I thought it would be fun to pull out another excerpt from my novel The People the Fairies Forget–it’s been a few weeks! Click the category at right (or the page at the top) for more extensive background. The brief background is that Cinderella’s slipper has fit the wrong girl, who is now having difficulty getting out of an engagement to a not at all charming prince. My fairy narrator, Tarragon, has gone in search of his very traditionally-Good-Fairy colleague, Marjoram, who he suspects was involved in Cinderella’s arrival at the ball.
I don’t know if I’m supposed to say I enjoy my own writing but I do enjoy that this scene shows Marj at her most Marjish–and at her most aggravating!
Marj was at home. Marj’s home involves endless piles of flowers and pillows and silk curtains and pink furry things. And sparkles, of course.
I popped in, moved a pink kitten off of a chair—wondering as I did if it had been something else before becoming a pink kitten, and if so, had it been a sentient something else—and sat down. “Hello, Marj. I need a word.”
Marj was sitting in front of an immense, extremely ornate mirror, with powder puffs and lipstick and I don’t pretend to know what else hovering in the air around her head. “I really don’t have time right now, Tarry, there is so much going on.”
“Speaking of things going on, about Prince Roderick’s ball. Did you help a girl go?
“I did. Aren’t you pleased? I helped a commoner.”
“I might be pleased. I’m not sure yet. Does any of that so much going on involve the girl you helped?”
Her eyes shifted to the side and I knew she was checking something magically. After a moment she shook her head. “No, nothing happening with her. No one’s brought the shoe around yet.”
I knew it. “The shoe. The glass shoe?”
She laughed. Marj’s laugh sounds like bells. She spent decades practicing to get it that way. “Yes, of course, silly, what other shoe?”
Of course. Leave it to Marj to choose a completely impractical material like glass for a shoe. “Have you been paying any attention at all? There’s big problems with that situation. Your girl ran out on the prince, and left her shoe behind—”
“And they’re obviously being a bit slow about finding her, aren’t they?” Marj remarked. “But I’m sure they will eventually. It’ll be such a lovely wedding.”
“But they’re not looking for her.”
That finally penetrated her cloud of cosmetics. She waved aside a powder puff to stare at me. “What do you mean they’re not looking? How utterly absurd. They have the shoe, don’t they? They’re supposed to try it on every girl in the kingdom until they find the one it fits.”
“Yes, they got that idea, but—”
“So they’re just being slow about carrying it out? Oh, that’s no great problem. Really, Tarry, I wouldn’t have expected you to be anxious about it.”
Sometimes talking to Marj is, well, impossible. She only hears the parts she wants to hear. “I don’t think you exactly understand here, Marj, they’re not carrying that shoe around because—”
“They thought of the idea, though, that’s the main point; now they just need to act on it.” Marj turned back to her mirror, waving away her hovering items of make-up to study her reflection. “Would you be a dear and encourage them to start trying the shoe on girls? It won’t take them long to find the right one, seeing as she lives in the capital city; they ought to get to her early.”
Miraculous. Possibly useful information. “Where does she live?” I asked. “Where in the capital city?”
“Oh, in this cute little house; it’s surprisingly nice, for one of those small places. Quite poor, but cute.” Marj stood up from her chair. “Now you tell them to start hunting. I’d go myself, but like I said, there’s just so much going on today. You wouldn’t believe it! One of my other projects is coming to a head, and I really must attend to it. There’s this beautiful girl and a Beast and—well, it’s really all quite complex.”
“Marj, would you just tell me—”
“I really don’t have a moment, I must be flying.” She cast a shower of sparkles over herself. A finishing touch, I suppose. “And I really can’t be bothered for the rest of the day; there’s that matter with the Beast, and then there’s this garden party I simply must attend. The societal implications will be absolutely dramatic if I don’t. Anyway, you take care of that glass slipper business. I know I can depend on you, with that fondness you have for helping common people.” She smiled sweetly, said, “Tootles,” and popped out in a shower of sparks.
I tried to pop after her, but wasn’t surprised to find out that she was blocking me. When a fairy doesn’t want to be followed, we aren’t followed. Not without a multitude of trouble and effort and energy expended, and sometimes not even then.
I sighed. If kittens could sigh, I think the pink kitten would have sighed too.