Tilly remembered regarding the scene with wonder. The yellow, orange, and vivid red tulips mimicked fire in the dimming light of dusk. Golden lights flitted about, adding stray sparks to the harmless flame. It wasn’t long before her mother came to join her on that stone bench beneath the oak to share the spectacle.
“You do love those tulips, don’t you?” the grown woman asked, running a hand through her daughter’s ink-black hair.
“Of course! The fairies love to use them as houses,” Tilly said with all the cheerful and innocent confidence of a child.
“Fairies? Oh, my dear, fairies aren’t real. You must mean the fireflies,” her mother said gently, gesturing to the glowing lights.
“Tut tut. My darling, you’re eight years old, much too old for these childish games, and I’ll hear no more of it,” the woman said in a manner that was gentle but stern.
“Yes, mum,” Tilly complied, though her tone had grown glum.
“That’s my girl.” After placing a soft kiss on the child’s forehead she rose and offered her hand. With visible reluctance though a calm obedience, little Tilly took her mother by the hand to head off to bed.
Now a grown woman herself, Tilly stood in a garden of tulips of only the brightest of red. Though the sun began to fade, she smiled.
One by one those tiny lights emerged and danced about. Soon it was what seemed like an infinite number of them, more than anyone could ever count. The wonder of it never got old, not like she had.
Tilly watched until the darkness thickened into its blanketing night, and only the last of the lights remained. But, as she made her way to her back door to retire for the night, she took one last look over her shoulder. It was just in time to see the delicate little faces peeking at her through the petals of the tulips; the windows of the fairy houses.