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by Maura Yzmore

It was nearly morning when Wendy landed on the railing of the balcony just outside her bedroom. Gently, she touched down on the tips of her toes. Slowly, she flapped her translucent wings, trying to shake off the pixie dust as quietly as she could, without waking anyone, without leaving any trace of magic that could be found by those who wouldn’t understand it.

She wasn’t ready to go in just yet. She tucked away her wings and turned outward, toward the rising sun. She sat on top of the railing, the matronly breadth of her behind showing that the spell had worn off. Her thick calves and bare, calloused feet hung over the abyss.

Her husband was inside, dead to the world. Wendy could hear him sawing logs through the glass door, could imagine his girth, his vast chest and abdomen rising and falling. He was a loud, angry man, with a sharp tongue and blunt fists. She liked him best when he was asleep.

Wendy didn’t know what it was that brought Peter back into her life that night several weeks ago. It couldn’t have been the fight with her husband, for the fight was unremarkable: neither she nor the children got hit; there were no broken dishes. She’d had much darker hours before, felt much deeper despair, looked over the balcony with much more longing, felt the pull of the pavement much more strongly than she did that night.

She did not know why Peter emerged, as ebullient as ever, but he did, and he whispered that he had a barrel of fairy dust, all the dust she’d been owed all these years, and that it was hers, Wendy’s — no one else’s, just hers — if she still wanted it. She nodded. Her cheeks flushed with excitement, like the first time she’d met Peter, the first time she’d ever flown.

Peter pulled out a leather pouch with an embroidered “W” — Wendy remembered having made it, long ago — then he untied it and poured its contents all over her. She felt something wriggle between her shoulder blades, and a scream almost escaped her throat as two large dragonfly wings erupted from her back, see-through yet tough, and she felt like she was new again, lean and lively and light …

And she’d been sneaking out every night since. She visited Neverland on occasion, to see Peter and friends and refill the pouch, but otherwise she flew by herself, over the lands she’d always wanted to see, enjoying the solitude, the willowiness of her limbs, the flow of air beneath her wings.

Wendy smiled. She remembered her children, fast asleep in the room next to hers, their soft warm bodies relaxed, intertwined, needing her to stand between them and the world, against all that was sharp and cold. She pulled her dangling feet back up, turned around, and stepped onto the balcony.

On the pavement below, pixie dust glistened in the morning sun.

Maura Yzmore is a writer and scientist based in the American Midwest. Her short fiction can be found in Bending Genres, Jellyfish Review, Ellipsis Zine, and elsewhere. Website: maurayzmore.com, Twitter: @MauraYzmore.