“What did you do today, sweetie?” Grandma asked Roger.
“I read The Hobbit again, and weeded the border. And then some guys were playing basketball next door and they asked me to play.”
“That was sweet of them. Was it Brent and his friends?”
Grandma smiled. “Brent is such a nice young man. We should have him over sometime. He’s your age, Linda, you know.”
“I have a boyfriend,” snapped Linda.
“Whatever do you mean, sweetie?” gasped Grandma.
“Don’t worry about her,” said Roger. “That’s just the standard response that they learn in White Girl Preparatory School. It’s hard to get any studying done between all of the Starbucks and ‘can’t even-ing,’ but they manage it somehow.”
Linda gave him a look that would have curdled milk.
“White Girl...whatever are you talking about?”
“I was just being silly,” said Roger, crestfallen.
Mavis gave him as much of a smile as she could muster.
As soon as they were in the hallway after supper, Linda slammed Roger into the wall. “Look, punk, I’m getting tired of your smart mouth.”
Roger should have been looking up at her, terrified, but instead he was looking past her. “Mavis?”
Linda turned in time to see Mavis half fall on the stairs.
They both cleared the few steps in a single bound and each got an arm around her.
“What is it?” asked Roger. “Mavis?”
“So dizzy,” murmured Mavis. “So dizzy.”
“What do we do?” asked Linda, wide-eyed.
“Get her up,” said Roger. “Help me get her to bed.”
“Shouldn’t we get Grandma?”
“No, she can’t do anything we can’t. She’ll just worry.”
Between the two of them they half carried and half dragged Mavis up to her room. It was Roger, looking very serious, who tucked her in. “Get better, Maves,” he whispered in her ear.
She looked like she was asleep. But she wasn’t.
She laid there, crying silently, because what was inside finally hurt more than what was outside. “I wish I would get better. I wish I could do something.”
The tears were drying at the corners of her eyes when there was a soft movement in the air. “Look at the poor dear,” said First Voice. “She’s cried herself to sleep.”
“I think it looks like a monster,” said Second Voice. “A horrible, snotty-nosed, Fae eating monster.”
“Nonsense,” said First Voice. “She’s just a child.”
“Child monsters are the worst.”
“Why are you such a marshwallower?” sighed First Voice. “I think that we ought to help her.”
“Help her? Why would we want to help her?”
“You heard her wish.”
“We don’t grant wishes,” said Second Voice. “We mind our own business and get on with our job. See? No muss, no fuss, no cracked coconuts.”
“Don’t be that way,” said First Voice. “Give me your ticket.”
“What! Absolutely not!”
“Do it, Bollygoggle!”
Second Voice humphed and grumped and kicked at the edge of the blanket.
“Please, Bollygoggle?” wheedled First Voice.
“Use your ticket, if you’re so keen on a foolhardy idea.”
“My ticket has the seal on it. We have to use yours. Come, Bollygoggle. Do it.”
A slip of parchment suddenly appeared on the edge of Mavis’ pillow.
“Not yet,” said First Voice. “Lend me a quill?”
Mavis sighed. When she opened her eyes, it took her a moment to realize what was different. There was no pain.
Obviously, she was dreaming. A full moon was peeking around the curtains in her window and it came dancing up the blanket to her. And that’s when she noticed something on her pillow.
It looked like some sort of ticket, with a destination and departure time written on it in gold ink. But all of the words and even the numbers looked strange. Where had it come from? She picked it up, and it felt heavier than paper ought to, and very smooth. She flipped it over. There were words written in pencil, little letters that looked like someone very small was trying to write large.
“Sorry I cannot grant wishes, this is the best I can do. Go into the shed before midnight. Don’t be missing the train.
Mavis sat up. This was a very interesting dream! She looked out over the yard and saw the small shed, sitting quietly just where it always did. Should she go? Then she laughed at herself. It was a dream, after all. Of course she should go. In half of a minute she had on her slippers and bathrobe and was down the hall. But then she stopped. Roger’s door was half open.
Roger opened a sleepy eyeball. “Wha?”
“Get up! I’m having an awesome dream and I want you to be in it!”
Roger sat up. “Are you sure you’re having a dream?”
“Of course I’m sure, I don’t have a migraine and I’m not dizzy.”
“Come on, we have to get to the shed before midnight!”
“Why?” asked Roger.
Mavis handed him the ticket and they went pelting down the stairs.
“Don’t you want to bring Linda?!” called Roger.
“Don’t make me throw up,” Mavis called back as she ran, her hair streaming out behind her.
The shed wasn’t locked. They pulled the door open and…
“Are we mowing the yard or something?” asked Roger, staring at the old reel mower that Grandpa insisted on keeping.
“‘Go into the shed before midnight,’” read Mavis, puzzled. “What are we supposed to do? What train?”
Roger poked into the darkness. “This is a weird dream, Maves.”
“It’s a lame dream.”
“Hey,” said Roger. “Does this shed have a second room?”
“No. it’s just a tiny prefabricated box.”
“Then what is that?”
Roger was pointing to a slim stream of light peeking out from under what appeared to be a door.
“Feel for a knob,” hissed Mavis.
“Got it,” said Roger.
The door swung open and Mavis and Roger stood blinking in the lamplight.
“Is it just me, or does that look like Grand Central station?” asked Mavis.
“What is Grand Central station doing in our grandparent's garden shed?” asked Roger.