Swylce

Musings and Writing of GG Alexander

Savage Writing: Frank’s Fairy Godmother

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Based on a picture one of the sketchers had done, of a grumpy old man with an antlered baseball cap, checked shirt and gilet, rifle, and wearing flippers. The first piece I read at the group.

 

That stupid fucking fairy godmother had turned his feet into flippers. Again. Oh, she thought it was hilarious, as she span on her ballerina tip-toes and giggled. ‘You’ll have no problem finding anything at the lake bottom with those!’ she said. ‘All the fish will be so jealous!’

‘Turn them back. Right now,’ he growled.

Mayslee giggled again. When the piping under the sink had burst last month and flooded the house, it had been the flippers. When he’d lost his wedding ring while out fishing three years ago: flippers. When he was nine and his favourite toy car had skated into the deep end of their hotel swimming pool while on holiday: flippers. She was not very original in her solutions, his fairy godmother.

And what a poor excuse of a fairy godmother she was. Fairy godmothers were meant to be smiling old ladies with magic wands who smelled of dew drops and honey. Frank’s fairy godmother was a thirty-something trying to be an eighteen-year old, with terracotta-powdered foundation falling into the creases in her face and her eyeliner inevitably smudged down her cheeks. And she smelled of vodka. Cheap, strong, paint-stripping vodka that you convince a miserly uncle to buy when you’re sixteen. From age seven when she first appeared up until forty-seven now, he had always hated vodka because of her.

‘What’s wrong, Frankie-boy?’ she said. ‘You said you lost your camera in the lake, so with flippers you can dive and fetch it!’

‘You don’t know what a camera is, do you, Mayslee?’ he said. ‘It doesn’t matter that it’s in the lake – even if I get it out, it’ll still be broken, and it cost me six hundred lousy bucks to buy it – all down the fucking drain.’

‘Silly Frankie, the lake doesn’t have a drain,’ she said.

Fairy godmothers were also meant to stop visiting once you at some point – when you hit puberty or when you married the prince or something like that. How pathetic was it to be a forty-seven year old married man, a supermarket manager and a father, and have an alcoholic milf appear when you were alone and upset? She had barely changed at all in those forty years as well: only her outfits had changed with the decades, from mini-skirts to bell-bottoms to hot pants, until nowadays she wore some throwback Victorian girl’s dress with pink ruffles and ribbons. (Frank’s daughter would have been able to tell him, with a roll of her eyes, that it was Gothic Lolita style, obviously.)

Her one accessory had never changed, though: instead of a wand, she had a black metal baseball bat that, even at forty-seven, was still too heavy for Frank to lift.

‘Listen, turn my feet back to normal – I don’t need the camera, it’s no big deal,’ he said.

‘But you were upset!’ she protested, pouting her lips. ‘You can’t hide from me! I know you’re upset. I’m here to make things better!’

She was right, about him being upset. He shouldn’t have left the camera in the truck, and he shouldn’t have let his son Johnny drive it, knowing how likely it was that the stupid boy would send it right into the lake near their house. The loss of the camera upset him far more than the damage to the vehicle, because that camera represented one of the few presents he had ever given himself. It had only been six months ago that he bought it.  After dinner Linda had told him she wasn’t happy with their marriage, and that as soon as the children left home she wanted a divorce, and he had kept that in his heart all night. He’d worked his ass off at the store the next day trying to forget what she had said, and then at the end of the day he was called in and told that due to the current financial climate, he would be getting a pay cut, and to consider himself lucky that he wasn’t being laid off. That day, he’d stopped outside the doors at the end of his shift, looked across the road to the electrical store, and bought a $600 camera without even knowing what he was doing. He’d never been into photography, really, but when he took pictures of the sun setting on the fields around his home, or the snakes in the grass, or the geese flying overhead, he felt he could tell himself that everything would be all right.

‘If you want to make things better, give me normal feet and another fucking camera,’ he said bitterly. Mayslee sighed, fluffed up her skirt, and with a swing so quick he didn’t even see a blur, smashed the baseball bat against his ankles, throwing him face first onto the dirt and dried grass of his back garden. He groaned and rolled onto his back, dizzy from the sudden change in orientation, but not in pain – the bat never caused him pain – and happy to feel his feet returned to their normal human state. Mayslee’s wide clown eyes appeared upside-down above him, her smile so wide it made a mockery of every Kodak commercial he had ever seen.

‘You know I can’t give you a camera, Frankie-boy, or money or any of that silly stuff you always want.’

‘Why?’ he asked, sitting up.

For the first time in forty years, his fairy godmother didn’t give him a lecture on the worthlessness of material things – a talk that had always been rich coming from an immortal, incorporeal being. Instead, she pointed the end of the bat towards his face.

‘I thought you’d be old enough to figure it out by now, silly boy,’ she said. For once her voice was soft and kind, expression sincere. My, she must be positively sober tonight.

He looked at the metal. The varnish on it seemed to swirl like clouds in the depths of space. Hesitating, he put out his hand and gripped it, but he felt no burst of magic of anything, just the solid support of metal. Mayslee pulled him up to standing and laughed.

‘It’s not the stuff that you want, Frank,’ she said. ‘After forty years, I know – it’s more than that. It’s something else.’

He let go of the baseball bat and looked at her as her words sank in. She smiled and pushed him towards to the back fence of their garden.

‘Go on,’ she said. ‘Have fun!’

As he walked, he heard the fairy giggle as the wind rushed her back to whatever magic plane she came from. She was right: it was never the stuff that he wanted. What he wanted was out there, away from people and money and things: in the sky, in the fields, in the bottom of the lake. Something intangible and beautiful, something free.

He laughed to himself that after forty years of doing little but putting him off vodka, Mayslee had finally helped him. And when he reached the lake, and swam in its cool waters, somersaulting and diving, he wanted to laugh again. Maybe he should have kept the flippers after all.

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Written by G.J.

14/06/2012 at 7:14 pm

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