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Grow Your Own Fairy
No one quite knew anything about Torry Dodenson.
All they knew was that she was a dedicated trolley driver who took her job very seriously. She stood out noticeably from the other drivers, perhaps because she was always working. Or perhaps it was her cheery personality. Or maybe it was just because she was strange.
She was an old woman in her late seventies, tall and skinny. She had long, gray hair and twinkling brown eyes that peeked out from beneath bushy brows. She wasn't always in her uniform, although it was a requirement for bus and trolley drivers. She liked to wear her red sweater, which she told everyone was special to her.
"You people, I love you people," she ranted one day. "You're all I have after the Civil War took my husband five thousand years ago. I love you people. I can always talk to someone on the trolley, and you all remind me of my husband! You, Daisy-" She pointed to a little girl, about ten. "You remind me of him in so many ways, kid. Will you marry me?" She laughed, a musical, wonderful, gentle laugh that Daisy adored. But soon after the laugh broke into a somewhat violent cough. "The doctor told me I've got heart problems," Torry said after she'd recovered. "Hah! I think he's got heart problems! I've got a perfectly good heart, thank you very much! I don't have heart problems! I've got a good heart! He's the one with heart problems!"
Some people thought she was a mess, just a crazy old woman who was too intent on being a bus driver for the remainder of her life. But Daisy liked talking to her. Torry was an old woman-it was okay if she wanted to spend the rest of her life being a trolley driver.
Daisy, ten years old and already riding the buses, was a very independent girl. She was a foster child and was going on her seventh family now. She was scared that they wouldn't want to take in a little clumsy girl who made too many mistakes that resulted in too many consequences for herself and the people around her. Torry understood perfectly.
"Look at it this way," Torry yelled. She didn't believe in hearing aids. "A family is like a red sweater. You have to wear it, or else you'll get lonely. Wear your family."
"Wear my family?" Daisy yelled back. "How do I do that?"
"Put it on, of course. And don't take it off, else you'll be stuck with a boring old uniform." Torry laughed. "And you'll be...awful lonely..." She trailed off and stared into the distance, her eyes seemingly looking at something that Daisy couldn't see.
"I guess that's a good idea." Daisy sighed. Her new family...they just weren't people who she could "wear.'""They're not very wearable, though."
Torry laughed. "Everyone is wearable," she shouted. "Just you wait and see. You might want to wear your red sweater before you have to put it in the wash."
Daisy thought about Torry's statement. Wearable. Right.
A the next stop, a woman and a little girl, who looked about five, stepped onto the trolley. Both Daisy and Torry knew them. They were Grace and Maria Hudson, part of the family that owned the little corner store up the street from the library.
"Hello, Torry." Grace sat down in one of the front seats so that she could talk to the trolley driver. Maria sat next to Daisy.
"Hello, Daisy!" Maria said.
"Hello, Maria." Daisy smiled.
Grace and Torry were having a conversation.
"Oh, yes." Grace was saying. "I always get scared. Our house has that gas stove, you know? If you leave it on, it's a major fire hazard."
"Well, then, you three are just going to have to be careful and turn it off every time you use it," Torry advised. "Fires are a very big cause of death these days."
Grace laughed. "Trust me. We'll be fine. Our house has got fairies in it, or at least as Maria says."
Maria looked up and smiled. "It's true! I've seen them!"
When Daisy got home, she didn't talk to her family, as usual. But instead of going to her room and reading until dinner, she began to search for a red sweater in all of the clothing that her foster mother had bought for her. She found every color: green, purple, pink, orange and blue...but no red.
Maybe this was a sign that this family couldn't be worn, despite what Torry had said.
Today was her eleventh birthday. She wondered how her family would handle it. They'd probably treat her like a veteran again. Like she was fighting a war or something. And now she'd finally found peace, because of course they were the perfect family.
She had been right. As soon as she went downstairs, the lights flickered on and her foster family seemed to jump out of every crack in the wallpaper.
"SURPRISE!" they shouted, throwing their arms around her. She stiffened and began to cry, as she always did when she was around them.
"What's wrong, hon?" Her foster mother put her arm around the girl's shoulder. This was what she always said. Daisy didn't like it. It sounded...fake, somehow.
