Hidden books, surprise gifts.

“Fairies, on the whole, absolutely delight in giving gifts – especially surprise gifts – to each other as well as to outsiders.”

This is a line from one of my books, “The Secret Child.”  And it seems rather fun and significant to me right now.  Because for the past few weeks, several of my friends and I have been hiding copies of this book in various places all around Aiken – and beyond.  And I hope they are being discovered as the unexpected gifts they are intended to be.

The book itself was inspired by the little boy’s grave in Graniteville, whose headstone reads simply:  “The Little Boy, 1855.”  For longer than 160 years, visitors to the site (mostly children) have been leaving him little gifts and tokens – small toys and coins, plastic frogs and cars, tin soldiers and blue glass marbles, tiny folded notes – all without even knowing his name.  And so, I wrote the book “The Secret Child” – for readers of any age – to give him an identity, a backstory (all fictional, of course).  I gave him an older sister and made them Irish Travelers and named him Danny.  And in the book, his sister, Marika, eventually goes to live among the Celtic spirits of the woods (the Fairies) that she finds inhabiting the nearby Carolina Bay.

It was, in fact, within the Carolina Bay that I placed the first hidden copy of the book a few weeks ago, nestled among the tree roots and native grasses.  And then another in a nearby playground.  More tucked within the horse district.  Still others downtown.  And some in tangled woods and on open benches, near the back steps of houses and up in the arms of old trees; some on gateposts and some under cafe chairs.  Friends who live out-of-town are placing those that I’ve sent to them around their own towns and neighborhoods.

In this time of feeling terribly separated from one another – often alone, isolated, invisible, forgotten – I think we all need reminders that others know we are there.  That we matter.  That we’re cared about and worthy of gifts.  And, of course, it’s the unexpected “found” gifts that are the best.

The fairies are reputed for giving anything from shinny red buttons to delicious honeysuckle dew.  From mystical music to secret dreams.  From found coins to potions for soothing hurting hearts.  But, as a mere human, all I have to give is myself, my imagination, my stories.  What do any of us have to share with each other except the best part of ourselves, after all.  

And so, I have wrapped some of these books tightly in clear plastic and good thoughts, and I’ve tucked in with them notes of “Congratulations!  You have just found a hidden copy of my book …” And I’ve signed them with hugs.  And, with the help of a few good friends, we’ve slipped them into the world, where they wait to be found in secret and not-so-secret places as surprises, as unexplained gifts – perhaps just when someone’s heart may be needing it.  

Perhaps one was meant for you.