Ever After, Anyway

In the land of make-believe:

Gabe’s hair gleams golden in the sunlight, and his eyes just seem to snag the light and spin it until you’re dizzy and blinded and stumbling. Goddamned goody-two-shoes. Though, of course, he’s rather more godblessed and, being an angel and all, I don’t think he wears shoes. Wings are always like that, though. Even Pegasus has a stick up his ass. Figuratively speaking again, of course. They get flying and feathers and suddenly they think they’re above you. That one literally too, I guess, since they are. I haven’t even seen Gabe for maybe a century, but I know that he’s friends with Rose. She talks about him every once in a while, and now of course they’re getting on great.

I don’t, of course, know why she even hangs out with him. He’s bloody boring from what I can tell, bland as the healthiest of foods. Good, of course, just uninteresting. Rose has a thing for the perfect ones though – that’s why she even fell for the prince in the first place, naturally. Chiseled jaw and a sword, skin scratched by the thorns and breathing heavy. It took her a while to figure out the rest of it – not that I’m complaining. Being perfect suits me when I have the inclination to be charming. To be Charming, that is.

Gabe is still talking to Rose, and she’s listening all aglow. She is awfully beautiful. Hence the nickname, though nowadays she doesn’t need a whole lot of sleep. She gets by on five, six hours a night. I figure she got it all out of her system at once and now she’s impatient just dreaming. The wing’s telling her something about Red and the wolf boy, or at least that’s what it seems. He just said, “No, now they’re back together.” Rose is all agape, making those concerned clucking noises that need to accompany love conversations.

“But I thought they were done for good,” she says. Gabe shakes his head, shrugging. “Oh well,” says Rose. “I guess they’re well suited. But honestly, she should either give up the business with her grandmother or give him up. I mean, if she keeps nagging him about it they’re only going to do the same thing over and over again.”

“Well,” Gabe says, “that’s what they’ve been doing so far. They’ve broken up, I think, sixty-three times now? Someone’s counting and that’s the tally I heard. In my opinion that’s why they even work together at all.”

Rose frowns, skin creasing in a familiar scowl. “You think? Red always seems so innocent to me. Like Cindy, really. They both seem to think that everything’s going to be just fine all the time, no problems anywhere. Nothing ever goes wrong for them, and when it does they forgive. Look at Cindy’s godawful family, and how Red keeps taking the wolf back. They want it all to end up okay.”

The angel bursts out into laughter, golden peals of it chiming and drifting through the summer air. “You tales and your happily ever after. Of course they think it’ll all be okay. So it is written, no?”

Rose is glaring now. She’s touchy on the storybook stuff. I tune out again, threading my fingers through her hair and tangling my hand in the ringlets. They’re only going to have the same argument again. I swear, it’s like listening to the mice squeak all indignantly about the farmer’s wife. They can’t get over the grievances that happened hundreds of years ago. I try to avoid such things.

Anyway, I have other stuff to do this afternoon. I’m still supposed to show up at Cindy’s tonight, and apparently Baba Yaga’s cooking again. That, and the gingerbread witch is bringing dessert, and I do love Gretel-flavored cookies. Okay, so that’s a bad joke, but it always gets a laugh anyway. I think if it weren’t for her baking nobody would even talk to the old hag. At least there will be some good people, though. The Minotaur will be bumbling about, crashing into things – he has trouble finding his way anywhere, mostly. And Br’er and Loki always make for an entertaining time.

Maybe Rose just spends time with Gabe for the gossip. I stand up, my hand still cupped around her head. It does help to have an omniscient pal in the sky, I suppose. There’s something funny outside the window, and I walk over to look. The light’s all blue and shadowy, though it’s still early. Look at that, Thumbelina’s sitting right on my windowsill. Tom’s with her, not sure why – they broke up forever ago. Something about size not mattering. She’s beckoning though, so I lean my head down to hear her squeaky little voice.

“Hey,” she calls. “You’d better come help. Rip’s asleep in Sher’s house, she’s telling stories, and that moron giant is angry at Jack again. Nothing too serious, maybe, but it’s sort of chaos there. Want to come sort it out?”

Finally, I think, something useful to do with my day. I grab my bag of tricks – I borrowed it from Jack and “forgot” to give it back – and kiss Rose goodbye, startling her out of an impassioned speech about something or other. I wave to Gabe and dash out. I do love a good thorny problem to hack through, every once in a while. Just like old days.


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