Have you noticed that sometimes you can see both the sun and the moon in the sky at the same time? And if the weather is really still and you are near bushes and shrubs in gardens you sometimes hear the tinkle of bells.
Millie stood near the privet hedge at the bottom of her garden. It was May 1st and only three days to her ninth birthday. Her brown hair was cut fairly short but it still fell to one side as she held her head at an angle and listened. Yes, there it was again, a silvery noise of a bell. Millie always thought of noises having colours and this sound was definitely silver. Then a deeper ding turned the noise golden. A larger bell, she thought and stooped to look into the shadows beneath the hedge.
It was dark in contrast to the sunlight and although she couldn’t see properly at first, she could hear blue and green rustling sounds. It was a happy noise and when a single bell made a loud silver chime she noticed three small faces looking up at her. Then, with a rose pink rustling, another two stepped forward. One said, “Hello, Millie. May I talk to you?”
Millie giggled. “Who are you,” she asked. “Were you making the bells ring?”
There was a loud tinkling, silvery and golden, and she noticed that their tiny mouths were wide open and laughing. “It’s fairy laughter. That’s what I can hear.” Then Millie heard lots of colours as they clapped and laughed in excitement.
“Yes, Millie. We have lots of fun in our world. But these days…..” He stopped and pushed his pointed hat back on his head. Millie thought his words were dark brown now. “Most humans do not think we exist. It is mainly older ladies who talk to flowers in their garden that notice us. And children like you.”
Millie blushed. “Mummy sometimes reads me stories about fairies. I’ve never seen you before, but I have heard you laughing,” she said.
The fairy - somehow Millie knew he was called Ronald – straightened his hat and his voice changed into a lovely orange glow. “We watch you in your garden. Sometimes we roll berries towards you and watch you pick them up.”
“I make patterns with them. Red berries in a square and purple ones inside” she said. And then Millie and the fairies all spoke together. “With a nice flower like a daisy in the centre.” They all laughed and Millie thought she could hear a silvery sound from herself as well. “But they are always gone by next morning.”
Another fairy, this time a lady who wore a dress that fluttered around her like a spiders web caught by the morning sunlight, spoke. “We collect them after you’ve gone to bed and take them back to our houses to make them into berry juice.”
“Mmmm,” hummed a contented sound from the other fairies. Millie grinned at their pleasure. “Bet I’d like it too,” she said.
Then a deep tone like a big church bell sounded and the fairies all breathed in at the same time. While the bell still echoed they stood to one side as an older figure wearing a cloak that was sometimes blue and sometimes green stepped forward. She leaned on a walking stick and her wise eyes looked straight into Millie’s. “May the first is a special evening for fairies. It is nearly seven o clock, now”
Millie glanced at her watch and realised she’d been by the privet hedge since having her tea at five o clock. “Mummy must wonder what I’m doing,” she said. “I must go back into my house.”
She half turned from the fairies but paused as she felt the walking stick touch her trainers. “Today is our special day,” Annie said. Millie hadn’t been told her name, but like learning Roland’s name she knew it must be right. “On the first of May, fairies can stop time. Look at your watch.”
Millie looked and saw the figures on her watch were slowly going backwards and then forwards as Annie moved her walking stick. “How can you do that?” she asked.
Annie smiled and Millie heard the big church bell sound again. “Today we have an enchanted evening when your world and ours can merge together. Would you like to join us and learn about our life? You would become our size for as long as you stayed.”
Bells tinkled loudly and the fairies jumped up and down with excitement. “What about mummy and daddy? They will miss me.” She paused and thought. Then she continued, “I’ll miss them as well. And my friends.”
“Aaahh,” sighed the fairies. Then Roland spoke. “When you go to bed close your eyes and count up to twenty. Remember tonight is enchanted. Time will stand still; nobody will know you’ve been gone. Annie and I will fetch you to visit our world. Will you come?”
“Millie, bed time.” Her mother’s voice sounded from the house. She turned.
“Do come, Millie,” Roland said again. “Do visit our land.”
“Millie,” her mother shouted again.
“Coming, mummy,” she called and straightened up. The tinkle of laughter was fading away now, she realised. Suddenly she stooped and thrust her head beneath the leaves. Roland stood there a smile on his face. “Yes,” Millie breathed softly. “When I’m in bed, I’ll close my eyes and count to twenty. Let me be enchanted and visit your world.”