This story was inspired by real events. Someone posted something similar but much creepier on the blog of an author I like and it inspired me to write this story.
It’s an attempt at both an obvious moral and a romantic story.
Comments and criticisms are encouraged.
*All the events and characters in this story are made up. Any resemblance to real people is purely coincidence. Except the Pirate, he’s based off a friend M.F.*
One weekend in May I found myself aimlessly walking around Comic Con. I had spent the previous night partying and the haze hadn’t left me yet. I also blamed the hangover for letting me be talked into going. I’m not really into that kind of thing. At least there were a few guests from pro-wrestling and plenty of videogame merchandise.
I was looking over a few used Super Nintendo games, and trying not to rubberneck every time someone dressed up passed by, when someone grabbed my hand and tugged. I did the only thing that made sense and followed. When I looked over at the person attached to the tugging hand I saw that it was a girl in a big yellow dress.
Despite the bulk of the Beauty and the Beast dress (What? It came out when I was a kid.) the girl weaved through the throngs of people with ease. When she finally stopped she looked at me and blinked.
There were a few more blinks before she exclaimed, “You’re not Sam!”
“Uhm no,” I said feeling unsure.
“Why aren’t you Sam?” She asked, puzzled, as she tucked a lock of red hair back into her brown wig.
“My parents preferred Charles?” The comment received a few good natured snickers from the people whose booth we were blocking. Belle, as I thought of her, grinned a little and then ran off. I hoped she’d find Sam.
Having lost my friends in the mad dash, I looked around and saw the people in the booth next to me for the first time. There was a woman in Viking armour and a man dressed as a pirate. The Viking was tall and her blond hair poked out of the historically inaccurate horned helm. The Pirate smiled a lot and seemed to be the kind of person who thrives when they’re surrounded by people. I looked at the table and saw books. I was surprise. Almost everything I’d seen for sale, thus far, was a toy, a piece of art, or geeky clothing. I wasn’t expecting books.
Not wanting to be rude I gestured at a book as if was going to pick it up and the Viking nodded. She was pretty, but looked uncertain or uncomfortable. I picked up the book and read the back. It was about a girl who was convinced her siblings had been replaced with aliens or monsters. It reminded me of my favourite book as a kid and I asked, “Did you write all of these?” There were three different books.
“Yes, I did,” the Viking answered. She had a slight Slavic accent that I couldn’t place and there was a spark of joy hiding in her eyes.
“This looks really interesting. What was your inspiration?” The words seemed to break a barrier and she started to talk about her inspiration and why she writes. It was something that she must have told countless people but the excitement and joy didn’t seem rehearsed or dampened.
We spoke for a little longer and I realized that I was developing a crush on her. The passion and love she had for her work was refreshing and beautiful. As it hit me I blushed. She didn’t seem to notice.
I considered asking her out right then and there, but then I realized what an awkward position that would put her in. It would be like I was trying to trade a date for buying a book. I decided to thank her and hope to see her again, in a social situation.
I thanked her and started to walk away. The Pirate, who must have been six feet gave a guffaw as I was leaving. I looked at him confused and he pointed at the book that I was still holding.
It was stupid and I was flustered but I didn’t understand and just gave him a confused look.
“You might want to pay for that before you leave,” he said smiling at my brainlessness.
“Oh right,” I said lamely and paid for the book.
“Would you like that signed?” he asked still smiling a big goofy smile.
The Author was talking with someone else by that point but turned around anyways and signed the book. It was a simple, “Thank you, you’re awesome,” and her name but it was still special to me. I understood that she wasn’t treating me any differently than any other reader but she gave the indication that she cared.
“She’s like that with everyone. She loves her work and her fans. It doesn’t mean she likes me,” I mumbled as I ambled through another row. I knew that if the exact same exchange had happened to me with a male author, I wouldn’t think twice. It was my own crush talking.
I was still too involved in the book and my own inner struggles to pay attention and I bumped into someone who was moving fast. We bounced off each other and landed on the ground. When I looked up it was the strange girl dressed as belle.
“You again,” she said.
“Yep. It’s me. Do you ever walk anywhere?”
“Yes. I just had one too many Butterbeer cupcakes and I still can’t find Sam. Considering this little run it’s a good thing I reinforced these seams.”
“Sorry to hear that. I should have been paying attention.” I gestured with my hands.
“Oh! You got The Author’s book. You’re in for a treat. It’s great.”
Having a conversation while sitting on the floor in the middle of an aisle at Comic Con isn’t a good idea; people were not amused. I stood up and was going to offer Belle my hand but she had already stood up and started to walk away.
Once when I had been avoiding studying, I’d watched an episode of Battlefly 5: The Next Generation. I had enjoyed it and watched it a few times on TV. Three members of the cast were at this con and I decided to stand in the obscenely long line to see their panel.
As I stood in line I looked around awkwardly. I didn’t know what to say to anyone around me. I tried not to stare too much at the people in costume but some of them had amazing costumes. Some of the crowd was dressed like members of the show and their costumes looked better than the ones on the show. Overall I was lonely and I wondered where my friends had gone.