"Hey, Daisy!" Her foster brother said. "No need to get all teary-eyed on your birthday! You're eleven now! For all you know you could die in ten days!"
"Don't scare her," her foster mother scolded him. "Daisy isn't going to die in ten days."
Frankly, Daisy wished that she would. She just knew that as soon as this family got through to her, they would get bored and dump her back into the cruel claws of loneliness.
Her foster father came up to her and put his hand on her shoulder. "Daisy, this is your first birthday with--"
Daisy slapped his hand away, turning from them all. They stared at her, dumbfounded.
Daisy endured the long party to which all of her foster family's friends were invited. They pinched her cheeks, and said things like, "What a cute little girl!" and bombarded her with presents that she was forced to open and like. She managed to do this without speaking. She didn't want any of them to have the satisfaction of hearing her voice.
Throughout the party, her mind kept wandering back to Torry Dodenson. She could still hear her yelling, "You might want to wear your red sweater before you have to put it in the wash." What does this mean? Daisy didn't have a red sweater. All of them were different colors. And the only way to make a sweater dirty was to wear it. Why did she have to wear it "before she had to wash it?"
After the party, Daisy was exhausted. She'd received so many presents-but not one red sweater. She slowly ascended the stairs to her room, sighing all the way. If she couldn't get this mystery solved, then she'd be with a new family soon. And another after that.
She froze when she got into her bedroom. Everything was normal, except for the brown package on her bed.
She sighed heavily. Another present. Great. She wondered who had sneaked up into her room to put it there. Probably another person whom she didn't even know.
She slowly unwrapped the package, being careful not to rip the paper. Maybe that was because it was hand decorated. Maybe it was because she didn't want her nosy foster family to hear. All the same, for some reason she was being too careful.
Inside was a small wooden doll. It was the kind that artists use to help with anatomy, save for the large, delicate wooden fairy wings that sprouted from its back.
The tag hanging off it said, in a small font that Daisy could barely read,
"Grow Your Own Fairy!
Just place in a cup of water and turn away for ten seconds! When you turn back, your fairy will be grown!"
This seemed too easy. Why only ten seconds? It was like the best part was when the fairy was grown instead of the process of growing it.
It was worth a try, though. Daisy crept down into the kitchen, seeking a glass. She found a clear plastic cup and hastened to fill it with water.
She carried the cup of water up to her room, where she placed it on the sill. She took a deep breath. Why did she feel so nervous? It was only some kind of stupid chio-pet. It would grow until it was the size of the cup and then stop. Then she'd have to throw it out before it started to grow mold.
She dropped the wooden doll into the water and took a deep breath. She turned around.
Ten seconds had never seemed so long. At second five, she peeked over her shoulder, though she knew she wasn't supposed to. The wooden fairy was still in the cup, doing absolutely nothing. Daisy was beginning to feel that it wasn't worth her time, when the doll flipped once.
Daisy sighed and turned back around. This really was stupid...
...but still worth a try.
She lost track of time and sat there, staring off into space, wondering if it would work. It was stupid that she was even trying, but she supposed it was only something to pass the time-
Daisy froze mid-thought. Someone had tapped her on the shoulder. It was a delicate tap, soft and a little shy. Daisy squinted and tried to resist the urge to turn around. Her heart was beating loudly; she could hear it.
"Don't be afraid," a quiet voice said from behind her. It had a strange accent to it that Daisy didn't recognize. "My name is Thorn. I'm your fairy."
Daisy wondered if she was crazy. This was insane! There wasn't a fairy behind her right now, was there? She must be hallucinating. Her foster brother was playing a trick on her. Something. But it couldn't be that there was a fairy behind her. Impossible, right?
"Please don't be afraid, mortal." the voice spoke again. "I'm very grateful to you for setting me free. And now I would like to repay you."
Daisy slowly turned her head to look.
There he was-Thorn. The fairy who'd come out of a package. The fairy who'd once just been a wooden doll.
