How to be a fairy godmother

It takes a very long time to write a good story, unless you have a fairy godmother. Unlike the ones in the old stories, fairy godmothers do not all have wings, but they do have magic. The best fairy godmothers tell you fairy tales, but unlike the fairy tales in the newest movies, not all of them have happy endings.

There was the one about a rabbit who was turned into a goon.

Sometimes fairy godmothers wear red lipstick and nailpolish. They can have shiny black hair that they wear in long braids or they can have chin-length hair and blue jeans.

You might say you are frustrated, and they will tell you that you are smart just for knowing it.

Fairy godmothers will paint your fingernails red if that is what you would like, but they might tell you that you should clean your nails first if they are very dirty. Sometimes fairy godmothers will dress you up like a doll and take photographs.

Some fairy godmothers play the piano. They could teach you how to play the piano, but you might lack the temperament for that particular discipline. You might lack the dedication or maybe you just don’t have an ear for music. Whatever the case, a fairy godmother will stay up late with you and listen to one of your stories, about how you are the singer in a band and you write your own songs and your friend is the bass player, which is basically nonsense, of course, a child’s fantasy.

Fairy godmothers don’t always tell you when you are wrong, except when you are very, very rude. You might be very, very rude because you don’t know any better. Maybe it is because you went into a store and a lady at the counter asked you what you wanted. You reply with one word, which is “gum” because you only wanted gum. You should have said something like, “I would like a pack of gum, please. Could you direct me to the gum?”

We always think fairy godmothers are single, but they can get married. Don’t worry if they get married; it isn’t the end. Or maybe it is a happy ending because you will get to wear a pretty dress and talk about babies. Cream-colored dresses look nice with red lipstick, even though you are too young for red lipstick. Babies in children’s books are like aliens. You are too young for a baby, so you get a weasel instead.

Weasels are a lot of work, but not as much work as babies. If your fairy godmother has a baby, she will not keep it in a cage. She will let it walk around and poop in diapers. She will tell you that she no longer has a clue what is in her closet because what she thinks about now is mostly the baby who walks around and poops in diapers. But she still cares about you, too.

Your pet weasel doesn’t live in a cage, either, although maybe she should. She sleeps in your bed and poops in the corners of your house. She poops in the dark corners of your closet, but you won’t know this until 20 years later, when you are cleaning out the closet after your brother died in that bedroom, and long since the weasel ran away. You certainly didn’t stop thinking about the clothes in your closet long enough to raise a weasel. And besides, weasels have their own dreams to live out.

Weasels and goats are like geese, boys, and men. Sometimes they run away. They teach you responsibility, lessons about who to trust. And they make good characters in stories, especially fairy tales, because in fairy tales they can talk, but they can’t always be trusted. And in real life animals can’t always be trusted. You’re better off trusting your fairy godmother than an animal, in real life. You can believe what she says, because remember, she did tell you the truth about your dirty fingernails. If an animal talks to you in real life, he is just going to tell you that you are an idiot, and he isn’t going to help you with your housework after all. If an animal talks to you in real life, he will be very condescending. He will ask you where you ever got the idea that you were a princess in a fairy tale and he might ask if you have taken your medicine recently.

In real life you might wish you were a princess marrying a prince, but perhaps you are just a goat girl marrying a squirrel hunter on the first day of squirrel season.

You should probably be grateful that anyone attended your wedding considering the fact that you served cold miniature quiches instead of squirrel gravy at your wedding reception. You are just grateful that your fairy godmother was there with your mother and bougainvilleas because the flowers are a nice distraction for your wedding guests once they run out of beer and wine.

People say things like, “What a blessing flowers are.”

Now you are an adult. Your fairy godmother will give you a book of affirmations. You should keep it by your bed so that it doesn’t get lost because you will want it someday. You will need these affirmations on those days when you no longer believe in fairy tales.

You can talk to your fairy godmother, even when she isn’t there, because you know what she would say. She would say that you are so exceptional and wonderful and you will need those affirmations even when they are no longer true. Even though they were never true of you. They were true of her. But you believed because she said it, and sometimes you just need an affirmation, a validation.

And then even when your body aches and the talking mirror tells you to go back to bed, you will not be afraid that you have become a wicked witch, an evil stepmother. You will know that a good story can be happy or sad, depending on how and where you end it. Stories about talking animals, beautiful princesses, and fairy godmothers may not be the whole story or the real story, but they are the ones you choose to tell. You know the best fairy godmothers do not have wings.

And the best stories have no endings at all.


Risk factors

What is your name?

How old are you?

Do you really want to do this?

What are you going to wear?

Are you wearing that?

You can’t wear that at your age.


Do you have a boyfriend?

Wear that while you still can.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

What is your educational background?


Are you married?

How many children do you want?

Are you breastfeeding?

Are you going back to work?

Who is going to take care of your children?

What are you going to do when your children get sick?


Do you have health insurance?

What is your annual household income?

How many children do you have?

How old are your children?

What is wrong with your children?

Have you tried saying no?

Have you tried gluten-free?


What do you use for birth control?

