I used to sit behind the thick boxwood hedges where the house cuts in two feet then continues on straight. It made a perfect little niche for me to set out my china tea things for the fairies. It was best towards twilight when the light turned soft rose and the fireflies sparkled and the toads in the window wells croaked out their full- throated symphonies. Soon the cicadas would join in and the crickets would begin to chirp and the doves in the weeping willow would coo ever so softly.
I would hide there from Cousin Carol Anne when she came to visit with my Uncle Peter and Aunt Alice. Carol Anne said fairies were stupid and it was much better to stay in the cool house to watch TV. Carol Anne said she was going to be an actress someday because she was beautiful, not a plain old nobody like me. Carol Anne threw our cat Tinker in the swimming pool because she didn’t like the way he looked at her.
Every evening I would sneak out of the house and hide from Carol Anne until Mama called for me to come in. Every evening I had to listen to her chatter on about how much better her house was than mine. How her room was bigger and her clothes were fancier. Every night I asked the fairies to take Carol Anne away.
The last evening of their visit, I was hiding behind the hedges when Carol Anne came looking for me. I sat still and quiet when she passed by the boxwood hedges and crossed down towards the woods that ran behind our house.
“Where are you, Emily? I’m gonna tell your Mama you’re hiding on me,” she said.
I closed my eyes and shrank into the wall. “Don’t let her find me.” I said it over and over until I realized that Carol Anne had stopped calling.
The fireflies were twinkling, the frogs and cicadas and crickets had begun their symphony. I heard footsteps outside the hedge and Mama’s voice. “Come on in, Emily. You and Carol Anne need to stop playing.”
I poked my head out of the hedge. “But, Mama. It’s just me in here,” I said.
There was a terrible fuss over Carol Anne. The police came and looked for her for days. Dogs tried to track her, but her footsteps ended at the edge of the woods. They brought in all kinds of specialists looking for blood and any kind of trace of Carol Anne, but she had disappeared.
Aunt Alice went a little crazy and had to go to a special rest home after a while poor Uncle Peter was left to deal with the police and the TV reporters and all the publicity.
I told the police the fairies took Carol Anne, but no one believed me. How could someone just disappear?
Of course, I’m grown up now. I know there are no fairies. I know that Carol Anne was never found. Everyone said, “Oh, we could have lost both girls,” but I always believed they wished that I had been the one who was grabbed.
I didn’t grow up to be a famous actress. I just grew up. I have always been just Emily, the one who wasn’t taken. Was I lucky that day?
Carol Anne knows the answer