Every tree had been cut down. They lay scattered, trunks and branches bleached white. She counted several, then stopped, not wanting to count more or to study the small grove where stumps jutted up out of weeds grown thick between them. The trees hadn’t been chopped for firewood, but axed and sawed down and left to rot. No new growth was allowed either; not even a seed dropped by a bird allowed to root. The land looked haunted.
Bridget closed her eyes and let go of Grandma Teegan’s braid. She didn’t want Grandma Teegan, who loved trees and especially sacred groves, to see. I won’t be afraid. She had the story of Nera, she was West, and she had Matron’s silver writing pen threaded into the hem of her dress. The pen promised she could out-smart grownups, which meant she could survive the things they took from her. Stealing from their world brought back pieces of her own.
But how could she live here? Without trees, the birds left and took their songs. Squirrels left too, and deer and turkey and shade and singing leaves and a hundred things she couldn’t name. The whole world of fairy left. Without trees, even the land tried to run away.
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