Remembering the Fairies

Photo by Kleigh Balugo

By Hannah Berry D’Alessandro

When we’re so burdened by the swift passing of the days, it is easy to forget that when one is actually waiting for the sun to rise, it takes an eternity. The rule is: we cannot go outside the house until the sun rises. Unfortunately for us, Sun heard our moms say that and now she knows we are waiting for her, and so she is taking her sweet time to come up. We want to go check on our fairy house from the day before, and see what gifts they left for us. Building fairy houses is a serious business. Some people don’t know. It’s a fine art that doesn’t get the respect it deserves in this modern world. Emma and I had really perfected our skills. Crushing up red bird berries to make paint, garnishing with chives. In the morning, when the sun finally does rise and we do get to go outside, we will see that the fairies left us a dime, and half a chestnut. The inside of the chestnut looks exactly like an owl. It’s a good haul. 

Now, Emma is in Colorado studying mechanical engineering, and I’m in school in New York City, pretending like I have any clue what my contribution to this world will be. I am saving up money to get my first tattoo. It’s going to be a jar of four flowers. A lilac for Em, an orchid for her little sister Meggy, winterberries for my brother, and a sunflower for me. My dorm is covered in pictures of the four of us. It used to be that when people would ask who Emma and Megan were I never had a good answer. “Those are my sisters, but not really. But also they really are.” Over the summer, I heard my brother talking with a boy he made friends with on the beach. The boy asked, “Is that your mom,” pointing at Emma’s mother, and my brother replied, “Oh, no, that’s my fairy-godmother.” And she is. There is no better way to describe it. So when people ask me about the pictures on my wall I just say, “those are my fairy-god-siblings.” I’m saving for my fairy-god-sibling tattoo. 

We still talk a lot even though we’ve flown away. But, it’s different not having the fairy-god-family all together. The other day I started a groupchat with all of us and jokingly sent the first text, “Do you guys SWEAR that no one put those things in the fairy house?” Kate (fairy-godmother) says, “I swear,” right away, and Emma says something about how long ago that memory feels. We talk about it for a little while, remembering what happened. All of the adults are sure they didn’t have anything to do with the gifts left there. And then we go on to talk about classes, and how much we miss each other. 

I’m working a semi-shitty job in the mailroom of my dorm. Recently, during a particularly stressful shift where I was desperately shuffling through huge bags of envelopes looking for someone’s missing paycheck, I reached blindly into one of the bags and just by chance pulled out a letter for Hannah Berry from Em&Em (who does not appreciate being called that, I just have special privileges.) It was the first one I grabbed out of the bag. What good luck.

She wrote telling me about being a woman in STEM. How hard it is to be one of the only women in her classes. I wrote back telling her about the douchey NYU boys that seemingly have never ending energy for attempting to get you in their twin XL beds. I wrote, “you keep fucking up the patricarchy over there and I’ll keep fucking it up here, and maybe someday it’ll make a difference.” Sometimes I think about Emma, working to be something so amazing, and I wonder what I am doing here, listening to Spotify and freaking out about climate change. Is writing essays really anything at all? It’s good to remind myself we are at least united in fucking up the patriarchy. Recently I went to see one of my favorite witches. “I am dizzy all the time,” I tell her. After we talk about many things she says to me, “You’ve shut down your inner vision. It isn’t that it doesn’t work, it’s just that you’ve shut it down.” She asks me why, and I realize it’s because sometimes it feels like the only way to exist successfully in the “real world” is to leave the other ones. We also shut down inner vision as we grow up. We stop believing in all of the things that are true but don’t seem true. One of my friends told me recently that her least favorite thing about the city is how in order to keep yourself safe, you can’t care so much about other people. The city forces you to become a little bit blind. And here I am, a new adult and a new city dweller, I must’ve shut the fairies out big time.
My letter to Emma got lost. It’s been a couple weeks but she never got it. I know that she still knows that I am proud of her for all the patriarchy fucking-up that she is doing, but it’s sad that she can’t read the letter. For some reason I don’t feel too worried about it though. I think about how I was guided to her letter, finding it just by luck, and I’m pretty sure the fairies can pull off getting this one back to her too.  It might just take some time and, what do we know most about fairies? They don’t work unless you believe!

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