And as soon as he said that, the room went dark. Danny clicked on his flashlight and shined it around, but there was nothing. The bed was gone entirely, and save for some empty cardboard boxes and a trashcan, the room had been cleaned out. 

He was scared. He thought that the best thing to do would be to pry a board off of a window and run, and that finishing the story would be a very, very bad idea indeed. Danny-Do- Good approached the boarded up window and put his hands around it. It was nailed tight, but not too tight. He could probably work it loose, and then free, with a little sweat and some resolve. He reached around a side where the board wasn’t quite flush with window and wiggled a hand underneath. He pulled, and as he did so, the ring in his pocket grew warm, and then hot. It singed his leg, causing Danny to wince and stumble backward. 

A deal’s a deal, he thought. He retraced his steps and left the hospital. Did he really need to repair his hut? He suddenly thought that he could live without it, but—

A deal’s a deal. 

Danny went home that evening and did not sleep. He did not sleep because he did not want to dream. The woman would almost certainly be in his dream and he did not care to meet her in his dreams.

His parents saw how tired and worn he looked, and they thought it best to not scold him for letting his meatloaf grow cold. He had the look of a boy who had seen a ghost, and his dad reasoned that his son’s own imagination was punishment enough. 

* * *

The next morning, Danny-Do-Good did a thing he had never done before. He skipped class. Sixth grade social studies had to wait. He walked right past the room and ducked behind a nearby stairwell. There was window above the stairwell that led to a courtyard. The courtyard had a large oak in the center, and the oak had, in step with its surroundings, began to shed its signs of life and welcome in the proper form of autumn. It was quite a big tree indeed, and the trunk was concave on the bottom, so much so that a little boy like Danny-Do-Good could practically hide in it. 

Danny hid in the tree and unfolded a stack of paper that he’d stolen from the teacher’s desk in his home room (Sometimes stealing was ok, Danny-Do-Good thought, and especially if you needed to make a ghost happy and had forgotten your notebooks).  

That afternoon, under that tree, Danny wrote of the story of Martha “Gram” Silver, a girl who lost her parents in a car wreck and was sent to live with her grandparents. They had a farm in the countryside, and the farm was filled with fairies. Nobody could see the fairies but Martha, and her grandparents scolded her when she told them about them. Her friends, what few she had in the country, laughed in her face, but Martha made friends with the fairies all the same. 

And the adventures that the fairies sent her on! Danny-Do-Good did not have enough paper for all of it, but Martha Silver went to places that no explorer had ever seen. She crossed from one world to the next, battled evil powers that were beyond the imaginations of most people, and for a time, was the one person that preserved the ordinary world from disappearing into darkness.