This week’s prompt was Magic and Fairy Tales. What a surprising week it has been and again, something magical about simply sharing something there’s usually little cause to speak of. Even if we have children of our own, they more often than not have other magic of their own. (In our house, the question was – for years – “Mum, if you had a superpower, what would it be?”)
People have found this topic everything from difficult to overwhelming, not least I suspect that it’s thrown up some sense of loss of the sheer unbridled joy and optimism that uncensored belief and wonder can have. For others there were scary memories of ghosts and Tommy Knockers and for an honest few, a recognition they were more rooted in the less fantastical, no matter how much they enjoyed a good story.
Since the start of this project, I deliberately haven’t selected out any particular ‘bite’ each week because every one contributes something intimately unique, but an eleventh hour submission from Tui Snider, is a proper fairy tale romance that had me teary-eyed and honoured to share.
And do have a look at Suzanne’s post Kaleidoscope which illustrates some powerful feelings in an almost synesthesic way. There’s not a fairy in sight but I do agree, it’s magical. I welcome any response to a prompt that is memory informing us a little of who and why you are you.
(As others are also noticing on their own blogs this week, my comments seem to be muddled and I worry some are missing. I’ve picked up some entries visiting regulars’ blogs but if your bite is missing, please pipe up soon – I’ll wave my magic wand in no time!)
I had no need for fairy tale endings. I was a happy bachelorette. I only wanted to be a good aunt to my young nephews, and live simply, alone. All my belongings fit into 15 boxes I could easily carry. My life was full.
Knowing this, you courted me anyway, willing to risk a broken heart. You sent a steady stream of gifts: George Takei’s memoir, chocolates, movies, a subscription to Science News – even a handmade kaleidoscope (with a hidden love note inside!)
I tried dissuading you, listing my faults in great detail. Meanwhile, your hairdresser gave you a special haircut to make me fall in love. I thought it too short and you don’t believe in magic, but something happened anyway. We tied the knot – literally – at a Renaissance fair, with you dressed as a prince and me, a purple fairy.
And we live happily ever after!
A Dream in the House was a book that inspired me in childhood. In every generation there were twins, Ann and Jane. The Ann of the set would always disappear, taken by water. In the book the most recent Jane is determined to reclaim her sister and has to go through trials and tribulations to achieve this. I wish I had a copy of the book to read again now.
In Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, Peter lives with the fairies in the park at the expense of a life with his mother, the loss of whom he eternally regrets.
I used to tell my sister that the sparkling raindrops on the streetlamp-lit pavement at night were fairy footsteps. We searched the tree-trunks in the park for entrances to fairy homes.
I tried hard to blow doves out of a handkerchief, as I had seen a magician do.
Women’s Words writing week has been like looking through a kaleidoscope.
I look in and see so many different pieces of color.
Emerald green, cobalt blue, “yellow like the sun” as my toddler son used to say, scarlet red, a dark purple hue like the shadow of a prairie sunset, the true orange color of a sun ripened mandarin fruit. I do not see black or white, nor any shades of grey in any space, just total vibrant color.
Tiny shards and specks tumble. Chunks of color; blending, falling, rising, moving, changing places. Different permutations and combinations, all coming together in turn after turn of enchanting energy. Gorgeous, vibrant, ever changing patterns.
Captivated by the strong yet gentle, courageous women surrounding me, I am entranced.
I am fascinated by the power in their spoken words, their passionate voices.
I am grateful to be here, to be present, to have heard.
I remember reading over and over again a red, leather bound, beautifully illustrated book of classic fairy tales that my sister Peggy borrowed from our Catholic school library and never returned.
I remember finding Margaret Hamilton’s wicked witch in the 1930s version of The Wizard of Oz so real and terrifying that I had to hide under my bed when she and her flying monkeys threatened Dorothy in the castle.
I remember believing in miracles, which I took to be a kind of magic.
