EVERYONE loves a fairy story, it seems.
But Los Angeles photographer Kelly Kenney could never have forseen how her lockdown tale of a virtual encounter with an imaginative four-year-old would become something of an internet sensation.
Better known on Twitter as Kelly Victoria or @saysthefox, the photographer’s pinned tweet thread from December 2020 told of her discovery of a fairy garden created by the parents of a local four-year-old who felt lonely in quarantine.
“At the beginning of the pandemic I went through some painful personal stuff and would often go out at night for long walks because no one was around and I couldn’t sleep anyway,” she wrote.
The elaborate fairy garden was at the base of a tree, complete with painted rocks and tiny trinkets and a Polaroid picture of the garden’s creator, four-year-old girl Eliana.
Posing as a fairy named Sapphire (and with a separate note reassuring Eliana’s parents of her true identity), Kelly began to exchange messages with Eliana, kindling a friendship that would last through some of the darkest months of the pandemic and beyond.
As Kelly herself confessed: “Doing this every night gave me purpose in a horribly painful and lonely time. I looked forward to my days again and I started ordering art supplies and little trinkets to leave her.
“I hope one day when she’s older she can understand that I truly needed her as much as she needed me these past few months.”
As the pen-pal relationship grew over the course of the pandemic, Eliana’s mum told Kelly her fairy friend Sapphire had been a great emotional support for the child, before finally coordinating for the two to meet in person.
When Kelly first tweeted her thread about the friendship in December 2020 and headed for bed, a handful of people had seen the post. By the end of the weekend, it had been liked and retweeted by hundreds of thousands of people.
By the following June, media mogul Oprah Winfrey was sending five-year-old Eliana, her family and fairy friend Sapphire to Disneyland.
But more important for Kelly is the knowledge that despite Eliana moving out of the neighbourhood, this is one friendship that’s likely to stand the test of time.
Says Kelly: “She’s changed me forever and the things her mom has said about how her self-confidence, her kindness towards others and her creativity have skyrocketed since meeting me make me feel like I made an impact too.”