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I can’t forget the day she died.⁣

I was sleeping over at Ann’s house. We were huddled inside of a sheet fort, listening to her nanny Linda tell us a story.⁣

“It was a fierce battle and the fairies were losing,” she continued. “But Belinda knew that if she used the fairy queen’s special dust, she could fly high enough to squeeze the rain out of the clouds.⁣

“So, even though it was forbidden, she stole the magical fairy dust and used it on herself to fly high into the clouds. She squeezed and squeezed until they were dense and dark, until lightning began to flash and rain fell upon the land below. Her plan was working—the clay creatures were melting and the rat king fled their land.”⁣

We smiled, pleased at the happy ending, but Linda waved a finger.⁣

“But as Belinda was flying back down from the skies to a cheering crowd of fairies, lightning struck—BAM!”⁣

Ann and I jumped.⁣

“—and burned her wings and hair. The fairies below rose as high as they could to catch her and the rain put out the fire. Hair would grow back, but nothing could be done to restore her wings.⁣

“The fairies were safe at last, and though she had saved them, Belinda had stolen something forbidden. A price had to be paid. The queen ordered her exiled from Faeland, never to return again.”⁣

Linda saw our teary eyes and wobbly chins. “But all was not lost, dear ones. Because Belinda decided if she couldn’t live among the fairies, she would live among the humans. In time she came to live in a beautiful home and take care of the sweetest little girl and her friend, and all lived happily ever after.”⁣

She winked and Ann wiped away her tears, giggling. “I’m glad Belinda is happy now.”⁣

“Don’t be silly,” I said, trying to seem grown up. “Belinda isn’t real. It’s just a story.”⁣

“She is too! Linda, tell her.”⁣

“Now, now, girls,” Linda said, patting Ann’s head. “Let’s just enjoy a story for what it is. Who wants some cocoa?” Her hand patted my hair next, but her fingers were trembling.⁣

“Well, I believe she’s real. Don’t you think fairies are real?”⁣

“Girls—” Linda wailed.⁣

I crossed my arms. “I don’t believe in fairies.”⁣

Linda’s face fell, then the rest of her fell, too.

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