Not long after that, Eileen, who had looked after me through the worst of this, and I were talking on the phone. I asked her just who had visited me while I was ill, and she said, "Why, Elaine, of course."
"Right," I agreed. "And who else?"
Eileen's voice sounded a bit puzzled. "No one. What are you talking about?"
I hesitated to explain, even to Eileen who knows me well. How could I say, "Well, wasn't there was an old woman about four feet tall who brought me fizzy medicine filled with light in a gold cup set in a carved wooden holder?" Or, "There was a small fellow, maybe three feet tall, wearing a cloak of silvery-brown birds' feathers." Or should I mention the big man with the antlers who came and sat on the side of my bed for several dawns in a row to watch the night turn to sunrise? Or...
I just sort of mumbled that I thought there had been other folk. "Maybe," I said, "they were just hallucinations." I didn't believe that—hallucinations aren't usually so physically present - they don't make the mattress dip when they sit on the side of the bed, and the medicine they give doesn't boil through one's veins in a whoosh of light and power. Eileen didn't seem to believe they were hallucinations either.