The heat was already shimmering over the pavement as I smoked my last pre-flight cigarette in front of the Delta terminal. That’s when she caught my eye.
Discarded by a careless child or a heartless caretaker, Fairy Princess lay face down in traffic. Though her dress and wings were still remarkably well preserved, her stiff legs jutted upwards in the rigid contortion of death. All fairy magic had clearly left her petite body.
I looked around me at the harried faces rushing to and from flights. No one else seemed to notice the microscopic tragedy in the pick-up/drop-off lane. I probably wouldn’t have either if I hadn’t arrived with an hour to spare. As it was, I found myself morbidly transfixed. I know that my mother managed to instill a greater-than-normal animistic sense of sympathy towards inanimate objects (“Tell the door you’re sorry you kicked it.”) which in some way influenced me to stride into traffic and document the sad fate of Fairy Princess Roadkill.
I’d already committed myself to looking like a
deranged psychopath harmless eccentric by crouching in front of oncoming taxis to photograph a child’s toy, so I wondered if I should give closure to the onlooking TSA agents by burying her in a planter or some other act equally unlikely to elicit a battery of difficult-to-answer questions at the security checkpoint. Didn’t Fairy Princess at least deserve a decent burial? No. And you know why?
Because fairy princesses aren’t like other road kill. Though all fairy magic and wish-granting powers had clearly abandoned her inert plastic corpse, this was not necessarily a permanent state of morbidity. Unlike, say, an armadillo, the fairy’s sun-baked form could be instantly resurrected and restored to her former status as glittering companion by any passing child. Shit, I was almost tempted to scoop her up and chuck her at the next passing toddler to ensure her reanimation, but we live in a post-9/11 world and people aren’t so pleased by the hurled gifts of strangers at the airport, even if the gift is a magical fairy.
My role was merely to document, like a National Geographic photographer observing as cheetah kittens are stalked by hyenas. The fate of Fairy Princess Roadkill was not mine to decide. It falls to a caring child, or a big-hearted caretaker. Or an oncoming Suburban.