It was her birthday! Excitedly, she put on her favorite dress and the prettiest crown in her collection (her Mama had given it to her a few years ago), and ran out into the woods.
The light of a new day pushed through the branches of the familiar trees. Fresh and green, and smelling of earth.
She was excited to see her fairy friends again. Every year on her birthday she had gone out into the woods and they had been there. Rustling through leaves, floating with the dust in shafts of light. They called to her to play with them. They were magic and imagination and she loved them.
It was her birthday and she could not wait to see them again! Though the dress pinched a little as it grew too small. Though she no longer looked at her crown collection, unless it was her birthday. She was certain that in the woods the magic remained.
But as she stepped through the shadows and dappled sunlight, all she heard was the breeze and the whisper of cars off the nearby highway. Where the fairies used to laugh at her as they danced, there remained only leaves, twigs, and dust. She strained her eyes looking for them, but found only a brown bird and caterpillar.
She stood there then, in her too tight dress and the crown slipping down the side of her head, and had to admit that she’d lost them.