Grown Ups

by Frederick Chagnon

“None of this makes any sense” Chanell kept thinking.

Just a few hours ago, she was taking the bus home after yet another terrible party filled with drunk bros and casual racism. Now, she’s walking barefoot in a strange forest following an orange humanoid monkey calling itself Puck.

“Where are we going again?”

Oh right, there was him, too. Shane. Her companion in misfortune. They had been walking for less than an hour, and he was already complaining.

“To meet with the great King Oberon. Leader of the Fairies, he knows how to bring you home,” replied Puck, half-singing.
“Yes, but is it far?” Shane countered.
“There is no hurry young sir! The sky is clear and the birds are singing, what more do you require?”
“Well…” Chanell punched him in the stomach to make him shut up.
“Thank you fair Puck. We appreciate all you are doing for us.”
“Your gratitude is unnecessary! Still a long way from home you two are.”
“What will this King do to get us back though?” Shane asked.
“I cannot tell. In Oberon, you must place your trust.”
“We don’t really have a choice, now do we?” she asked, pushing a stray curl aside.

The makeshift trio kept strolling in the strange forest. Each of them busy with their own thoughts, they didn’t noticed a particular bird leaving a nearby tree. Perhaps they should have. A raven is a rare sight even here.

The raven flew across forests and plains, rivers and lakes, hills and mountains, until it reached a castle. From the castle, it made its way to the highest room of the highest tower. It may seem far, but remember that these are Fairie lands. The raven landed on a delicate hand with green skin.

“What news are you bringing me, Matthew?”
“It’s about the two humans, my Queen.”
“Go on.” said Queen Titania, for this is who it was.
“It appears Puck has found them and is bringing them to see Oberon.”
“We must act quickly. Peaseblossom! Cobweb!” screamed the Queen.
“Yes milady?” Peaseblossom was an energetic, tiny fairy with pink skin and butterfly wings, while Cobweb looked as if it had just woken up from a very deep sleep.
“Puck has found two humans and is bringing them to Oberon. We must bring them to me instead. We all remember how it turned out the last time humans came here.”
“Of course.” The two servant fairies looked down, reminiscing about their past failure.
“Matthew, go back to them and observe. Report back if something is amiss.”
“Will do, milady,” the raven croaked.
“Well, why are you still here, you three? Go on!”

The raven flew away while Peaseblossom and Cobweb hurried down the stairs, leaving Titania alone in her room. She wasn’t sure how the humans got to the Kingdom, but she was ready. She didn’t know what her husband was up to, but whatever it is, he wouldn’t get it. Not this time. Her reverie was interrupted by a knock at the door.

“Excuse the intrusion, ma’am, but dinner is served. King Oberon is waiting for you in the dining area.”
“Thank you, Moth. I’ll be right there.”

She powdered her cheeks, put on her most graceful smile, and left the room.

The dining room was on the opposite side of the castle. To reach it, the queen had to walk through the Hall of Portraits, the Chamber of Mirrors, and countless other thematic rooms, each stranger than the previous to the unaccustomed eye. The dining room was by far the biggest, and was lit by countless candles and luxurious lustres. The table was filled with exotic dishes, and there was enough food to feed the small village of London. King Oberon was sitting at one end, his plate already full of gryphon and unicorn meat.

“So glad you could make it, my dear,” he said in between bites of dragon sausages. Titania stiffly sat at the other of the long table.
“I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, esteemed husband.” They sat and ate in silence. She was doing everything she could to avoid making eye contact with the king.
“You know, I haven’t seen Puck in a long time,” she said while nibbling at her salad.
“Ah yes,” he put down his phoenix steak. “I’ve sent him on a special assignment. If all goes well, he should be back soon. Fear not.”
“What kind of assignment? Surely, there is no threat to our kingdom that requires your attention.”
“Oh no, nothing of the sort.” He wiped some golden goose omelet from his mouth. “It’s a peace-mission, really.”
“A peace mission, uh? He’s been gone for a long time for a peace mission.”
“You know what? You don’t have to worry about a thing, my sweet queen.” He was just finishing some hydra patties. “Besides, I thought you hated his gut?”
“Me? Hating Puck? Come on, you know me better than this. Now if you’ll excuse me.” The queen stood up, made the 20-minute walk to the other side of the table, and placed a gentle kiss on her husband’s forehead. “I have business to attend to.”

