New to this story? Read Part 1.
Nellie sobbed into his shoulder. Patrick hugged her tightly, his pulse still racing as he sat on the dark play structure with his sister in his lap. “It’s okay, Nells. It’s okay. I’m here. It’s okay.” He repeated the words for seconds, minutes, hours — he didn’t know how long — until they both caught their breath.
“T-t-tell me a story?” Nellie pleaded, teeth chattering. Her brother took a deep breath and closed his eyes.
Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful fairy princess named Nellie. She had rosy cheeks and a brilliant white smile, but most beautiful of all were her wings — turquoise and sapphire and aquamarine, every shade of blue imaginable and sparkly like a waterfall on a sunny spring day.
One day, Princess Nellie went for a walk in the forest. She wove her way through green vines and leafy branches, dancing over the mossy ground. She decided to visit one of her good friends, Mr. Bear.
When she arrived at Mr. Bear’s cave, he wasn’t there. She looked around and found him in the middle of a bunch of haliberry bushes.
“What are you doing in there, Mr. Bear?” Princess Nellie called out. “You’re not eating them, are you? You know how grumpy you get when you eat haliberries!”
Mr. Bear just roared and began slashing his way out of the haliberry bushes toward her.
“Mr. Bear, it’s me! It’s Princess Nellie!” she cried, but he cleared the bushes and charged forward on all fours, hurting her ears with his earth-shattering roars. The smell of torn leaves and smashed haliberries filled her nostrils.
At the last second, just before the bear reached her, she fluttered her beautiful blue wings and sprang into the air. Mr. Bear roared and roared, looking up at her with glittering brown eyes, but she was safe, flying high above his head.
“Is Mr. Bear a bad bear?” Nellie broke in.
Patrick replied hesitantly, “No, Mr. Bear isn’t a bad bear.”
“Then why did he attack Princess Nellie?”
“He made a bad decision. Do you know what the bad decision was?”
“Eating the haliberries?”
Nellie pondered that. “So what happened next?”
“Oh, Princess Nellie’s wings beat fast as hummingbird’s and took her back home, safe and sound.”
“Were she and Mr. Bear still friends, even though Mr. Bear was mean to her?”
Patrick paused. Feeling like his heart was being ripped out of his chest, he said, “I don’t know, Nells. I don’t know.”