An Embroidered Tale


“Gramma, how can you just sit there and embroider all the time?” asked 7-year-old Ainsley.

            “It’s relaxing,” answered Irma, aged 73.

            “Don’t you get bored, just sitting still for so long?” Ainsley’s little brother Drummond wanted to know.

            “Why, no, dears, I’m not bored at all!  I just let my mind wander, and I follow it wherever it goes.  I have so many memories to choose from!”

            “You mean you’re not just thinking about sewing?”

            “No, this is just my cover!” whispered Irma, winking.  “What I’m really thinking about is the time I saw the fairies!”

            “You saw real live fairies?” asked Ainsley, her eyes wide with wonder.

            “Mom says not to fib,” Drummond challenged.

            “Oh, but I did see fairies, down by the barn!  They were dancing in a ring in the meadow, to wonderful music, tinkly bells, tiny harps, and little flutes!  The lady fairies had wings just like butterflies, and they had tiny pointed ears, flowing hair, shiny, shimmering gowns, and they were only 6 inches tall!”

            “Could they fly?”

            “Of course they could fly!  A boy fairy flew right up to me and asked me to dance, but I was afraid I might crush them underfoot, so I said I just wanted to watch.”

            “How many fairies did you see, Gramma?”

            “Oh, lots and lots, children!  They flew all around, up and down, chasing each other, playing tag and hide-n-seek!”

            “Did the girl fairies look like little princesses?” Ainsley asked.

            “Oh, yes, and the lads were small, but very handsome.”

            “Were they good fairies or bad fairies?”

            “They were tricksey, but I knew how to stay out of trouble!  They asked me to eat fairy cake and drink nectar, but I didn’t.  I knew better, because I had read all the fairy tales.  If I had eaten fairy food, I would have been lost to the land of fairies forever…I would never have met your grandfather, and or had your mother, and you would have never been born…”

            “Really?” asked Ainsley and Drummond.

            “Really.  But we’re all here together now, so we can be a happy family,” Irma said, and went back to her sewing.  She jabbed the needle in the cloth and pricked her index finger.  Bright red blood started to flow.

“We’ll get you a Band-Aid, Gramma,” the children said, and ran off.

“Thank you, my dears,” said Irma.  She was glad to be alone for a few moments…She didn’t want them to see the tears in her eyes, as she remembered what really happened down by the barn, when she was small.  She had been whipped until red welts rose on her legs, and whipped some more, until she repeated after her father, “Fairies aren’t real.” 

Irma preferred her version, where she saw the fairies and they played happily together.  She hoped her grandchildren believed in fairies.  Imagination, like bright embroidery floss, adds so much color to life!


By Kerry Vincent © 1994


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