted to go on an adventure and Mummy said ‘Yes, of course we can’. She tapped my shoulders with her magic wand so I could have wings too. We flew high up into the sky. I wanted to see Queen Cherry Blossom again but Mummy said that we were going to teach those naughty sea monsters a lesson. I was really happy.

We flew over Candyfloss Mountain and Mummy let me have some. Daddy doesn’t let me have candy floss. He says it will make my teeth fall out but it didn’t. I heard the monsters roaring again and I was scared but Mummy held my hand and it was ok. 

Mummy went right up to the biggest one and shouted at him. She said he was a smelly, big bully like the boys at school and he wasn’t allowed to be mean to little girls anymore. Mummy gave me her magic wand and let me cast the spell. I pointed it straight at him and Whooosh! A stream of bubbles poured out and turned the sea pink! He didn’t like that. Then Mummy made a big cage out of seashells and put the monsters in it. Mummy said they had to stay there until they learned how to be nice. 

Mummy took me home and tucked me up into bed. She promised she would come again soon. I love my adventures with Mummy but I wish she could be here all the time. Daddy misses Mummy. He never gets to come on our adventures. I hear him crying in the morning sometimes because she’s gone away and he didn’t get to see her. I wish we could be together all the time. 

*               *              *

Jason sat very still, hunched over the paper. Claire watched silently until she saw a small tear slide down and spill onto the words. She moved gently towards him and put a hand on his shoulder. He didn’t move but his breathing slowed as she increased the comforting pressure. Eventually he turned towards her and she sat down next to him on the table, crossing her legs under her. Still looking at his daughter’s story he began to speak and his voice was low but steady. 

“My wife and I used to live in the city. We were both very busy. We hardly ever saw each other but, well she fell pregnant. I didn’t want to bring up children in a city so we moved. I thought it was going to be wonderful, a wonderful fresh start for us. I’ve always wanted children, I thought she did too. It was a dream come true. But it wasn’t. Sarah wasn’t happy. She missed the city. Missed her job, her friends, her old life. It got worse and worse until she hated it all. Hated the change. Hated Lily for being the change. Hated me for giving her Lily. I tried to make her happy but I couldn’t. She wanted to put Lily up for adoption. Wanted us to move back to the city. She asked me to choose and in the end I knew. It wasn’t even a choice. Sarah left. When Lily was still only a few months old.” He sighed deeply. 

“Lily and I moved here when I knew Sarah wasn’t coming back. My parents live just down the road and they’ve helped a lot. Sarah’s parent’s live abroad. They’re not interested in Lily. They’ve never even met her. The paperwork is all done. Sarah’s free. Lily isn’t anything to do with her anymore. Not legally and I haven’t heard from her in years.”
“You still miss her?” Claire whispered.

Jason took a long time to answer. He stared down at the last few lines of Lily’s story. Claire put her hand back on his shoulder but he wasn’t crying. He looked back up and spoke, “No. I don’t miss her. At least, not for myself. But for Lily...I would tear my heart out if it would bring Sarah back to Lily.” He paused, breathing hard. “Lily’s always sensed it you know. She knew there was always something missing. No matter what I did. But it wasn’t until she started school that she started asking questions. I think it was seeing all of the other girls being picked up by their Mums. Seeing all of those little things that only Mum’s can do. I try to get it right. I’ve read all the books but...I know it’s not the same. I’m not Mummy.” He breathed out deeply again, pushing away gathering weakness. “Lily was getting so upset. She couldn’t understand where Mummy was. I didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t think how to explain what Sarah had done so…”“So you told her that her Mummy was a fairy.” 
“I didn’t think she would take hold of it so much but she became obsessed. Suddenly she only wanted stories with fairies in them. We’ve put fairies all over her room, I painted a mural and then there’s her toy. She takes it everywhere with her and...and she…”
“And she calls it Mummy” said Claire, gently. Jason nodded.

“I didn’t want to upset her, so I just let it go on,” he continued, “It hits me every morning when I wake up. There’s so much she’s missing out on because she’s only got me. I keep thinking, maybe I was selfish to keep her, maybe she would be happier if I had let her be adopted...maybe I’m not meant to be a Dad.”
“From all that I’ve seen you are a wonderful father Jason. Lily is lucky to have you.”
“She wanted hair like Elsa’s the other day. You know? From Frozen. Well, I didn’t have a clue. It’s hard enough just getting it de-tangled. I sat up half the night on YouTube with one of her dolls trying to get the hang of it on one of those How To Hairstyles videos.” Claire laughed and Jason turned, surprised to see her encouraging smile. He relaxed a little and continued, “It was quite fun actually, the video had the Frozen soundtrack with it so we sang along as I tried to plait her up the next morning. I always have to be Ana.”
“Jason, I doubt you would find many Mum’s able to do that. I think you are a wonderful parent” she said nudging him as he blushed.“You are a good father Jason,” Claire continued, “and I know you mean the world to Lily. Here –“ She handed him another piece of paper from her satchel. This one had a drawing on it of a big brown creature and a small squiggle with blonde hair. “This is what Lily drew in art today. I asked them all to draw their favourite person.” “And she drew a bear?” Jason looked confused.

There was a rustle from under the desk by the door and a familiar mop of blonde hair emerged. “It’s a Daddy bear hug,” said the little girl. She stood shyly by the door holding a stuffed bear. In one stride Jason had crossed the room and picked her right up in his arms and held her tight. When he finally put her down he knelt beside her and looked at the bear. “What happened to Mu…”
“I decided I don’t need Fairy anymore. I left her to play with the other dolls.”
“But you liked her poppet. You took her everywhere. Are you sure you won’t miss her?”
“Bear told me that she wasn’t very nice to him.” Lily suddenly rushed up and flung her arms around his neck and whispered, “and she’s not the same as you.”

Jason wrapped his little girl up tight and let a tear fall into her soft blonde hair.
“Yes my darling”
“Can I sleep in your bed tonight in case the sea monsters come?”
“Of course you can poppet,” he said laughing.
“And can you read me Goldilocks?” He nodded, smiling. Lily smiled too and nestled back into his neck.
“Can me and you and Bear go home now?”
“Yes my darling, yes we can.”

Claire Dixon blinked back the tears prickling her eyes as she watched Lily and her Daddy and her Bear head for home. Smiling, she reached down, put a gold star on Lily’s picture and added a caption:
‘Bear hug from the best Daddy in the world’.

- The End -

© Isla Robertson 2017