BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
I sigh and nestle further into my covers, ignoring the alarm. There’s no way I’m getting up anywhere before 10 am on my birthday.
I bolt upright, flinging off my covers as a smile overpowers my face. It’s April 1st, meaning I’m officially 16!
Except that your 16th birthday isn’t just a normal birthday in the Pixie Queendom. As I brush my teeth and get dressed in the cutest clothes I have, I think about everything I’m going to do today. At 16 years old, I’m officially considered an adult (not like I get to be queen ‘till I’m 30, unless my mom retires early), meaning I get to visit the real World of Humans for the first time. An entire day in New York City, dressed like a human, the size of a human, mingling with humans.
It’s gonna be such an adventure!
Let me introduce myself. I’m Sashana, the sassy pixie princess of our Pixie Queendom, a village of treehouses tucked away in a forest. Like all pixies, I’m small and sharp-eared, maybe the length of a human hand. I have fluttering gold wings that only pop out when I fly or do magic, and pretty much the only thing that sets me apart from the annoying fairies that habit the woods too is a), I have magic beyond pixie dust (and no, I don’t know why the frick it’s called *pixie* dust if only fairies use it), and b), I can’t talk to animals.
Bummer, if you like getting real chummy with toads.
My tan skin, wavy chestnut hair that falls to my shoulders, bee-stung lips, and silver-blue eyes reflect back at me in the mirror as I pose in my outfit. Plus the wings emerging from my back, which I dust with gold to make them sparkler further. I also clip a few diamond-studded barrettes in my hair—perks of being a princess.
I admire myself in the mirror further. Shimmering wings, fun outfit, flashy accessories, check! It’s early, so I’ll have lots of time in New York. I’m zooming out the door when—
I’m blocked by the Queen, who also happens to be my mom, Rossaliya.
“Hi!” I say to the replica of myself, just with sharp blue eyes and long hair instead of my own.
“Hey, Sash,” she says, smiling. “Happy birthday! Ready to go to New York?”
I gently push past her. “I was on my way.”
She barks a laugh. I turn. “Sashana, honey, you’re not ready to go to New York. The outfit is okay, but you can’t casually show off your wings. Also, you’re the size of a human shoe, for gods’ sake. And do you even know where New York is?”
She laughs again at my uncertain expression, taking my hand. “Let’s fly.”
* * *
Lesson learned: Scenery is only pretty in small doses.
We soared over rivers, over forests, over the first small cities. I breathed in the cool spring air, admiring the colorful flowers dotting the hills below. But after two hours straight of flying, my wings were sore and the stunning sights turned monotonous.
By the time we arrived at New York, I was already pooped.
Not enough to fight off the massive smile on my face again, though.
“This is it?” I breathed, taking in the glittering sights below me. Hundreds of buildings scraping the sky with their sharp points, rivers of black cement between blocks. There were so many people, all shapes and sizes, genders, ages, races, walking together like a big happy family. Cats honked, babies cried, and the sheer vibe of this place was enough to give me goosebumps.
I got to spend a whole day here?
This would be great!
Rossaliya nods, her lips twisted into a smile too. “Yep. Let’s land now and then I’ll leave you be.”
Hand in hand, we spiraled down, just two sparkling specks against the blue sky. When we landed in an alley, sounds roaring in every direction, I was suddenly afraid. This place was so...big, and loud, and scary.
I shook the thoughts out of my head. Heck no. Princess Sashana, sassy prankster, was not going to be afraid of some measly human city.
I kissed Rossaliya on the cheek. “Bye, Mom!” I turned on my foot and started walking out, but she grabbed my wrist. “Sash, hon, you really think you can go out there the size of a grapefruit? No. Transform into someone more...human-sized.”
That was easy. A moment later, I was staring down, down, down at Queen Rossaliya. She gave a thumbs up and flew up just to peck me on the cheek. “Now wish your wings away, and you’re good to go!”
By the time I did so, she was gone. I turned around and stared at the end of the alley, my unofficial entrance to New York. I adjusted my diamond barrette and walked onto the sidewalk.
* * *
This place was a mess!
There was no order, just chaos. Too many people, horns honking, and stress waving through the air. I stumbled from place to place, tripping on the sidewalks, accidentally jaywalking, running into people.
I was finally getting the hang of this place when I smelled something: Pizza.
I followed the scent, which was pretty hard since there were a gazillion pizza places in New York. I finally wound up at a place called Pablo’s Personalized Pizza, a small story bustling with people inside. Outside the shop was a booth with “Pizza to Go”, where they advertised you could grab a quick bite for $10 a pizza instead of personalizing one inside.
Mmmmm. My stomach grumbled at me. Without thinking, I picked up a box of pizza at the little stand outside the shop and started munching a slice. Holy heck, this was good.
“Hey!” the standsperson barked, jumping up. “You gonna pay for that?”
“Uhm…” I mumbled, mouth full of cheese. I didn’t plan on paying—I didn’t care much about things like that—and also, I didn’t have money. The man snatched the box back, set it aside, and sent me a dirty glare.