He couldn't have been human. First of all, his eyes were pitch black, unlike any she'd ever seen. Second, he was far too frail and delicate-looking. His skin almost sparkled in the light. Third, he had two long, pointy ears and a pair of large, fragile wings. His hair was far too delicate-looking to belong to a human; not to mention it was a deep black as well. Fourth, he was only about twelve inches tall.
"Y-y-y..." Daisy stuttered, widening her eyes. "A-f-y..."
"What's your name, mortal?" He began to fly toward her.
"D-Daisy." She managed to get the full word out. "Um...n-nice to meet you."
"Yes." he replied. "Now what is your wish?"
Daisy stared at him, confused. "Wish?"
"Yes, yes. Take your time; I'm probably going to be with you for the rest of your life, so..."
"THE REST OF MY LIFE?" Daisy jumped back a few feet and wondered if it hadn't been worth it after all.
Thorn sighed. "That's the consequence," he said quietly. "Though I'm not all for it, when a human runs out of wishes, they die. That's the rule."
"How many wishes do I get?" Daisy's voice was shaking. She was really scared now.
"Ten-and-a-half. Because you only will die in the middle of your eleventh wish, but it will still come true." Thorn smiled sadly. "I hate to see another innocent mortal die. But it's the rule, you know."
"I really don't like the rule," Daisy mumbled.
"So, what's your first wish?" Thorn said, ignoring her statement. "You should wish every day, when you have a fairy. Otherwise they'll lose their magic."
This really made Daisy angry. "So you're saying I only have ten days to live? Or less?" she shouted at the surprised fairy.
"Um...well...it's not my fault!" he said nervously. "You have to follow the Rules, I have to follow the..."
"Fine, I can accept that," she mumbled. "Weirdo boy fairy who grew from a wooden doll, eleven wishes, certain death..."
"Yes!" Thorn smiled. "What's so bad about that?"
"I was being sarcastic, idiot." Daisy sighed. This was going to be a long last ten days of her life.
Then it hit her. That was right! There were only ten days left! She had to get a red sweater!
"All right!" she said, looking back at Thorn. "My first wish is for a red sweater!"
Thorn stared at her, confused.
"What are you looking at?" Daisy sighed. "I just want a red sweater, that's all. It's not like it's an apocalypse where only I survive or something like that."
"But you already have a red sweater," Thorn said, shaking his head. "You've already got one, Daisy. You don't need another."
"But I searched through all of my clothing!" Daisy said. "How can I have one already?"
Thorn just looked at her.
"Okay, okay." Daisy gave in. "I'll ask for something else."
She thought for a while, aware of the fairy watching her.
"Okay," she said after a while, walking to the door. "I want my foster family to freeze in time every time I'm present."
"Done," said Thorn, shaking his head again. "Done."
As Daisy walked down the stairs, she wondered what was wrong with the fairy. All she wanted to do was live her last ten days in peace, and she certainly couldn't do that with her foster family. When she got downstairs, her foster mother was half-poised over the sink, frozen with a glass and a sponge in her hand. Her foster brother was stuck in the air over the couch. Jumping over it again? Daisy sighed. Her foster father was meddling with the computer, his finger stuck up his nose.
"Did you wear your red sweater?" Torry shouted as soon as she got on the bus.
"No," Daisy said, sitting down. "I couldn't find it."
"Oh. That's too bad," the old woman muttered, straightening her own crimson polyester sweater.
"Someone told me that I've got one," Daisy said, looking down at her feet. "But I can't find it anywhere!"
"Hon, I know this sounds corny," Torry advised, picking a leftover piece of corn from her teeth, "the best place to look is in your heart."
"Look in my heart?" Daisy looked up at Torry, confused. "For a sweater?"
"Of course." Torry said loudly. "Where else?"
"Well, I was thinking more along the lines of my closet."
"Oh." Torry said, then paused for a long time, thinking. After a while, she changed the subject and went into a loud conversation with Daisy about how the daffodils had bloomed so early this spring.
But Daisy couldn't get her mind off of the red sweater.
When she got to the library, she hid in a corner and read. She always did this, every night, and the librarian had given up questioning her.
"How do you like that?" said a man sitting in a green chair, talking to the librarian in a whisper. "She didn't tell me. She just up and left! We hadn't even had any fights! I woke up the next morning, and she wasn't there!"
