Tag Archives: Maven

Ashleigh

Ashleigh moped in her room in the third tallest tower of her sister’s castle. Her satin slipper dangled from her toe. Her finger traced patterns on the rock of the open window. Her silken gown crumpled as she curled up and stared sightlessly out the window.

“I wish, I wish,” she whispered. “I wish I knew what to wish for.” She didn’t blame Pierre for leaving her. She was tired of catering anyway, though she didn’t know how to do anything else. Her sister had kindly taken her in and treated her as a noble lady, even though everyone knew that Ashleigh was only a silk-gowned kitchen maid.

“I’m doomed to be a secondary character.” She put her arms around her silk-stocking knees and poked out her lower lip. “If only I had chosen the prince, I’d be the queen now.”

“Unfortunately,” said Maven, appearing with a minimum of flash and sparkle, “it is impossible to grant a wish for the past. You have to decide what you want in the future.”  She glanced around at the tapestries, the well hung bed, the carpet on the floor. The view from the tower included a forest and a lake where the sun sparkled on the water. “Looks like you’re doing all right to me.”

Ashleigh sprang to her feet. “YOU!” she shouted, pointing a quivering finger at Maven as her face turned red. “Why do I always get you? Aren’t there any other fairy godmothers?”

“Not on your case. In fact, there is a shortage. So you’re stuck with me.” Maven held up her wand. “Now if you don’t know what you want, I’ll just….”

“No, wait. Wait!” Ashleigh grabbed Maven’s sleeve. “You rushed me last time, and I didn’t get what I wanted!”

Maven pulled the gossamer from Ashleigh’s hand before Ashleigh could stretch it out of shape. Maven snapped her fingers, and a list appeared in her hand: “bath, dress, horses with white feathers on their heads, coachmen, coach, glass slippers, food you didn’t have to cook.”  She handed the list to Ashleigh. “I can only give you what you ask for. It’s a rule.”

“But I did ask for what I wanted.” Ashleigh leaned back on the window seat. “It just didn’t work out right.” She hung her head and picked at her perfect fingernail.

“I offered you the second chance if you came back by midnight.” Maven shrugged. “You made your choices. It was out of my hands.”

“But why are you here now?”

“You said the magic words.” Maven raised her wand to poof out. “I thought you might have a true wish this time. When you figure out what you want, wish for me.”  She poofed.

Ashleigh stood speechless for a moment, but she began thinking about what she did want, and it wasn’t the third tallest tower. But she would have to be more careful this time, not to be tricked into making a bad decision.

After Midnight – Early Scene

“That’s what happens when you don’t think about one wish, but just wave your wand over everything,” Fiona said, with a smirk. “What are you going to do about it, since you now know how powerful you are, and you’ve learned that no one else can undo your hasty and ill-formed magic?”

Fiona stood there with her arms folded, tapping a black wand against her shoulder. She didn’t usually handle her wand unless she was casting a spell. She never just played with it like that. The crockery on her shelves seemed uneasy too, though they often vibrated or rattled. Today they seemed to shrink back as far from the edges of the shelves as they could get, huddling together, backs to the wall.

Maven swallowed. She really didn’t want to get the amphibian perspective, even though she had just doomed a number of people–dozens–to that fate this morning and was not sure how to change them back. “I don’t know what to do. I really didn’t mean to transform so many of them this morning, but they were going to be crushed in the crowd. They wouldn’t listen to me.”

“That was the first smart thing you have done since you came here.”  Fiona leaned back on her desk, her wand pointing at the floor, the tip of it inscribing small circles that sparkled for an instant before fading. “Now they remember why they don’t come running to magic to solve their problems. Magic makes things worse, unless carefully and sparing applied.”

“What have you seen in your crystal ball?” Maven hoped Fiona would go and look, that she would stop playing with the wand that seemed more and more ominous every moment.

“I haven’t looked,” Fiona said. “I’ve been listening to you and your story, and this ridiculous situation, which is now all yours. It’s up to you to sort it out.” She crossed her arms, with the tip of the wand still moving, as if it had a will of its own. “What are you going to do about it?”

Maven listened for any suggestion from Bump of Direction, but got no sense of even having intuition, much less anything helpful, except to get out of Fiona’s office and see if she could think more clearly away from Fiona and her wand.

“I’m going back out there and muddle through.”  Without waiting for any sort of instruction or orders, since it appeared there would be none, she took out her wand, swizzled it and poofed back to the grounds of the Palace.

