by Sue Marie St. Lee
Carrying the basket of laundry to the backyard, Nedra stopped, closed her eyes for a moment, and breathed in the sweet fragrance of jasmine blowing through the springtime air. What a beautiful time to be born, she thought of the baby inside her swollen belly.
This would be the first child for Tye and Nedra. They had planned and worked hard during the first five years of their marriage so they could be debt-free, live in a beautiful home, and have a secure future before starting a family.
May 8th, the baby’s due date, arrived with cool sunshine breaking through the master bedroom’s windows. Tye brought a breakfast tray, and whispered to Nedra, “Good morning, sunshine. I brought you coffee and a bear claw. Ready to get up?”
Nedra rubbed her eyes, smiled, and tried to move to a sitting position so Tye could put the tray on her lap. Rolling from side to side, pulling the tangled duvet from her girth, she sighed and looked at Tye for help.
Untangling the twisted duvet, Tye asked, “Do you know what day this is?”
Yawning, Nedra answered, “I think it’s Wednesday but I’m still half asleep. Haven’t had my coffee yet.”
“Yes. It is Wednesday but what else? What else is today?” With the duvet repositioned, Tye set the breakfast tray on Nedra’s lap.
Nedra sipped her coffee, and thought out loud, “It’s May? I think it’s May 8th.”
“Bingo!” Tye stared eagerly into her eyes, waiting to see if she realized what the date meant.
Still groggy, Nedra wondered aloud, “I know it’s not our anniversary. I don’t think it’s anyone’s birthday …”
“STOP! Stop right there!”
“What? Did I forget someone’s birthday?”
Tye rubbed Nedra’s belly and laughed, “It’s our baby’s due date, silly. We’re gonna have our baby today!”
“Tye, it doesn’t work like that.” Nedra took a bite of the bear claw. “Only five percent of babies are actually born on their due dates. Chances are, because this is my first, it’ll be another week or even two.”
“Ha! That’s where you’re wrong. It’s also a full moon, and the statistics for babies being …”
Nedra interrupted, “Tye, I’ve read a lot about the moon’s phases and their effects on pregnancy, and there is no solid evidence, even in statistics, so please, forget it. This baby is happy right where she’s at until it’s her time to come. Ooh!” Nedra had a sudden look of discomfort on her face.
“What’s wrong? Is it time?”
“Tye! I think I peed my pants.” Tye moved the breakfast tray, and pulled the duvet back. The bed was soaked.
“Holy cow! That’s not pee. Your water broke! This is it, babe.”
“Ooh! My back!”
“Hold on, let me set the stopwatch on my phone. Wait, how many minutes between contractions before we have to go to the hospital?”
While Tye groped with his phone, Nedra’s face loosened from its painful wince, and she made her way to the bathroom.
“What are you doing? Should you be walking around? What about the baby? What if she falls out?”
“UGH! Fall out? Are you insane? Babies don’t just fall out. It takes a lot of pushing to get them out! I’m taking a shower and getting dressed.”
“What? Well, what should I do?”
“Figure out the stopwatch function. We’ll need it.”
“Okay. Okay. I’ll be okay. I’ll just wait here and figure out the stopwatch.”
Eight hours later, in the comfort of the maternity ward, Scarlett was born and adored from the moment she entered this world. Beautiful, with soft features and delicate skin blushed with the faintest of pinks, she wriggled in Tye’s arms. “This … she … this is our perfection! She is beyond beautiful! My little Scarlett, you shall want for nothing. Ask for anything, and it is yours!”
Nedra looked on with pride from the maternity bed. “Oh, Tye. You exaggerate.” She smiled at her husband’s joy. She expected his blissful behavior. She had seen it in her brother upon the birth of his first child.
“Oh, no. She is the most beautiful child ever born! Ever!”
“Well, I must admit, even though she is our first and we have no others to compare, she is the most beautiful child I have ever birthed.” Nedra’s calm demeanor bolstered Tye’s happiness.
Nedra had grown up in the very loving and stable O’Shey home. Although her family was well-to-do, Nedra’s mother had always chosen to handle domestic affairs on her own. She believed there were many valuable life-lessons to be learned from cooking, cleaning, tending the gardens, and participating in community volunteer work.
Some of Nedra’s fondest memories were of days spent with her mother doing chores. Her favorite was hanging laundry on the line outside. She savored the sweet scents of nature which left their fragrance on the sun-dried laundry for many days afterwards.
Besides domestic chores, Mrs. O’Shey also spent many hours playing with Nedra in their flower gardens. Nedra especially loved it when they played with her mother’s exquisite crystal and porcelain fairy figurines. She learned about magic in those gardens with her mother and the three fairies.
“When you’re old enough, Nedra, the fairies will live with you.”
“Oh, Mama, really?” Nedra turned her eyes toward Daisy. “Daisy, Daisy, did you hear that? You’re going to come live with me when I’m all grown up!”
