At night we curl up in bed, heads upon a shared pillow, my face a breath from her cheek. She dances her toes across her bedroom wall and tells me about fairies.
Earlier that day she said, “pretend I’m a fairy.”
“We don’t need to pretend,” I replied. “You are a fairy. Have I never told you the story of how I found you?”
She hesitates, considers this possibility, then smiles to let me know she’s in on the joke. But that pause was long enough to remind me that she still believes there is magic within her.
“When daddy and I decided we wanted to have a baby, we went for a walk and on the way we found some beautiful flowers. I picked the prettiest one to bring home and when I put it in some water the blooms opened up and there you were. I tucked you safely in my tummy and you grew until you were ready to be born.”
She thinks about this before asking, “But if I’m a fairy, how come I don’t have wings?”
“Fairies don’t get their wings until they’re 16.” I improvise. She seems happy with this answer.
Now we lay side by side, her body the mirror image of mine, knees tucked up and touching one another’s. The low hum of our neighbours’ conversation and the glow of late summer sunset filter in through her window. She tells me what she knows about fairies. I listen and I see how, for her, the world still glimmers with the lustre of magic.
I was older than I care to admit when I finally gave up hope that my toys came to life at night. It felt like the first shedding of my childhood skin, the loss of belief in magic. No winter visitor filling stockings, no winged sprite exchanging coins for teeth, no hint of emotion behind the eyes of my beloved stuffed bunny. I may have been a slightly melodramatic child, but to concede that magic wasn’t real felt like betrayal.
But I see it so clearly again now. It’s there. It always has been. I just get to see it now through the eyes of a fairy.
And when she outgrows the excitement of fairies, and forgets to believe in magic, I’ll remember for her until she sees it again.