"A similar thing happened to me," the librarian replied. "My boyfriend left me when things were actually going quite well!"
"I wish she could at least come and talk to me," the man complained. "Now I'm alone!"
The word "alone" rang in Daisy's head. Alone. Alone. Alone.
Just what she'd felt when her parents had left her...
And now she had her stupid foster family, a stupid fairy, eleven stupid wishes, and only ten days left to live.
Perhaps things would straighten themselves out. Maybe she would die, and then neither foster family nor fairy nor wishes would ever bother her again.
Thorn could shrink back into the little wooden doll, waiting to come out again and say goodbye to yet another human.
"Daisy!" A figure that looked like an oversized dragonfly into the library, waving. He tripped over his own feet and fell onto the desk, causing the vase of flowers that was there to be knocked over.
"What was that?" the librarian jumped out of her seat.
"I don't know, but there's obviously no one there," the man said.
Daisy stood up. Of course. She should expect as much from a fairy boy.
She held her hand out to Thorn, pretending to be stretching. The librarian smiled at her.
"See, little Daisy's not afraid of ghosts." she said.
"That girl isn't afraid of anything but normal people," the man said nastily, and Daisy threw him a glare.
"Daisy!" Thorn said, jumping onto her hand. "I've been thinking. And you don't really have to wish every day. I mean, you still only get eleven, but you have more time than that to live!"
Daisy took him outside, where no one could hear, before she replied to his statement.
"And be tortured by your presence the whole time? I don't think so!"
"Daisy, it's not like you have much of a choice," Thorn said urgently. "Look, I am on my first step to freedom. I thought I could take advantage of you and make you think that you only had ten days, but..."
"Don't tell me." Daisy put her hand on her hip. "You didn't have the heart."
"Well, yeah...," Thorn said, laughing nervously. "Something wrong with that?"
"This just gets cornier and cornier," Daisy sighed. "Okay, look, fairy. I don't want any of your stupid wishes. Have your freedom."
Thorn smiled sadly. "I'm afraid...it's not so easy."
"You mean I can't just let you go?" Daisy asked, astonished. "You're my fairy; why can't I set you free without dying first?"
Thorn put his head in his hands. "You just don't get it," he sighed. "Even when that old woman on the bus told me..."
Daisy looked up. "You mean Torry?"
"Yes, Torriana Elizabeth Dodenson, seventy-two years old. You know her, correct? She says she's been talking to you."
Daisy stared, confused, back at the library. "But those people couldn't see you. How could Torry?"
"I don't know," Thorn replied, confused himself. "Usually only the person who grows us can see and hear us."
"Well..." Daisy looked up at the dark sky. It seemed like it was the color of Thorn's hair. Only, Thorn's hair was darker. Daisy sighed. She didn't like these inhuman traits that he held. They were just so...different. "Well, Torry is a very special lady. I really like her. She's the only one I can...wear..."
Thorn nodded, smiling ironically as if she was...missing something. "Let's go back home, Daisy. Are you finished with this place?"
And the strange speech. That was another thing that Daisy didn't get. Other people who were around Thorn's age, her foster brother for instance, didn't even want to have weird English accents and bizarre phrases. They just spoke like...well...inner-city-fourteen-year-old boys. Not like they'd just stepped out of the nineteenth century.
"Yes." Daisy said, holding up the book she'd just checked out. "Let's go."
Torry Dodenson was still driving the trolley when Thorn and Daisy got on. She was one of the only drivers who wanted to work so late--nine o'clock at night was a stretch for most people.
"Hello, Daisy. Hey, Thorn." Torry said, grinning, as they boarded the trolley. Some of the passengers looked confused when Torry addressed the fairy. But most of them knew that Torry was insane. She was seeing things.
"Hey, Torry." Daisy said cheerfully. No one stared any longer when she talked to Torry. They'd stared before because Daisy ignored everyone else who tried to talk to her, but most of the people now knew that Torry was the only one whom Daisy would talk to.
"Did you put on your red sweater?" Torry asked. "It's getting colder out there."
"I don't...have one." Daisy sighed. She wished Torry would just drop the whole "red sweater" thing.
