The girl was a cashier. It was a rather dull and menial job but one that would pay the bills and hopefully allow her to survive college. She didn't like her job. People treated her badly and she received very little in way of compensation for this. And when it was a slow day she was bored out of her mind.
She stayed at her register; one next to costumer services. Her co-worker was also bored and neither of them could leave to do something else. Someone had to stay on register and someone had to stay at costumer services.
"Isn't she cute?" her co-worker said.
"That girl there. She's in here every now and then, always begging her mom for candy."
The cashier looked at the nearby girl. She was young, probably just four years old. And she was indeed adorable. In fact, the cashier was forced to admit that she was probably the cutest little girl she'd ever seen come in this store. The girl was Asian in descent, with deep brown skin and wide bright eyes. Her long silky black hair was pulled back with a brightly colored butterfly clip. She wore homemade clothes; loose pants and shirt of earthy tones and patterned fabric. Around one tiny wrist was an amber bead bracelet with some sort of medallion on it. But the girl's adorable doll-like perfection was not what captivated the cashier. No, it was the delicate wings sprouting from just between her shoulder blades.
"Her mom never buys her anything though. She never really pays attention to her either," her co-worker continued, "Just looks at the fabric while she looks at the candy."
"Uh-huh," the cashier replied.
It was obvious her co-worker couldn't see the girl's wings. They were a fairy's wings, spreading from her back like some wispy butterfly. At first the cashier thought they were forest green but as she looked harder she saw streaks of color swirling and blending in their delicate depths. Emerald, topaz, sapphire, ruby. And in the middle of each a strong current of amber.
"One time she asked some ladies for some bubbles. She loves bubbles. These two ladies who had no idea who she was bought her some bubbles and candy. They thought she was absolutely adorable."
"Where's her mother?" the cashier asked.
The fairy girl was examining the bubble gum now. She noticed that as the girl moved her wings slightly they would trail gold dust that would fade out after a couple seconds. Like sparklers on the 4th of July.
"Over there. Getting fabric cut. No clue where her daughter is. It's disgraceful, it really is. If I had a daughter that young and that cute I wouldn't let her out of my sight. She's the poster child for kidnappings. I'd hate to see something happen to her."
The two stopped talking as the little girl walked up to them.
"What is this?" she asked, holding up a Snickers.
"It's candy," the cashier replied, "Ask your mommy very nicely if you can have it. Tell her you'll be a good girl for her."
"Okay," the girl beamed, and trotted off to find her mother.
"I'm tempted to have a word with her mother," the co-worker said, "She shouldn't be letting that girl run around like that."
"If you want to."
They were quiet again, waiting. Soon the girl was back.
"Mommy said yes," she chirped, "Would you open it for me please?"
She held up the candy bar and the cashier took it from her and unwrapped the end. Her co-worker raised her eyebrows and the cashier just shrugged.
"I'll pay for it myself if the mother doesn't." "Alright."
They watched the little girl for a while. She wandered around the front of the store and then came back to stand between the two employees.
"I'm a fairyland princess," she announced, clutching the half-eaten candy bar in one hand.
"Really?" the co-worker said, hiding a smile.
"I am. And one day my real mommy and daddy are going to come find me and take me home with them."
"But you have your real mother and father."
"They're not my parents. They just say they are."
The co-worker gave her a worried glance.
"How do you know they're not your mommy and daddy?"
"Because they don't have this," she said, holding up the wrist with her amber bracelet, "Only fairy kings and queens and princesses have them."
The cashier didn't comment. She just stared at the little girl's wings. The girl didn't belong here. She belonged under the trees where the flowers grew wild and unicorn pranced to the song of nymph and griffins soared overhead.
The mother finally deigned to make an appearance then. She did pay for the candy bar and took her child in hand. The girl's co-worker didn't say anything, just sat and glared at the mother. Then the two left. But the fairytale princess turned back and smiled at the cashier, her eyes bright with a secret that only they two shared.
"Absolutely adorable," the co-worker sighed, "But that mother. Horrible. I hope nothing bad happens to her."
"I don't think anything will," the cashier replied.
The fairytale princess was on the nine o'clock news later that week. The cashier saw it while standing in her living room with a bowl of ice cream. The TV was muted but she could almost read the man's lips. "A young girl, stolen away at some store by a stranger, please call this number if you have any information." A picture of the bright-eyed child was above his shoulder. Her wings weren't visible in the picture.
"Horrible, just dreadful." She could already hear her co-worker the next morning. The cashier ate another spoonful of ice-cream. Mint chocolate chip. Everyone would write this off as another atrocity of the human race and wait for the body to show up. But the cashier doubted it ever would. No, this girl would not become another statistic, at least not in her heart. She had finally found her family and was now blowing bubbles in a fairytale palace with a crown of flowers atop her silky black hair.