At the time of our interview, Carleen was a highly intelligent and sensitive ten-year-old. Her parents were killed in a car accident when she was only fifteen months old. The extraordinary thing is that Carleen remembers the accident and describes how rescuers found her under the front seat. Subsequently Carleen was brought up by her grandmother.
(We've used initials for names she gave us.)
Andrew: Tell me what you remember.
I was climbing up into the mango trees, and I climbed onto the roof of the shed and I saw something in the sun, and I thought it was a bird waving its wings. The moment it started to get closer I got a bit worried as I thought it was a magpie come to dive-bomb me, but it was actually an arm going like that [she gave a beckoning signal with her arm] and I just remember seeing this big white light coming right through the mango tree, and when it had gone away I looked at the tree and there was a little burnt spot about the size of a cork. When a drop of sap came out, it was like milk.
It just stopped — although, to me, everything stopped. I felt like I was walking on air because I was really light-headed. And when all the light had gone I realised I had been visited by fairies or something. I really didn't know what had happened. And I used to hate drawing and writing, but they gave me a talent of drawing and writing because now I like doing it.
What age do you think you were when this happened?
[She paused.] About when I was eight ... eight or nine; I think it was mostly nine. Afterwards I felt I needed to lie down. But I didn't. I just felt like drawing. So I started drawing a face and I thought, 'This is not going to turn out good,' as I'm not good at drawing — but it turned out excellent. It was the face of someone I didn't know, and then I saw him in a shop, and his name was Bruce and we became really good friends. And I draw faces of people I don't know, and I see them and I become friends with them. If I draw any kind of face I become friends with them: any face.
Does that happen now?
Yeah. I once drew the face of a magpie and we became friends. Like, it's anything — a cat, a dog, a mouse, a horse.... I just like drawing so much now. And I draw dreams that I might have had a long time ago and then five minutes later I go, 'I know it! I know that dream. It's from when I was one.' Or something like that. And since they visited, I remember being born and having the brace put on. [Carleen had a leg brace put on in 1996 as a result of the accident. One of her legs was shorter and the brace was put on to stretch it. Carleen had four operations.]
They (the fairies) visited me again before I went into hospital, and then again in the hospital just before I went into theatre. They said, 'Come and see what's going to happen to you and you'll see the brace put on.' I thought, 'I'm dreaming.' And I pinched myself when I woke up, and I was dreaming. The lady woke me up and said it was time for me to have breakfast: 'You're going to be going in in a few hours' — jam on toast — and I was wanting to go back to sleep. Then in the morning they put me on the theatre bed and took me down, and when I was asleep I wasn't in my body. I was out with the fairies and looking at what was going on. It was very strange because every operation they visited me.
The brace is called Illazarof. My leg was shorter and they wanted to make my leg seven centimetres longer but they could only get it six centimetres because I had so many complications. They used to turn it four times a day and afterwards my knees used to ache. Then I felt these cold hands take it and I saw a kind of red ball disappear into thin air. I didn't realise what it was and no-one else could see it but me. I was never in my body. I was always somewhere else, looking at other children in my ward who were needing help. I was taught by the fairies how to take the pain away from them and take the pain away from me as well. I would just close my eyes for ten or twenty seconds; then, after that, cold hands would come onto me and my pain was gone and didn't return.
At camp, that was the most serious time. They didn't come because people didn't believe that things like this could happen. And I didn't dare tell anyone, only the people who understood, like my friends S. and A. They do Reiki.
I always used to communicate with my horse, and when she died I knew that she was still around. Another white stallion died in the creek and sometimes I wake up in the morning and hear these two horses galloping around. Sometimes I leave out food like an apple or a carrot and I come back in the morning and, well, it's gone. I know that when they take it they're happy.
I've believed in fairies since I was ... I don't know, because I've believed in them for a long time, because ... we had this special fairy pond. It was magnificent. I put three jelly beans (on the ground) and I covered them over with a few leaves and then we used to come back in a couple of days later and they were gone. I was really happy because I knew they were alive. And Grandad didn't like it. He hated jelly beans just like I do now.
Since the fairies have been, I've been game to do a lot more things – run a bit faster, use my foot more and just get used to the feeling that I'll be able to run, but not as fast as I could run before. I used to come second or third in races — or last, but I didn't really mind, and I still don't mind because as long as I compete and do the eight hundred metres or something like that I know I'm fine, 'cos at the start I get pushed by someone and when I turn round there's no-one there.
How do you know when you're visited? Do you see them?
I don't exactly see them; I only see this white glowing thing in the shape of a person.
How big is it?
A bit bigger than me The smallest ones are the size of a five- or six-year-old.
Are these fairies or angels?
Some of them are fairies, some are angels. The fairies I notice. They stay around the creek area. The angels come down from the top of the forest. The angels have a very sweet smell like ... honeysuckle. The fairies smell of fresh air like the forest, nice and clean. Unless I get a mixture, then I know they are both there.
Do you remember being born?
Yes. I remember this huge light in my face and this kinda green fuzzy thing and Mum having the car crash.
What car crash?
When my parents died – because B. is my grandmother, not my mother.
You were in the car with your parents?
Yes. If I wasn't this wouldn't have happened. We know how the car crashed. It was a very old 'bomb' and a tyre blew and we spun around and hit a tree. Mum died of head injuries, broken neck and some back problems. She would have been in a wheel chair, so it was best for her to die. These people pulled over to see what happened. My Dad had a heart attack. He couldn't see me because I was under his seat and my legs were all bent.
How old were you when your parents died?
Fifteen months old.
Do you remember anything about before you were born?
I remember being very warm and very comfortable, then someone grabbed me. And then I was crying like hell. And I started talking when I was really young. I think I was a horse once, because I remember dying as a horse. And I remember being a race horse; and if I was, I was very, very fast ... not as fast as the fastest horse but nearly, and I broke my back and it healed by itself but I was never able to race again. I had to have a special kind of thing put on my back so I couldn't make my legs go very fast — just walking and trotting. Maybe that's why I'm not scared of horses.
Did your parents ever come back?
Yes, they do come back with my sister who died. I've forgotten her name. I call her Lily. My mum was pregnant for the second time but I never knew about it. I just dreamt it. B. told me (later) I did have a baby sister but she died in the womb. (At the time I first saw her) no-one (had) ever told me that. So I do have a sister but she's dead. I was at the beach once and I saw them standing on top of the water when it was calm. They were just standing there with a little baby in their arms.
Did they talk to you?
Yes, but I couldn't quite hear them because of the other kids splashing in the background. But I remember them saying 'It's your turn soon.' And I didn't understand by that whether it was my turn to die, or my turn to go on or something like that. What they did say was, 'You'll be joining her one day.' But each time I see them she's bigger. It's like another year's gone past but it's only three days.
How often have you seen them?
They just come and sometimes at school when I've got no-one to play with I say, 'Where are you?' I sit on the fence and I talk to them. My sister Lily, she's about eight years old but I decided to keep it to myself and not tell everyone cos they'll only say, 'You don't have a sister, it's a total lie,' so I keep it to myself.
What kind of Fairies can you see?
There's every kind, but not all fairies have wings. Like the sea fairies I see sometimes: they don't have wings. They sort of have between a fin and a dolphin tail. They just sit around on the rocks and talk to people. They're about the size of me. Fairies are beautiful I reckon.