The queen made her way back to her room and unveiled her crystal ball. She needed answers now. She clearly wouldn’t get any from the joke known as her husband.

“MATTHEW!” she screamed at the ball.
“Wassup,” croaked the raven.
“What are they doing now? Have you found anything?”
“Not really ma’am. Right now, they’ve stopped for the night and Puck is doing that annoying thing where he fails at speaking in rhymes.”
“Yes, but what are they doing here? Why cross to our realm?”
“No idea.”
“Argghh! you incompetent fool! What about Cobweb and Peaseblossom?”
“Can’t see them yet. Shouldn’t be too long before they get here.”
“Very well, keep me up-to-date.”

Titania covered the divination ball. Her servants were almost there. She’d get her answers soon enough.

The night sky was illuminated by the three moons of the Fairy Kingdom. Chanell, Shane, and Puck had stopped for the night, and a fire was crackling in clearing of the forest. Shane was far from the outdoorsy type, but he could have sworn that the firewood smelled like the tears of vanquished enemies. He didn’t really know what vanquished enemy tears actually smelled like, but somehow knew that it was like this. Puck was looking for some food, so Shane was awkwardly sitting alone with Chanell, who seemed completely disinterested in him.

“What are you doing?” he asked.
“Twisting my hair,” she snapped back without stopping
“And why are you twisting? It looked fine before.”
“Do you think these curls just appear out of nowhere!?” She screamed, and in that moment Shane wished he could disappear. “Sorry… Also, thanks. I’m pretty stressed out with everything that happened. I… I want to go home.”
“Me too.” They were about to share a most needed hug when Puck jumped up between them.
“Hello dear friends! Hope I’m not interrupting anything!”
“Well, actually…” Shane started.
“No,” answered Chanell while she continued to twist her hair. “So have you found anything to eat?”
“My my, of course I did!” he said while unveiling a picnic basket.
“You were only gone for like half an hour… How did you managed to do all of this?” dubiously asked Chanell.
“Doesn’t matter, I’m starving!” Shane picked a leg of fried meat and to devoured it like it was the last meal of his life. “This is delicious! What is it?”
“That would be fried yeti.”
“Ewww, how can you eat that stuff?” she asked.
“Meh, it’s good.”
“Good lads, I’m afraid you must buckle up. We have a long journey ahead of us. Don’t want to waste of the sunlight now do we?”
“Sunlight? It’s the dead of…” Chanell didn’t finish her thought. She could have sworn it was midnight just a moment ago. Now the sun shined brightly and warmed her skin. She would never understand this place.

The trio started walking while eating their picnic. A few hours later (or was it a few minutes), they reached a lake with a boat. The water glowed a bright orange.

“Alright ladies and gentlemen! We have reached our destination! Or one of them at the very least,” Puck proclaimed.
“What do we do now?” Shane was, unsurprisingly, confused. Typical, thought Chanell.
“It’s only a matter of you two getting into that boat and getting to that tiny island, pick out the blue flower with the red seeds and come back. Then you can meet with the King.”
“Sounds easy enough. Come on Chanell, help me with this.”
“Wait a minute… Why aren’t you coming with us Puck? Why do we suddenly need to bring a flower?”
“You don’t want to meet the King empty-handed, young lady, right?”
“He makes a good point, you know. What will King Oberon think if we have nothing?” Chanell slapped his chest.
“Don’t take his side!” She crossed her arms and continued to Puck. “I know what’s happening now.”
“I’m afraid you confuse me. What is happening?”
“Yeah! What you are you talking about?”
“This is just like the play!”
“What play? You’re clearly confused.”
“Jesus, have you never read anything? Where do you we are? Fairies? Puck? It’s pretty obvious to be honest.”
“I’m lost, Chanell.”
“What a surprise! The same happened in Midsummer’s Night, hasn’t it… Oh no! Don’t try to be sneaky Puck! Come back here and explain what’s going on!”

Throughout this exchange, Puck was trying to blend into the shadows. He had no desire to be part of the fight.

