I could see it the first time I looked at her face. She didn’t love him, she didn’t love anyone but herself.
Not that I could say anything. Leaning on my stone toadstool clutching the flowers that would never wither. He had stopped to look at me, I had tried with all my might to flutter my eyelashes at him but I just couldn’t. My eyes locked with his and held his gaze though, as his hand reached in to grasp me on the shelf in that grubby corner of the shop. She wandered over, sneering at me and mocking him for picking up a silly garden fairy. “What on earth do you want that for? Silly piece of tat, no idea where you think it’s going to go. Not in our garden, that’s for sure.” He looked down trodden and almost broken, but I could feel his warmth through my painted alabaster dress. My lashes may have been staying put but my eyes met his confused glances each time they came my way.
He found a place for me, in the front garden, amongst the reeds of his pond.
In spite of her initial scorn she soon let go of her disgust, choosing instead to ignore my presence on her property. Over the next few years I watched them come and go, initially together but as time passed he would slope in late at night and leave early. She would spend more time home during the day, entertaining men who would turn up with bottles of wine and gifts. When they were home together I would listen to her shouting, no, screaming at him. Plates smashing, my back to the house I couldn’t see when she pushed him up against the window, holding a smashed plate to his throat. I only heard her wailing like a banshee before a low groan and a thud. Then the ambulance arrived, and the police.
He was taken away on a stretcher while she was taken in cuffs.
Seven sunsets later the gate opened and I saw him for the first time since that night. Dressings on his face, and an arm clutched across his waist. With his family for support he was well looked after while he healed. Soon he was back on his feet but a melancholy had taken over and his beautiful garden was neglected. I enjoyed watching the tadpoles grow and spring from the pond, fully grown and ready to go on their way. One knocked me so I was leaning into the lush green foliage that grew around me. The scorching summer sun reduced the water in the pond, and the reeds started to die back taking me with them. Laying back in the crispy reeds I had a different view of the world. I could no longer spy on him, watch him from afar. Baking in the afternoon sun I could hear the gate squeaking on its hinges, footsteps trudging up the overgrown path as always. I counted, it was 37 of his loping steps from gate to front door. Today he stopped at 31, turned and I heard 12 more. The final 3 came with a shadow and then, there he was. His face looming over me, hand reaching down towards me.
As those strong fingers wrapped around me our eyes locked once more.
This time my eyelashes fluttered, and his warmth seeped into me. A blink and a shake of his head, I could read those thoughts as they flashed across his face… What is going on? Am I imagining things? How…? No, it can’t be… I willed him to believe, desperate for him to see me, to touch me. What was I thinking? I couldn’t expect him to fall in love with me. “You’re just a silly stone fairy.” And as he set me back in my place I felt sadness flood the pit of my tummy. Each day from then on I would watch the sunrise, see him head off on his adventures and then return home, but now I was seeing a change. He would stop and clear a little patch of overgrown plants, starting with the weeds on the path, and working his way around the pond. He repaired the liner and refilled it, and when autumn arrived he had revived my oasis. Cracking open a bottle to toast his hard work he sat down next to me under the stars.
So close I could hear the lager bubbles rattling in his belly.
“Sounds strange” I heard him whispering “but I could swear that you’ve been watching me work.” He was talking to me, he had seen me. “I thought I was going mad, she always said you were just silly stone fairy… But you are my beautiful stone fairy” I felt my wings start to tremble, he wasn’t looking at me but if he. Oh, if he had… “If anyone could see me now, talking to you, they would lock me up and throw away the key. I’ve often wondered if I’m mad. I felt some kind of… Oh, I don’t know… Something… You may be made of stone, but your eyes are like sparkling pools” Oh my goodness. The trembling in my wings spread south, now my tummy was turning somersaults, and my inner labia began to flutter. “I wanted to apologise for neglecting you. You brightened my world every time I saw you over the years, and I left you all alone, tumbled down in the weeds and wildlife” I was positively vibrating now, this energy….I hoped I didn’t shatter into millions of pieces “If I had one wish I’d ask for you to be real. For my eternal companion to come to life so I can look into your eyes for real” Was that a shooting star? “Well, fuck me. It’s now or never… I wish my beautiful stone fairy was not made of stone.” Draining his bottle, he stood up. One last look at me, leaning against my mushroom, our eyes meeting in the gloom. “Must be the beer, or madness setting in….” he rambled off to the house, 19 steps to the front door. He may have gone but the energy hadn’t left me. As the dew formed on my stone flowers I started to change, to grow. And as the sun climbed over the horizon I stretched my arms up and over my head, moved around my stone mushroom and sat down for the first time…ever. Gathering my knees to my chest I waited. Until he opened the front door. Our eyes locked as they had done so many times before. This time was different though. This time he reached out in disbelief, and I took his warm hand in my own. Smiling at his realisation that I was his beautiful stone fairy, that his wish could come true, I allowed him to pull me into his arms and crush me with his lips.
His beautiful stone fairy melted in his embrace.