"Oh yes, you do," both Torry and Thorn told her at the same time.
Daisy sighed and went to sit at the very back of the bus, leaving Torry and the obnoxious fairy to, most likely, talk about red sweaters.
There were hardly any people on the bus, though, and Daisy could still hear them.
"She doesn't get it," Thorn said loudly. "She's running out of time, too..."
"I'm almost sure I told her what I meant," Torry said loudly back to him. "She is being a very ignorant girl."
"She is only ten, though." Thorn sighed. "I suppose that's an excuse."
Daisy tried to stop listening to them talk about her, but the bus was too quiet.
They stopped talking about her, and went on to other things.
"So, how's the fairy business going?" Torry asked him.
"Good. We're trying to take over the whole Grow Your Own Fairy thing. Most of us have been trapped for a long time inside little wooden dolls. It's like a kind of abuse."
"That is abuse," Torry agreed. "Who do they think they are, trapping you there?"
Thorn laughed, a little sadly. "They think they're the Fairy Gods. And they're right. Until we can somehow break free, we'll be under their power forever. Even if we're free, we still have to comply with their rules."
"What are the rules that a freed one has to follow?" Torry asked curiously.
"When we're free, we don't have the unfortunate duty of killing humans." Thorn said. "But we do have to give them sicknesses, misplace their keys, use up all of the electricity in their house...that's what being someone's fairy means."
"I think I have one in my house!" Torry laughed. "I'm always looking for my keys. But I haven't gotten the flu for forty years now, knock on wood!" Torry knocked on the rectangular block of wood she always kept with her for this very purpose.
Thorn laughed too. "That's good."
"Oh well, that's too bad. Maybe you'll get it less when you're older."
"I won't get older," Thorn whispered. Surprisingly, Torry heard.
"Don't fairies grow?" Torry asked, confused.
"You don't grow unless the gods decide that you're good enough," Thorn said. "They think I'm...stupid because I feel emotion for humans."
"Sheesh!" Torry said loudly, startling everyone on the bus. "That is dumb! And mean! Who are these 'gods'?"
"Shhh!" Thorn said frantically, looking around. "If they find out I told you about them, then they'll send someone to kill you! And I'll never get to be free..."
"Oh." Torry said, her voice quieter. "I'm sorry."
"Just don't say it again," Thorn muttered.
Over the next few days, Daisy found herself wishing more often than not. Worse, she was always wishing for something that she would regret. She also realized that, as kind as Thorn was, he was still a fairy. If you aren't specific in your wishes, then fairies are always going to twist them as far as they can go. On the second day, Daisy was cold and wished for something to warm her hands. Thorn gave her a hot coal. The library didn't have the book she wanted, so she wished for the book. Thorn gave her a completely different book by a different author, but with the same title. On the third day, she absently wished for a cup of hot chocolate. She had so many things in her life that she wanted to dispel-and many times she found herself thinking about which was worse; her foster family and Thorn, or the dire consequences. But she kept on wishing. She figured that since her life was going to end soon, she might as well make herself happy.
On the third day, she met up with Torry again. She hadn't taken the bus as much, because her foster family never bothered her.
"The police," Torry said, as she heard sirens in the distance. A few police cars turned the corner and sped down the stone-paved road, not stopping for an instant.
"No big deal," Daisy said, sitting down. "There's always something happening."
Thorn kept looking at the police cars until they were gone around the other corner.
"What if it's something especially bad today?" Torry said, turning a corner and halting to a stop in front of the convenience store. Several people boarded the trolley, all talking too much to notice Daisy sitting there.
"Did you hear about the missing kid?" one person said. "Sheesh! So much trouble in the city today."
"Yeah," the other said. "Did you hear about..."
Daisy couldn't hear them anymore as their voices were drowned out by more people boarding the bus. Thorn looked at the two people, then looked worriedly at Daisy. She shrugged, taking out her book.
More people began to talk about it.
"The girl's name was Daisy Robinson. A foster kid."
"Yeah. Apparently the family's really freaking out."
Only five wishes left. She would be dead soon. She didn't want anyone to get blamed for it--Torry might be one of the prime suspects.
She scribbled a note to Thorn.
