I didn’t really know I was Fae…well, that’s not exactly true. What I suppose I mean is that I had never done anything that was particularly Fae. I had spent the first thirty years of my life living as a normal person, and to be honest I was happy living that way. If I had had the choice, I would never have found out, but then things never work out the way you intend, do they?
I was twenty-one when I found out about my…strange ancestry. As soon as the rather uncomfortable words were spoken, I did my best to forget about them. That meant that I avoided my family as much as I could. I moved abroad, living in six different countries for almost ten years.
But then I got homesick. I was more surprised by this than anyone.
On the eve of my thirtieth birthday I landed back in England. The weather was appalling…naturally. Drizzle, fog; an impenetrable greyness. I had missed it all.
I got a taxi from the airport to the train station, and then took the overnight train across country. Urban landscapes, hardly varying between one place and the next, eventually gave way to the darkness of the country. Even though I could hardly see out of my window, I knew what was to be found on the other side of the glass…gently rolling hills, circles of stone, ancient forests, mysterious lakes and pools…If I was out there, out in the magic of the natural world, I would see it sparkle in iridescent light, in faery dust. I was as certain of it as I was that day would follow night.
You see, since the day that my fae background was revealed to me, things had started to change. The way I see the world and the people in it had started to change.
I tried to sleep, knowing that I had hardly closed my eyes except to blink for the last twenty-four hours, but rest eluded me. A knot of excitement was growing within me with every second that passed; intricately linked to it was a confidence I had lacked the last time I was in the country of my birth. I had been a shy, nervous girl, driven to do the unthinkable…runaway from the protection of my close but extensive family. And now I was home. Older, wiser, stronger.
I had no idea as to what kind of reception I could expect. When I had left, for some reason, one I cannot quite recall as I am sitting on the train, I had completely severed all ties. I had packed my things when no one was looking. I had a written a note. Then I had gone. Looking back I knew it was such a wicked thing to do, but I had done it all the same.
A few hours later, the train pulled in to the station. I collected the few bags I had brought with me and got off. Looking up and down the dimly-lit platform, I was surprised by how busy it was.
The cab pulled up where I indicated; close to a break in the forest’s edge. The driver glanced at me a couple of times, unsure as if this could really be my destination but he didn’t say a word. I was glad; I didn’t want to explain anything.
I alighted from the taxi, and walked up the long, narrow path towards the house. I never really understood why we didn’t have a driveway so that you could drive a car right up to the house, like normal people. But then I suppose, we were not normal people.
Nothing had changed, I noted. Sprawling ferns beneath the tree canopy eventually gave way to lavender bushes flanking the path; in between each one, what I assumed to be solar lights, would guide the visitor towards the front door safely in the dark. The front of the house was a single story cottage, built out of irregular blocks of local grey stone. However, the rear of the house had been extended and expanded by it seemed an innumerable number of generations.
For a moment, I simply stared at the door. I hadn’t given much thought as to what I was going to say, as to how I was going to explain such a long and silent absence, and while I stood there, the words I thought would just magically appear in my mind and fall out of my mouth when I saw my family again remained hidden to me.
The excitement in my tummy very quickly turned to nerves and then fear.
Surely they wouldn’t turn me away would they? I suppose it’s the least I deserve after what I’ve put them through. I turned away and made to retrace my steps back down the path but my feet wouldn’t move.
If I leave now, without even trying to speak with them I won’t know how they feel, will I? I turned back again to the door and leaned over to pull the chain that rang the bell, but before I reached it the door swung open. Standing in the doorway was my sister.
‘Well that took you long enough,’ she said rolling her eyes just like I remembered. She looked over her shoulder and called out, ‘Ellie’s here. The Glimmering’s finally kicked in.’ She moved aside to allow me through.
As I crossed the threshold, I noted that nothing had changed inside either. I turned back to my sister. ‘Glimmering? What do you mean glimmering?’
‘Well if you hadn’t run off all crazy and waited for the explanation that followed you would know, wouldn’t you?’ That wasn’t much of an explanation. After a dramatic pause, she continued. ‘It’s what makes us…us. It’s what makes us…special. It’s the magic.’
‘It’s more than just magic,’ a familiar voice said from the doorway behind me, the one that led to the kitchen.
‘Mum, I’m so sorry,’ I said really quietly, my eyes filling up with tears.
Soon I was in the middle of the biggest, tightest embrace I had could remember. ‘The Glimmering is who we are. It’s us, it’s the world, it’s our purpose. And it’s power is beyond the ken of words. Only with acceptance and experience will you understand. You have had long enough to think about what you want. Are you home for good?’
It was a loaded question. Concealed within it were other, more important questions. Do you accept who you are? Do you accept who we are? And, do you understand that if you leave again, that’s it?
I took a deep breath. I wanted my mother to know that I wasn’t making this decision on a whim, a decision I would go back on and regret in a few days. ‘I am ready. There is no place I would rather be,’ I whispered.