Sideways into the light

by Anna

She lived 40 years without ever seeing a fairy, so when one showed up at her weekly office meeting, it was a surprise. At first, Maggie thought the creature was an optical illusion. Nothing more than cobwebs and dust. With the sunlight piercing the parted blinds, a collection of dust looked like a little creature. Also, her eyes were tired. There was a logical explanation for what she was seeing. Then it moved. She saw the outline of the fairy more clearly. Its body held countless specks of light. Maybe it was made of stardust, she thought, forgetting for a moment that it wasn’t real. Then it did a little pirouette and it looked more solid. There was something like skin on the glowing creature. It did look like a fairy.

Maggie was seated at the head of the long faux mahogany table. The fairy was in the corner at the opposite end of the room. She scanned the faces of everyone present. No one was looking in that direction but her. Was the creature visible only to her because of her vantage point? Was she the only one who could see it because she was quietly losing her mind? She wasn’t sure what was happening, but she wanted it to stop.

When she returned her attention to the meeting, she could hear one of her subordinates droning on about his department’s minor achievements. When he finished, she decided to end the meeting early. No one would object to forgoing their own presentations. It was Friday afternoon, everyone was just watching the clock anyway.

So, Maggie declared that everyone deserved a reward for their accomplishments. The office would be closing early. She reasoned, even if it was only 12:30 in the afternoon, no one was going to get anything done after lunch anyway. Her announcement transformed her co-workers. Their inner lights suddenly shone through their placid faces. She laughed to herself. All week long they looked like zombies. At the end of the work week, they came back to life.

When she went to her office to pack up her briefcase, Maggie was surprised the creature was sitting in one of her guest chairs. Neither of them spoke. She debated between looking at the fairy and Googling what it meant to see a fairy. Was she experiencing a fairy psychosis? Did she need to put in a fresh pair of contact lenses? Hoping that the aberration would simply vanish, she turned off the light and listened to her heels rhythmically click as she walked to the garage and her car.

The beep beep of her unlocking car. The metallic sound of the car door closing. The hum of the car engine. These normal sounds reassured that maybe she wasn’t losing her mind after all. She probably just needed to get more sleep.

Maggie locked the seat belt around her and took a deep breath. The car’s air was still laced with the perfume she wore the previous night. It was her fourth bad date of the month. That was her quota. As she was reversing out of the assigned parking spot, she caught sight of the fairy in the backseat. She was upset it was still following her and upset it wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. As she left the garage, she worried she might get into an accident. Her grandmother told her that fairies could be mischievous. She focused all her attention on the road and ignored the fairy in the back seat.

When Maggie got home, she parked her car in the driveway instead of the garage connected to her house. She wanted to see the fairy in the light. When she looked back, it wasn’t in the car. It wasn’t walking behind her. She was relieved.

When she got inside, she placed her bags on the entryway table and walked into the living room to take her shoes off. The fairy was sitting in her favorite armchair. She sat down on the sofa and wondered how she could make sense of her hallucination. She rubbed her eyes. When she opened them, the glowing creature was still there. Since they were alone, she decided to take a direct approach.

“What are you doing here? Why are you following me?”

“I am always around you. Today I decided to let you see me. I thought it was time we met.”

“I’m imagining you. Now I’m talking to you — and you’re talking back. I must be losing my mind.”

“No, your mind is fine. I am as real as you are. Isn’t that why you spoke to me?”

“What are you?”

“Maggie, you know what I am. You know a fairy when you see one. You are no more imagining me than I’m imagining you.”

“No. I’m sure I’m losing my mind.”

“Ah, Maggie, your mind has been lost for so long, you can’t recognize the moment when it’s returned to you.”

“How do you know my name?”

“Why wouldn’t I know it? I’m in your home.”

“I don’t know your name.”

“I’m Ve.”

“Ve, why are you here?

“I told you, I’m often around you. I am either here or there.”

“Where’s there?”

“The land just to the side of this one.”

“Just to the side of this one?” Maggie shook her head. She reasoned it was just a dream, so she’d continue playing along until the morning.

“Why did you leave that world to come here?”

“To see you, Maggie.”

“Look, I don’t believe any of this is really happening. I’m ready to have a glass of wine, take a sleeping pill and go to bed early. When I wake up, I don’t ever want to see you again. I want my sanity back. You have to go away.”

“Let me make you see more than you can now. Maybe then you’ll believe this is real.”

