"Mor," Isabella said reverently, staring at the ticket in her hand, "how did you do this? It's a miracle."
It seemed to Paula that the miracle was the happiness dancing in the face of her sixteen-year-old daughter. Emil, fourteen, her son, stood beside his sister, trying not to look too pleased by the much-coveted ticket to the Carlene concert, the headliner show of the Ascot Music Festival being held in Copenhagen.
"Some women—complete strangers—gave me their tickets," Paula said. She wanted to tell her children about the three young women, the fairy godmother, and the dog in a sailor suit. It had all the glorious elements of the kind of tale Isabella and Emil had long since given up on. But restoring their belief in magic would have to wait. Paula could hear the music starting.
"The seats aren't all together. I'll explain later. Go," Paula said, to her children. "Go."
"Meet me right here as soon as it ends," she called after her departing son.
"Mor," Isabella said, looking at her critically, "You can't go to a Carlene concert like that. I brought you some clothes. Let's duck into the restroom."
Paula wanted to refuse, to shoo her daughter toward the concert, but she looked down at herself. She was still dressed as she had been when her surprise fairy godmother and her three rescuers had showed up at the tea stand where she was working in Faelledparken, just outside the stadium where Carlene was performing. Paula's clothes—the plain white blouse and black trousers of a server—were crumpled. There was a stain on the blouse.
Seconds later, in a cubicle, Paula opened the bag her daughter had brought for her, and nearly wept.
There is a moment when every mother knows who her children really are, beyond the sulking and the defiance and the difficulties, and this was that moment for her.
Isabella had brought her mother the clothes that Paula had been unable to afford for her. Isabella had scrounged and saved, and babysat the neighborhood children, until she had been able to get this one outfit by a famous Danish designer.
Knowing what an extraordinary gift her daughter was giving her, Paula bit back her desire to protest and slid on the bright multicolored leggings and the sleek black dress. The dress was a touch too short, and the red stilettos a touch too big, and none of that mattered when Isabella smiled at her, and pulled Paula's dark hair out of its bun.
"I love your curls," she said. Out of her large purse, came a makeup bag, and she dabbed here and there, and then stood back satisfied.
"Mor," Isabella said softly, "you're so beautiful."
It had been a long time since anyone had told Paula she was beautiful. It made her feel as if she was entering an enchantment where anything was possible.
Nothing is impossible. Isn't that what the lovely woman, the fairy godmother, who had given her the tickets had said?
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