"I wish I was invisible to everyone except you and Torry."
He nodded once and held up a warning hand with five fingers held up. Daisy had wished two times yesterday and once already today, so she only had five left-six including the wish that would come true after she died.
People stared, confused, in her direction.
"Wasn't there just a girl there?" a man muttered. "Or was I seeing things?"
"You were seeing things," Torry said loudly, laughing. "Welcome to the club!"
It was unusual, being invisible. She couldn't sit on the bus, because people sat on her, thinking that the seat was vacant. At least she could get into places for free. And everything she touched became invisible, too, so she didn't have to pay for anything. But she felt a kind of sadness deep inside--nobody could see her anymore.
She had to sleep in the park that night. She told herself that it was because she didn't like her foster family, but Thorn told her that it was because she didn't want to see their sad faces. She didn't want to feel guilty for her own wishes.
Daisy woke up to little children running through her. It wasn't painful at all, but it was too strange. Maria Hudson was with them, and she was smiling at Daisy.
"Red Rover, Red Rover, let Jeanie come over!" yelled four eight-year-olds. They had their hands linked. There were four on the other side as well. One, a small girl wearing a sweatshirt that was far too big with curly red hair, ran as fast as she could toward the other group. She ran right through Daisy and tried to break through the barrier of their arms, but didn't succeed. Instead, she collapsed to the ground with giggles.
Daisy moved out of the way to watch them. They were so...carefree, somehow. And to think this had been not too long ago for Daisy.
"You wanna play?" asked Maria. Daisy looked up, surprised, and shook her head. How could Maria see her?
"Okay!" Maria ran back to her group. "Who's turn is it?"
Daisy realized with a jolt that Maria was wearing a red sweater.
"Red Rover, Red Rover, let Maria come over!" the other team called.
Maria ran gracefully to the other side, smoothly splitting the joined hands of a boy and a girl.
"See?" Maria laughed. "I can break the chains of love, Miranda and Jacob!"
Miranda, the girl who had been holding the boy's hand, turned to Maria, her face red. "We were just holding hands, Maria!"
"It's a game!" Jacob added.
Daisy watched the rest of the game in absolute awe of Maria. She was convinced now. Torry was right about her. The one thing she needed was a red sweater.
"Jeanie! Maria! Miranda! David! Polly! Jacob! Samantha! Finn!" A teacher called their names. "The field trip is over, everyone! Come back to the bus!"
Maria walked with everyone, chatting happily with them. The sun shone on her blonde hair, making it sparkle. And just as she was about to board the bus, she turned and winked at Daisy.
Daisy never really found out why little Maria had winked. But it made her feel good, somehow.
Over the next few days, Daisy wished that she could fly. She didn't really want to wish that, but she'd accidentally said it aloud. She'd also wished that she could climb trees better. Now, she was down to three wishes. Four counting the one that would come true after her death.
"There was a fire yesterday," Torry said loudly to Daisy, pretending to talk to a woman behind her. The woman was humoring her, but wasn't listening.
"Oh?" the woman asked..
"Yeah. All of the Hudsons died. The people who owned the little corner store I always drive by. The only one they could save was the girl. Eight years old, I heard. Got all scratched up."
Daisy looked sharply at Torry. "Tell me more," she said, "about the girl."
"They took her to the Mariam hospital," Torry continued sadly. "Her poor aunt is worried sick. I heard she's not gonna live much longer. Poor little Maria Hudson."
Daisy gasped as Torry said the name. Maria Hudson. Maria Hudson.
"I have to go!" Daisy said, and she ran out just as the trolley stopped and Torry opened the door. Her flying abilities came in handy now.
"Goodbye!" Torry called after her.
"Where are you going?" Thorn caught up with her. "I thought you didn't care about anyone but Torry!"
"Well, there's someone new," Daisy said, flying toward the hospital. "Thorn, I wish I could walk through walls."
Thorn granted her wish, and she landed on the sidewalk. She ran towards the building. She really wanted to see Maria before she died, and the clock was ticking.
Daisy tripped and fell on the cement, but she quickly got to her feet again. The building seemed so very far away, as if it was running from her.
