The fairy godmother was pissed because she’d been assigned the role of kindly old maid who had to walk around in a pink tutu holding a wand and saving girls from the predatory men and women they were in love with. She’d never been in love herself: the part of the brain that allows people to fall in love had been surgically destroyed at age six when her elders determined she would always be physically repulsive and never attract a mate, so they went ahead and scorched her hypothalamus, which although removing her ability to love sexually and romantically, caused a shift in her biology so that by age 11 she was as statuesque as most runway models five years her senior. This is worth noting, because in her kingdom, which encompassed the globe, runway models were deemed most able to market the clothes they wore beginning at age 16 up to 16½. After that, they worked as recruiters in the breeding fields of Eastern Europe, where beautiful girls were abundant, due in part to their poverty, which prevented them from wasting money on junk food, so they were all thin and somewhat anemic, a look that was deemed the ultimate sign of beauty, as a cadaverous appearance suggested a nearness to death that buyers found erotic and therefore marketable. These were the girls the fairy godmother was supposed to save. But by the time they were 16, most of these girls were in love with their photographers or agents or managers or, more often, had been taken advantage of by these same people, who recognized easy prey when they saw it and lacked the scruples most people have that would prevent them from victimizing some pouty anemic girl from the steppes, all of whom were lured by the prospect of fame and wealth that did occasionally befall a select few who seemed bred to walk the runway and party all night and sleep with older men and women and somehow navigate the shark-infested waters of their profession to emerge fashion icons by age 17.
The FGM was looking at an online catalog of 10,000 girls who needed rescuing. Every girl’s profile contained four pictures (front, rear, right profile, left profile), plus a biography and an update of their private lives. If a girl was already addicted to opiates, the FGM wrote her off as hopeless. Sorry kid. If a girl was in love with one of her handlers, or, worse, with a bumpkin from the steppes, she too was hopeless. The FGM had once tried saving a girl in such a predicament and nearly got her head blown off by the girl’s father, who had pushed his daughter into modeling so she could send money home. No, the girl she was looking for would be unusual in some sense. First and foremost, though, she must be so miserable that she was on the brink of killing herself on the runway, or something equally dramatic. Maybe hang herself on TikTok. But didn’t they realize that posthumous fame would do them no good? The industry had decreed that the earnings of any model who killed herself before 18 would be invested in a boarding school where girls beginning at age 12 would be fed 800 calories a day and trained to be a model or, if not able to carry that off, they would be routed into porn or the sex worker academy where around 90% of the girls ended up, although only half finished their education while the other half returned home to begin having children in the hope they would produce a supermodel or two who would save the family. So after weeding out all of these unsavable girls, out of 10,000 on the list, the FGM had to choose just one girl out of the remaining 80 who didn’t fall into any of the just-described categories.
Stella of Mediena was the best candidate. She came from a wooded Baltic region known for its beautiful but uncultured women. Stella was a six-foot-tall broomstick with boobs, so socially awkward that she lacked the verbal finesse to say yes or no to any of her would-be seducers. But her lumberjack dad and brothers had taught her how to bring down predators by applying a choke hold with one hand and a testicle crunch with the other. After a few men were sent to the hospital after trying to deflower Stella, word got out to stay away. Other would-be suitors, both male and female, were likewise repulsed by Stella’s abnormally productive sweat glands, which created a reek so bad that even olfactophiliacs decided that if her armpits smelled so awful, then the rest of her was probably worse. In fact, Stella was so intimidating that only an agent who wore a hazmat suit and a codpiece when he interviewed her was able to snap a few photos as proof that she was the most promising pre-model the world had ever seen. And the way she walked! That loping stride…the long neck with head bobbing and flopping from side to side…this was a unique girl!
“First things first,” the FGM told Stella when they talked on the phone. “You need to take a shower, and use soap and a scrub brush to wash every part of your body: between your toes, between your legs, behind your ears and under your boobs. I mean everywhere.” She paused to light a cigarette and wave away the smoke. “Next, if you have a boyfriend, dump him.”
“A boyfriend? What is—?”
“Good. Stay away from boys. Nothing good comes from them. And stay away from girls too. They’re not much better except for the lower homicide rate. Next—”
“I’m so unhappy. And who are you anyways?”
“I’m your fairy godmother, but you can call me Fay. Or you can call me fairy godmother, but I’m not a fairy and I’m not your godmother, but I am the one person who can save you from the disaster awaiting you.”
“My sister works 16 hours a day in a coal mine.”
“Frankly speaking, Stella, that’s her problem.”
“I don’t understand the way you talk.”
“You’ll figure it out, and if you don’t, just do as I tell you.”
“How did you get my number?”
