Home > Glimpsed

Author: G.F. Miller

To the flibbertigibbets.

I salute you.



1 Happily Ever After? I Got This.


Prince Charming surveyed the sea of hopeful courtiers dispassionately, unaware that, at that very moment, his destiny was speeding toward the castle in the form of a pumpkin carriage. Inside the erstwhile pumpkin, Cinderella marveled at her sudden change of fortune… and footwear.

Meanwhile, the fairy godmother, disguised as a parlor maid, was two-handed stress eating French pastries as she watched the minute hand on the clock tower.

But that last part never gets included because nobody cares. It’s not her story. So nobody gives a magical mouse turd about the fairy godmother’s problems.

Except for me.

I know exactly what that chick was going through because, right now, Coach is preparing to start the Poms tryout without Carmen. The ball is on, and my Cinderella is nowhere in sight.

Carmen texted fifteen minutes ago that she had a flat tire. But having a legitimate reason for missing the tryout is not going to get Carmen on the squad. Coach is hard-core about starting on time. If we’re even thirty seconds late for practice, we have to stay after and do wind sprints. But if you’re late for the tryout, you’re just out of luck.

What we need is a delay.

With a wink, I launch a mental nudge at Coach, magically knocking the location of her clipboard out of her mind. She begins to wander around the gym, looking flustered. My right hand immediately gets pins and needles but, hey, worth it.

Come on, Carmen, I silently plead as I watch Coach flounder. We are not flushing six months of work down the toilet because of a flat tire.

The clock ticks to 3:02.

Then 3:03.

The nudge wears off. “Aha!” Coach says triumphantly to no one in particular, picking the clipboard up from the bench, where it’s been sitting in plain sight the whole time.

I desperately wink another nudge at her—a sense that the sound system settings need to be checked. She gives her forehead a little massage, feeling the strain of too many nudges. I feel it too. My whole right arm is asleep now, all the way to my shoulder. It’s super annoying.

But it buys us a few more minutes. She goes to the control panel and ponders the knobs and sliders, inputs and outputs.

“Uuuuuugh!” Scarlett Okumura groans from the spot next to me, her knee bouncing a hundred miles an hour. “What is the problem? Coach never starts late.”

Scarlett’s the team captain and obviously feeling the tension in the room. I nudge her a little calm, wishing I could do the same for myself.

“It’s only 3:05,” Gwen Strope replies from her other side. She doesn’t look up from her phone screen to deliver this information, and her face is entirely obscured behind a halo of tight black curls.

To my undying relief, the gym doors open, and Carmen comes skidding through them in compression pants and a crop top, a black smudge clearly visible on her forearm. She doesn’t stop to catch her breath but takes her place in the second row. She scans the bleachers, and when our eyes meet, she gives me a tiny nod. I nod back—you got this.

With a sigh of relief, I let myself relax a little, rubbing my arm to try to realign my chi or whatever.

A few seconds later Coach says, “Okay, sorry for the delay. Let’s get started.”

The dancers set, the sound system crackles, and I am in knots again. This is it. Carmen’s whole Happily Ever After hinges on this two-minute routine. I sit in the bleachers with my Poms squad mates, composing my features into a perfect mask of indifference, while mentally juggling glass slippers at the stroke of midnight.

Next to me Scarlett whispers, “Who do you think is going to make it this year?”

Electro house pumps out of the gym’s sound system, saving me from having to answer. The forty or so new Poms squad hopefuls do a quick series of moves: head snap, ball change, flex kick, punch. Carmen hesitates on the kick. I bite the inside of my cheek because the tension has to go somewhere. The triple fouetté turn is coming up. With every neuron in my brain, I will Carmen to stick it.

She does.

That wasn’t some kind of nudge, by the way. Carmen is an awesome dancer. Her problems were lack of confidence leading to general social awkwardness. Whether it’s fair or not, making the Poms squad is about more than dancing. You’ve got to project that all eyes on me vibe. I’ve spent the past six months teaching Carmen how to walk into every room like she owns it. I clandestinely taught her this tryout routine weeks ago. She’s been practicing nights, weekends, every morning at five.… She deserves this.

From the other side of Scarlett, Gwen leans in and says over the music, “Second row, third girl from the left. Do I know her?”

I think, You’ve gone to the same school for three years, but you’ve been looking right through her. Outwardly I shrug. “I think her name is Carmen?”

“Carmen?” Scarlett visibly scans her vast mental catalog of the JLHS who’s who. “Wait. Carmen Castillo?”

She looks at me for confirmation. I give her a that sounds kinda familiar face.

She grunts, “She’s different.”

“Yeah.” I put a studied measure of surprise into the syllable. Carmen does a stag leap.

I want to cheer for her like one of those superfans who go to football games in full body paint. It’s almost a miracle that I can stay reclining on the bleachers. But the fairy godmother thing is strictly black ops. It has to be. People feel cheated when they find out somebody else got an assist. Plus I’d never get a rest. People would be begging me to grant wishes 24/7, and that’s really not how it works. That’s why all my Cindies are sworn to secrecy.

Carmen lands the toe touch, then pops back up. The recruits all freeze in an asymmetrical second position with their arms crossed on top of their heads. The last beat of the tryout song echoes off the gym walls.

Ultimately, Coach will decide who gets on the squad, but Scarlett is obviously spellbound by Carmen’s transformation, and she’s already whispering Carmen’s name to half the team. Only a hint of a smile betrays the proud-mama thrill that’s like fireworks in every nerve of my body. This is the first moment of Carmen’s Happily Ever After.

But of course—I glimpsed it.

You want to know why a few lucky people get a fairy godmother while everyone else is stuck slogging it out on their own? It’s the glimpse. Sometimes, out of nowhere, I get a glimpse of someone’s deepest wish, and I know my job is to help them get there. The picture is always quite clear, and, not to brag, but I can make it come true 100 percent of the time.

Six months ago Carmen brushed past me in the parking lot, watching her feet as she walked, huddled into herself like she was trying to be invisible. And I got a glimpse:

She was here in this gym, standing in the exact pose she is now. She was sweating and panting and smiling, and the whole Poms squad was cheering for her. Then Coach put a little star next to Carmen’s name on her clipboard.

So I pulled her aside and offered her my assistance. She accepted, obviously. And here we are. Making it real.

Scarlett whips out her phone. She snaps a photo just before the dancers drop their final pose. “I’m posting this,” she says to no one in particular, and then mutters her caption. “All the hopefuls for JLHS Poms… Carmen Castillo killed it!”

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