Clip-On Fairy Wings

By Miranda Abbott, June 20, 2024

Read time: 3 Mins

Clip-On Fairy Wings Image

My first memory is a kaleidoscope. Mum hangs her arms over me as I
make myself into a rosebud, tangled in her lap. The air tastes like beer
and black olives. It is springtime, the leaked light from the camellia tree
scrapes the wooden deck where I lay, illuminating the gaps. Her voice
echoes through her chest. I try to catch a grain in my hands, spread it all
over my skin like butter. 
I am hungry to know what she is saying. I need her to say it to me. 
[waiting, waiting, waiting]

My palms are upturned and glistening. I keep them empty just in case. 
I am 5 and wide-eyed. Mum paints polish on my fingernails to stop me
from biting them. It tastes like poison in my mouth, and I scrub with soap
to wash it off before she wakes up.
I am 8 and I wonder what 20 is like. What it will sound like. How it will
smell. I wonder what I’ll make for dinner and what I’ll see in the mirror.
Who my friends will be…
I am sure there will be some significant distances involved. 
A balcony I will reach by climbing through an open window. Wire railings
in New York. 
Pasta best served with wine. 
[You are only 8 years old]

I am 9. The toilet seat is cold even through my bike shorts and there is
blood on the toilet paper I hold in my hand. I am crying quietly so I don’t
get caught. Today I become a woman. 
The crying, I am sure, proves I have become a woman. 
Today I tell my mum that I have become a woman and I tell my dad that
it feels surreal.
Today I feel like I have won an award that I will display proudly on my
Today I become aware that the award will have to come with me,
everywhere, every time, wherever I go. 
I am 10 in my pyjamas standing at the foot of my bed. I pull it toward me,
opening a gap against the wall, large enough for a hand to slide through.
I write behind the slats of the bedhead. 
[Words live inside of you]

I have 5 half-used notebooks that stay silently unused, like wasting
some paper is an awful corrosive secret that must remain hidden in my
I am worried about forgetting.
Forgetting that this word on the wall is different, bigger, stronger than all
others. It asks me for something more than what a page can provide.  
There wall is where it stays. 

I am 14 and leave for the first time. I am exhilarated and full of a type of
rage that allows me to write shitty poetry.  
I am on a bus in a new suburb and my phone has just died. 
I am also full of fear. 
A stranger sits next to me and lets me use her charger. I am convinced
she is the most wonderful person I have ever met. 
I am also filled with freedom and discover that this, now, is actually when
womanhood begins.   

My thirst for flight is still here when I am 20. My need for permanence
also remains. 
I watch a familiar spring through this open window. Our window. The one
you stared through every night before bed. Where you could see the
light from the neighbour’s attic window, always turned off at 9pm. I see
the same ‘big tree’ gone to seed, its tassels hanging like little lanterns
from the branches.  
The fairy lights are gone now. 
So is your rock collection. So are the drawings on the wall in blue biro
pen. I retrace their painted-over place with my finger.
I still feel time passing by observing lights in faraway windows. 
I still want to sit on the windowsill. 
I still want to write on the walls. 
I am still wondering what 20 is like. 
And I still bite my nails. 
I am closer to uncovering the paint. 
Tomorrow it will be summer. 
Tomorrow I will remember. 
Tomorrow I will find the words written on the wall again.

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