The sun beat down hard on Arrie's back. It had been scorching for the last five days or so. Unlike the Northern forest, which snowed almost every day, the Eastern forest almost never had snow. Arrie was wondering when the last time they had snow was, when she realized that today was Ellen's Fairy- Giving. A Fairy- Giving was when an elf would host a party where everyone would bring gifts. They would put all the gifts together in a pile under a Willow Tree. Everyone one would then entertain themselves until midnight, when they would look back on the gifts, which would be gone. In their place there would be a fine powder from the fairies wings. An elf would put this in a bowl of soup, which would make it taste rich and creamy, and everyone would have his or her own bowl.
Arrie gasped when she realized the ceremony was going to start without her any minute. She slung the pack with her gift over her shoulder and sprinted towards Ellen's house. Later on, as Arrie was plodding along the path, she saw a movement in the woods. She stopped running, and strained her eyes into the shadowy forms of trees in the woods. She saw the subtle outline an elf, or was it? But as soon as she glanced at it, in a moment it was gone.
Arrie stepped up to the doors of Ellen's house. She knocked twice. The sound echoed dismally throughout the house. Slowly the door creaked open. Sudden sounds of laughing and talking filled Arrie's ears. Elves were merrily eating delicious looking food. "Hello Arrie. You're late, dear. Place your gift by the wall over there" She pointed. Arrie brought her gift and placed it gently next to the wall. Suddenly, she noticed a group of elves standing in a corner, away from the friendly chattering of guests. Arrie strained to listen to what they were saying. She heard a bit of what they were saying. "It happened yesterday. Quite serious and nobody knows why." Entranced, Arrie edged in closer to listen. "Where did you say she lives again?" said the first elf looking wryly about him. "Do you know the grove where we are going to place our gifts under the willow tree?" "Yes, all the towns people pass by it at least once a day. What about it?" another elf stated. The first elf lowered his voice a notch, making Arrie strain her ears even harder. "She lives in the house directly across the lake from the tree. And her name is-" CRASH!
Arrie had leaned in so far trying to listen to their low voices, she had fallen over onto a neatly stacked row of pots and pans. "Sorry." She said rubbing her shoulder where the handle had pushed into her skin. The group of elves who were previously talking parted, throwing Arrie dark looks. Arrie sighed and headed toward the food table to entertain herself until they would leave for the willow tree.

At midnight everyone started throwing on his or her cloaks and the talking slowly eased until all was quiet. Ellen cleared her throat and announced, "Alright everyone! Now's the time to collect faire-dust! The willow tree isn't far. So let's go!" Arrie hugged her cloak closer, the dark cold of the night surrounded her as she stepped outside. The other elves were walking in groups but Arrie just lagged behind, her mind still puzzling over what she had overheard. If the willow tree was where she thought it was, then that would mean those elves were talking about someone on Arrie's street! Arrie's thoughts were interrupted when Ellen announced, "Alright everyone! We are at the designated point. Grab as much fairy-dust as desired but leave room for others!" Everyone crowded over the sparkling air, cupping their hands to guide the dust into their palms. Arrie gazed at her shimmering hands in awe. The dust made it look unreal. "Arrie! Dump your dust into the bowl so we can all have faire-dust soup!" snapped Ellen. Arrie turned her palm and watched the beautiful stars float into the bowl. Ellen mixed them with soup. "Alright Arrie. You first," said Ellen holding out the bowl. "Thank you," replied Arrie grasping the bowl. She took a sip. It was wonderful! It tasted like summer with some cinnamon and the faint trace of strawberries. But then the taste ended when Ellen passed the bowl to the next elf.
As everyone took his or her turn, Arrie gazed across the lake. She lives in the house directly across the lake from the tree, the elf had said. That was her neighbor, Dawn's, house! Arrie's mother had often invited Dawn over for some tea. What could have happened there? It must have been something of concern.
Then, across the lake, there came a scream.