Fairies at the Bottom of the Garden
Jean M Watson
There are fairies at the bottom of my garden. There must be. Please say there aren’t. Because there is no other explanation for it all other than that I am going bonkers, loop the loop, losing it.
Please, you sit there at your desk, in your suit, looking as if you could never get dirty, a pen which you keep twirling between your fingers, making me feel, what can I say, inadequate. I wish you would say something, for Pete´s sake. What do I want you to say? Well, you’re the psychiatrist. I got the train this morning all the way from Lytham into Manchester, just to come and see you. I left all my jobs undone, the washing up, the bedmaking. What my husband would have said if he’d seen it, I really cannot think.
Anyway, about those fairies in my garden. They got to be such a nuisance that I took the axe from the shed and tried to kill them. But they must have run away, because all I got was the holly bush. I was so angry about it all. I felt hot, my heart was going so fast and I could hardly breathe. I just had to throw that axe or burst. So I threw it. The person who I nearly hit with it was just passing by, and he called me a megalomaniac, but I don’t know what one of those is, so how can I be one?
Well, after that session with the psycho man last week, I felt dreadful. As if he thought I was a bit nuts. I mean, he was so clean, shiny sort of, even his teeth looked polished. Nobody can have teeth that shiny. I bet they are false ones. They’ve got to be. I was wearing my best clothes, which I have always thought made me look smart, but he made me feel scruffy. I suppose if I had had a new pair of shoes, that might have cheered me up.
I did think he could have offered me a cup of tea, then we could have had a nice chat about me and the fairies in the holly bush and the axe and the man I nearly hit with it. He was not nearly as nice as the policeman who came. Even when he took me to the police station I managed to keep calm, pretending to take it all in my stride. But with the psychiatrist I felt like a naughty schoolgirl in the headmistress’s office. Not that that ever happened to me. I was always too afraid to break the school rules, not like that Cheryl Waite in my class. She was always in trouble. They said she’d never be anything worthwhile. But it is so funny, because she got to be a teacher, and now she is headmistress at our old school.
The psychiatrist wanted to know what I did when I left school. As if that was important. But I told him anyway. I said I’d gone to work in the biscuit factory on the production line. It was so much fun. All us girls used to have a good laugh. Some of the older women used to say things I didn’t understand when I first started there, but by golly I did later. That was after I met Donald, and we got married. No kids, of course. They just did not come along. But me and Donald jogged along nicely together. We bought a house, and after a bit we had it lovely. Donald was good at stuff like that, him being a builder.
We had lovely holidays, too. First we went to Greece, one of the islands. Greece has so many islands, and over the years we went to loads of different ones, so many I can’t remember them all. We tried Spain and Portugal. They were OK, I suppose.
There was one Easter where we stayed at home, and Donald took me on a balloon trip for a surprise. I was terrified of it and I nearly refused to go on it. But Donald held my hand and after a bit I began to enjoy it. In fact I was sorry when it was over, even if the landing was a bit scary. You know, I’ve always wanted to go in a helicopter, but my only chance of that is if I have to go in an air ambulance. I wonder whether they would go round twice if I asked them. But then I would probably feel so grateful for their help that I would have to have a huge fund raising event for them. I wonder why they always seem to need more money all the time.
Dear me, I do seem to be rambling on. But I do so miss the company at the biscuit factory. We used to have lots of laughs, and there was always somebody to listen if you had a problem – as everyone does at sometime or other. I mean there was the time when I thought Donald might be carrying on with that Sally Amiss. He was always round there and wouldn’t tell me what he had been doing. I was so upset I nearly went round to hers to ask what was going on. I should have trusted Donald more. It turned out he was putting in a new kitchen for her so he could earn a bit extra for Christmas. All the women in the factory thought it was really romantic. I just wondered whether it was worth all the upset it had caused. But we did have a lovely Christmas that year. Almost like starting over again.
Sometime later, a few years I suppose, Donald said he was thinking of retiring. I gaped at him, really taken aback. Flummoxed, really. I had always thought of Donald as going on forever, and me too, I suppose. To suddenly realise that we could retire, that we were actually old enough to do so gave me a queer feeling. We had been eating our usual Saturday quiche from Morrisons. I dropped it back on my plate, unable to eat any more. Me and Donald retired? What would we do all day? Would we be able to afford holidays? Afford anything? It seemed that Donald had been paying into some kind of builders’ fund for years, and it would give him a pension and if you added on the state pensions we would be fine. So that’s what we did. Donald took up gardening and I took up knitting. It was all very nice and a couple of years passed sort of contentedly. Donald used to tell me all about the garden whilst I sat knitting sweater after sweater.
One day Donald wanted to get some bushes from the garden centre, so off we went and got lots of different bushes, but the only one I knew was a holly bush. After lunch that day Donald said he was going to plant the new bushes. It was a sunny day, so after a bit I went outside to see how Donald was managing. He had put all the bushes in except the last one, the holly bush. Donald was red in the face, and a bit flushed. I did not realise the sun was that hot. But it did not seem too hot to me.
Finally the holly bush was in, and Donald straightened up, then suddenly doubled over, and then fell on the ground, gasping. I suppose I called for an ambulance, I can’t really remember. Indeed I can’t really remember much until I came home from the hospital. Alone. Now forever without Donald. I wandered about the house, then went out into the garden. Donald’s spade and fork were still lying on the ground. Donald would not have liked that, so I bent down to pick them up.
That’s when I saw them. The fairies in the holly bush, laughing at me, fluttering their wings, then turning their backs on me and doing something very rude, like flicking their skirts up. Do you know, they weren’t even wearing knickers. Affronted, I stalked back indoors. How dare they! It was Donald’s bush, not theirs, and the sooner they went the better. I went down the garden every day to check, but they were always there. In Donald´s bush.
It was the day of Donald’s funeral, and after it was all over, and I was alone in the house, well, that’s when I decided. If the bush was not there, then the fairies would have to leave, wouldn’t they? And that’s when it all went wrong.