Is This Just Fantasy..?
Okay, so I’m not normally one for sniffle-inducing stories, but “Crystal Halloway and the Forgotten Passage,” by Seanan McGuire was a standout in Other Worlds Than These, and (even better) you can read it here.
It takes the premise of so many stories of visiting other-worlds (Narnia, Alice, etc.) and plays out the conclusion. What happened to these children who could come-and-go? What happened to the children before them? Did they grow up? If they did, how did they reconcile everything?
In a way, this reminded me of “The Problem of Susan” from Neil Gaiman (oddly enough, also a character who’s cannon ending left me sniffling).
McGuire’s Crystal is tenacious and a fighter and trying to balance becoming an adult with her adventures in another realm, and that makes the ending all the more impactful. This decision was coming—as it comes to all kids, really—and she wasn’t ready to deal with it. But the time for that choice ends up being not hers to control.
Some other wonderful fantasy you should read? How about an entire collection about pirates. Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space) edited by Catherine Lundoff was packed with fantasy (and sci-fi) takes on pirates and so, so good. Also, it’s from years and years ago, but Bending the Landscape: Fantasy, edited by Nicola Griffith was a favourite, too, full of fantastic queer fantasy shortfiction.