I parked the van in the driveway and Astrid and I loaded up the day’s things to head inside. Taekwondo uniform, water bottle, wet boots, homework folder. As we made our way up the sidewalk, she said, apropos of nothing, “I’m mad that this kid told me when I was in second grade that her mom was her tooth fairy.”
I tried to be reassuring. “Everyone learns at some point about the tooth fairy, honey. That was two years ago. Are you really still mad at her?”
“I’m not mad at her, I guess. I’m just mad that I don’t believe in it anymore. I wish I still believed in magic. I mean, someone could hand me something and call it pixie dust and I’d be, like, ‘whatever’. Not real. I want to look around and believe in fairies and other worlds and mythical creatures. But it’s all ruined now.”
My heart ached for her. “It happens to everyone, sweetheart. But if you look, there’s still a world full of magical things in ordinary stuff all around us.”
“Sure, Mom.” She was tuning me out already, but I soldiered on.
I put on my best “the world is full of magic” voice and launched into a motherly monologue: “Look at a dandelion puff. Isn’t that pretty magical? Or the sparkles in a waterfall? Or the powdery scales on a butterfly’s wings? The world is full of amazing stuff. Look at clouds! Tiny droplets suspended in the sky!”
“They’re just water, Mom,” she said glumly as she headed inside, shutting the door a little more violently than necessary.
I noticed something flutter to the ground and I stooped to pick it up. A piece of garden moss. I replaced it in the tinfoil pie plate Akeyla had transformed into a fairy garden at a preschool birthday party the weekend before. Jewels glittered, tiny pebbles formed a walk up to a little balsa wood hut, and a small medicine cup was filled with water in case the fairies got thirsty. Akeyla had been so concerned that the fairies wouldn’t find their new house that we’d had to whisper to all the walls to alert them to its existence. After bedtime, I reminded Matt to eat the stale Cheez-it she had broken in half – the better to fit into their tiny mouths — so that her little soul wouldn’t be crushed when she woke up and learned the fairies had failed to visit.
I replaced the pie plate on the porch table and hung my head over it, trying to breathe in the nine-inch round enchanted habitat. I noticed the sand getting damp, as mysterious drops fell from somewhere around my eyes.
Fairy rain, I’m guessing.
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