She finally reached the wall, though it had seemed like forever. She had to stop and catch her breath--she had run so far and so fast.
"I wish I had an endless supply of energy," she whispered, and immediately regretted it. But it was too late, Thorn had already heard.
Suddenly, she was more awake, stronger than she'd ever been before. She walked right through the wall of the hospital, and came into the large waiting area with the leather armchairs and grim-looking people with flowers, "Get Well" balloons, and cards. Daisy ran right past them all, anxious to find little Maria.
She sneaked a "Get Well" balloon from a vender while he wasn't looking, and then found herself standing absently, wondering what to do next. She hadn't thought of this. She had no idea where Maria was being kept.
"I'm going to go check on the burn victims," a nurse whispered to a doctor behind Daisy. She spun around just as the doctor nodded, and the nurse began to walk toward the elevator. Daisy followed.
"Daisy, you only have two more wishes left, counting the eleventh." Thorn reminded her as they stood in the elevator with the oblivious nurse.
"I know! But it won't matter, will it? Once I'm dead? I need to do something that's not for myself for once!"
The elevator stopped, and the nurse went out, still oblivious to Daisy and Thorn at her heels. Finally, the nurse unlocked a large door. Next to it was a black sign with white letters on the wall that read: "Intensive Care."
Daisy followed the nurse down a long hallway of locked doors, until they came to the end. There was another door at the end with a sign that read: "Burn Unit".
The nurse unlocked the door and entered yet another hallway, Daisy and Thorn following close behind.
Evidently, the first room that the nurse stopped in was little Maria Hudson's.
"Hello, dear, how are you doing?" the nurse asked. Maria was awake, and she was staring up at the ceiling.
The little girl began to cry.
"Would you like some more pain medicine?" the nurse asked softly, stroking Maria's cheek. "It will help you sleep."
"No, I don't want to sleep." Maria said. "Turn the stove off! Mommy left it on!"
She cried more. Tears were streaming down her little face, staining it brutally.
"Poor little girl." The nurse wiped away the tears.
Daisy came forward and sat in the chair on the other side of Maria's bed. Maria looked up at her.
The nurse left.
"Daisy?" Maria said, wiping her eyes. Her tiny wrists were connected to IVs, and they were both wrapped in white bandages. Her face hadn't been burned, but her neck and chest were wrapped in the bandages as well.
"Hello," Daisy said softly. "Are you feeling all right?"
"No..." Maria said quietly. "No...no...no...no..."
"Oh." Daisy replied.
"The nurse will be back," Maria told her. "And she'll wonder why I'm talking to someone who isn't there, and she'll give me a shot..."
"I wish that the nurse wouldn't come in here, just for tonight," Daisy whispered to Thorn.
"Done." Thorn sighed. "You only have one more left, you know. After that, you die."
"I don't care," Daisy told him.
Maria had been paying close attention to the conversation. So she could see Thorn, too...
She lost interest and closed her eyes, suddenly exhausted. Daisy sat in her chair with a sigh.
They sat there for hours. The sky became completely dark, and Daisy turned the light off. Every once in a while, they would hear the clack of a nurse's shoes on the hard tiled floor, passing by the door every time.
The moonlight illuminated the little girl's face as she slept. Maria was sleeping, but there was pain in her face.
Daisy had just been starting to drift off when she felt someone brush past her. She looked up, alarmed.
"Daisy," said a soft voice from behind her.
Daisy turned around, and widened her eyes at what she saw.
Maria stood there, looking out the window. The moonlight softly illuminated her features. She never turned to Daisy, she just stared out.
"Daisy, am I dead?" the girl asked, her voice shaking.
"I don't know. I'm only human, after all." Daisy admitted, coming to stand beside her. "Only human."
"But you're not...human..." Maria said softly. "Nobody but I can see you. And the doctors...they say I can see fairies because of my burns. They say they're all just illusions. Are you an illusion, Daisy?"
"No." Daisy put her arms around Maria. "I am a human. I am under an enchantment."
"Really?" Maria's eyes lit up. "Was it put on you by a witch?"
Daisy thought for a while.
