Tessa found the first signs the morning after Yule: a green trail of sweet-smelling slime underneath the biggest pine tree in the back yard.
She had a nail in the pocket of her coat. Her father had been hanging garlands outside, and Tessa had been in charge of passing him nails as he needed them. Christmas was always a time for hiding in plain sight. Tessa could decorate her house with garlands and stars, and no one ever guessed that it wasn’t Christmas she celebrated. Her mother said that when she was older, it might be more difficult, but for now, she enjoyed getting two weeks off school after her holiday.
When she saw the slime, her hand was in her pocket before she had time to think about it. She could barely feel the nail through her mittens, but the shapeless lump made her feel better. Still, she didn’t stay outside very long. She wasn’t sure she wanted to play with fairies.
( On the day before Christmas Eve, the world seemed to buzz. )