My stomach rumbled again. “Um, I don’t have any money,” I said, eyeing the pizza, “but I’m really hungry. Could, uh, this work?” I unclipped one of the diamond-studded barrettes and handed it to him. Didn’t I hear diamonds were valuable to humans?
His eyes grew wide, carefully taking the barrette. “Is this real?”
I nodded. His eyes grew even wider, studying the barrette. “Uh, yes, we’ll take this as payment. Thank you for ordering at Pablo’s Personalized Pizza.” He shooed me off once I collected my pizza, still turning the barrette in his hands, but I saw him staring at me suspiciously as I left.
Pizza in hand, I got away from there snappy.
* * *
I was finishing my last slice of pizza behind a tree in some giant park when the police showed up.
At least, I thought it was them from their navy outfits, decked-out with silver badges and clips. The two officers strolled around the park, chattering into walkie-talkies.
I heard a random person near me murmur, “Why are the police here?”
“It might be a prank,” replied what looked like her husband.
I squinted, and leaned over to ask them, “Why would it be a prank? Aren't the police super serious or something?”
The women nodded. “Yes, but even the government has a sense of humor on April Fool’s Day sometimes.” She winked.
Did she mean April 1st? “What’s that?”
Two minutes and a solid explanation later, I was totally hooked on this idea. It’s like the mischievous holiday was meant to be on my birthday! I was going to have a blast. “Thanks,” I told the couple, dumping my pizza box in the trash. But as I was leaving to go somewhere specific, I could have sworn I heard another person mutter, “I hear the police be lookin’ for some teenage girl possibly involved in the diamond store raid a few weeks back...”
* * *
Eggs were my best friend.
After all, there were endless egg-related pranks, from cracking one in your friend’s OJ to the classic chucking eggs at someone’s house. In this case, I opted for the latter.
It was pretty easy to find a grocery store. Once I got there, I wove through the crowds of people, filling my basket with bunches of boiled eggs. (Throwing raw eggs is just mean and can damage houses. Boiled eggs are soft and definitely more satisfying to chuck anyways—if you throw them hard enough, they explode everywhere in the best way ever!) Once I collected a solid five dozen, dumping all the small plastic baggies into one, I waltzed to the checkout line.
I still didn’t have money, but my little pizza trick showed that diamonds were superior to bills. Sure, if some rando teenager turned up with thousands of dollars worth of diamonds, you’d be a bit suspicious, but humans were so greedy the dollar signs in their eyes would probably cancel out any doubt.
(Although I couldn’t shake my memory of the police...what if the Pablo’s Pizza dude called them after collecting his gems? Were they looking for me?)
The girl at the checkout line gave me a blank look when I hauled my basket o’ eggs on the counter without pulling out my wallet. “Hi, welcome to Whole Foods,” she said briskly. “You gonna pay for those?”
“Can you take diamonds instead?”
“We only take American cash—” she scowled, then stopped. “Wait, what?”
I unclipped my barrette, sliding it over to the register. “These are real diamonds. The remaining ten thousand dollars can be your tip.”
Her eyes expanded. She turned and bumped her co-worker’s arm. “Rich kid alert!” she hissed. “Even if this is fake, it’s got to be worth at least fifty.”
I eyed her, and she turned back to me. “Oh, yeah, sorry, thanks, that will definitely work. Thank you for shopping at Whole Foods!”
I nodded my thanks and started walking towards the door, but when I glanced back, I saw the lady on her phone, talking to someone.
I mindlessly pushed open the door, already fingering one of the soft eggs in the bag, and—
Looming over me were the two hulking policemen I saw earlier. Up close, the first one had bushy eyebrows, beard, and mustache, plus sky blue eyes. The second was a ginger with green eyes and a red beard. Both glared at me. The first guy took in my appearance and age, his eyes finally darting to the remaining diamond barrette in my hair before a wave of realization passed over him, like I was indeed the one he was looking for.
“Hello,” he grunted, taking a step towards me, “I’m Officer Brian. You look like the girl we’ve been tracking. Mind you, don’t be worried, we’re not sure yet. What’s your name?”
I scrambled back, still holding my clear bag of eggs. “Um...uh...Sashana…?”
He continued advancing. Everyone in the store was hawking at us now. “Don’t be worried, Sashana,” he simpered. “We don’t want to hurt you, we just need to investigate.”
Everything about these dudes was freaking me out. (Policemen? Looking for ME? Excuseh moi?) So I did the only thing clear to me at the moment: I grasped one of the boiled eggs in the bag, pulled it out, and smashed it right in Officer Brian’s face.
Then I bolted out of the store.
Weaving around people, I sprinted down New York City’s sidewalks. It’s a lot harder to make an escape after a “prank” when you can’t fly, flocks of people block your way, and you’re actually being chased.
Every few footfalls, I stole a look behind me to see if the policemen were catching up. They weren’t. Even without my wings, I was a small, fast girl, and could move much speedier than two grown men decked out in fancy police stuff.
