I swept the last of the leaves into a pile and leaned on the rake, sighing softly. The large garden, such a verdant sanctuary in the summer months turned into a torture device in late autumn. Fallen leaves covered the entire garden several layers deep, except for the small area that I had already cleared. I leaned the rake against the nearby tree and turned to go back to the house. There was a bottle of apple cider in the fridge with my name on it. I was no more than half way to the porch when I heard it. A giggle. It was unmistakable and came from the direction of the pile of leaves. As I turned back, I saw the pile erupt like a volcano. Leaves scattered everywhere and I heard the giggle again. Then, from the base of the pile came a creature from legend. She was tiny, no larger than a month-old kitten with hair like grass and a dress that appeared to be made of the leaves I had been sweeping up. I was too shocked to react and just stood there. She looked up at me and, clear as anything, whispered one word, “Oops.”
She edged slowly around what was left of the pile of leaves, then broke into a run heading for the thick hedge at the bottom of the garden. I ran after her, why I now do not know, I had no intention of capturing or hurting her. Neither option crossed my mind. For such a small creature, she was incredibly fast, easily keeping ahead of me. Just before we reached the hedge she glanced back at me.
“Bye bye,” she called. She dived into the hedge and disappeared.
I’ve looked every autumn since then, but I’ve never seen her again, but I know one thing for sure. Fairies do live at the bottom of my garden. I’ve seen them there.