“My dear, I must protest…”
“Oh please! The King and the Queen had a falling out, didn’t they? There’s some friction in the castle and now the King wants to use his magic love potion to make her fall in love again with him. And since he’s a coward he sent you to send us to get the magic flower for him!”
“My! How do you know this? Are you a witch?” Puck was genuinely scared.
“Yeah! How?”
“Jesus Shane! Have you never read Shakespeare? It’s almost the exact plot!”
“Uh no?”
“Argghhh!” Chanell stormed off and sat on a fallen tree trunk to brood. Puck and Shane looked at each other for comfort.
“What has gotten into her?” asked Shane.
“Your guess is as good as mine, young lad.” The orange creature took him aside. “Listen pal… About that flower… Someone has to go get it.”
“Oh, right, right… What do I have to do?”

In the meantime, Peaseblossom and Cobweb had finally caught up. They were hiding in a nearby bush.

“Looks like things aren’t going too well over there,” Peaseblossom said.
“We have a chance! Queen Titania is going to be so happy!”
“Ok let’s go talk to the girl sitting on that trunk over there.”

The pair sneaked up on Chanell, but she wasn’t even fazed.

“Which ones are you? Peaseblossom? Cobweb? Moth?”
“How do you know our names?” Cobweb squealed.
“Are… Are you a witch?” Peaseblossom was clearly terrified.
“No. I. Am. Not. A. Witch. I just happened to have read A Midsummer’s Night Dream. And now I just want to go home.”

Matthew the raven was seeing everything. It seemed like an opportune moment to go fetch the queen. Consequently, he flew all the way back to the castle (which was now located in the middle of a desert). He flew all the way to the highest room in the highest tower. The queen was waiting for him.

“What took you so long?”
“I came back as fast as I could milady. Something is happening with the humans. One of them seems to know everything that is happening. It appears that King Oberon is happening to use the love potion again.”
“Ah! I knew it! Matthew: bring me to them.”
“Very well ma’am.” The queen grabbed Matthew’s feet and they flew away through the window.

Downstairs in the dining room (for the King was still eating dinner), a servant came to warn the king of his wife’s sudden disappearance.

“We can’t risk losing everything!” he said between bites of sea serpent fritters. “We must make haste and meet them at the lake!”

The situation at the lake was tense, to say the least. Everyone was shouting, but at least no one was swimming to go get the magical flowers. They all grew quiet when the Queen descended from the clouds.

“Quiet everyone! I am Queen Titania. Matthew here tells me that you have uncover some nefarious scheme that my husband made against me?” Chanell sighed heavily. When would these people understand that everything had already happened?
“She did your grace!” Shane had prevented Chanell from speaking. “The king plans to use a love potion for you to fall in love with him again!”
“Does he, now? And what has he promised you in return?”
“To send us home. Us being here is all a big misunderstanding.”
“What she said,” added Shane.

They were interrupted by trumpets and a large procession. King Oberon was making his entrance.

“Well, well, well! Look who decided to finally show up!” The queen’s tone was so salty it made McDonald’s fries look bland.
“I do not know what lies they told you, but I assure you, it is just a lie!”
“Oh really? Then why are they close to the only place in the kingdom capable of growing love potion flowers?”
“Ummm…” It might have been a rarity, but the king had nothing to say. The scene was becoming increasingly awkward. Puck was nowhere to be seen. It may have been his intention all along.
“King Oberon? Queen Titania?” Chanell squeezed in between them. “Look: my friend and I are lost and have nothing to do with any sort of dispute. We only want to go back home.”
“Very well young lady. You two can return to your realm.” He snapped his fingers.

It was pitch black. The cold wind flew through Chanell’s coat. Few cars were in the street.

“I’m bloody freezing.”

She turned around and saw that it had not been all a dream. Shane was right next to her with his stupid t-shirt.

“You should wear a sweater this time of year,” she said half-heartily.
“Right… Guess I should go back then…”

Shane began to walk up the street, leaving Chanell behind. Despite all the craziness that had happened to them, they were back exactly where they were before. Two lonely souls in a city that was too big for them.

“Hey!” Chanell had caught up to him. “Do you want to grab a coffee? I need a friend right now.”
“A coffee? Please. I’ve just seen an orange monkey named Puck and Fairy royalty that needed couple therapy. I need something much stronger than that.”

The two companions resumed their journey towards the inviting lights of the city. They didn’t take the bus though.

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