Ve blew on her open palm and sparkling specks of light filled the room. Greenery arose everywhere. The furniture became flower bushes. The rug and the floors turned into a carpet of lush green grass full of wildflowers. The whole room was transformed into a garden. There was a beam of bright light in the corner. It was angled like it was bent. She’d never seen light look like that before.

“There! Do you see now?”

“I see more hallucinations.”

“You are a tough one. What can I do to make you believe?”

“You can’t make me believe in you or in any of this. I’m dreaming. I’m hallucinating. I’m going mad. But I’m going to ignore you now and go pour myself some wine.”

Just as she got up, Maggie found herself floating. Her feet were two feet above the ground.

“There now. I did that. It’s real. Can you feel it now?”

“Put me down. Put everything back the way it was. All of this is really unnerving, it’s cruel to play with me like this.”

“Okay, Miss Maggie, if you’re gonna keep clinging to your world, I’ll put everything back.” Ve raised her hand and moved it from left to right wiping away the garden and the light until it was all gone.

“That’s better. Will you go now?”

“I can’t do that. I’m here on a mission. I have to convince you.”

“Why? Convince me of what?”

“You’ll see. Do this for me, Maggie, close your eyes and think of a place you love. Will you do that for me?”

“If I do, what will happen? Will you go away?”

“Humor me and do it. I’ll leave soon if that’s what you really want.”

Maggie closed her eyes and thought of the forest near her grandmother’s home. Each spring she’d bring Mae there. They’d walk through the forest as the sun rose. The forest floor was covered in bluebells. It was magical. Some days there’d be a little mist floating through like fallen clouds. The air there was clean. It filled her lungs with a sweetness she could perceive but couldn’t describe.

“Are you thinking of a place you love Maggie?”


“Ok, open your eyes now.”

Maggie opened her eyes, and she was back in the forest with the sunbeams peering through the treetops. The mist rolling away. The bluebells carpeting the floor. But Mae wasn’t holding her hand. She was still gone. Still dead. She began crying. Soon the crying turned into sobs and she couldn’t stop.

Maggie looked over and saw Ve looking at her with compassion in her eyes which only made her sob more. She got angry, thinking Ve should have come to play with Mae. Not with her. Maybe if she had come and played with Mae, her daughter would still be alive.

“So was it your mission to make me sob? I used to go to that forest with my daughter Maeve. But she died two years ago.”

“Tell me about her.”

“We called her Mae. Her father called us his Maggie Mae. She was a beautiful little girl. Full of wonder. Mae loved it when we took her on trips. Every year we’d travel to Ireland to visit my grandmother. She loved going there, but she wanted to go other places too. She’d get books from the library. Then she’d ask to go to places like Seville and Nice. A few days later, she asked to go to Burma and Bhutan.”

“What happened to her?”

“She died in her sleep one night. She was only eight years old. The police were suspicious of us at first. They were cruel, actually. They thought one or both of us killed Mae. But eventually, it was ruled a natural death. They said her heart stopped beating as she slept.”

“What happened to her father? Why isn’t he here with you?”

Six months after Mae died, he left me. He went on to divorce me and marry a younger, happier woman. Now they have twins.”

“So you are all alone here?”

“Yes. Just me and this house full of sadness. My only break from my pain is my job. At work, I can come back to life for a few hours. I can forget my heartache.”

“Maggie, would you like to feel happy again?”

“I’m not sure that’s possible.”

“It is. Okay, this will be difficult. You don’t believe in me or all that I’m showing you. If you can trust me for a moment, I can make you happy again.”

“You know, you should have come and played with my daughter. Maybe you could have kept her awake. Maybe she’d still be alive.”

“Maybe, maybe not. Listen, this is a one time deal. If you want to be happy again, you can walk through that light with me.” Ve pointed to the corner and the light reappeared.

“That sideways beam of light? It looks all wrong. Light doesn’t usually bend like that.”

“Well, I don’t know about that. But if you want to feel happy again, you can follow me through the light. You walk sideways into it and enter a better world.”

“What’s on the other side of the light?”

“It’s a land called Tir-Na Nog.”

“My grandmother talked about Tir-Na Nog.”

“You can go there with me. You can go see the land your grandmother told you about, or you can stay here and cry. If you decided to stay, I won’t trouble you again Maggie. I can see how much I have upset you. I was sent to give you the chance to be happy for eternity.”

Maggie’s head was spinning again. There was something so real about this creature after she mentioned Tir-Na Nog. She still wanted some wine. She wanted to think. But she sensed there was no time for that.

