by Caroline M Yoachim
Anna could make a baby out of bread, well enough to fool the fey. After forty years of practice, she could bake bread babies practically in her sleep. Over the years she'd made rye babies and wheat babies and golden-crusted sourdoughs. She had a knack for getting the bread to rise just right--you wanted a baby that was plump and appealing, but not bloated beyond recognition.
It was a cool night, but Anna's kitchen was warm from the oven. Her freckled cheeks were flushed red, and sweat beaded on her brow. She divided the dough and shaped it into two adorable little loaves. She'd done as many as six at a time, but this month there were only two babies young enough to need protecting. The Whitman twins were three months old, and cute as buttons both of them. Anna made their bread babies with raisin eyes and fat doughy cheeks. Fairies only stole babies at midnight, on the night of the new moon, so if the details weren't perfect it didn't matter.
"It's been a long time," Damon said. "I think maybe the fairies aren't coming back."
He looked sad as he said it, even more so than usual, and he had always been a sullen sort of child. He was dark-haired and dark-skinned and looked nothing like Anna, though he did, reluctantly, call her "mother." Despite her best efforts, he had no interest in baking bread.