I remember being startled awake as a teenager, while lying on the lower of the bunk beds in my room, by the sound of a full orchestra just above my head blaring out the most sublime music I had ever heard, and not finding anything at all on the upper bunk bed.
I remember being surrounded by a bevy of psychics at a party a few years back, and being astounded that these people believed in fairies as fervently (to paraphrase my old professor of Shakespeare) as I believed in Alaska.
I remember telling my children fantastical stories of seeing my dead mother appear to me as a feather drifting down from above, even though I was by then a fervent rationalist.
I remember driving through the Rocky Mountains as a child, and believing my mother’s stories of the ghosts of the Indians waiting up on the ridges (presumably to get back at us for the crimes of our white farmer ancestors).
I remember, in the early 1990s, watching the rocking chair in my Edwardian flat in London rock without any human provocation.
I remember believing in saints and angels, but never in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.
I remember thinking that the dead were near when a wind chime sounded or a hummingbird hovered nearby.
Twink – USA
I remember scaring a ghost more than it scared me — a old, very short nun,
attempting to waken my roommate (who hadn’t slept well for months).
I remember how my cousin would make room in his bed for his Guardian Angel.
I remember meeting my mother’s parents who died decades before I was born.
I remember feeling suspended in air over a puddle broader across than I
should’ve been able to clear by myself, and four other 11 year-olds not clearing
I remember encountering four boys wanting my key to a private beach gate
warily looking at “someone” above my head and respectfully backing away.
I remember barely missing a tree in a fog-socked suburb of Los Angeles the
third time the steering wheel was yanked left away from my grip.
I remember Julia Roberts as “Tink” in “Hook”.
I remember Uncle Johnny passing quarters through our dining room table.
I remember hearing my mother moving through the house for as long as we
lived there after her death.
I remember finding things in the very places I’d already looked for them over
I believed in fairies once but I wasn’t so keen on ‘fairy tales’, finding them dark and yes, grim.
My fairies, tiny, mystical creatures, lived with their pixie friends in the woods behind my house in the English village where once I lived.
Their world was safe and peaceful; I imagined them flitting from flower to flower, bathing in dewdrops and singing so sweetly that even the hedgehogs would stop to listen.
When I walked alone in the woods, I breathed in the respite of their tranquil world as it eased the suffocation of my reality.
Yet, when I write of the past, sometimes at its darkest, I remember the little girl who searched for fairy circles and picked flowers for pressing in scrapbooks; I smile at this child, mesmerized was she by the pure magic of finding speckled blue eggs warming inside a blackbird’s nest.
This, my true magic.
I remember unicorns and flying dogs and Hobbits and dancing tin men.
I remember aliens on flying bicycles, tiny green gurus, and David Bowie,
I remember Tinkerbell, dancing brooms, and psychedelic elephants.
I remember downtrodden princesses, knights in shining armor and evil stepmothers.
I remember Easter Bunnies, workshop elves, and teeth turned into silver dollars.
I remember sly foxes, cross-dressing wolves, and billy goats gruff.
I remember talking owls, roller skating bears, and crime fighting ninja turtles.
I remember sparkling lights, beautiful gowns, and ethereal singing.
I remember that flying is possible, transformation probable, and true love always winning.
I remember believing.
Oh, to be young again, with no notion of reality’s constraints upon one’s future self.
My first aspiration, at age 4 or 5, was to be a princess. It did not matter that I was a little American girl living with a single mom in an apartment whose carpets were so threadbare they rolled up in the vacuum cleaner. I didn’t even have my own bedroom or my own bed, but I was convinced my destiny was to be royalty.
I put myself through “Princess Training”, which mostly involved walking around with a heavy book balanced on my head, and daintily serving my stuffed animals tea.
Though I never became royalty, and the thought of me being a princess is laughable, I did get some use out of that training. My posture has been an asset in acting and dance. And I have a fine appreciation of tea.