"Yes," she said. "Yes, a witch put this spell on me. But that witch is getting a lot better, and now..." Daisy paused, looking out at the stars. How could one little girl change her completely? Maria had to be a very special person to be able to turn a bad witch good. Then again, this witch was only human. It only takes something little to make an angry young witch to put on her red sweater...
Daisy caught herself thinking that if she had one more chance, she wouldn't take her foster family for granted. Humans were such delicate creatures, and could be hurt in so many ways. It didn't take a lot to lose a loved one. If she wasn't careful, she would end up losing everything.
But now that she didn't have a chance anymore, she could at least give one to this girl. Time was running out--it was either Daisy or Maria.
She closed her eyes.
"I wish..." she said, squeezing Maria's hand. Thorn flew up beside her and put his tiny hand on her shoulder.
"Are you sure?" he asked.
"Yes." Daisy smiled and continued. "I wish...that Maria could live."
At first when Maria Hudson woke up, she thought she was in Heaven. She was at home, lying in her own bed in her own room, her aunt, uncle, cousins and grandparents surrounding her. They were all smiling at her as she opened her eyes, embracing her, kissing her cheeks and forehead. But then she knew she wasn't dead, because if she was, then her mom and dad would be there, too.
"Auntie..." she said weakly, smiling at her aunt. "I had a beautiful nightmare..."
Her aunt's pretty smile turned into a worried look. "Really?" She stroked her niece's cheek. "Tell me."
"Mommy left the stove on. Turn it off!" Tears began to roll down Maria's cheek. "Turn it off, Auntie! Turn it off!"
"Shh," her aunt comforted, but tears were running down her own face. "Sh, it's all right. The stove is off now."
Maria's face became peaceful. "That's good. There won't be...a fire...now..."
Everyone left after a while, preparing for the funeral of Maria's parents.
They wanted Torry Dodenson to attend, someone who had known Maria's mom very well. Maria could hear her aunt's voice on the phone.
"Hello, could you possibly connect me with Torry Dodenson? She's one of your drivers.
"No, not Morris Johnson. Torry Dodenson.
"What? But she's been in your business for thirty years, now!
"Really? Are you serious? Dead?"
Maria's aunt placed the phone softly into the receiver and began to cry. She ran into Maria's room and hugged her tightly, whispering,
"I will wear my red sweater until the day I die."
In another part of the city, maybe a few blocks away, maybe a few miles, a family was having breakfast together. True, one was adopted, but nothing was awkward. It was as if she'd never hated them, as if she'd never wished to never see them again. Of course, Daisy's foster family was wondering what had happened to her. But they weren't angry. On the contrary, they were happy that they could get through to her now.
"Let's go somewhere fun today." Daisy's foster mother, who's name was Penelope, suggested, grinning.
"Where?" Daisy asked, smiling back.
"We can go anywhere you'd like, Daisy." Penelope told her.
"Ooh, ooh!" Her foster brother, Finn, pushed her aside, and she glared at him. "I know! How about we go to the roller skating rink? That'd be awesome!"
"No," Daisy said, pushing him back. "I would rather go to the beach and climb the rocks."
"Let's do that, then," her foster father, Michael, said, relieved that what they were going to do wouldn't cost money. "You can choose where we go for lunch, Finn. But no fast-food places!"
"I know, Dad." Finn sighed.
"Daisy, I just did a wash." Penelope said. "I wanted to wash some of the clothing I got you before you wore it, because they're all hand-me-downs. Some of them were clean, though! Anyway, there might be a better shirt in there for climbing rocks than the one you have on. Go look!"
Frankly, Daisy was glad she was even alive. Maybe Thorn had just been trying to scare her. But he did seem sincere...
She gasped as she opened the dryer.
"Mom, is this mine?"
"Yes, that is yours."
Daisy smiled and put on the garment--a beautiful red sweater that she'd never known she had.
Something slipped out of the sweater pocket--a small envelope. The front was labeled "Daisy" in the same handwriting that had been on the package that Thorn had been inside. Daisy opened the envelope, again being careful not to tear it.
A small note floated out, and Daisy picked it up. Small, sincere words were inscribed there.
It was a pleasure doing business with you. Put on your red sweater and never take it off.
Good Deed Fairy