Mia's hair is caught up in a ragged ponytail on her crown. Two tendrils dangle on either cheek like flyaway anchors dropped over the side of a dark boat.
She dances out of view around the corner of the kitchen door then trips back in. "Oh, mom, I forgot to tell you..."
Her cowboy vest is worn backward, baring her slim back down to a peacock-blue tutu and knee-high argyle socks. She's probably a fairy of some sort. Dropping magic on the already crumbed up hardwoods. (What's a little more?)
"That book you loaned to Lanee? The Tail of Emily Windsnap? She loves it! Literally, she came to me earlier this week and told me she LOVES it. She reads it every day at school." Mia shrugs her shoulders and the pink fringe on the vest sways in agreement.
"Oh, I'm so glad!" I say. The sharing of a book has a tendency to bring pride bubbling to my surface, like I'm the one who's done something wonderful, rather than the author and their untold hours of work and imagination. No small thing, though, the sharing. It's a risk. What if the book goes unappreciated and is returned with a gentle thank you while its eager spine was never cracked in the first place.
My daughter hops from foot to foot, anchors lifting, fringe hopping, but I don't want her to go yet.
"That feeling when you've found a book to love," I say, "there's nothing like it."
Mia pivots in the bounds of a square tile and nods. She skips to another tile and says, "I wish I had a book to love right now..."
I'm about to protest, because heavens! She loves Harry Potter so deeply that the arguments over when she'll be allowed to read book 5 pepper our days with unwanted spice. But then I don't say anything after all. It'll just reopen the wound. This is her point after all, I realize. She wants me to know the suffering she's endured at my strict policy of no Order of the Phoenix. I clamp my lips over my teeth and make sympathetic noises in my throat.
I think she's about to dance back out to the hallway, trailing fairy dust and angst, but she holds her arms up in a pirouette and kicks her heel to her argyled calf.
"Well, I do kind of love *Sophie," she admits. "I was just being unreasonable."
I turn to her, breathless. We both giggle until she's gone, back to fairy business. She'd only stopped in for a minute to drop some magic at my feet, anyway.
*Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.