I wasn’t a girl who believed in fairys at the bottom of the garden yet I enjoyed fairy tales. My father read to me all of Aesops Fables and other tales involving fairys and magic. I remember fondly Tinkerbell from Peter Pan which my Dad also read to my brother and I as small children. I also loved the sketches illustrating our copy of the book. When older I enjoyed The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, then a modern fairy tale.
We didn’t have television until I was ten on holidays at my Grandma’s, we had permission to watch television in the late afternoon, I think to keep us out of the way and quiet whilst the adults prepared dinner. We enjoyed many of the programmes we watched but we were mesmerised by Houdini and his magic. We always returned home after our holiday practicing magic.
The girl buried in the old cemetery overgrown with gnarly sagebrush that hid toppled markers.
The black cat crouched on top of a white marker the night C. and I crept up to the cemetery with her dad’s flashlight that died when we arrived.
The Tommy Knockers who still noisily mined the shafts they had blasted from bedrock despite the fact they had died long ago beneath the granite, their bodies never recovered.
The couple who died in their car that careened over Cadillac Curve where the car now rusts.
Crazy old Mrs. Chalmers who drove her wagon to town every day the stage arrived, seeking her Englishman who never returned to her or the remote mountain mansion he built her.
Jake Marklee who was shot for his land or maybe his toll-bridge or for many other imagined reason that still haunt my imagination.
The unknown Washo elders buried in unmarked, sunken graves in a patch of forest fenced off with barbed wire so old the Jeffry pines had buried the wire deep in the bark.
The two blind Washo sisters who lived in a wikiup above town and hoarded old buttons that scattered down the rocky hillside as a century of snows came and went.
The man who gave name to Hangman’s Bridge over the turbulent East Fork of the Carson River.
The phantom buildings of Silver Mountain City that I could see if I squinted just right even though it was nothing but an empty flat of sagebrush and Jeffry pines to adult eyes.
Geoff Lepard – UK – Here Be Dragons
As a kid we didn’t do fairy tales or magic but we did do ghost stories. The Archaeologist, as older brothers are wont to do, terrified me about shadows and cupboards; I was convinced there was a spirit in the toilet cistern that screamed when I pulled the chain.
I was allowed to watch the TV adaptations of the MR James ghost stories. Frankly I was beyond sleep for days after one involving a Bishop and his chair coming alive when he sat in it. Or ‘Casting the Runes’ where a demon catches a man on the train. I’ve never liked the noise as you rush into a tunnel ever since.
Then we moved to the New Forest and stories about the ghosts that haunt the Setley Plain Gibbet or the Old Railway. I was keen Boy Scout, but hated those long night hikes when a pony could scare the bejeebers out of you.
Boy do I love ghost stories.
Sarah Brentyn – USA – The Magic of Childhood
My stuffed animals were alive. They talked and had feelings. I held birthday parties for them and made cards with markers and stickers on bits of coloring book pages. I understood them. Because I had ESP, it was easier for them to communicate with me.
Before I grew out of it, I could move things with my mind. It took a lot of concentration and made me tired. And, because of my precognition, I came home from the carnival every year with a giant panda or teddy bear for guessing which color the prize wheel would land on.
I miss the fairies in our yard, the brownies in our house, and the mermaids who swam to me when we visited the ocean. I do not miss the malevolent creatures that lurked about in corners and closets. I would deal with them now, though, if it meant having that magic again.
I remember my Mum believed in spirits and ‘you could be anything you wanted to be’.
I remember strange smells were put down to ‘visitors’.
I remember things that were missing had been ‘moved’.
I remember seeing a ghost at the bottom of my bed – an old lady in old fashioned clothes.
I remember Thumbelina, the Borrowers and the Bionic Man!
I remember the excitement when the tooth fairy left ten pence under my pillow in exchange for a tooth.
I remember Samantha in Bewitched wiggling her nose.
I remember practicing wiggling mine for hours in front of the mirror.
I remember concentrating really hard on making something disappear saying ‘abracadabra’.
I remember believing I would find my own magic one day.