by Meghan Louise Wagner
Titania, queen of faeries, takes the stage beneath a swimming pool sky. Titania sparkles in red and green and commands everybody in the park—even us—to believe. Titania, Titania, we say, but Dad tells us to be quiet or else we’ll break the spells. Titania dazzles men and birds and little girls, but later, off the stage, she curls her breath into questions. Titania says everything like she needs permission, too. Titania tells Dad he better be careful drinking coffee while fixing cars in the rain, “The doctor said it isn’t good for your heart?”
Titania pushes the shopping cart through the produce aisle, avoiding men who ask directions to the mangoes. Titania weighs pineapples and cauliflowers and buys neither. Titania lets us stand in the cart while we’re in the soups but makes us kneel when she skims the salsas. Titania opens doors to ice cream empires and banishes the frost before it licks our faces. Titania snaps her thumbs against egg cartons and waits for baby chickens. Titania blows bubble-gum wrappers in the air like butterflies and tells boys in blue aprons, “Hold on, I think I have a coupon for that?”
Titania flicks fire from wands and smashes lemons to dust and whips eggs into fluff. Titania sets a timer and tells us we better not think about jumping from the top step to the love seat again. Titania, Titania. Titania puffs smoke like a dragon and runs next door and then comes back with the old lady who has two boy names. Titania lashes a purse across her chest and says, “Thanks for watching them, Mrs. Thomas-Donald?”
Titania pops out of a bubble with a plastic pie and twirls until the dinner table is alive. Titania never eats until everyone else has first and she never burps or cries. Titania sparkles in the evening sun and her green sequins shimmer with portals to other worlds. Titania throws her eyes out the window and doesn’t take a breath, doesn’t move her teeth, but still glides back to us when Aunt Mary-Claire asks for seconds. Titania scoops slices of lemon pie topped with lemon peels and says, “The secret is in the simple syrup?”
Titania chases us up the stairs. Titania sets her timer and says we can’t spit until we hear the faeries squeal. Titania tucks us in and promises that we are magic. Titania grants us one wish, one last wish of the night, and it’s up to us to choose.
Titania, Titania, tell us about the time you were Titania?
This was partially inspired by Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven—a novel about a troupe of Shakespearean actors in a post-pandemic apocalypse. Her prose often has a musical quality to it and I think this was my attempt to write something musical, too. There's also a comic book component of that novel, which took me back to one of my favorite issues of Neil Gaiman's Sandman series—where the real Titania, Queen of Faeries, attends an outdoor performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Meghan Louise Wagner is a writer from Cleveland, OH. She is currently a student in the NEOMFA. Her work is forthcoming from or has recently appeared in such places as AGNI, Hobart, X-R-A-Y Lit, and Minola Review.