The little boy gazed up at the beautiful girl seated cross-legged on a tree stump. She wore tights, a sparkly skirt, and enormous plastic wings. Her wild hair was decorated with twigs, leaves and flowers. Her small, pointed face was painted with make-up. Strands of plastic ivy decorated the guitar across her lap.
At four, the boy was too young to realize how her tight clothes emphasized things older boys, and grown men, would find very, very interesting. He saw only a girl like his mom, but sparklier. At last, he said, “Are you a real fairy?”
The girl looked up from texting and tucked her phone under her leg. When she smiled, dimples appeared in her cheeks. “Of course I am,” she said brightly, in a vaguely English accent. “My name’s Sprig. Sprig Petalbottom. And what’s your name?”
“Is that a frog on your shirt, Cyrus?”
“Yes,” he said. And it was, a generic frog on a pogo stick, leaping over the words, Get hopping!
Around them, the Bristol Renaissance Faire, packed on its second weekend of the summer, surged with life. The hot summer sun filtered through the large trees, illuminating people in costumes no one in the Renaissance would have recognized: elves, trolls, warriors, wizards, Lord of the Rings characters and the occasional Jedi Knight.
Outnumbering these were the tourists who’d driven long distances and paid their money for a chance to experience something out of the ordinary. Most were cynical about it, husbands leering at the girls and wives wishing their spouses had washboard abs like the shirtless young men. A few, though, saw through the plastic armor and foam swords to the magic underneath. And most of those who did were kids like this one, who added,”Those wings aren’t real.”
“Of course they are,” Sprig said, as if it were the silliest statement in the world. “How else could I fly? Now, where are your mommy and daddy?”