The thirteenth fairy

In a kingdom far away a king and queen had been trying for
years to have a baby but with no success. 
Still they persevered.  
They did not give up and the day finally arrived when the queen gave
birth to a beautiful baby daughter. 
The royal couple were delighted. 
They wanted to share their pleasure with the entire kingdom.  To this end they sent out their
couriers far and wide to invite every person who ever lived in their lands to a
celebration of the birth of their baby.
 
         Everyone
was to be invited, from the lowly to the high.  Everyone.  The
party was held in the great hall and those who came all brought some offering,
however small, for the baby.  When
it came time for the fairies to offer their gifts each took it in turn. The
First Fairy waved her wand and wished the baby the gift of beauty; the second
wished her intelligence; the third creativity and so it went on.  Each fairy wished the baby some
attribute to live a good and fulfilled life.  But when the Twelfth Fairy stood to offer her gift there was
a whoosh of wind.  The sky grew
dark overhead and the Thirteenth Fairy appeared out of nowhere.  She was in a rage.
         ‘I
wish this baby dead.’  She waved
her wand and disappeared.
         The
people were aghast, mouths open, hearts beating.  The queen rushed to the cradle and looked down onto her
sleeping baby fearful that the Thirteenth’s Fairy’s power had already taken
effect. But the baby slept on.  Her
cheeks moved in rhythm with each breath. 
         ‘I
cannot undo the power of the Thirteenth Fairy,’ the Twelfth Fairy said. ‘My
power is not so great, but I can soften it.’
 
And so the story continues, the familiar story, the one
you already know.  ‘The child will
live a good life until she is sixteen years old and then she will prick her
finger on a spindle and sleep for one hundred years, only to be awakened by a
kiss.’
What a cow that Thirteenth Fairy.  She was angry you know because she had
not been invited to the party.  She
had felt left out and excluded. 
But she was not invited because no one could find her.  The couriers knew of her
existence.  They knew she lived in
some dank cave somewhere on the other side of the mountain but they could not
be sure in which dark cave she lived, because she moved caves regularly in
order to avoid detection. 
         They
would have invited her.  The king
and queen told their couriers as much. 
They were so full of the spirit of good will with the birth of their
baby they had invited the local drunk, the street urchins, the paupers, the
prostitutes, even the ones with leprosy, but the Thirteenth Fairy hid away,
bitter and resentful.
 
         Typical,
she thought.  They didn’t include
me.  I’ll show them. 

Out of time and out of place

Something good will happen I tell myself again and
again.  Something good, to counter
the fear that I will not succeed.  
I must succeed to counter that feeling of failure when the analysts chucked me out; to counter the feelings I had as a ten year old when Mother Mary John
told me I had failed mental arithmetic in grade six; and again in my first year at university when Delys Sargeant told me I had not answered the question in my mid term essay on social biology and unless I did well enough in the exam I would fail
the subject.
I
was home alone studying during swat vac when Delys Sargeant rang.  I had not overcome my earlier style of learning and so I
pored over my lecture notes and tried to rote learn the lot. 
After the call, I was sure I would fail, so sure that when the exams were over and they pinned the results to the notice board in the quadrangle
at the University of Melbourne, I could not find my number and so I decided I had indeed
failed. 
I told myself it was okay then.  I was planning to live with my boyfriend and thought that I might be pregnant. I was not yet on the pill.  I could not know I was pregnant for
sure because I had not had a period for over a year, not since I finished
school and stopped eating. 
To my mind then unprotected sex did not matter much.  My mother had told me that women
stopped menstruating during war time because they were starving.  It was nature’s way, she said, to
prevent  more babies and conserve
limited resources.
Still, I reasoned, I could get pregnant.  One of my university friends, Helen,
who had starved herself even more than me, became pregnant.  She had already left her teacher
training to become a mother.  I
could become a mother, too. 
That would be something to do, some consolation for
discontinuing at university.
  

See this tree, it reflects my feeling: a single blossom during autumn on a tree whose leaves have not yet fallen but were burned to a crisp during the hottest of summers.  A flower out of time, out of place.
Or is that a touch too melodramatic?