Toni Margarita Plummer

The Death of the Fairy Tale


Toni Margarita Plummer is the author of the story collection The Bolero of Andi Rowe and a winner of the Miguel Mármol Prize. A Macondo Fellow and graduate of the Master of Professional Writing Program at USC, she has work forthcoming in the anthologies Latina Outsiders Remaking Latina Identity (Routledge) and East of East: The Making of Greater El Monte (Rutgers University Press). After working in book publishing as an acquiring editor, Plummer is now an Editorial Consultant and lives in the Hudson Valley.

Find her on Twitter: @tmargaritaplum


Maggie first met the fairy at a cocktail party on the Upper West Side.  The night had been declining slowly, and Maggie with it, her dark‑clothed frame sinking deeper and deeper into the loveseat pillows with every wineglass tinkle. Her fingers loosely supported a glass just drained of chocolate mousse. Brown smudges interrupted the light playing inside. The fingers of her other hand wove a small silver spoon between them.  When she set the glass down on the coffee table and slowly pushed it away from her, the fairy appeared.

It entered at the corner of her eye, halting in jerks with buzzing sounds, but steadily making its way toward the center of Maggie's consciousness. It climbed over randomly placed chairs and stumbled once over a geranium bush.  Soon, it reached an open space between two ivory bookcases. Confident and cheerful, it spit on the ceramic tile of Maggie's mind. Maggie raised her head. The room was the same, but a new light colored it. 

The fairy was round as a plum, its head only a smooth bubble emerging from its body like a spider bite. Large wings stretched out of its back. Its arms and legs were long and slender, and the color of cream. Its hair was the color of Maggie's first tooth and it twisted like a sculpture up into the air, finishing in a curl. The fairy wore only a pink tutu, of a single tulle layer, and this had a jagged edge that made little cuts in the chairs it encountered. The rest of its body was a faint glow without any irregularity, except for a little round mouth and two black eyes that had no fixed location and moved like drops of water across the surface of its face.

Maggie climbed out of the sunken loveseat cushion and took the fairy home with her. The fairy did not speak, but Maggie could understand it like she'd never understood anyone. During lunch times, Maggie skipped out on the office gossip and walked down to a bench at Madison Square Park. With held breath, she listened to the fairy tug at the corners of her ego, trying to make a tent for itself. When Maggie left her desk to use the restroom, the fairy performed an interpretive dance encompassing all aspects of the experience.

The fairy was an artist, and Maggie began excusing herself from places and situations when she sensed that it was about to do something special. The fairy was also very considerate. It spent hours filing away good memories for easy access and slipping sticks of dynamite into the belts of fears. It had a green thumb for ideas and it grew these quite successfully in a little garden out back. It told Maggie when these were ripe. Maggie was grateful for all that the fairy did for her.

The day Maggie met Jaime was a cloudy one. A heavy rain made it difficult to walk down the street, but where it obscured, it enlightened as well, washing the stones of Sunset Park to their original mood. The fairy was in a creative rut. It had encapsulated itself within its two large wings and it rolled about on the ground in frustration, a buzzing white feathery ball. Maggie and Jaime were in a crowded aisle at the Key Foods on 5th Avenue. Jaime dropped a can of salsa on Maggie's foot.


"I'm sorry!"

"That's all right."

The fairy ceased rocking and opened one wing to see. A young man was standing outside. His big clothes and sharp features made him look like a cartoon. Although he seemed to be looking in further than he should have, the fairy decided that he was harmless. There was stinging, but that was only nerve endings.

Maggie raised her knee up to her stomach and took the crushed foot in both hands.

"I'm really sorry. I shouldn't have been reaching around you like that. Are you okay?"

"Yeah, it's fine."

The fairy smiled at Maggie's shortness and sat up to watch, leaning back onto its elbows and crossing its legs out before it. Jaime had not left yet and was idiotically shifting the can of salsa from one hand to the other. 

"Have you decided?"

Maggie had set her foot down and was testing it against the ground.  The soft throbs of pain traveled up through her body and gave the fairy lovely little trembles.

Jaime went on speaking. "I don't care for that brand myself. I like it chunkier.”


"Although, the green one is pretty good."

Maggie didn’t answer.

"Hey, how about instead of putting yourself through such an ordeal, we go grab some Mexican tonight? Would you like to?"

Jaime had long brown hair that curled at the edges. And his earlobes were free.  The fairy kicked itself afterwards.  It should have known better, should have given some credence to the past records that those features constituted a weakness for Maggie. But it had been over‑confident. Its belief in its own powers was so great that it nearly choked when it heard Maggie reply.

"Uh, sure."

In a desperate attempt to redeem itself, the fairy immediately set to stopping the date. It made the trip down the hall to the office of the conscience. That was where it was getting the most resistance. Its violent gesticulations and flapping wings filled the lobby, causing those waiting to whisper and shake their heads in disapproval at this newcomer who did not know the rules. The fairy was shameless in its appeal. The guy could be a psychopath, a trouble‑maker, it declared. He could be detrimental to Maggie's sense of morality, to her spirituality. Maggie should feel no obligation to him!

