“They may say, I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one”- John Lennon
When I was small, fairies, trolls and talking mice used to live at the bottom of our garden. The fairies were tiny creatures with gossamer wings flitting through the thick green stalks of the arum lilies, playing hide and seek in the rockery and painting the autumn leaves of the giant oak tree. Theirs was a simple existence, ordered by seasonal change, while laughter filled their hearts with joy. They existed because I believed.
I insisted that my parents purchase little concrete toadstools with open windows and doorways as houses for the fairies to live in. My mother painstakingly painted each one red with exactly six black circles on top, a bright green stem and yellow windowsills. I placed them in front of a hollowed stump, planted moss and purple flowering groundcovers. Tiny sea shell paths led to the front doors. Satisfied I waited for the fairies to move in. They did, bringing minute, sculpted chairs, beds and tables. Spider’s web curtains in pastel colors covered the windows, while silk worm blankets adorned the tiny beds. Crockery consisted of bluebells and fern leaves. I was thrilled! I ran to my parents, excitedly telling them all about moving day with the fairies. They smiled at each other and nodded, leaving me perplexed as to why their excitement never seemed to match my own.
The troll’s hair was a shocking orange color; their noses were long and pointy and their skin was dark grey and folded in lumps and clumps onto their bodies. They lived in a rabbit hole near the fish pond. Everything about them smelled musty and earthy. Mr. Noodles and his wife were rather grumpy tenants. They ceaselessly complained about the cricket’s party and the scurrying of the field mice as they gathered stores for the winter. Everything seemed to bother them. I tried my five year old best to cheer them up. The most they did was smile. I never got them to laugh. I thought anybody would be sad if they had to live in a dark burrow underground with frumpy furniture, surrounded by grey walls, grey floors, grey carpets and grey clothes.
The field mice were an inquisitive bunch and I spent many hours laughing at their antics and trying to referee sibling rivalries. Families were huge and the holes they stayed in were cramped. Tempers flared, and young male mice resorted to wrestling or throwing the odd punch. Every day we had something new and exciting to talk about. They roamed the countryside in a wide semi-circle and new discoveries were endless.
I hardly noticed as the years flew by. The day of my thirteenth birthday dawned, bringing with it the gradual loss of my childhood friends. Since that day they slowly faded, like a piece of treasured clothing bleached by washing and drying in the sun or an old photograph handled too many times. I lost them all because I entered the adult world. They were stolen by rational thinking and the gradual loss of innocence; by the reality of a harsh world and the daily stress of living in it. I now knew why my parents smiled wisely at me each time I came running with a new tale of fairies, trolls and talking mice.
I grieved for every child’s rich sense of imagination that would inevitably be shattered. I saw the grave stone each of the adults carried deep within their souls; a stone that bore the grim reality chiseled on the surface: Here lies my imagination, ripped from me as a child and forever lost, may it rest in peace.
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