She’s seeing things again. My dear, sweet, Eleanor. I watch her and yearn to reach out my hand and stroke her long, brown hair, to tuck it back behind her ears. The tiny girl turns. She knows I am watching. Such sadness in those glorious eyes. My fingers are edging nearer. I stop. I can’t touch her. I mustn’t. My dear, sweet, Eleanor, only seven years old.
She turns back and sobs, clutching her teddy. Dear teddy, so old and worn from constant hugs and tears trapped beneath the fading fur.
Her sobbing slows. She stops. Her head leans on one side and her fringe falls forward, hiding her face. She flings back her head and the smile twitches at the corner of her mouth. She listens and a light illuminates her. Her eyes dance, alive once more and her thin fingers tap teddy to a tune only she can hear. They’re here. Oh, Eleanor, the fairies have come again.
Her smile slowly spreads as mine vanishes. Her tears have dried and mine replace them. Why, Eleanor? Oh, why?
Her hands reach out and open up as if to catch a ball. She pulls back. She has one in her grasp. Yellow, pink, purple; only she knows the colour of the wings, the hue of the dress, the feel of hair and feet flitting over flesh. She turns to me and holds out her hand. I can’t see them. I can’t see them, Eleanor.
I turn away. I can bear no more. But I have to look back. Eleanor is dancing now, with her arms raised above her head and her eyes glancing gleefully in all directions. They’re everywhere, aren’t they, Eleanor? She won’t look at me now. She doesn’t need me any more, not when they’re here. This is the only time she smiles, the only time she feels anything. Why, Eleanor? What terrible thing made you create such a wondrous world? Is the real word so terrible, so bad?