The secretary did not like the fairy and she refused to put its message in to the president. The fairy's pleas ended abruptly when the secretary handed it a packet of forms six inches thick and said that if the fairy wanted to take legal action, it would have to get the forms signed by the guys up in reason. Unfortunately, they were known to take breaks during date‑preparation sessions.

"So," the secretary declared in a voice she borrowed from the nasal passages, "I don't think that you'll have much luck getting a hold of them in time. My advice: deal with it, sweetheart."

The fairy did deal with it. It had no other choice. It had thought one date would be the end and then things would go back to normal. It would just be the two of them again.  Maggie and the fairy, exclusive and content. But it soon discovered that it was wrong, and despite numerous attempts on its part, Maggie and Jaime began to see each other more and more as the weeks went by. Sometimes, Jaime sent a vase of daffodils to Maggie's office or apartment.

It wasn't very long before Maggie was printing out hundreds and hundreds of copies of Jaime's face in her mind. The fairy had no choice but to walk belly‑deep in them, to go to sleep at night and wake up with a picture of Jaime caught in its throat. They were not all pictures. Some were half‑finished poems, or lists of his attributes. The fairy tore them up, pushed them into the closet, stapled them to the wallpaper and threw darts at them. But it was no use. Maggie produced more images daily. 

The fairy did what it could to discredit the praises. Moustaches, love‑handles, and devil‑horns were its preferred attacks. One novel idea had been to exaggerate his nose. Over dinner, the fairy caught Maggie noticing his nose more than usual, and this pleased it very much. It made associations too, a more sophisticated technique. Thoughts of Jaime were stewed in Tía Emilia's carrot soup. The fairy reminded Maggie that Jaime owned the same jacket as the guy who held up the deli last year. But all the fairy's victories were small, and they did not last.

The nights were especially dangerous. Maggie would lie in bed awake, reminiscing the day. She would drift off to sleep with thoughts of Jaime still lingering.  The mind became warm and sweet at times like these. Translucent forms of dreams and hopes danced about the ceilings. Sometimes they asked the fairy to dance. It turned its rounded back on them and returned to the work of devising new defense tactics. While the dancers wafted above its head, the fairy drew horrible pictures in permanent ink directly on the walls and the floor. It knit large quilts of doubt, which it placed strategically about the mind. The quilts made it hard for Maggie to sleep. She would wake up in the middle of the night with a frown, go get a glass of water, and then stay up for hours watching the ceiling, or the moonlight on the curtain. The quilts might stay for a day or two, but all that it took was a word, a gesture from Jaime, and the fairy's prized quilts were torn to shreds by a traveling wind.

Just when the fairy thought it couldn't get any worse, infiltration of the mind began. The fairy would turn to see boxes upon boxes stacked against the walls and jammed into the doorways. They were labeled only as "Jaime's," and when the fairy tore them open, it found unfamiliar questions and confusing souvenirs. One was a soccer trophy from the seventh grade. Maggie had never played soccer in seventh grade. And she'd never been bitten by a dog, but that was in there too. The fairy found that the mind lost things, as well. A splinter of an insecurity, a shade of a nightmare. Maggie had never asked the fairy if it were all right to give them away or at what price they should be sold. Maggie never paid much attention to the fairy anymore.

Of course, there were nights when it was just the two of them. Maggie would sit in a doorway, or maybe on her bed, and look across the room at herself in the mirror. The fairy tried to make the most out of these moments. It recited breathtaking poetry and performed outrageous stunts. But Maggie would always leave too early and the fairy would remove its head from the lion's mouth to find itself alone. Another strange package would spring up from beneath the fairy's feet, and this would set it into a fury, flapping and buzzing up and down the room.

More disturbing than the boxes of junk, was a letter that arrived one day. Letters were usual, but this one was addressed to "The Fairy in Magdalena's Mind." The fairy tore open the envelope with its teeth.


Any friend of Magdalena’s is a friend of mine. Would you like to go out for a drink sometime?

Love, Jaime


The fairy quickly shred the letter into flitting silver pieces and dropped cross‑legged to the floor panting. It felt betrayed. Maggie had told Jaime about it. She had never told anyone.

The fairy sighed deeply and gazed at its one last comfort, the front door to Maggie's mind. It remained heavily barred. There was a mail slot of course, for various leaflets and advertisements. The packages had snuck in through the back, which irritated the fairy. But there was no regulating every opening and it had to accept this. Many times, birds and rocks had come in through windows. Ants through crevices, imperfections in the house structure. But anything that was to be of any importance had to come through the front door. And nothing ever had since the fairy had come to live there.

