MPDB • by Tyler Young

Dana sat down heavily on the park bench. She was significantly late for what was sure to be a long and stressful day at the office. People were probably looking for her already. Her phone was buzzing in her pocket like an increasingly angry hornet. She visualized herself standing up, marching into the office, and dominating the day. But today she simply couldn’t.

She looked up at the grey tower of glass and concrete stretching to the sky. There had been a time, years ago, when she had loved working in such an imposing building. From almost anywhere in the city she could find her skyscraper. But today the tower appeared drab and soulless to her; its enormity seemed oppressive, not exciting.

Five minutes and then you’re going to pull yourself together, she told herself. She closed her eyes and tried to concentrate on the feeling of the sun on her face. But her mind kept drifting back to the projects she needed to complete, the emails she needed to send, the—

“Hey,” a voice drawled. “Would you mind watching this for me for one second?”

Dana opened her eyes. A twenty-something blonde man was pointing to large hiking backpack with a blender balanced on top of it.

“Uh, sure.”

“Back in a sec.” The man turned and jogged toward the fountain in front of her building. He pulled off his t-shirt, folded it on the edge of the fountain, and then put his flip flops on top. He turned and winked at her and then jumped into the water.

Dana was so caught off guard that she laughed out loud. In fifteen years, she had never seen anyone swim in the plaza fountain. And sure enough, the blue-blazer security guards were milling about, looking unhappy. Before they could decide what to do, the boy climbed out and walked back over to her, shaking the water out of his shaggy hair.

“Thanks,” he said. “That felt great.”

The boy grabbed the blender and slung his pack over his shoulder.

“I’ve got to ask: why are you carrying a blender around?”

“Doesn’t fit in the backpack.”

Dana cocked an eyebrow, and the boy smiled crookedly.  “Okay, okay, I got evicted this morning.”

Dana flushed. “I’m really sorry. Do you have someone you can call?”

The boy laughed. It was a high, clear, completely unworried sound.

“Don’t sweat it. So, anyway, the Vermicious Knids are playing a show over at the Bowery tonight. Wanna come?”

Dana found herself laughing aloud again. It was perfectly absurd. The boy was soaking wet, homeless, probably twenty years her junior, and he wanted her to go see some band on a Tuesday?

The boy smiled, and she felt something in her chest uncoil. He is cute, she thought. “Well,” she said, drawing the word out for several seconds.

“Awesome!” he said. His face lit up; his eyes were sparkling. Dana couldn’t help but feel flattered, until she realized that his eyes were literally sparkling in the sunlight. She stood up quickly and peered into his face.

“What’s wrong?”

“Just hold still.”

The boy stared back, and then slowly stuck his tongue out of the side of his mouth. Yes, Dana decided reluctantly, they were definitely sparkling.

“Damnit, you’re a manic pixie dream boy, aren’t you?”

For a moment, the boy’s sunny exterior cracked, but then he forced a laugh.

“What? I don’t know what you’re talking about!”

Dana peered at him. The boy smiled valiantly for a few more seconds, and then his face collapsed.

“I hate that name.” He slumped onto the bench.

“Was I really acting that melancholy? Oh, this is so embarrassing.” Dana buried her face in her hands.

After a moment, she noticed the sobs. She opened her eyes. Golden tears were running freely down the pixie’s slack but beautiful face.

“What’s wrong?”

He looked at her helplessly. “I can’t do this anymore.”

Dana shook her head. She had never heard of a depressed pixie.

“You don’t get it, do you? I exist only to teach others to rediscover the wonder they’ve lost. If I’m not summoned by an—” he shot her an apologetic look, “unfulfilled person, I’m barely even alive. Being summoned is different but just as bad. These days, most women — like you — know enough to recognize us, and think we’re horrible clichés. It’s pretty hard to teach someone to marvel at life’s fleeting joys when they’re annoyed and self-conscious. So after a day or two of frustrated agony, I fade away again. The worst is when I actually succeed. Just when things are going well, just as I can see life flooding back into my companion, just when I’m starting to fall in love — I fall in love every time — they don’t need me anymore, and I vanish back into oblivion. I never see them again.”

