An Unexpected Meeting
By: Jacqueline Bartle

You look shocked to see me. Like most humans, you didn't think I existed, did you? I don't blame you. There's so much disbelief about us, I'm beginning to wonder myself if I'm real.

I suppose, to be fair, we haven't exactly tried to make contact with the human race. The opposite, really. We live in out of the way places, like this wood, and, if we see any humans coming, we disappear. Or we turn ourselves into a bird or an animal – nothing dramatic, you understand, just the kind of creature you might expect to find in a wood or field.

So, I suppose it's our fault that humans don't believe in us. Oh, we know what you think about us, we read your books, and newspapers, and watch your films and TV shows. For instance, we know that a human called JM Barrie wrote a long time ago that every time someone says "I don't believe in fairies," one of us dies. I don't know where he got that from –made it up, probably. If it were true there'd be none of us left.

But a few of us are still here, and I'd like to set the record straight about some popular misconceptions. Children's books and films have a lot to answer for.

For a start, your ideas about us seem stuck in the eighteenth century. It's probably because that's when most of you stopped believing in us. We don't prance around in fairy rings wearing flimsy old fashioned clothes any more. We haven't done that for years. We wear the same kind of clothes as you, nowadays, only much more stylish. And we like to keep up with modern dance routines.

Also, as you can see, we aren't all petite and blonde either. Some of us are better built.

We have borrowed quite a lot of your technology –thanks very much for that, by the way, it's really changed our lives. We now have central heating, electric lighting, TV, and films. Our homes have the same kind of furnishings as yours, only better, and are very comfortable. The days of sitting on toadstools and sleeping on moss beds in hollow tree trunks are long gone.

We can record sound, and take photographs –as I've noticed you're doing now on that smartphone device.

Of course, we don't bother with smartphones, or computers either for that matter. We've got something much better, namely magic. You can contact anyone you want, and find out most of what you need to know instantly, and you don't have to worry about the internet being down, or running out of battery.

You look worried. I really don't mind you recording me. On the contrary, I want you to show other humans your photographs and recordings, so that they know all about us. It will be sensational – no human has ever done it before. Although, there have been a few unflattering fake photographs of us in the past, some of them even by children.

Why am I doing this? Well, for one thing, we're sad that humans don't want our magic any more. You never ask us to grant wishes now, or invite us to christenings to give gifts to the baby. We want that to change. In the past, we used our powers to help humans. And we can still help you now – if you want money, or success, or new clothes for a party, we can do it at the wave of a wand.

But we'd like something in return. We don't want presents of food, or children's baby teeth – what are we supposed to do with human teeth anyway?

Just, please, work with us and think how your behaviour affects us. You're building so many houses, and concreting over so much land there's hardly any green space for us to live in. We live where humans don't usually go – but lately you seem to be everywhere. Give us some space, because your close presence is affecting us very badly.

For instance, we don't all live for a thousand years any more. Our lifespans are slowly shrinking to human levels. And, human illnesses are starting to migrate to us. We didn't used to have doctors, or hospitals but these days we have a lot of both, and they're all very busy. A new disease which has arrived recently is causing us particular problems.

And we don't keep our youthful looks for as long as we used to, either, although I seem to be exceptional in that respect. Guess how old I am. No, on second thoughts, don't! We even investigated human anti-ageing treatments, from plastic surgery to skin creams. But we found that none of them really work properly.

We think it's pollution. And perhaps climate change. We know you humans are trying to stop climate change but will you succeed? Although we can't magic the problem away, we can still help you, for example, we're far better than humans at using green sources of energy.

We don't blame you, we know you didn't mean to hurt us, how could you, you didn't even know we were there. And, for the same reason, I know you won't miss us if we all disappear. But these problems affect us all, so I think we should try to solve them together.

Besides, think of the magic you will be missing out on, we can change your lives for the better in so many ways. We won't play any tricks on you, honestly.

So, what do you say? Can you get a message to your leaders? You look dubious. You think people will say that you're mad, that you made it all up, that it's "fake news". You may be right. But please try.

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