Our short story series continues! Last year, we started publishing a collection of short stories with disabled characters as the hero or heroine, or where disability is central to the storyline.
Working with disabled writer Hayleigh Barclay and disabled illustrator Philip Hoare, we want to ensure disabled people can see themselves reflected in fiction, and encourage more disabled writers to create books with disabled characters.
“Did you do it?” the Fairy-godmother asked, skipping into the room with a beaming smile before clapping eyes on the Prince’s body sprawled out on the rug. “Oh dear, I see you have.”
Annabel kicked the Prince in the groin and hushed the two women as she listened out for a groan. After a minute of complete silence, she straightened herself and said, rather matter-of-factly, “Yes, he’s definitely dead.”
Elle, currently supporting herself and her wheelchair against a wall, cleared her throat and pointed towards her missing wheel. “Excuse me, but what the hell happened here?”
“Well,” Annabel replied, “You said a few rhymes and he had the audacity to die.”
“I would like it noted that it wasn’t the spell,” the Fairy-godmother said. “It was only supposed to freeze him so he would listen to us.” Elle tutted and took a deep breath. “No! I mean what happened to my wheel?”
Blushing with embarrassment, the Fairy-godmother whipped out her glowstick wand and swished it towards the wheelchair.
Sparks flew from the metal frame as a team of bumblebees wearing welder’s hats and brandishing blow torches knocked up a set of wheels.
Examining their handy work, Elle muttered, seemingly impressed before the hive disappeared.
As the Prince lay on the floor, Elle, Annabel, and the Fairy-godmother looked at each other with a mixture of sympathy and suspicion.
None of them had factored in that one glance at Elle would render the poor boy so love-struck that he would fall down dead. To be honest, the three women thought the Prince to be extremely selfish at having created this social faux pas.
“This is typical of that Royal family,” Annabel huffed, plunking herself down onto the couch. “He probably planned this.”
The Fairy-godmother nodded as though oddly satisfied with her partner in crime’s assessment and peered through the curtains to keep watch for the Royal guards. Unsurprisingly, the horde of burly, uniform-clad men were either playing cards, having a sly snooze, or picking their noses.
Deciding that, for the moment, their crime was at low risk of being discovered, Annabel declared she felt a little peckish and suggested the three of them partake in a slice of pumpkin pie whilst deciding how to dispose of the body.
As soon as their forks stabbed into the golden pastry, each of the women put forward their ideas. Taking him to the dump was quickly dismissed as being too much hassle, as was chopping him up and flushing the remains down the toilet.
One would imagine that the image of blood, guts, and hacking up intestines would put the women off their dessert – but no! If anything, it made the lashings of whipped cream and spicy mixture taste even better.
By the time the women wolfed into their third slice of pie, it was agreed that the most efficient way to deal with the body was for the Fairy-godmother to simply wave her wand and make the Prince disappear. Looking back, it seemed the most obvious choice and nobody knows why it took the women almost an hour to realise it.
“So, where exactly did the body go?” Elle asked, examining the rug for any signs of incriminating DNA. Not even an eyelash was to be found. Impressive.
“To be honest, I’m not too sure,” the Fairy-godmother replied. “They mentioned something about the Bermuda Triangle at magic college, but I got distracted by a paperclip on the floor.”
“More to the point, what are we going to do about the guards?” Annabel interrupted.
The Fairy-godmother produced her wand and began circling it in the air. Before she had the chance to clear her throat and utter who-knows-what incantation, Elle held up her hands. “No!” she yelled in desperation. “We can’t risk a pile of bodies littering the garden. Think of the tulips.”
“Damnit, she’s right,” Annabel said. “Our soil is atrocious at the best of times.”
Sulking, the Fairy-godmother sat on an armchair and refused to talk to anyone as she, “wasn’t playing anymore.” In support of the tantrum, her glowstick wand hissed and turned itself to factory settings mode.
“Fine,” Annabel sighed after many unsuccessful attempts to coax the Fairy-godmother out of her mood. “I’ll deal with them myself.”
With a flick of her hair and sway of her hips, she found herself outside, giggling and shimmying with the guards. One by one the men swooned and salivated as Annabel made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.
They finally left, satisfied with the story that the Prince had already left through the back door and was probably waiting at the palace. As Annabel recounted the events to Elle, the young girl learned a very valuable lesson; there is nothing a man won’t do for a slice of turkey and cranberry sauce.
Hours later and Elle made the executive decision that they had committed the perfect crime, therefore it was safe for everyone to go to bed. She reasoned that after many years of watching real crime documentaries made her an expert on the justice system.
