Heads turned when the traveller folk came to town. As the days grew warmer, they made their way north without an ounce of truth in their eyes. They refused to conform to the paradoxes around which town folk lived. Rambling men playing out their lives in realms where those of righteous standing had no place.
Like every year, the wheels of their carts ground to a halt in the clearing beyond the brook and the traveller folk set to work constructing the fairground for which they had come to be well known. Short, sharp shouts accompanied the rhythmic banging of hammers as their magical playground took form. Set amongst the drudgery of these parts, the fairground was a spark of gaiety – an explosion of colour otherwise so rarely found in this forgotten landscape. Despite the countless, fear-inducing bedtime stories that parents had recounted to children about the traveller folk, the fairground was much-awaited by all the young ones in the town. That evening the children spent playing around the fair, spending the coins that had been kindly given to them. When it was time for bed they were dragged away reluctantly by the parents intent on guarding their children’s innocence from the sinful goings-on in the traveller folk camp at night.
But of course, no child was ever capable of sleeping after such excessive enjoyment and instead lay awake for hours on end in a fever of excitement, their imaginations running wild with thoughts of never-ending carousel rides and helter-skelter descents from the skies.
Well into the night the music and singing of the traveller folk could be heard by those all around. Peeping from the safety of their little thatched houses they could make out the traveller women folk moving entrancingly around the dancing flames of a bonfire. The light of which glimmered on the gold of the carts that sat a short distance from the tethered horses. It was dazzling. Hypnotic.
Every child in the vicinity sprawled mesmerised by the open windows of their family cottages, drinking in the magic from the air. It was so strong you could almost touch it. It filled them and enthralled them. Lost in the spellbinding intensity of the traveller folk’s song and dance, the children almost couldn’t feel their little limbs. In a trancelike state they lay until… suddenly it was the morning, and they couldn’t remember drifting off. With heads heavy from lack of sleep, they went running down to the brook to see the fairground. Rounding the corner, they were met with the sight of an empty clearing. Like the morning dew on the grass the traveller folk had disappeared, leaving not a single trace of the fairground.
As the children traipsed back to their respective homes each of them wept inconsolably. It was as if someone had extinguished the light from their lives and sapped every drop of energy from their usually boundless bodies. Despite parents assuring them that everything would be fine, they felt deeply dispirited for days and days.
While there will be some among us who say that magic doesn’t exist, nobody can deny that something strange took the happiness from the eyes of all children in the town that night.
All you find is sorrow in the wake of the traveller folk.