Another scene from “If They Were Real – what things might look like if non-human peoples lived among us.
Samantha patted on the pillow next to hers. “Sit here Mama, I’m ready for my book.” As her mother climbed up on the bed beside her, she handed her an old worn blue book with dog-eared corners.
She turned the book to the cover that read “Fairy Tales,” and asked, “where did you find this book dear?”
“Upstairs in the book shelf in the spare room. It has such lovely pictures, please read me a story Mama.”
Her mother opened the book and flipped through a few pages. “I remember this from when I was a very young child,” she mused out loud, “I didn’t know I still had it.”
“What is the book Mama, what are the stories?”
“They are fairy tales, made up stories. A tale is a story, we don’t use that word much now, instead we say story.”
“Are fairies these people with strange clothes and wings?”
Her mother stopped on a page with a drawing of a woman with wings wearing a flowing almost transparent gown and holding a stick with small stars that floated out over a large pumpkin. “Yes, it seems they generally were pictured as having wings.” She flipped to another page that depicted small almost transparent human like creatures with wings, but these appeared to be quite small as they were riding on the backs of robins.
Samantha peered closely at the picture and stopped her mother from turning the page. “How big are fairies?”
Her mother flipped through the book again looking at pictures. “This is a story about good and bad fairies, about a princess named Sleeping Beauty. She turned another page. This fairy was a good fairy called a fairy godmother; the picture shows her about the same size as Cinderella, who she helped go to a ball.” She continued, “Fairies are not real, so they are no size. Those who made up the tales, the stories, make them any size they wanted for the story.”
Samantha was a very bright five-year-old and was not content with that answer. “But what size are they? Amanda said she saw some in her garden, and they were very small, only three inches.”
“Well Amanda has quite an imagination. When she writes her tale of fairies, they will be three inches. It is getting late, do you want me to read?”
Samantha snuggled down into her covers and nodded. “Please read the Cinderella tale Mama.”
Her mother began, but had not gotten to the appearance of the fairy godmother when she noticed Samantha had already dropped off to sleep. She quietly slipped off the bed, kissed her forehead, turned off the lamp and left the room.
“John, look at this old book,” she said to her husband as she sat by him on the sofa.
He looked up from his magazine and at the book, “yep it looks old, so where did you get it?”
“Samantha found it upstairs, it is one I had when I was a very young girl. I didn’t know I still had it. I think I kept it because my grandmother gave it to me. It is a book of fairy tales.”
John closed the magazine with his finger inside to mark his place. “Fairy tales?”
“Yes, but as a boy you probably read stories of dragons and giants instead.”
He shook his head negatively.
Clara went on, “then I suppose your parents were more careful in selecting your reading material than mine were.”
“So what did you tell her?”
“Oh the usual, that they were make believe stories by people with a lot of imagination.”
“Was that wise? She will grow up and find out the truth regardless.” He said and re-opened his magazine.
Clara was not finished. “Another thing, she said Amanda, you know Amanda her little friend who lives across the street three houses down. She said Amanda told her that she had seen three inch fairies in her garden.”
John laid his magazine on the coffee table. “She said what!” he replied as he stood. “In our neighborhood?”
“Oh John, you don’t think.” She looked confused. “No, Samantha and Amanda were probably looking at the book and Amanda wanted to impress her with the wild story.”
John walked around the room, “I’m not so sure Clara. Maybe we should report.”
“Nonsense, report and get a little girl into trouble; have the FBI combing our neighborhood. We’re good citizens, but report, when it is probably only the imagination of a five-year-old who saw pictures in a book.” She flipped through the pages until she came to the picture with the tiny creatures on the backs of robins. She handed the book to John. “See, she saw these and made it up.”
John took the book and sat down. “Maybe you are right. But you had better destroy this book. I don’t know why you would have kept something like this for Samantha to find. Now what will you do if she starts repeating the stories?”
“Don’t worry, it isn’t as though the stories were not fairly well known from older people. If she were alive, her grandma might have told some of these stories to her. But I will take the book away from her.”