Were you under age 18 when you first had sexual intercourse?

Have you had more than three sexual partners?


Marital status?

What’s wrong?

Are you tired?

Do you exercise regularly?

Have you tried green tea?

Have you tried probiotics?

You can’t wear that at your age.


What size do you wear?

What is your weight?

Have you tried apple cider vinegar?


Do you have a family history?

Have you considered surgery?

Have you thought of remodeling?

Did you know you could paint that?


Thank you for your cooperation.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

The boy who said too much

Rich people are so weird. When Kylie gets tired of her old clothes, she has a closet sale in her room. Me and Madison and Rachel Kramer go over and buy her clothes for way less than they cost at the mall. She only keeps stuff like jeans and boots for like a year, then she sells them. Most of her stuff is still better than mine, so it’s a good deal for me. Her parents have yard sales, too, in the summer. My parents never have yard sales because nobody wants to buy our stuff. We use it until it’s too old for anyone else to want.

It’s the same with my clothes. I couldn’t sell my clothes to friends because they aren’t that exciting. They’re just plain and boring, like me. Every time I try to wear something like a flannel shirt with a scarf and big sunglasses, I just feel dumb. And I guess I look dumb, too, because Maya wrote “poser” on my locker that one time.

Nobody except Conor was in the yearbook office when I went in yesterday to process some photos. He was on the computer looking at pictures he took of Kendra and the other cheerleaders. I put my backpack and camera bag down and got out the Nikon that Mr. Fallon, the yearbook adviser, lets me use. It belongs to the school. I really don’t know how to work it unless Conor changes the settings for me. I’m not a very good photographer and it’s not because I don’t know what makes a good picture. It’s because I can’t work the camera.

Conor was using Photoshop to lighten Lacey Rudolph’s hair so her roots didn’t look so much darker than the rest of her hair.

“I wish I looked like Lacey Rudolph,” I told him. Lacey has long blond wavy hair and a perfect body.

“She’s nothing special,” Conor said. “She’s cuter than you, but she’s not perfect.”

I got my camera and sat down at one of the other computers and started processing my photos. They were awful. I didn’t get one good picture of the Key Club kids ringing bells at the Salvation Army kettle drive kickoff. Most of the pictures were blurry. I am a loser. I’m not pretty. My clothes are boring. I can’t even take a good picture with the school’s really nice camera.

“Are you pouting?” Conor asked me.

“About what?”

“What I said.”

“I’m fine,” I told him, but my voice cracked and I started sniffling and had tears running down my face.

“God, Lucy, what am I supposed to say every time you talk about some other girl being pretty? Do you want me to say you’re perfect? You wouldn’t believe it if I did.”

“You don’t have to say anything, Conor. You don’t have to say everything you think. You’re more like a girl that way, you know? Maybe that’s why I’m your best friend.”

“Yeah, because Josh doesn’t like to talk all the time, does he? He likes doing other things, right, Lucy?”

I told Conor about how Josh and I don’t really like the same things and Josh just wants to make out all the time. Last week, Josh and I broke up because I bought us tickets to go see “The Hunger Games” and he bailed out on me to go to a shooting range with his dad and uncle. I told him that was a jerk thing to do because I already bought the tickets. He said it was the only weekend his uncle would be in town and they had to practice before hunting season. I said hunting is stupid and he said if I think hunting is stupid then I shouldn’t like “The Hunger Games” because Katniss is a hunter.

Conor always brings up stuff that I told him and uses it against me, which is why he brought up Josh.

“You act like a girl sometimes, Conor,” I said. “You’re mean like a girl, not mean like a guy. Maybe that’s why you don’t have any friends except me.”

I grabbed my backpack, left the yearbook office and went into the bathroom to cry. I like to cry in bathrooms. I was so mad. I didn’t care if I ever talked to Conor again.

After school, I went straight home instead of going to Kylie’s to eat Skittles and talk about her closet sale, which is this weekend. She’s having us over for a sleepover and she’ll do the closet sale then.

I decided to run on my mom’s treadmill for twenty minutes because Dr. Hirsch said it would be good for me. My mom thought I might need medicine because I can’t sleep sometimes, so she took me to a psychiatrist. I tried two medicines, but one made me feel like I was going to throw up and the other made me sleep all day. I told Dr. Hirsch I didn’t feel any better after I slept all day than I did if I got up at 4 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep. He said if I would just run three times a week I wouldn’t need medicine.

So I guess Conor was right. I do need to run track like him. But I’ll never run a six-minute mile and I’ll never take pictures like Conor’s and I’ll never look like Lacey Rudolph.

After I ran, I started feeling sad about what I said to Conor, so I texted him and told him I was sorry.

He didn’t text me back at first so I texted him again:

“Did I ever tell you you’re my hero?”

He finally wrote back to me:

“You were right. I talk too much. Words are very unnecessary. They can only do harm.”

Something about that didn’t sound like Conor and I bet it was a line from some ‘80s song. Conor has a thing about ‘80s music and movies. He is a dork, like me. That’s probably why we’re best friends.