Editor's Note: Here on my hard drive, I have a whole folder bursting with files that contain the beginnings of novels and stories that were never written. Every now and then, I'll open a file, like an antique perfume bottle, and attempt to inhale the scent of long-evaporated inspiration. What does one do with all of this aborted fiction? Here's all that was ever written of a novel narrated by a boy who discovers that he's a fairy. At an unnamed Midwestern liberal arts college in the early 1980s, the boy joins a student organization for fairies...
The four of us—Mona, Siobhan, Natalie, and I—gathered every Saturday morning in one of the meeting rooms in the student union. There were chairs pushed up against the blue-gray walls, but we preferred to sit on cushions on the floor. Outside the door was a hand-written sign that said COLLEGE FAIRY CIRCLE SATURDAY 9:00 AM.
“We’re not really a circle,” Natalie said. “We’re more of a trapezoid.”
“How many fairies does it take to make a circle?” Siobhan asked.
“Or screw in a lightbulb?” Natalie said.
“So that’s how lightbulbs work,” I said. “There are fairies screwing inside.”
Siobhan spread open her notebook, uncapped her pen, and said, “Okay, how are we doing this week? Has anyone granted any wishes?”
The question was met with silence.
“Okay,” Siobhan said. “I’ll just put down No Wishes Granted this week.”
“I have an idea,” Natalie said. “You know how the Reproductive Rights Coop has a bake sale and condom distribution outside the mail room every week? Why don’t we set up a table and grant people’s wishes?”
“You know what will happen,” Mona said. “You’ll get all sorts of selfish wishes. I wish for an A on my calculus test. I wish that girl in my French class would sleep with me. Or else wishes you can’t possibly grant. People wishing for the end of apartheid in South Africa or the fall of the Berlin Wall.”
“Every wish is either too selfish or too altruistic for you,” Natalie said.
“The human race isn’t ready to have its wishes granted,” Mona said.
“So what you’re basically saying is that as fairies, we’re useless.”
“Maybe we should put more of an effort into being human beings,” Mona said.
“You’ll never succeed as a fairy if you don’t believe in yourself,” Siobhan said earnestly.
“Thank you, Tinkerbell,” Mona said.
My poem " Phrasebook " has been published online in Ergon: Greek/American Arts and Letters .
The frontispiece from Countee Cullen's The Black Christ and Other Poems (1929). Illustration by Charles Cullen. Click to enlarge. On...
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