John and Clara lived in a large farming community in the mid-west. They were very conservative. Both had done their military duty. Clara had done office work for her two years duty and John had worked in a shipping plant, sending goods to the many military bases throughout the country. When his time was up they married and moved to a small town near his family farm. And sure, like all others in the region he hired Trolls at harvest time. He generally hired a crew of about twenty for a couple of months. They came as a package with a crew manager, a Troll who spoke English. He was required by the government to provide clean decent housing for the crew. He did that. They lived in town so Samantha never visited fields, at least not at harvest time. Trolls were harmless, but did look frightening due to their size and somewhat unkempt and shoddy clothing. Samantha had seen Elves on vacation since they provided room service at most resorts and hotels, and knew there were other non-humans that did some work for humans.
Early the next morning, as usual he headed out to the farm. His dad still lived out on the old homestead, and had re-married a couple of years ago. His dad was already up and milking cows when John drove up.
“Morning Dad how goes it?”
“Morning yourself, John. Cathy has coffee on, I’ll be in a few minutes. We need to go over the books today, get ready for the tax man.”
John headed for the house. His dad had married Cathy a couple years after his mom died. He liked Cathy, but it was still strange to see her in the kitchen where he had grown up. “Morning Cathy.”
“Morning John,” she poured him coffee and set a plate of freshly baked cinnamon roles in front of him. Okay so his mom hadn’t liked to cook. Cathy was good for his dad. They talked the weather and prices of corn and sorghum.
Cathy looked up as his dad walked in the door. “Ralph, the boots off.”
“You always say that honey, but I wore these boots in the kitchen for fifty years, and I’m gonna keep on.”
Cathy grinned. She knew she had lost that battle two weeks after they were married and it had become some kind of little joke between them, one John never understood.
Ralph washed his hands and poured himself coffee and refilled John’s cup. He reached for a cinnamon roll as he sat across from John. “The good life,” he said as he bit into a warm roll. “So how’s my little granddaughter?” he asked.
“She’s fine dad.” John had been thinking of what happened the night before and decided to bring it up. “Dad you know we have kept Samantha sheltered from from non-humans. She has seen Elf workers on vacations and a few in town and hasn’t asked much. But she is getting older and now has some playmates that concern us.”
Ralph gave him a blank look and continued with the cinnamon roll.
“What I mean is she is so young. We don’t know when to let her know there are two kinds of people, human and non-human.”
“And?” was Ralph’s only response.
“And I guess she will find out when she starts school. You know how I feel about non-humans. They are what is wrong with this country; why at least one fourth of the working adults work for the military, why we have mandatory draft.”
Ralph and his son had disagreed most of their life about the issue of non-humans. He didn’t know why John felt so strongly against them.
“You know I can’t agree with you. Our family was in the the great war of 1890, we fought those creatures. We know what we are defending, our very lives. We humans have taken advantage, and still do, of the non-humans. We have relied on the labor of Dwarfs and Trolls to build our rail system and highways. Elves fill our factories doing menial tasks that we don’t want to do.”
Cathy shook her head, “not again you two.”
John looked at both of them. “Okay, I know the stories, I studied history in school. I know we rely on Dwarfs, Trolls, and Elves. But they are more human than the other creatures. They are simply different sized than humans and some are stronger and some more dexterous and can move faster than we can. But they don’t have powers, don’t have magic.”
“What is this all about John?”
“Samantha said her playmate, who is her age, saw fairies.”
“They aren’t allowed in the country. Do you think she did?” Cathy asked.
“Clara thinks she made it up. The girls found a old fairy tale book of Clara’s that had pictures of fairies. She thinks the friend just said that.”
“Are you going to report the incident?”
“I don’t know. Clara said not to.”
Ralph poured them each another cup of coffee. “Three inches, could have been butterflies.”
Cathy added “Don’t know much about fairies, but that they are said to have magic powers; that is frightening. What can we do to combat magic?”
“Something is going on,” John added. “Robert’s boy is in the Navy, and they added a year to his service. Not mandatory, but asking it of those about to get out.”
Ralph sighed. “I know. Last night’s news is that the government is very seriously considering talk of three-year draft instead of two, beefing up the military. The President seems to be against it, but the Defence department has strong support in the Senate.”
They heard a car coming down the dirt road toward the farm. “The accountant is here already and we don’t have the tax stuff ready.”