“There’s a little time for you to think Maggie. Yes, I can hear your thoughts. It’s okay. You don’t need the wine.”

“So, I can stay here and have my old life back — “

“Or you can come with me and be happy for all eternity.”

“What will happen if I walk into the light?”

“When you slip through the light, your body will stay behind and you’ll be a fairy just like me.”

“So, I will die?”

“No, Maggie. There is no death. There are just different dimensions. You will discard your body, that’s all. You’ll travel to Tir-Na Nog and then you’ll be a happy fairy for all eternity. If you stay here, after some years you will die. Then you will be reborn and be someone else. That will repeat for all eternity.”

“But not if I come with you?”

“If you come with me, there will be none of the sorrow you feel here.”

Maggie felt her eyes water again. Two years of crying every morning and every night had worn her out. But if she stopped being sad, what would happen to Maeve? If no one remembered her, it would be as if she never lived. Could she let go of her daughter and be happy? Her head was awash with these thoughts when she heard Ve speak again.

“Maggie, your daughter wants you to be happy. She can’t bear to hear you cry every day.”

“She can hear me? How do you know?”

“I just know things, Maggie. I cannot tell you how I know. I don’t have the answers you want right now. I just know your tears are making her sad.”

“Wasn’t she reborn? Hasn’t she forgotten me now that she’s living a new life?”

“She’s not living the kind of life you imagine Maggie.”

“How do you know?”

“I just do. Come take my hand, I’ll show you how to enter the light.”

“But my body, my home. Shouldn’t I at least pull out my will for my sister to find?”

“None of that matters. Your sister will find everything. She’ll miss you. But she’ll imagine you have gone off to be with your daughter. That will make her happy.”

Maggie was confused, but she took Ve’s hand. It was tiny and warm. Instantly she felt a light-filled wave of happiness wash over her.

“Okay, I’ll go with you,” Maggie said, giving up all her resistance.

They walked over to the light. Ve motioned to her to walk sideways and bend her head and her knees down so she’d be small enough to pass through. As she did, Maggie felt her happiness grow. The light became even brighter. She closed her eyes and took her sideways steps. She could feel a kind of gravity pulling her in. When she opened her eyes, they were standing three feet from a red wooden door attached to a tall stone wall.

“Now, Maggie, you are about to enter Tir-Na Nog. You are a fairy just like me.”

Maggie looked at her hands and her body. Then she looked at Ve and felt more joy than she had ever known.

“Mae, it’s you!”

“Yes, Momma, it’s me.”

“How did you become a fairy?”

“Oh, you still want answers, just like a human!”

“Please tell me what happened to you Mae, please.”

“Well, it’s the last of your questions, so, okay. I had a fever one night — that last night. You read to me until I fell asleep. You kissed me on the forehead and went to your room. A fairy came to play with me. She said she came to take my fever away. She did make me feel better. Then she left. I saw her slip into the light. I ran after her, I remembered my Great Grandma’s tales. I walked sideways into it. That was how I got here. Once I was here, I couldn’t return home.”

“Oh, my Mae! I am so happy to be here. I am so happy to see you again and know what happened that night.”

“I could hear you crying, Momma. I came here by accident, so I was still connected to you even though we were in different dimensions. You cried every day. I was happy, but I could feel your broken heart. One night, when all of us fairies were gathered under the moon, it was decided that I should invite you here.”

“Mae, what’s behind this red door?”

“You’ll see in a moment. There will be no more questions once we walk through.”

“Okay, before we walk through, Mae, tell me what will happen next?”

“We will always be together Momma. But in a few moments, you won’t be my mother any longer. You will be my fairy sister. We must pick a new name for you. Since your real name is Margaret, your name could be Margie.”

“I will be your sister Margie? That’s a lot to take in after getting my daughter back. But Ve, now that we are together again, I love you even more than I ever did.”

“I love you even more now too Margie.”

“What else will happen?”

“After we walk through this door, all the mysteries of this world will be revealed to you a little at a time. When you are ready for each lesson, the lesson will find you. For now, take my hand.”

Margie took Ve’s left hand as she pushed the red door open with her right. Margie cried happy tears as she saw what was behind the door.

“Let’s walk through the forest Margie.”

Walking hand in hand, Margie felt more joy than she had ever known. They walked through a deep forest of bluebells. She could see the light up ahead, it was softer now. The flowers and the trees smiled at them. The two fairy sisters were the most joyous creatures in all of Tir-Na Nog.

© 2017, A. Breslin. All Rights Reserved


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