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Happy Birthday: A Short Story

Karaoke 2It was the kind of night when he didn’t know if he should call an escort, cut himself, or jump off the balcony. Faced with a triple barreled longing for oblivion, John did the only thing he could do. He poured himself another Scotch.

Karaoke had been a disaster. The service was horrible and the tables were clogged with regulars waiting to hear themselves sing. He had one beer, sang two songs poorly, and left early.

He felt a sharp pain in his lower intestines, as he slumped back into his couch.

Leonard Cohen wrote an entire book about an intense bout of constipation, he thought. I probably couldn’t even write a short story. Not even a haiku.

After another sharp pain and an ominous intestinal rumbling, he went to the toilet and had a sharp, quick and terrible shit -- jalapeno hot and explosive. It took him, at least, four minutes to clean up -- himself and the bowl.

Did I really need to run into an ex-girlfriend tonight, too, he thought, once he was back on the couch with the bottle in hand. What the fuck? Really?

Out on the balcony, he looked for the moon, but it had already set. Without a moon to witness his fall, he lost the motivation to jump.

In the kitchen, he held a knife against his skin to judge the feel of it. He felt stupid and put it away.

On the internet, he found only questionable sites and doubtful pictures. Fearful of getting a virus from a site that would only connect him to a woman who would give him an infection, he gave up his search for an escort.

He did the only thing he could do. He poured himself another Scotch.

The fairy arrived, shortly after the third top up.

“John, what are you doing?”

“Drinking,” he replied.


“I don’t have the courage, recklessness, or self-pity to do something truly dramatic, so I’m ineffectually drinking myself into a mild yet pleasant stupor.”

“What will that accomplish?”

“I suppose it will help me sleep. I suppose it will help me feel better. I suppose it will make me fat.” He looked up, for the first time, from the glass in his lap. “Are you my Fairy Godmother?”

“No, John. There is no God.”

“Oh. Well, good,” John replied. “That’s what I always thought, so it’s a bit of a relief to have it confirmed from someone who’d know. Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.”

“I will admit it, though,” John straightened up to make the point. “I’m kind of happy to know fairies exist.”


“Well, I guess, it means, there’s magic in this world -- even if there is no God -- if I know where to look for it." He looked into the incomprehensible beauty of the fairy's eyes. "I suppose, sometimes, magic will even come to find me, too. Like tonight.”


Twelve years later, the memory of that night returned to John, as he sat on a white sand beach underneath an even whiter moon, working his way through another bottle of that same Scotch.

He never saw or was visited by fairies ever again but, after that night, he started to look for -- and find -- magic in the world. Whether he found the magic or made it himself, it didn’t matter, so long as there was magic and, once he started looking for it, there was.


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