The folds of imagination encompass the cloak of childhood. An eye patch transforms one into a pirate and linens draped over the back of a daybed quickly become the confines of a castle kingdom. This guised reality creates a utopia of sorts, a world where anything is possible. Most children happily ride this wave of fancy, but for Amber Dumas, a Castleton freshman, ignorance was not bliss. As an 8-year-old, Dumas struck out to uncover the boundary between fantasy and reality – emphasis on strike.
It was a Tuesday mid-morning and Ms. B’s third grade class was gathered in a circle on the carpeted library floor. It was story time, a favorite among her peers. The smiling small-fries waited with eager patience. The librarian, a woman known in the hallways for being the best storyteller around, walked into the room with an antique-looking book in hand. “The Fairy Book” was its name and the students bobbed up and down like apples on their Indian-style legs in anticipation. The librarian opened the book, jointly opening the children’s imaginations to the existence of fairies.
“It was like they were hooked,” Amber remembers. “Of course it was fun to listen to the little stories about fairies, but even back then I knew they weren’t real . Can’t really say the same for everyone else and what happened next was scary.”
Over the course of the next few days, a new fad took over the school. Every child, boy and girl alike, strode the hallways with hovering hands. No, they weren’t holding the pose after blowing a kiss or practicing for future table-waiting days. In “actuality,” their hands were vacated by fairies. They talked to these fairies, calling them by name. They knew their fairies’ ages and favorite colors; they knew everything that needed to be known.
Dumas was confused by this phenomenon. She remembers thinking, “What the crap? I see no fairy.” Nonetheless, she went along with the whole ordeal for a few days, silently questioning the sanity of her peers and she did her best to ignore the fact that Benjamin got two cookies at snack time because his fairy had missed breakfast.
A fairy cult was forming in her classroom, but she refused to drink the Kool-Aid.
Yet, as the weeks progressed and the fairies remained, Amber began to silently question her own sanity. Was there something wrong with her? Why couldn’t she see what everyone else was seeing?
She did everything she could. She tore through fairy books in the library. She squeezed her eyes shut and told herself she believed. She even went as far as consulting with the librarian, who told her with a Kodak smile how silly she was. “Your fairy is there in your hand. Don’t you see her?”
It was time for Dumas to get to the bottom of it once and for all! She decided during recess that she would have a logical discussion with Melissa, the leader of the fairy pack. She remembers it all. She stood with composure and asked Melissa matter-of-factly if there truly was a fairy on her hand.
“Of course there is!” the girl replied with eyes full of stars. “Don’t you see her?”
Dumas decided to take a different angle. She picked up a rock from the playground and placed it in her hand. “See this rock? See how it’s in my hand? See how it’s real? Now tell me again. Is there REALLY a fairy in your hand?” By now the rock was clenched in her tiny fist.
Melissa beamed once more, this time with eyes fixed upon her hand. “I’m sorry. She didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.” She stroked invisible hair and shook her head in disbelief at the rudeness of her classmate. Melissa had most definitely consumed the Kool-Aid.
That was it. Dumas cracked. She cannoned her hand into the air and pummeled her still-clenched fist into the hand of Melissa. “Oh yeah? Well, she’s dead now!”
It’s 10 years later and Dumas still cracks up at the closure of this story. “I remember everyone hated me for a while. I was the fairy killer. But it was definitely worth it.” Today, she continues to stick with her gut feeling and refuses to believe everything she hears.
“I don’t literally go around crushing falsified beliefs anymore,” she admits. “But I still go with what I know.