 A poster of abstract childhood art was taped over it at present. The fairy had managed to piece together little shreds that it had found while rummaging in the drawers of the sub‑conscious, things that had happened long before Jaime, and of which he could have no knowledge. Much of Jaime's belongings had made their way there, as well. Indeed, that is where he had first dug his stakes. It did not offer much of a retreat for the fairy, but lots of other things were in the sub‑conscious too, and these were not going to take over anytime soon. The fairy rolled its round body to the front door and tried to sleep. It would wait, for whatever might come.


The fairy was exhausted, discouraged, and subsisting on a diet of raw bumblebees when a knock erupted at the front door. It came bravely, making the door speak in a language the fairy had never heard before. It could have been beautiful, if it wasn't so terrifying. In the fairy's trance‑like state, it wondered if the door had always possessed that voice. But another loud knock quickly brought it out of musing and it rushed over to the sound, its strong wings tense and outspread behind it.

Knock. Knock.

Shadows flickered within the brain; the record player set to playing an old ranchera that Maggie’s deceased mother had liked. It played the song over and over. The fairy drew itself up into a corner, wanting to scream. It buzzed furiously at the door, until the knocking finally stopped.

This was not the first time the visitor was to come. It came the next day, then the next, and then every hour on the hour, and then every minute on the minute. The fairy could feel itself growing mad. It circled the mind in a frenzy. It flew into the dark and light spaces, into the past and the future, trying to make the knocking stop. But nothing would make it go away. Maggie felt nearby, but Jaime was just as close. The fairy could not look out a window without seeing him there.

Then the fateful day arrived. The fairy decided to open the door. It knew that the knocker was Jaime. He had been a worthy opponent, up until that point. But the fairy was convinced that once they were face‑to‑face, there was no way that Jaime could win. He had secrets, bad qualities. It would expose him.

The fairy first set to straightening up the room. It thrust the day's magazines under the carpet. It did not want to let Jaime see too much. Once everything was to its satisfaction, it focused all its energy on the knocking. There was rhythm to it, like the drum beating of some archaic song. In a series of lightning quick motions, it unlocked, unbarred, and flung open the front door, taking a mighty somersault backward.

The door slowly swung open to reveal Jaime.  He was holding a bouquet of daffodils and a bottle of wine, which he quickly offered. The fairy grabbed the gifts and threw them into a burning furnace.

Jaime remained hopeful. "Did you get the letter I sent?"

"Bzzz." The fairy's eyes circled about its face in ominous patterns.

Jaime gulped. "You look, nice."

He took a step toward the fairy. It did not move. It was already delighting in its imagined triumph. Before he could touch it, the fairy would crush him into a worthless pile of bones and linen. Jaime would be dead soon if he had the nerve to get close enough. He would be lying dead there in Maggie's head, the only place that mattered.  Jaime seemed to know what the fairy was thinking, for he began to shake, and sweat trickled down his forehead. But he continued moving forward.  He was getting very close.

Once he was within reach, the fairy joyfully stretched out its long thin arm and grasped Jaime by the throat. His hand went to the fairy's cold one, struggling with it to release him. But the slender fingers were as unrelenting as stone. Jaime was gasping and kicking, his eyes rolling back into his head.

And then, something changed. Jaime's skin began to light up, as though something were glowing beneath it. The fairy was shaken but it did not loosen its grip.  Jaime thrashed about violently. His skin became blinding and he began to break apart. In a terrific blast of light and wind, the fairy was knocked onto its round back. It could still feel the pressure of Jaime's neck in its palm as it rolled back and forth, but Jaime was not there. A new figure loomed above the fairy.

It was masked in black and dressed in a long flowing robe. Its two arms ended peculiarly, on one side in some kind of suctioning device, and in the other, a long pointed blade. A muscular tube projected out of a gap in its chest. This had a large green eyeball attached to it. The eyeball was hairy all over and it darted about in the air twisting and spinning like a dog.

The fairy and the strange new knight were able to lock eyes only a moment, before a throbbing pain seized their hearts and caused them to crumple to the floor.




Maggie awoke in a cold sweat. A spring rain pelted the rooftops and slapped against the windows. The music from the party next door had ended.

Jaime felt her body tense up beside him. "What is it?" He had his arms around her.

"Did you feel that?" Maggie squeezed his hands.

Jaime yawned.  "A dream?"

Maggie looked off to the side, listening intently. "Jaime, when you first asked me out, did you know that this would happen? That we would end up here?"

"No, no I didn't know. I hoped."

Maggie frowned in the darkness. When she met him, she did not have even a small, hesitant hope for all that had followed.

Jaime touched her face. "Am I missing something?"

There came no buzzing sound, no angry fumble in the dark. Maggie smiled. "No, I am," and she held him closer to her.

The fairy and knight lay a dark heap, death's embrace to each other. Their ruined bodies entwined like vines, and were pressed into a book.



© The Acentos Review 2019