“Mom, I’ve been doing a little thinking,” Stephen said, biting his lip. “I wonder if we could chat about it before Dad gets home.”

“What is it, sweetie?” Leora asked, giving her undivided attention. “Is something the matter?”

“Well, you remember how I was acting up a few months back, and you stormed off to Aunt Martha’s to borrow her Wand of Change? You called me a disgrace to the Starling family name. You said that you wished you’d had a girl instead of a boy. Did you really mean all that?”

Leora sighed and gave Stephen a hug. “That was angry talk, sweetheart. I didn’t mean to suggest that I loved you less as a boy…although, to be honest, it has been a wonderful heart-to-heart summer between us as mother and daughter, and I’m a little sad that it’s gonna be over so soon. But you’ve been on good behavior, and I did promise you that the punishment would end. Let me call Aunt Martha and get you switched back before school starts,” she said, reaching for the phone.

Stephen shook his head. “No no Mom, that’s not it. I don’t want…I mean, I don’t view this as punishment anymore. In fact, I’ve never felt so close to you before: I’ve felt beautiful and loved this summer. It’s wonderful how we’ve bonded, and I just don’t want to go back to being a testosterone-fueled male who’s forced to stay aloof because he’s afraid to be called a ‘Momma’s boy.’ May I stay as your little girl…your daughter?” Stephen asked plaintively.

Leora broke into tears. “Oh, yes, yes!” she gushed, squeezing her daughter tight against her bosom. “I want this so much, sweetie. I’ll talk to Dad. And with her magic arts, Aunt Martha can help us take care of the mundane details: new ID, birth records, school registration, yada yada yada. But first, my darling girl, you’ve got to choose a new name. What should we call you from now on?”

“Summer,” the girl said playfully, cocking her head. “Summer Starling.”


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