Lurleen in the Cafe O’Lay

The words weren’t coming out of Lurleen’s pen onto her purple spiral notebook with college ruled pages. She’d come in early on a Tuesday, knowing that it would be slow until after seven, so she would have some writing time.

Plenty of time but no words. She couldn’t bear to write down the mundane things that happened in her life,  the divorce, the miscarriage, the  family’s redneck crudities, even the small dramas of the bar that sometimes ended in bloodshed. That was too real. She wanted to escape into another world, one that made more sense, where the good guys looked different from the bad guys.

She sighed in despair until someone walked through the wall of the Café O’Lay.

Lurleen stared at the wall at the corner of the bar near the bathrooms, where the old projector room had been when the café had been the concession stand at the drive-in, back when Lurleen was a little girl. It was a plain cinderblock wall, many times painted but showing every impact of bullet, chair and redneck skull. The woman had walked right through it, just like it was a beaded curtain.

The woman was chubby, dressed like a fairy in lavender gossamer that draped and flowed around her, making her look like a cross between an ancient hippie chick and a salvation army lingerie counter. She had dragonfly wings that vibrated and buzzed every so often. She appeared to be fifty-ish with some wrinkles and, short salt and pepper hair. She could have been anyone’s aunt–probably the cheek-pinching kind.

The woman hitched her hip up on a bar stool.  “While you are deciding what you want to wish for, you can get me a beer. Draft. Guinness if you got it.”

Lurleen’s professional habits kicked in while her brain refused to process what was going on. She grabbed a mug, filled it and handed it over. “Want a tab?”

The woman didn’t answer at once. She was too busy sucking down the beer. When she came up for air, she said, “Sure. Now about that wish. You only get one, so think carefully.”

Maybe I’m dreaming, or this is some kind of flashback, Lurleen thought. She’d been heavy into the drug scene in college, but that was years ago. She didn’t even drink now, not even coffee, coke or sweet tea. She wet her hand at the sink and wiped the cold water over her face. The woman quaffed the rest of her beer and held out the mug for more.

“Okay, who are you, and how did you get through the wall?” Lurleen took the mug and filled it back up, though she had a premonition that the beer would never be paid for, not even in fairy gold.

“Maven’s my name. I’m your fairy godmother,” Maven said. She turned to look at the wall behind her. She fished a wand out of a hidden pocket in her gossamer and waved it across the wall. “I’m not sure how I got here. Must be some kind of dimensional door.” She walked over to the wall and ran her hand across it. “Interesting. Maybe you have to make your wish before I can go back.” She came back to the bar and sat on a stool. She didn’t seem at all concerned, except that she reached for her mug.

Lurleen pulled the mug back, out of reach. “You got any money on you? I believe in what I can see and feel for myself, some chick who promises wishes.”

“Fair enough,” Maven said. “Clients aren’t supposed to pay for their wishes. She dug back into her pocket and brought something out. She blew dust off it and wiped it off with a corner of her sleeve. “Twenty bucks do me for a while? Of course, the piece might be worth more as gold.”

She handed Lurleen a twenty-dollar gold piece, dated MCMVII–1907, with the figure of Liberty holding a flame and a branch.  The back said United States of America. It looked real enough. Lurleen bit it, although she wasn’t sure what that was supposed to prove. She handed the beer to Maven. “Okay, I’ll bite. What’s the deal?”

“You were wishing hard enough that I heard you all the way to Faery–which isn’t so far away from here.” Maven cradled the sweating mug in her hands and sucked down the beer as if it were the last water for 500 miles.  “So what do you want? Books? How many and what subjects?” She brought out her wand again and waved it over the bar. A stack of books appeared, some hard backs, some paperbacks, all over two inches thick, all with bright covers that proclaimed Lurleen Snipes much larger than the titles. The subject matter was hidden in the graphic design.

“Wait, no! I want to write them.” Lurleen pushed them away, although the feel of of her name in red foil letters under her fingertips was hard to resist.

“So, write.” The books disappeared. “You want a bestseller.  Just give the word.” Maven drained the mug. “If that’s what you want.” Her voice had an edge of warning, just a note of ‘be careful what you ask for.’

What Lurleen wanted was to get away, to live out there in the world where life made some sense but to make it this time. She’d failed out of college, she’d failed out of marriage, she’d failed out of motherhood, and she wasn’t even much good as a barmaid in her momma’s whorehouse. She couldn’t face leaving this hellhole and then having to come home again with her tail tucked and her ears pinned back.

Maven handed her the mug, nodding at it significantly. “Take your time. There ain’t no beer in Faery.”