Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York.
“AND ON this ever so lovely day commemorating Princess Taylor’s birth, the Storyteller That Be twenty-five years ago looked upon the male baby and said, ‘Well, shit, not again,’” Ringo said, standing on the seat of his doll-sized chair. Ringo was a proper eight inches high, a respectable height for pixies, but his shimmering pink butterfly wings made him a giant among his brethren. He smiled upon his chosen princess, whom he had been sworn to protect and guide since the day the boy was brought into the world. That boy, that princess, was none other than Taylor Andrew Hatfield. Taylor watched him in an apparently slightly buzzed state and slumped over the rickety card table.
Taylor arched a brow and smirked. He then raised his fourth red Solo cup of hard lemonade. “Happy freaking birthday to me,” he said and clinked cups with Ringo’s Barbie teacup filled with his own droplet of liquor.
Ringo downed the contents of his cup, his wings drooping with drunkenness. “Don’t tell your mother I let you drink in college.”
Taylor chuckled, then chugged the hard lemonade. He wiped his mouth on his tattered hoodie sleeve. “Have I ever told my mother half the shit you let me get away with?”
“Atta boy,” Ringo said, relaxing into his seat on the card table. “It’s not so bad,” he muttered. “It has a certain ambiance.” He pointed to three different piles of dirty clothes on the floor and then the unmade bed, but his gaze finally settled on his own home, the Barbie Dreamhouse in the corner surrounded by Red Bull cans. “When are you going to get your crap off my lawn, boyo?”
Taylor scrubbed at his face and ran his fingers though his disheveled, long, dark hair. “Your lawn is a shelf. I need to use every space possible.”
Ringo laughed. “If you say so.”
Taylor jumped when his smartphone vibrated and slithered across the table. He glanced at the screen. “Ooh…,” he said, blinking owlishly. “Billy just texted… something very….” He tapped the screen, flipping the phone horizontal. “Well, goddamn.”
Ringo flopped out of his chair and toddled across the table. “Let me see, let me see.” Ringo snapped his miniscule fingers. “As your fairy godfather, I must approve of this union.”
Taylor held the phone for his pixie guardian, and Ringo’s hand slapped over his mouth.
“Sweet Mother McCree,” Ringo gasped. “He’s Bunyan’s boy, isn’t he?” Taylor tilted his head for a better view of Billy’s considerable assets. He held his hands in a wide arc. “Holy shit. Both hands, son.”
“That’s a Bunyan for you,” Taylor said, returning to his drink. “My mother would faint at the idea of me dating a lumberjack. Well, not really dating….” Taylor fell silent, pressing his lips together. “You know….”
Ringo thumbed his chin and watched Taylor grow solemn. “Hey, hey, it’s not that bad, okay? There’s a ton of ways around for princesses to get their rocks off.”
Taylor narrowed his eyes over his Solo cup. “Know of any?” His voice echoed into the cup.
Tapping his fingers together, Ringo averted his eyes. “Well, no,” he said and then tried to turn a negative into a positive. “Consider it a life experience. Learning what you like once the time comes for true love’s kiss. And all that it implies.”
“Are we seriously having this discussion? Right now?” Taylor said, lowering his cup to the wobbly card table.
Ringo waved his hands in surrender as he paced around the table. He walked in a figure eight around the pile of Twinkies and then the value-size bag of Ruffles. “I’m just saying, one day it’s gonna happen,” Ringo said, his feet crunching over potato chip crumbs. “And you’re not going to expect it. Your prince may take a shape you’ve never dreamed before.” He pointed a finger. “I know about those David Beckham clippings you keep in the drawer with all your pens and charging cords.”
“So….” Taylor tilted back in his chair, balancing on the two back legs. He watched the leafy boughs of the trees outside the window trembling in the windy night. “You’re talking like once-upon-a-dream shit.”
Ringo shrugged. “Eh, I don’t think it has anything to do with dreams. Or none of that someday my prince will come. That’s what all the Enchants would like you to think. I’m just saying the Storyteller had a plan for you.”
