This morning, I received the last and final warning from Breaksmith Insurance that one more claim and they were moving me from their “Most Likely a Charlatan But We Can’t Prove It” list to their “Not a Snowball’s Chance in Claims Hell.”

I stuck my head out the door and strained my ears for the twinkling sounds of magic. I wouldn’t have to wait long; fairies aren’t known for their patience. I waited a few moments longer than necessary, flipped and clanked the bank of locks between the city and my store, Antiques & Chocolates.

My run-ins with the Kleptomaniacs—a local fairy gang—became more prevalent as they decided to use my shop for their coming-of-age rites. I could blame them, and I do, but I primarily point the finger at the Bureau of Magic and its census report.

When the news broke about my diminishing power, every teenage thief was drawn to my little shop like an autocrat waiting for a sword encased in stone. So, unless I brought in mystic brawn I couldn’t afford, I’d have to tolerate every Tom, Dick, and Fairy pilfering my merchandise at will.

Last Thursday, I’d caught four would-be members attempting to steal a hot-potato floor lamp style. Then, on Monday, they’d sent a helpless waif with crooked wings to nab a potpourri of mantle-dwelling knick-knacks.
Had a single Klepto shown even the slightest interest in a dictionary, I would have wrapped it in brown paper and tied it with a sprig of rosemary. After all, the scoundrels were in desperate need of a rebrand.

Three days ago, Sticky-Fingers, their leader, marched her obsequious band of hormonally charged Tinkerbells through the candy aisle and decimated my chocolate rabbit display. Unsurprisingly, saliva-coated chocolate and broom bristles don’t mix, and I painted two hundred half-eaten cottontails across knotted floorboards.

I still have phantom lancinating pain in my hands from the micro-abrasions from trying to salvage my broom—such is the life of pruning old wizards. After spending centuries blowing things up and casting quixotic spells, nature sends the scales careening to the ground with you on it when the tank’s running on fumes.

I suppose things must regain balance sometime. So, I’ll suck up my pride, puff out my lip and watch the sneaky buggers rob me blind.

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