It was a warm day and the line was outside. I was happy when we were finally allowed into the exhibition hall. I sat down off to the side, away from the microphone, and closed my eyes to enjoy the air conditioning.
“Don’t you just love this show? I heard they had a smaller budget for a full season than most shows have for an episode now.” I should have been surprised to hear Belle’s voice but I wasn’t.
“I’ve only seen a few episodes here and there,” I admitted.
Belle looked at me as if I’d just told her I’d won the lottery and was giving it to her. “Oh man, you so need to watch it from beginning to end. It’s on WebPixs you know.”
“Really? I thought the episodes didn’t follow each other?”
“Nope. They do, but subtly. It’s really amazing. Like reading a good book.”
“I guess I’ll give it a try.”
I was going to finally introduce myself but the actors started talking. Belle would lean over and whisper little facts about the show as the actors talked. It was like going to a museum with my own personal guide.
When the panel ended we headed towards the exit and got separated. I was starting to feel that the theme of cons was separation. I browsed a few of the booths and found a complete DVD set of Battlefly 5: The Next Generation and bought it.
I was getting bored and considered going home but my stomach growled and I decided to try the con food. I’d hear that it could be amazing or horrible so I figured I’d try my luck.
I found a table in the corner of the makeshift food court and ate my vaguely meat-like burger. It tasted more like salted cardboard but at least the fries were ok. I finished the burger and picked at my fries while I started to read The Author’s book. It was good. I was deep into the third chapter when I felt someone sit down next to me.
“I told you it was good.”
“It really is,” I replied to Belle. She put down a large bag with posters sticking out of it onto the table.
“She has two other books you know,” she said hintingly.
I blushed and said, “I saw that.”
“Ooooh, you’re blushing. Do you have a crush on The Author?” I must have blushed more because she continued, “Why?”
The question caught me off guard. I wasn’t sure what to answer right away. After an awkward silence I finally answered, “She’s pretty, she’s smart, she’s passionate, and she’s talented. What more could a guy want?”
“Ok. Ok. So you’re attracted to her body, her mind, and her profession?”
“Sure I guess,” I was starting to feel defensive. I barely knew this girl, what gave her the right to judge me?
“I’m just curious,” She lifter her arms defensively. “I’ve watched several guys have a pleasant conversation with her and then assume it gave them the right to ask her out.”
I felt my face get warm. It was exactly how I felt. “It felt like we had some sort of connection.” I said lamely.
“Yeah, you bonded over her book and your love of fantasy. That’s a good start for a friendship not an invitation to ask her out.”
“Why are you so interested?”
“I work retail,” was her only reply. When I looked at her confused, she added, “Look at me.” I did. “I am female and I work retail. Do you know what that means?” I shook my head, “Guys hit on me all the time.”
“Isn’t that a good thing?” I asked. I mean I would love to be hit on by girls all the time.
“No. It isn’t.” And almost as if she read my mind she added, “If Chris Evans walked in and hit on me once, I’d be happy. If he did it every single day for a month, ignoring that I said no, I’d be angry. Now imagine if that happened to you every day and you weren’t attracted to the person.”
I saw her point. It would be really annoying and insulting, but there was no way that really happened, “I get your point, but you must be exaggerating.”
The scowl on her face was enough to tell me she wasn’t.
“Ok so I’ll hope to see her later then, maybe contact her on FaceBook?”
“What do you know about her?”
“She likes fantasy plus all the other stuff I mentioned,” It wasn’t as much as I felt it was.
“What about me?”
“Uhm. You like BF5, you made your own costume, you like Harry Potter, you’re not shy at all, you have a good sense of humour, you’re blunt, Uhm. You must like Beauty and the Beast.” It wasn’t everything I had discovered in our few meetings but it was a lot.
“How do you know I like Beauty and the Beast?”
I pointed at her costume, “It’s kinda obvious.”
“This isn’t Belle it’s Peach from Mario.”
I felt my eyes grow big and I was about to apologize when she started to laugh. I felt silly. Princess Peach wore a similar dress but it was pink and Belle’s dress was yellow. I knew the difference but I was still worried that I’d insulted her. Until she laughed, proving it was a joke.
That was the last time I saw either Belle or The Author for a few weeks. I had found on the Author’s blog that she has “get-togethers” with her fans and I thought that might be a better place to talk with her and maybe ask her out.
I didn’t get much time that night to talk to the Author. The get together was at dinner and then a movie. She moved from group to group being a good host. I did manage to tell her how much I liked the book and that seemed to make her happy.
Trying not to be creepy, I followed the conversations she was in and was surprised to hear her swear and talk mostly about horses, martial arts, and other subjects that I wasn’t really interested in.
I came to the conclusion that I was more enamoured with the idea of her than with the person.
As we were heading to the theatre, I felt a hand grab onto mine and pull me forward. The person pulling me was wearing a comfortable T-shirt that said “This is what a geek girl looks like” and had a mess of curly red hair that bounced as she ran.
When I realized it was Belle, I said, “I’m still not Sam.”
She looked back at me and smiled mischievously, “I know, and I’m sure Sam, my sister, won’t mind.”