Still. It was terrifying, being chased after. I didn’t even intend to cause trouble during my visit to New York (and normally Trouble is my middle name), but of course I did, even if it was just some sort of mix-up.
I was totally winning on foot, but then I heard police sirens. Glancing around, I saw Officer Brian and the other dude swerving through the streets, advancing fast. Still holding my eggs, I dashed into the nearest alley.
Panting, I thought I was finally in the clear.
“Sashana, hands up.”
I looked up. Frick. Blocking the exit were Brian and Redhead, chunks of egg stuck in Officer Brian’s beard, his eyes razors. And I didn’t want to surrender myself to human police anytime soon.
I only had one option. With a deep breath, I flashed a smile at the officers as my wings blossomed out behind me. Then I flew up into New York’s cerulean skies.
* * *
I flew for around ten minutes. (I immediately shrunk down to pixie size once flying, trying to prevent other people from seeing me—I could only hope the officers weren’t following the über suspicious pixie they literally saw fly away.) Soon I was in the suburbs of New York City, peaceful neighborhoods across rolling hills, which then transitioned to a big class change in neighborhoods. Now, houses were huge and yards even bigger. Not a lot of people were outside, so I swooped down and grew to human size.
Time to start egging!
It was pretty much as fun as it sounded—awesome. I grabbed a handful of my many boiled eggs, walked up a winding driveway, and chucked a few at porches and homes. Like expected, they satisfyingly splattered, leaving no damage but me cackling like a madpixie. “HAPPY APRIL FOOL’S DAY!” I shouted after each house.
The only problem was how far apart these places were. I got way too much exercise.
And just my luck, I was down to my last couple eggs when stuff went wrong.
You see, I was harmlessly egging the last house on the block when the door swung open. A man in his mid-70’s wobbled out, crossing the yard at a surprising speed. “What do you think you’re doing, young lady?” he croaked.
I jumped back in surprise. In unison, we both surveyed the neighborhood, every house in sight dotted with eggs. “Well, I mean…” I whimpered, “Happy April Fool’s?”
He glared at me, and whipped out a phone. Frick, frick, frick! I thought. What if he’s calling the police?
That thought in mind, I frick-ed a lot more in my head. Then, because—if you haven’t noticed by now, I’m really bad under pressure—I took a deep breath in and out. Except, with thoughts coursing through my mind and my body still tingling with magic after flying a few miles, I, uh, breathed fire.
At the phone, which dropped into the grass, already ringing,
At the man, who also hopped back from me in surprise.
And more importantly, as the dude’s massive lawn, which burst into flames, the fire traveling through the grass
“WHAT THE HECK DID YOU JUST DO?!” the old man shouted, darting off his lawn.
“I DON’T KNOW!” I yelped, backing up into the road.
Luckily, the fire wasn’t moving that fast through the moist, plump April grass, but it was on its way to the massive wooden house. Visions of flames dancing on the mansion and spreading to the rest of the block at the front of my mind—and still under pressure and, therefore, in Bad Decision mode, I stepped forward, using my pixie magic for the first time all day (minus flying): sweeping my hands over the sky. Immediately, the cloud above us melted into pure water and swished down at the rhyme of my moving hands. It misted over the lawn, the flames extinguished.
The reason why I classify this as a “bad idea”: Well, yay, the fire was gone, but now I was standing in the center of an ashy used-to-be yard, soaking wet, my bag of remaining eggs at my side, having just egged the whole neighborhood and then did magic in front of them.
Yeah. By now, people were streaming out of their mansions and gawking at me and the old man the same way the people at the grocery store had. My wings had popped out behind me the same way they always did when I did magic, and police sirens sounded in the distance. The dude must’ve called 911 before he dropped his phone, and since Brian and Redhead were already probably scouting around the area for me, they got here in rapid-fire (get it?) speed.
Moments later, the expected police car pulled up. Out came Officer Brian, his face almost tomato red, and the ginger-haired man (who was still silent). “We meet again, Sashana. Like before,” Brian growled, “hands up.”
I gulped. Man, I was totally screwed. I just wanted to have the best birthday ever and, as things involving me usually did, it blossomed into chaos. I had accidentally stolen pizza, the local police were sus of me and my diamonds, and now, I, the mischievous pixie princess Sashana, had literally done magic in front of everyone.
“This girl ain’t a clown,” I heard someone quip. “She’s a whole dang circus.”
Is it too late to yell “Happy April Fool’s” and bolt? my mind suggested.
Not a bad idea, I shrugged back. But no.
“Hands up,” Officer Brian repeated, edging towards me. Even though I was still freaking out, I allowed myself a smile. Even though Brian was acting all tough, everything about his body language screamed I’m terrified of this magical 16-year-old!
“Yeah, no,” I smirked, wings proudly aflutter.
Brian’s mouth had barely dropped before I did my millionth Sashana-y bright idea of the day: I raced forward and, without thinking, yanked down Officer Brian’s pants in front of everyone.
Then man, was I outta there.