When she saw the shooting star crossing her view of the night sky from her bedroom window, Tanya Harding wished for the same thing she wished for every birthday, Christmas, singular sneeze and trip to a wishing well. Technically, it was a wish for three things in descending order of preference just in case one wasn’t feasible:
- For her art to improve to a professional level
- To do well at school
- To lose weight
With the star out of sight, she took a quick bite from one of the finger of Twix sitting on her desk and started to sketch, hoping for some miraculous improvement to her artistic abilities.
There was no such improvement. The perspective was skewed in places, and her line work amateurish in execution and seismograph in smoothness. With a frustrated sigh she slumped against the desk, forehead pressing against the dark wooden grain. She stayed in that position, kowtowing to the window, for some time until a small, piping voice startled her into sitting straight.
“Hey. You made wishes, right?” Spoke a small, flittering fairy with silvery wings stained in a certain light with the colours of the rainbow, a short bob of blond hair and a dress made of tiny little golden scales.
“Oh my gosh!” Tanya exclaimed, before collecting her thoughts into some semblance of coherence. “I mean, yeah, I did. Are you a fairy?”
“No, I’m the Easter Bunny.” The fairy said, before snorting derisively. “Of course I’m a bloody fairy, what kind of daft question is that?”
Tanya flinched back a little from the retort. “Sorry, I just didn’t expect to see… anyone like you.”
“Really?” The fairy huffed. “For years of making the same wishes so many times, you didn’t expect one of us to turn up in the end just so we wouldn’t have to hear it any more?” Her wings beat rapidly as she ‘paced’ back and forth in front of the teenager, settling down from her earlier, more agitated flying. “Well, today’s your lucky day, Tanya Jane Harding. I’m going to grant your wish.”
With that, the fairy started on making grandiose gestures with her hands, small sparkles of glowing dust forming and puffing away from her rapidly moving fingers until she raised both arms high above her.
“I… don’t feel any different…” Tanya replied, looking at her hands, then down at herself.
“Of course you don’t, I didn’t do anything because that would be stupid! Seriously, ‘help me draw better?’ ‘Help me study and be smart?’ ‘Help me be slim?’ You think all those can be done? Well, they can, but not by me.”
“By some… greater fairy then?” The innocent inquiry came.
“Yes, by some grea- NO!” The fairy wailed, balling her little fists up to bat against the side of her head. “By hard work! Not my hard work. Your hard work.” She pointed an accusing finger at her summoner. “Let me break it down for you, T.J.”
Soaring up for a moment, the fairy brought a small whiteboard into existence besides her. ‘Wish number one: Being better at art’ appeared in an instant on it. “How do you get better at art? Answer: PRACTICE!” The little fairy yelled, making the girl flinch again. “How do you do that?” With a tiny wave of her hands she began procuring pamphlets for the local community centre out of thin air. “Life drawing classes, art classes, drawing things at home, books from the library. Start with the basics before you attempt fanciful little things. Building blocks, T.J.”
Nodding dumbly, Tanya continued to watch as the board’s message shifted to ‘Wish number two: Doing better at school.’
“Pop quiz, T.J: How do you think this is going to go?” The fairy asked, hands on hips as she leant in to fix the teenager with a combative stare.
“Study more?” Tanya offered.
“Ding ding ding ding, we have a winner. Study more! Do extra credit stuff. Read your text books. Find study methods that work for you. Watching less pop and celeb trash shows and sticking on the educational channels wouldn’t hurt either, unless you’re planning to work for Heat or OK or Top Sante or whatevs, girlfriend.” The fairy snapped her fingers in rapid succession as she said the last part.
“And now for that third and final wish.” The fairy spoke, throwing the board onto the desk. “Losing weight. I’ll tell you how to start with that.” She said, before flying down to the Twix packet. Taking one of the chocolate-covered caramel and biscuit bars in her hands, she broke it with ease over her knee. “Less snacks! Eat better! Exercise more! Walk where possible. Steal your dad’s Kinect to work out with. Get it? Got it? Good!”
“I get it… so… hard work and practice? No magical fixes or rapid transformations?”
“Hard graft all the way.” The fairy replied. “Starting as soon as you wake up.”
“As soon as I wake up?” Tanya blinked.
“Well obviously.” The fairy shrugged, stating the obvious.
“So none of this is real?” Tanya looked about her room.
“It’s a dream. That doesn’t make it not real, and that doesn’t negate the advice.” With a surge of activity from her wings, she fluttered over to jab a finger against the girl’s nose. “You want a change? You make it happen. Or don’t. Keep wishing away and getting nothing done. Maybe you’ll dream of me again, and I’ll brow beat you into it some more?”
Moving up to eye level, the fairy twiddled a lock of hair around her finger. “Now is as good a time as any, while you’re still young. Think on it.”
Tanya startled up from her chair, before rubbing at the redness on her forehead where she’d been resting it. The clock showed about half an hour had passed, and her desk was exactly how it was. The same drawing. The Twix was in the same state as it was after her last bite. No tiny whiteboard or pamphlets. Musing, she picked the bar of Twix up and put it to her lips.
There was a clang as she dropped it in the bin. Picking up her pencil, she started on some practice sketches of items on her desk, simple items with relatively easy to draw shadows.
From the other side of the bedroom window, the fairy watched from amidst a clump of ivy, pumping her fist in the air. “You can do it, Tanya.” She smiled.