“I saw it online.”
“Ah yes, the television. I’ve heard. But I am so unhappy. May I have a million of your American dollars to make me less unhappy?”
“I’m broke, kid. Well, not really. According to Fortune, I’m one of the 10 richest women in the world, but it’s all tied up in offshore accounts and I would have to hire a dozen lawyers to get my hands on it. But whatever you do, and no matter how miserable you are, don’t kill yourself. You’ll be living with me until I save you from whatever emotional sinkhole you’re in. Now I’m going to count backward from seven, and when I reach one…are you listening? All I hear is heavy breathing.”
“I can count to ten. One…two…three…four…five…six…—”
“No, kid. Let me count and you listen. Seven…six…five…four…—”
“But why are you going the wrong direction? Soon you’ll be under zero and that’s the devil’s territory because it’s the same as being underground where demons live.”
“So it is,” the FGM said, rolling her eyes. “I’ll make a deal. I promise to stop at one. When I reach one, I’m going to tell you to blink your eyes three times. Got it?”
“I said, ‘I see.’”
“Ok, swell,” said the FGM, scratching her head. “Here goes. Seven…six…five…four…three…two…one…blink your eyes once. Now blink them once more. Now blink them again, and…why hi there Stella darling,” the FGM said, holding her nose. “The shower is straight back to the left. My eunuchs will bathe you for the next two hours. You’re a good-looking kid but you need to freshen up.”
“What is this place and who are you?”
“Remember the person you were just talking to on the phone? Counting backward from seven to one? I’m her. I’m the backward-counting lady on the phone.”
“I don’t like it here. Can I go back and get my hare?”
“You have plenty of hair, Stella. Too much, from what I can see.”
“Not my head hair, my rabbit-hare.”
“Your rabbit-hare. Your bunny-rabbit-hare. Sure, I’ll send you home and bring you back. One…two…three…four…five…six…seven…snap!” and Stella disappeared. A minute later, the FGM counted backward and Stella reappeared clutching a large hare by the scruff of its neck. Two eunuchs were standing prepared and brought Stella and her pet to the salon.
Five Years Later
Turns out Stella’s emotional problems weren’t so bad, aside from those caused by the bullying she endured from being so thin that a strong wind blew her backward, prompting laughter from her schoolmates, who called her Stella the Stringbean, or just String. She and her pet, which she named Hare Rabbit, were constant companions, and in fact Hare Rabbit was her emotional support animal, only that term was unheard of in her native region of Mediena, which for centuries had been claimed by three different Baltic states that wanted the right to chop down its trees. Turns out the wars the countries fought against each other prevented the massive deforestation they planned because they were too busy killing each other, or, if not killing, then litigating who had timber rights. Stella was a sensitive child who winced every time an American-made missile soared overhead. She clutched Hare Rabbit and prayed the war would never come to Mediena.
Once Stella was removed from this troubling environment, she blossomed into a relatively normal young woman. At 14, she was 6’ 1” 130 pounds. Modeling agencies approached the FGM seeking rights to Stella’s body, but the FGM was a hardened negotiator who’d been raised by mob attorneys in New York City. Her favorite term was cut the crap when talking to agents who offered sub-standard contracts for the rights to Stella. Stella for her part was enjoying time with Hare Rabbit and her offspring, for the FGM had conjured a male Hare for procreative purposes, and they did indeed breed like rabbits. The FGM’s mansion had been more or less taken over by the hundreds of hares hopping everywhere at all times. Stella couldn’t have been happier and had no desire to walk the runway, even though at 15 she was already a minor celebrity because of her pets and her gangly but striking appearance that caused all men and women to stare whether they saw her in person, in photos, or videos.
The story ends happily enough when the FGM met a brilliant neurosurgeon named Fred Gibson who said he could repair her hypothalamus so that she could love and be loved. Dr. Gibson had identical twin sons aged 17 from a previous marriage, and they both fell in love with Stella, and she fell in love with them. Following her surgery, the FGM was too happy to care that Stella was dating twin brothers, and besides, Stella would be 18 in a month and free to do as she pleased. The FGM’s final advice was to keep the romance hush-hush until her next birthday, a restriction Stella didn’t understand, but she had learned to trust the FGM and did as instructed. Soon after turning 18, Stella gave birth to triplet boys who looked just like their father, but neither the boys nor Stella knew who the father was, and the kids’ similarity to the brothers precluded any speculation, and none of them were concerned enough to take a paternity test. Needless to say, since this is a fairy tale, everyone lived happily ever after. Stella never became a supermodel, but her sons did. By the time they were 20, they were billionaires, enabling Stella to live in the comfort she, her husbands, and her hares desired.