Taylor sputtered and then broke out into cackles as his chair slammed back onto the concrete floor. “A plan?” he barked through his laughter. “Tell me, Oh Wise One, did the Storyteller have a plan for you?”
Ringo took flight and cupped Taylor’s cheeks with his small hands. He smiled, content with his lovely princess. “I got you, didn’t I?”
Taylor smiled crookedly, his pink eyes glassed over with the start of tears. “Y-yeah,” he muttered.
Ringo swatted at Taylor’s nose. “Now, now. Stop with the gushy moment. Dry it up, boyo.”
“Hell,” Taylor said, wiping his eyes with his hoodie sleeve. “At least you’re not stuck with Atticus. Can you imagine that?”
Ringo’s lips pulled into a small o, and he carefully held out his hands. “Now… Taylor. You need to stop right there.”
With an expression of pure exasperation, Taylor stood from the rickety card table and paced across his tiny dorm room. He avoided the pile of dirty clothes on the floor and swayed around the desk stacked with empty Red Bull cans. “Oh, Taylor,” he said, mocking the arrogance of his father. “Why can’t you do something worthwhile like your little brother, Atticus? He’s excelling in the ROTC. Why can’t you serve your country like Atticus? Why can’t you be an A student like Atticus? Why can’t you be practically perfect in every way like our dear, darling, sweet baby boy Atticus?” Taylor clenched his fist and gritted his teeth. “Oh, that’s right.” He grunted in an imitation of his father. “You can never hope to be anything like Atticus.”
Ringo hung his head and pressed his fingers to the bridge of his nose. Yup, only a matter of time until Atticus came up in the conversation. “If I knew you were going to angst at me, I wouldn’t have let you drink.” Ringo puffed up his chest, and he flew figure eights over Taylor’s head, his wings shimmering and beating a girlishly happy tune. “Screw Atticus, screw your dad.” He perched on Taylor’s shoulder. “There’s Billy Goddamn Bunyan across the quad!”
Anything to take Taylor’s mind off his father’s disgust toward Taylor’s preference for men.
Taylor’s brows knitted, and he smiled crookedly. “You fail in every aspect of a moral compass as a fairy godfather.”
“Life experience, my boy. Life experience,” Ringo said and patted him on the shoulder. “Now get out there and live it!”
Taylor nodded once. “I’m going to ring in my big two five in the best way I know how. Jell-O shots and friends with benefits,” he said. He crossed his dormitory room in three steps, arrived at the door, and then pulled it open in a wide, confident swing…
…and collided chest to ample breasts with a buxom blonde sorority girl. Taylor stumbled back, and Ringo took the opportunity to duck behind the lamp. When the humans were confronted with the knowledge of Enchants living among them, it never went well.
The girl merely arched a dubious brow. She tapped her foot, clearly agitated. “Taylor Andrew Hatfield?” she asked in an authoritative tone.
Taylor smiled, and Ringo knew he was trying to not look as utterly inebriated as he was. “Look, if this is about a donation to your Kappa Delta What-The-Fuck-Ever so you can save the bunnies or some crap, I’m fresh out.”
Ringo smacked his forehead and huddled behind the lampshade. “Aiyaiyai….”
The girl tilted her chin for a glance over Taylor’s shoulder and into the room. Taylor bent at the waist to block her view. Her ruby red lips pulled into a smirk. “Ah, your fairy godfather. I have the right place,” she said in a detached tone.
Taylor arched a brow. “You’re an Enchant? Like me?”
The girl narrowed her eyes in contempt. “Way to go on stating the obvious.”
Taylor crossed his arms and puffed a sigh. “Not to be rude, but who the hell are you?”
The girl crouched to one knee and daintily took Taylor’s hand. She smiled up at him, stroking her thumb over his knuckles. “I’m Prince Phillipa Montclair. We are destined to be wed.”
Ringo zipped across the room and perched on Taylor’s shoulder, glancing at him, Phillipa, and back to him again. Ringo patted Taylor on the cheek as he stood clearly shell-shocked. Ringo quirked a bushy brow with confusion. “Happy birthday?”
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