‘What about this tree?’ Lewis was holding up a small but perfectly formed door in one hand and nails in the other.
‘That one,’ said Sophie, pointing to a small unremarkable oak tree.
‘Yes, of course, darling, if you want it there.’
‘Mummy sits under here with me sometimes and reads to me,’ she said. Lewis struggled to hold back an uncontrolled tear. He nailed the fairy door in place.
‘That’s lovely, Daddy! Mummy will love that!’
Lewis walked back to the house, desperately trying to keep it together for the sake of his young daughter. The phone rang. Lewis hated phones. He stared at it.
News from the hospital was not good. They would update him later but it was more likely they would ask him to come in — maybe for the last time.
‘Can we do the fairy house now?’ said Sophie.
‘Yes, darling. Go and get some small twigs — pebbles too. I’ll get some glue.’ Lewis knew he had to take care of his little girl and protect her from some harsh realities. It would come, but in good time, when he felt stronger.
The fairy house was taking shape. Lewis had fashioned a small table and a couple of chairs from some twigs and Sophie had helped by setting the pebbles around in an intricate design, like a cobbled path. At least it was distracting him from whatever was to come.
‘We’d better get ready and go and see Mummy now,’ he said.
‘Can you take a picture so she can see it?’ said Sophie eagerly. Lewis took some photos with his phone.
‘Can you take one of me standing next to it?’ she said. Lewis managed to smile. He knew that his wife was barely conscious last time they went in the previous day but the thought of Sophie and her excitement in trying to cheer up her mother gave him a warm glow. Sophie was going to be his bundle of energy that would keep him going through the dark days he knew would come.
‘Mummy, have a look at the fairy house Daddy has made me,’ said Sophie.
‘I think Mummy just wants to rest,’ said Lewis. ‘Kiss her goodnight.’
‘Don’t be silly, Daddy, it’s the middle of the afternoon!’ said Sophie indignantly.
‘Just give her a kiss then,’ said Lewis, trying to hide his pain. They sat for a while. Lewis would be back the next day — probably — possibly.
When they got home, the first thing Sophie wanted to do was go into her fairy garden.
‘Read me a story, Daddy! You know the one. It’s the one Mummy reads to me,’ she said.
‘Is this it?’ he said, opening the book to one of her favourite fairytales.
‘Yes, that’s the one. She has a long sleep but she gets better, because everyone loves her.’
Maybe that was all that was needed: love. Sophie’s love would certainly keep him going with her endless supply.
© Vivienne Moles