The Godmother

by Judith Glazier

 

Monday morning, Sally’s red Toyota accelerated smoothly from the traffic light. “First thing at work,” she muttered, “I need to call—”

Something orange dropped through the sunroof.

Sally jammed on the brakes, bringing her car to a screeching stop. Her eyes darted right to take in a little woman tidily tucking a pumpkin and brown plaid coat around her in the passenger seat.

“Good morning!” cooed the lady, straightening the purple butterfly button holding the garment closed.

“God damn!” croaked Sally, unable to get a full breath. “Who? What?”

“So glad to meet you.” The woman clicked her seat belt firmly. “Better drive, dear. We’re blocking traffic.”

“Where?” Sally struggled for a coherent thought. “Where should I go?” Her right foot lifted gingerly from the brake pedal. “I mean, do you need a ride?” Best to be polite, she decided.

“Oh, goodie. I love to ride!”

“You do?” Sally blinked, wondering if her passenger was tall enough to see out the window. “Who are you?”

“Ooh, ooh, take a guess!” The gray mop bobbed and shimmered in an engaging rhythm.

“How should I—aw, the Tooth Fairy.” Sally played along.

“So close, so close!” The orange and brown coat wriggled in anticipation. “Not the Tooth Fairy, but your fairy—”

Sally rolled her eyes. “—godmother?”

“You guessed!” The woman clapped miniature orange gloves.

Oh boy.

“What are you doing in my car?” Sally tried to steer the conversation back to the soothing waters of sanity. “Why am I so lucky?”

“You’re not the first! The others couldn’t see me!” giggled the little woman, as if sharing a wonderful joke. “That means I’m here for Sally.”

“Well, Sally’s awfully busy,” said Sally carefully.

The small woman smiled and wrinkles exploded around sparkling blue eyes. “Not too busy to make a wish, are you?”

“Right, the fairy godmother thing.” Sally turned left. “Tell me, why are godmothers always sweet gray-haired ladies?”

The woman morphed into a thick, balding man. “So, bambina,” mumbled Marlon Brando through doughy cheeks, “I should make you an offer you can’t refuse?”

“Whoa!” Sally gulped. “Stereotypical godmother is just fine.”

The Godfather offered his beringed hand for a kiss before reverting to little old lady mode. “Make a wish.”

“Really, my life is fine. But I’m sure there are others who would enjoy a wish,” Sally suggested courteously, wondering how long this could go on.

“Come on. One bitty wish.” Orange gloves fluttered with excitement.

Why not humor the woman? Maybe she’d leave afterwards. Sally dipped a cautious toe into magic wand territory. “Okay. Life is so hectic, I could use some quiet time each morning.”

The godmother stamped her wee purple Mary-Janes on the dashboard. The upcoming traffic light turned red. As the seconds ticked by, Sally tapped her finger impatiently on the wheel. After several minutes, her passenger asked, “Enough time, dear? I can hold it longer if you like.”

“For heaven’s sake,” chided Sally. “Turn it green. I’ll be late for my first appointment.”

“No problem!” Two twists of the butterfly button. “There. Appointment’s gone.”

“But I needed that meeting,” Sally wailed. “Forget the wish!”

“Oh dear, you’d better pull over.” They parked in front of Fredo’s Italian bakery. “Ooh, I smell cinnamon cannoli. My favorite.” The godmother sniffed lustily. “To save time, why don’t you try out my Top Three?”

“Top Three what?”

“Most frequent requests. True Love, Riches, and Beauty. Test one a day, decide which you like best. Can’t do world peace or immortality, so don’t ask.”

“Fine,” agreed Sally, desperate to get away without further damage. “Now, where can I drop you?”

With two shoulder shrugs, one ear pull, and what looked for all the world like flipping the bird, the old lady disappeared in a tiny bolt of lightning that scorched the Toyota’s upholstery.

* * * * *

Greg phoned six times that day, each call keeping Sally on the horn for valuable minutes while he described his enduring love for her and what he would do as soon as they were alone.

“Look, I love you too, honey,” she protested, running a distracted hand through her short black hair. “But I’m late for yet another meeting.” She kissed the receiver. “Keep thinking about tonight, though…”

Her husband arrived home bearing armloads of cut flowers. “I couldn’t wait to see your radiant face,” he murmured in Sally’s ear. “My love.” He had most of her clothes off before she could get the blooms in water, stopping only when she suggested wine.

They drank French champagne in bed, delighted in their passion, and exchanged sweet nothings until nearly dawn. Ah, bliss, thought Sally. True Love. Still, wasn’t this what they’d do every night of the week, if not for death by sleep deprivation?

So aside from the shrubbery and bubbly, what good was her fairy godmother’s first wish?

* * * * *

Tuesday’s Riches sounded more promising. Sally hopped from the king-sized bed and bounded into a palatial marble bathroom. The minutes lost figuring out the eight-headed shower left her little time to fling on her navy Chanel suit, Manolo pumps, and sapphire jewelry. She was due at a symphony board meeting in an hour.