Nobody, weapon, or motive equaled no murder. Her accomplices, utterly bamboozled by Latin phrases, fell asleep to the sound of Elle droning on. She went to bed feeling content that nothing in the world could possibly go wrong.
The next day, however, was a different story. A state of national emergency was announced after the Prince was discovered missing. The funny thing about Royalty disappearing is that someone inevitably notices. The police visited every household having found a suspicious-looking glass wheel in the Prince’s bed.
“Oh, those bloody bees!” the Fairy-godmother screamed, watching the news. “They never clean-up their mess properly.”
Elle, who was polishing the television, said without a hint of panic, “What an extraordinary coincidence.”
Annabel felt less than calm and judging by the mascara running down her face, she had no intentions of pretending otherwise. “Why would they dump the wheel in the Prince’s bed?”
“They have the quirkiest sense of humour,” the Fairy-godmother chuckled before realising her mistake and returning to a worried frown.
“It’ll be fine,” Elle replied. “As long as we keep to our story that the Prince left here in one piece and we don’t know where he is.”
“Which is technically true,” said the Fairy-godmother, a little too enthusiastically. Anyone would think she was trying to believe her own lie.
Elle took her hand to offer reassurance. “We can be each other’s alibi. Nobody can prove anything. We’ll keep an eye on the news for any updates.”
Sure enough, hour by hour, the updates came. By late afternoon the police had searched over 100 houses looking for clues as to the owner of the mysterious glass wheel. They tried fitting it to every bicycle, pram and wheelbarrow in the land, but it just didn’t fit right. Still, they continued long into the night…
The following day, two detectives arrived at Snoop Manor to question the three women about the Prince’s whereabouts. Logically, this should have been the first line of investigation, but with the amount of paperwork and press conferences, the police totally forgot.
“Give me that!” Elle snapped, grabbing the Fairy-godmother’s wand. “I’m fed up with this. They’ve been interrogating us for over an hour.”
“Tell us again, Miss, what was the last thing the Prince said to you before he left?” said one of the detectives, peering over his glasses.
Elle waved the wand until pink sparks shot out and hit the detectives on the head. Much to the Fairy-godmother’s surprise, the strike rendered the two men with slight amnesia.
The detective with ginger hair rubbed his forehead as though trying to remember something important. “Do you like the Royal family?”
Once again Elle waved the wand.
“Where do you think he is?”
“Did you hurt him?”
“What did you say to the guards?”
“Have you heard from the Prince since?”
Question after question, Elle flicked her wrist and, in an instant, all was forgotten.
“You’re really rather good at that,” the Fairy-godmother said, clapping.
Before Elle could answer, the words glass wheel were uttered by one of the men, and instinctively she showered him in pink sparks. That was the end of that.
After what seemed like a lifetime, Annabel showed the detectives to the door, with the men left feeling like they hadn’t accomplished anything at all. “I think we might have gotten away with it,” she said, clutching her pearls as she entered the lounge.
“The point is,” Elle replied, “now that the Prince has gone, what is your master plan?”
“That!” the Fairy-godmother said, motioning towards the TV.
Breaking news: Prince ran away to avoid taxes. People demand a Republic.
Elle thought for a moment and smiled. “It’s nice that we prevented a war,” she remarked, but the other two women weren’t paying attention.
Annabel had already opened her laptop to start planning her campaign to run for President. The Fairy-godmother commented that this was a marvellous idea and conjured a few thousand flyers to attract votes. Just as Elle was about to go to the kitchen to rummage up some sandwiches, Annabel interrupted.
“How do you fancy being Vice-President?”
Without hesitation, Elle shook her head.
“What do you mean, no?” Annabel and the Fairy-godmother said in unison.
“To be honest,” Elle replied with eyes full of wonder, “I’d quite like to go to magic college and become a Fairy-godmother.”
After a brief pause, Annabel admitted that having a wand-waver in the family might prove useful – especially during diplomatic negotiations.
“You do have a natural talent for spells,” the Fairy-godmother added.
Once again, Elle took the glowstick wand and with a flick the glass wheel reappeared in front of her. “Yes, I am.”
She looked at the only piece of incriminating evidence which linked her to the Prince’s murder and thought about what awaited her at magic college. Bubbling cauldrons, first kisses with minotaurs, poison apple baking, all-night parties with banshees – the list was endless.
With one last incantation, the glass wheel shattered into a thousand pieces before disappearing forever. Elle laughed and realised that dreams really can come true. And she lived happily ever after.
By Hayleigh Barclay
Check out more short stories written by Hayleigh Barclay on Disability Horizons website.
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