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Despite the exhausting mundanity of the world, Sarah Parker had never quite been able to stop believing in magic.

She held no grandiose desire to be a witch, a sorceress, or any of those fancy titles, but she surely did believe, and that’s all magic really needs. Sarah wasn’t the sort to demand proof of wizard status via fireball hurling. She was, instead, that rare and lovely sort of individual who saw and felt all those little magics at work in the nooks and crannies of everyday life. She made wishes on falling stars, plucked four-leaf clovers, and paused to enjoy that simple, pure sound of a flowing stream, but Sarah’s favorite pastime was engaging in the thrill of a summer yard sale shopping spree.

From absurd banana dogs to gorgeous Depression glass to the coveted Black Lotus (a VERY valuable Magic: The Gathering trading card), nothing holds the sort of magical, randomized energy of a yard sale hunt.

The sun hangs high in the sky, shining down on all the strange and beautiful knickknacks of the copious yard sale smorgasbord. No matter how mundane such thing may seem, there is always a hint of magic in the sort of adventure

Sarah was flipping through a crate of vinyl records when she saw it.

A ray of sunlight glinted upon the powder blue porcelain skin of a tiny smiling elephant.

Some part of Sarah immediately knew the friendly figurine for what it was. Her hand wrapped around the palm-sized pachyderm before she even consciously realized she desired it. If she didn’t know any better, she’d say the little fellow had winked at her.

The elderly gentleman overseeing his yard sale gave her a smile as she approached him. He had a barreled chest and a worn oak walking cane, and he regarded her warmly from beneath the brim of a brown driving cap.

“Ah, I see you’ve met Bruce,” he said, lightly poking the tip of his cane toward the elephant.

“Yes,” Sarah said happily. “He has a name?”

The old man nodded in that sagely way old men often do. “He was my daughter’s, when she was little. He kept her dreams safe.”

That gave Sarah pause. “He did?” She gazed at the man more closely. There was something odd—something special about him. Something about the way his blue eyes were so bright beneath the shade of his cap.

Another sage nod. “He knows when someone needs his help.”

Sarah looked down at the smiling figure in her hand. She’d been having nightmares lately. Some of them she remembered, some she didn’t. She would have preferred it if they would all fade into that comforting haze of dreamy forgetfulness, but a few of these nightmares could be stubborn.

Sarah eventually realized the gentleman was waiting for her to say something.

“Oh, um… how much?” she asked hastily.

The old fellow chuckled. “Well, Bruce is a free agent. He goes where he pleases. But that’ll be five for the records.”

Sarah insisted on giving the man twenty. The records were good ones, and he clearly didn’t understand their value. Then she shuffled toward her car with her treasures, carefully cradling Bruce as she fished her keys from her pocket. As she drove away, a cloud briefly blocked the sun. When the sky grew bright again and she checked her rearview mirror, she noticed that where the tables of random objects and the old man had been, there was now just an empty bit of yard and sidewalk.

She blinked and turned around in her seat to look properly, and sure enough, the yard sale had up and vanished into thin air.

“Okaaaay… freaky,” she murmured to herself. She checked the passenger seat and found the records and the tiny elephant still very much present beside her. She nudged Bruce and found him to be just as solid as before. He caught another ray of light reflected through the window and his eye seemed to twinkle gleefully. Sarah smiled down at him as she tucked her new guardian into the box of things she’d victoriously scavenged that day, and she drove home with a feeling of contentment.

The young woman opened the door to her apartment and sighed contentedly. The place was cluttered in a cozy sort of way, with bookshelves packed side by side along every wall and decorated not only with books but a gamut of both natural and crafted curiosities. She had gathered all manner of geodes and crystals, carvings and figures…

Her apartment was teeming with a sense of wonder packed into so many small, beloved objects.

The rest of her home was quite tidy. The kitchen was organized, the dining room table was clear, and the pillows on the living room couch were evenly spaced. Despite being firmly in her twenties and only living in her apartment for a few years, Sarah had managed to cultivate the air of an elderly woman’s longtime home. She absolutely loved it.

Sarah sorted her new trinkets onto sensible shelves and filed the vinyls away with the rest of her collection, which took up most of the free space in her bedroom. Then she placed Bruce upon the windowsill above her bed, where he had a good view of the small patch of woods behind her apartment. It seemed like the ideal place for a dream protector to roost, and she got the feeling he liked it.

The day had been long, and she’d spent most of it in the sun, so sleep came to her quickly.

For the first time in several months, Sarah’s nightmares didn’t wake her. They were still there, but each time a horror reared its head, she would face it bravely. Sometimes, she was battling terrible creatures on Bruce’s back or facing off with a devious shadow as she wore blue porcelain armor. Other times, a monster would try to chase her, but it would run away as an angry elephant trumpet sounded in the distance. In her pleasant dreams, Bruce would simply be along for the ride. He would hide in her pocket, ride on her shoulder, or tuck himself into her hair, minding his own business unless he was needed.

She woke late in the morning and smiled at the tiny blue elephant, who gave her another of his sunlight-winks from his post atop the sill.

“Best yard sale hunt ever,” Sarah sighed, and she closed her eyes to catch a few minutes more of peaceful sleep.

Ariel Cross

Ariel Cross is a fantasy author and blogger with a love for representation and subversion. To them, happiness is a warm glass of mead on a cold day.

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