Emma Keens

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The song of the plum fairy

The wild end of the garden is a sanctuary, far from the boiled Sunday veggies and simmering resentment. It’s chilly here, where the rhubarb grows and wasps feast on rotting fruit. A wall of firs keeps the light out and the secrets in.

The bark is slippery but my feet know where to go. Up into my plum tree – never Lucy’s, not without her say-so. My branch, my tree. Where nothing happens and everything is possible.

The light changes; I’m not alone. A flash of silvery-blue, perfectly human shaped yet impossibly small. She darts towards a patch in the hedge, folds her luminescent wings, slips through – and is gone. I’m at the hedge in seconds, alive with wonder. I beg her to come back. Don’t be scared, you can trust me. I believe in you. I peer after her, crossed-legged in the damp grass, until the shadows chase me inside.

Creative journey
The lanes and birdsong of my old village will always be home. But where am I really from? That has to be our garden: making chalk tea in our roller skate café, giving palliative care to poor ‘gifts’ from the cats, or playing in the enormous pine-tree-spaceship that crashed during 1987’s not-hurricane. Familiar yet teeming with mystery, it was a place of safety and adventure. Of all the stories, I chose the day I almost met a fairy. I never saw her again, despite my best efforts, but I’ve sensed magic all around us ever since.

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