When I was four I could see fairies.
They were tiny - no bigger than the last joint of my pinky finger – and translucent, their tiny organs visible through their glassine flesh. Sometimes they would flit about my head on papery wings and sometimes they would dance amongst the flower heads, their tiny mouths open as they sang melodies in an octave I couldn’t hear.
Nobody else could see them though; and as I grew older, they either became invisible to me as well – or I grew up enough that my imagination couldn’t sustain the reality of them. In the end I realised that they were just imaginary friends, exactly like the ones other children had.
So I forgot about them.
Being raised by a solo mother wasn’t all bad. While we were excruciatingly poor, my mother devoted her time to me as much as she could. She was the central focus in my life, the person who loved me the most, the person who gave me life.
Why she never re-married after my father left her, I’ll never know. She was beautiful, my mother, in a fragile, ethereal way – as though at any moment a strong wind could blow all the substance out of her and leave only a skeletal web of spider-silk strands behind.
She attracted men, certainly. She was never short of friendly masculine helpers and admirers, but she shyly shunned them all, to spend time with me, her only child.
School wasn’t easy for me, even though I had a good life. I was not a bright child or an eloquent child; I struggled and often fell behind. By the time I was twelve, my only remarkable skills were my ability to endlessly daydream and a decent reading level.
But I was happy enough.