The sign in front of the classroom read: No Magic, Please! But sometimes things just get out of hand, like Annabel’s quill slipping out of her fingers and ending up floating in the air between desks. The other kids giggling alerted their teacher to something amiss, which was why, even though Annabel had tried to explain that it wasn’t her fault, she was sent to the Principal’s office, anyway. Once he heard her explanation, he had her finish the test she had been taking while sitting at his potions table.
Later, on the way home from school, Annabel told her neighbor and fellow student, Charlotte, that she hadn’t meant to use magic. “Things just happen sometimes. I can’t always control what my magic does.”
“Maybe you should have your mother put a bind on you,” suggested Charlotte.
The idea made Annabel shutter. Binds were not only dangerous, they sometimes could become permanent. This really scared her. She didn’t want her magic to be taken away.
After Annabel arrived home, she told her mother what had happened at school, then asked, “You wouldn’t put a bind on me, would you?”
Her mother’s kind gaze fell upon her daughter’s concern-filled eyes. “I would never do that to you, unless . . . your magic turned dangerous.”
This should have put Annabel at ease. Instead, a lump formed in her throat, even as she forced a smile upon her young lips.
That night, Annabel dreamt that a boy in her school, who had been mean to her on occasion, was mean to her once more. When she told him to stop and he wouldn’t, Annabel got angry. Suddenly, flames erupted from the boy’s head. Annabel knew that, once again, her magic had gotten out of control, which was why she tried desperately using magic to reverse the flames. It didn’t work. Helpless, she watched as the boy ran out of the school with the flames still licking at his head.
Annabel awoke to a knot in her stomach. It took her a long time to relax. Eventually, she was able to close her eyes and finally go back to sleep.
The next afternoon, Annabel walked to her grandmother’s cottage on the edge of the forest. Besides brewing the best tasting hot chocolate in the village, Annabel felt her grandmother always gave the best advice.
“Grandma,” Annabel asked, “how can I make sure my magic doesn’t turn dangerous?”
“Why do you ask?” her grandmother inquired. That’s when Annabel told her about what had happened in school, and about what her mother had said.
Her grandmother smiled, while her elderly fingers gently stroked the side of Annabel’s cheek. “You don’t have to worry about that. I know what lives inside of you, and it is pure kindness. Only someone who is filled with dark and angry thoughts can have their magic turn dangerous.” This helped Annabel feel much better. “Now, let’s have some hot chocolate!”
Later, while walking home from her grandmother’s cottage, Annabel was in such deep thought, she didn’t realize she had taken the wrong fork in the road, until she found herself in the middle of a field of brightly-colored yellow flowers. The yellow flowers she knew always made her sneeze, and now, she could feel a big one coming on. Lifting her nose high in the air, Annabel squeezed her eyes shut and then . . . Aaa-CHOO!
The blast caused Annabel to stumble, and when she opened her eyes, she couldn’t believe what she saw—or what she didn’t see. Where had the field of flowers gone? Annabel looked around. Where had the road she’d been on gone? Was she in a different part of the forest? Oh, God, Annabel thought, as she realized what must have happened. The sneeze had pushed her magic out of control, which meant, either she wasn’t where she used to be, or . . . her village wasn’t where it used to be!
A knot filled her stomach. Annabel looked around some more, hoping to see something she would recognize, but nothing looked familiar. Oh, God! She thought again, as tears began to fill her eyes. “Mom, I’m sorry!” she mumbled, as she wiped away the tears on her sleeve.
Annabel continued to look around. Which way should she go? After a moment, she realized that the only right way was in the same direction from which she had come. But because there was no road anymore, she had to pick her way carefully around trees and thick mounds of tall grass.
“Grandma!” she whispered, desperately. “Grandma, if you can hear me, please answer!” But no answer came. Annabel was all alone and lost!
She continued to trek through the forest, until she came upon a wooden sign she knew usually stood just beyond her grandmother’s cottage, and just beyond the edge of her village. The sign read: Welcome To Avalonia— except, there was no Avalonia anymore!
Collapsing, Annabel sat on the ground, her arms wrapped around her legs, her head bent against the tops of her knees. “I didn’t mean it!” she cried, “I didn’t mean it!”
“Why are you crying, little witch?” asked a tiny voice somewhere near her bowed head.
When Annabel looked up, she saw a tiny wood fairy hovering in front of her like a humming bird. “How did you know I was a witch?” she asked the fairy.
“We fairies can sense when magic is around.”
Hope fluttered through Annabel as she asked, “Can you sense where my village is?”
“Why, did you lose it?” asked the fairy.
Wiping her sleeve across her eyes again, Annabel nodded, then went on to explain what had happened.
Shaking its tiny head, the wood fairy said, “You must get back to your village.”
“I want to, but how?”
“Easy,” replied the fairy. “First try to imagine with all your heart what your village looks like. At the same time, use a similar flower to make yourself sneeze again.”
Annabel’s face fell. “But how will I find another flower like that? The field has disappeared along with Avalonia.”
The wood fairy replied, “I will search for a flower for you. In the mean time, you must think hard about your village—not only what it looks like, but also the people in it, especially the ones you love and who love you.” With a sniffle, Annabel nodded. “Now close your eyes and think,” said the fairy, “and I will return soon with your flower.”
So that’s what Annabel did.
It didn’t take long for the fairy to come back with a flower. With her eyes still shut, and the images of her family and the various buildings of her village filling her mind, Annabel waited. She didn’t have to wait long. Almost immediately, she could feel a sneeze coming on, “Ah . . . ah . . . Aaa-CHOO!”
This time, when she opened her eyes, happiness filled her heart. Not more than fifty feet from where she was sitting was her grandmother’s cottage!
Without even bothering to see if the wood fairy was still around, Annabel jumped to her feet and ran towards her grandmother’s front door. Her grandmother barely got the door open when Annabel rushed in and wrapped her arms around her grandmother in a big hug.
“Oh, grandma!” cried Annabel, “I’m so glad you’re back!”
“Why, where did I go?”
Releasing her grandmother, Annabel stepped back and explained what had happened.
“I was wondering why I had been feeling so strange,” replied her grandmother.
Looking up into her grandmother’s eyes, Annabel asked, “Will I have to have a bind put on me.”
Smiling, her grandmother shook her head. “No, your mother and I will put a leash on you instead.”
Annabel knew that having a leash meant she wouldn’t have to worry any more about her magic getting out of hand. “Will I feel it once it’s on me?”
Once again, her grandmother shook her head. “You won’t even know it’s there . . . at least not until we remove it once you’ve gotten a little older.” Annabel smiled brightly.
The next day at school, as she entered her classroom, Annabel glanced toward the sign at front of the room. She thought to herself—at least, I won’t have to worry about messing up anymore . . . I hope.