She sits still, perfectly still, in the same place every evening, hands perched down by her side, gripping the ledge, knees folded in, bare legs hanging beneath her. Hair flowing down in rich golden curls about her back, skin radiant, eyes cast slightly downward, as though forever contemplating something. And yet the sense, as you walk past, day after day, always throwing a glance towards her as you go, is that she knows you’re watching. Is fully aware of it, and is perhaps only pretending to be lost in thought, when in truth she remains ready to depart at a second’s warning, much like a cat, in its permanent state of low-level anxiety, needs only the slightest fright to turn and flee from you. It sends a slight chill down the back of your neck as you pass her, and yet not necessarily an unpleasant one. More a sense of something eerie, something off-kilter, almost mystical in the air. Something just a whisper away from the otherworldly.

In reality – or so anyone with no predisposition towards wonder at the supernatural would argue – she is merely a figurine, a tiny little fairy sprite perched on a miniature wooden box attached to a tree outside her owner’s house. Row of model mushrooms placed around the base of the trunk, which light up in the night, just to complete the effect. A silent, inanimate sentry, gazing out on the minuscule realm before her, the river flowing gently behind her as it snakes its way towards the village. The product of a homeowner’s colourful imagination, nothing more. And yet, as you passed that spot, as you cast your glance her way that one summer evening on your way home just months ago, with the sun low in the sky and a crimson tint to the light painting the water, did you not think you saw, just behind her, behind the tree, over the surface of the stream, something peculiar about the movement in the air, some indistinct shimmering, some subtle light dance that almost looked like the beating of fairy wings? As though a hidden people had ventured their way out of hiding just for one evening, perhaps just for one moment, as their queen kept careful watch.

Most likely, it was simply a gathering of insects, swarming and weaving together in a normal display of nature on a warm summer’s evening. But yet, as you pass her now, in the midst of autumn with the darkness drawing steadily in, the cold in the air compelling you to pull your zipper that little bit tighter up to your chin, do you not feel, as certainly as you did in summer, that there is something about this silent lady, staring down at her kingdom, that cannot be easily explained? Does it not feel, as you pass, more than it ever did, that she is gauging you as you go, in the crisp tranquillity of an October night?

About the author: Christopher Moore

I am a graduate of English from Queen's University Belfast, and of the MA in TV Fiction Writing at Glasgow Caledonian University.  I am also an alumnus of the Curtis Brown Creative novel-writing course, and the Fireworks programme for young writers with Tinderbox Theatre Company.  In 2017 I have had work performed at the Bread and Roses Theatre in London, the Octagon Theatre, the New Theatre Dublin, and the Bunker Theatre in London.  Alongside my fiction-writing, I also edit and contribute to the theatre review blog Scene Docs, and volunteer regularly for War on Want charity bookshop in Belfast.

Christopher Moore