Daisy, who was Nedra’s favorite fairy, fluttered in front of Nedra’s eyes while Mrs. O’Shey looked on. “Does that make you happy?”
“Oh, yes! Yes! Mama, how old do I have to be?”
Mrs. O’Shey laughed at Nedra’s excitement. “Sweetheart, it’s going to be a few more years before you are married.”
“Oh, well then, I’m going to get married as fast as I can!”
“No, Nedra. You need to take your time in choosing a husband.”
“Where will I find him? How will I know who he is? Will you help me find him, Daisy?”
Daisy, finding it hard to contain her laughter, answered, “Sweet Nedra, you won’t need my help. You’ll know when you find the right man. You’ll know.”
Now, years later, Nedra enjoyed being a wife and a mother. Everyday chores were performed with simple joy, and appreciation for little things like dusting the fairy figurines that she inherited from her mother, who inherited them from her mother, going back three or four generations. She would lovingly clean each intricate ruffle and crimp in their costumes. The priceless antique collection, brought from Ireland when the O’Sheys first settled here, was displayed upon an elegant window table facing Nedra’s lush gardens.
When they weren’t buzzing around the house or spending time outdoors with Nedra, the fairies rested within the porcelain statues. Only those with the sight-of-magic could see the fairies but they chose to stay in the statue shells when others were around so Nedra wouldn’t accidentally talk to them. People might think she was talking to herself. Every afternoon, no matter the weather, Daisy, Lacey, and Casey accompanied Nedra for daily ‘girl’ talk and long treks in the gardens on the estate.
Even after Scarlett’s birth, the garden visits continued. During the baby’s nap time, the fairies went to the gardens with Nedra, soared high in the sky, danced with kaleidoscopic butterflies, and swam in the fountains. Nedra would share her thoughts and dreams, all of which concerned Scarlett’s growth and development. Sometimes, she would gather the baby up in a shaded carrier, and set it upon a blanket in the garden. The fairies would sing songs and waltz in the air around her.
During one of those outings, Nedra became worried that something was wrong with Scarlett’s vision. “Daisy, look. I don’t think Scarlett can see the three of you.”
The fairies drew closer to Scarlett’s face, moved in slow unison to the left, right, up, and down. Scarlett’s eyes did not follow them.
“See? I told you. Something is wrong. Oh, God. I hope she’s not blind! I don’t know …”
“Wait,” Daisy interrupted. “I’ve only seen this once before. It was with your great-great-great grandmother’s sister. She couldn’t see us either. That’s when her mother introduced us to the younger sister who could see us.”
“What do you mean? What are you talking about? Why could she see you and not her older sister? Why can’t Scarlett see you? Was great-great-great grandmother’s sister going blind too?”
“No. There was nothing wrong with her eyes but she couldn’t see magic.”
“Couldn’t see magic?” Nedra repeated the words, trying to understand what they meant. “Scarlett can’t see magic? She can’t see you fly, sing, dance, talk … but she can see you when you are still, when you wear the shells of statues?”
“She can only see the statues. Not us.” Tears fell from Daisy’s eyes.
“No! No! There must be some mistake. Maybe she’s too young. That’s it. She’s too young, that’s all.”
Daisy picked a tiny blossom from a nearby rose bush, fluttered above Scarlett’s face, and Scarlett reached for the pink flower. “She can see the flower because it is not of magic. She cannot see me, who is holding the flower, because I am of magic. I’m so sorry, Nedra.”
Casey, Lacey, and Daisy fluttered before Nedra’s face which was wet with streams of tears. They sprinkled fairy dust upon her to soothe the sadness.
“Wait!” Nedra had an idea. “Sprinkle some of your magic dust on Scarlett. That’ll work. That’ll make her see magic.”
“No, it won’t work. You are either born with the sight, or not.”
“Please! Please! Please!” Nedra begged through choking tears.
The fairies loved Nedra so deeply, they appeased her request, and sprinkled the magic dust onto Scarlett. Nothing happened.
“Try again! Please, try harder.”
“Nedra,” Lacey whispered in a gentle, soft voice, “We can’t make her see magic, no matter how hard we try.”
The sky became overcast, as if it reflected the sadness in the garden. Nedra raised her eyes to the fairies, wiped her eyes, cleared her throat, and cried, “There’s nothing we can do.”
“You’re wrong, Nedra,” declared Daisy. “We can love her.”
Born in Chicago, Sue Marie St. Lee currently lives in Oklahoma with her husband and Manx cat. A storyteller since learning to talk, her wild imagination caused reprimands from her mother. Imagination persevered.
Retired from Finance Management, Sue began ghostwriting until 2019, choosing to have works published internationally, in print and online, under her own name. Her poetry and prose have been published by Spillwords Press.