Sally munched a piece of toast and shuffled through the messages stacked up by the housekeeper. Clutching a Saftonella mug filled with rich Colombian coffee, she slid into her black Jaguar and raised the garage door.

“How was True Love last night, dear?” Vibrant in a flowery green pantsuit, yellow tie, and red feathered hat, the godmother climbed in the passenger door.

“Uh, hello.” Sally twitched in surprise. She organized her thoughts, shunting aside the most obvious ones. “Last night was wonderful.”

“And you’re enjoying your Riches today?” The red feather fluttered across Sally’s face.

She pushed the feather aside and considered the question. “Being rich has its benefits, to be sure. But I’m busier than ever. Symphony this morning, hospital fundraiser at twelve, and three charities this afternoon.”

“Well, I love the Jag. And the threads and the bling-bling. Stunning.”

“Still, maybe Greg and I can grab dinner together after the art opening tonight…”

But her passenger was gone, leaving a charred spot on the burgundy leather seat.

* * * * *

Wednesday: Beauty. Zingy with energy, Sally luxuriated in her old, familiar shower. Hey, hey, whose boobs were these babies? She dried long, honey-blonde tresses, then discovered her closet overflowed with someone else’s wardrobe: short clingy dresses and feet-eating strappy heels. A hot magenta outfit and flamboyant makeup yielded miraculous results.

Singing with the Toyota’s radio, Sally wondered where her godmother was. Police lights flashed behind her. Uh oh. She beamed a warm smile at the officer. “Was I speeding?”

He reeled, managed to ask for her license, and waved her on.

At the office, clients signed deals before she explained them. Coworkers supplied coffee, and nary a hangnail marred the day. Gee, not bad. At 3:37, Peter asked her out for drinks. Sally couldn’t believe it. She and Peter had a great working relationship. Why ruin it? At 3:56, Mike made the same offer. By 5:02, Jim, Paul, and Randy had all stopped by.

Sally’s spiked heels clicked angrily in the parking lot. She didn’t need this! She was smart and successful just as she was. A wolf whistle startled her and she jerked open the car door.

Greg insisted on dinner at an expensive steak house and requested a table in the center of the room. Though annoyed, Sally didn’t object.

* * * * *

Anticipating a godmotherly visit on Thursday, Sally placed a folded towel on the Toyota’s passenger seat to prevent further upholstery combustion. Today her godmother would want Sally’s Top Three vote. Presumably she had ways of making the winner permanent.

But Thursday passed with no hint of fairy dust. And honestly, Sally didn’t mind. The Top Three were not all they’d been cracked up to be. After dinner, she made tea and mulled over how to explain to her godmother.

“Glorious evening, dear,” sang a melodious voice.

Sally nearly dropped her mug. Perched on the sofa, her godmother looked spectacular in a royal blue velvet gown with puffy satin sleeves. Teeny jeweled slippers dangled halfway to the floor.

“Don’t burn the furniture!” Sally exclaimed.

An itsy frown rumpled the godmother’s forehead.

Uh oh, thought Sally. “Here. Have some tea.” She thrust out the cup.

“Thank you, dear.” Dainty gloved fingers laden with glittering rings accepted the drink. “So, how did you like the Top Three?”

“Nice,” hedged Sally. “But I really don’t need them. You probably have a long list, so just cross me off.”

“I can’t. Everybody gets one wish.” The godmother sounded peeved. “It’s late and I’m tired, so please pick yours.”

“It must be hard to stay cheerful all the time,” Sally said sympathetically.

“Tell me about it! The selfish clods I deal with.”

“Don’t you ever get a day off? You sound as busy as me.”

The gray head shook mournfully.

Sally brightened. “Okay, here’s my wish. One day a month, you and I will have an adventure. We’ll be pirates, climb the Alps, dance with the Bolshoi Ballet. We can take turns choosing. No limits. And no penalty for taking time off. Whadaya say?”

The tiny frown deepened to a furrow. “It’s not nice to tease your fairy godmother.”

“No, really,” Sally protested. “That’s my wish!” She was relieved to see the silver eyebrows rise. “Just one condition, though—”

The godmother reached for her left earring. Not in the least interested in seeing the result of a tug to the lobe, Sally hurried on. “One condition. We wear matching outfits. Yours.”

The godmother’s eyes open wide. “Oh my!” She bounced off the sofa. “Oh yes!” Twirling like a sunbeam, she danced to the front hall. “Oh, my dear, such a wonderful wish. We’ll have marvelous times!”

Sally scurried behind, wrapping the tiny woman in a hug before opening the door. “Marvelous indeed, dear!”

With a smile and a nod, the godmother gave Sally the bird and zipped away. Only the welcome mat was scorched, and it could be replaced.

 

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