They sat in silence for a few moments, listening to the sound of the fountain and the leaves rustling.

“I’d trade places with you any day,” he muttered.

Dana tilted her head to the side. He had a point. Whatever was wrong with her life, she wasn’t a supporting character; she was the lead.

She put her hand on his shoulder. “Hey, it’s not that bad. The sun is shining, and we’ve got a Verisimilitudinous Kids show tonight.”

The change was immediate. The pixie hopped to his feet, the 10,000-watt smile back on his face. “Really, you want to go?”

She chuckled. “Yeah, why not. Let me just tell work I’m taking the day off.”

She dashed off a terse reply all, and then powered her phone off.

“That’s done.” She felt better already. That one act — turning her phone off — felt like a symbolic step toward self-emancipation.

“So, what should we—”

She stopped midsentence. “Hello?” she called. But the pixie was already gone.


Tyler Young is a Midwestern lawyer by day, fiction writer by night. His work has previously been published by Daily Science Fiction. When he isn’t writing fiction, he is usually at a zoo or museum with his wife and two children. 


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Rate this story:
 average 4.3 stars • 34 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • Sarah Crysl Akhtar

    Delightful. And the band’s name was great. Five stars.

  • A delightful concept, original to my ears.

    I dislike adjectives and analogies in flash.

    The long paragraph needed tightening or interjections from Dana. As a large block of text it didn’t read pixie-like.

    ****

    • Sarah Crysl Akhtar
      What I thought made this so charmingly different was the avoidance of pixie clichés. Made this a nicely-modern story and kept the magic both subtle and plausible...
      • Perhaps pixie-like is a poor choice. To me it read too analytical, clinical, as though the situation required a detailed explanation.
        • Sarah Crysl Akhtar
          Well, it did...I thought there was something youthfully genuine about our kid pixie finding someone to whom he could pour out his millennial-type angst...
          • To me it read as a script, lacking the spontaneity of a conversation.
          • Sarah Crysl Akhtar
            Yes--but I took it in that sort of way one might rehearse one's aggrieved monologue (hoping it would get the chance to become a dialogue) in the shower, or something. And finally he found a beneficiary willing to engage, and he was all ready...
          • I thought of the explanation as a thought out scam to achieve what had to be done to save our girl.
          • Sarah Crysl Akhtar
            I think you've nailed it.
  • Dawn Michelle

    I’m with Sarah – absolutely delightful. Easy to read, enjoyable, immersed in the characters and scene…I could see a whole book about this idea, but it stands well alone.

  • S Conroy

    I liked the idea a lot and the ending was cute. Poor MPDB. Some of the prose, I thought, could have been a bit tighter.

  • Gave this a four only because fives have to get me jumping with joy and laughter, or in a corner balling my eyes out.
    Well done. a light entertaining, authentic piece of work.
    I was confused however by the use of the word “manic” in the Pixie’s description.

    • Camille Gooderham Campbell
      This may help: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manic_Pixie_Dream_Girl
      • Sarah Crysl Akhtar
        Am I ever out of the loop of contemporary culture... God bless Wikipedia.
      • Thanks. Indeed.
  • Paul A. Freeman

    An enjoyable enough romp. Not sure what the security guards made of the young man’s transformation, though.

  • Chris Antenen

    I am so out of the literary loop, but I think this intriguing story brought to me a new and charming aspect of it. Wow. Affected everything around me, made me smile, and even laugh. I recognize that day, because I’ve experienced it, a day that brought the perfect state of melancholy, and frequently a huge building was involved. My destination was the basement, where I was only another peripheral to manipulate data to feed into the huge mainframe computer.

    Staying with the current vernacular, it would be called feeling depressed, but I prefer the old and more explicit word ‘sad.’ Oh, what I would have given for an MPDB on one of those days or maybe the experience of the MPDFriend. I’m of the age to have lost many to death, so finding a new and unexpected magic pixie friend to help me shake a mood would be delightful.

    By the way, I think delightful is the perfect word to describe this work of fiction, even though I couldn’t pronounce the band’s name.

    Five.

  • Can somebody help me out with the change in the band name? The pixie says “Vermicious Knids” (A real band and also a reference to creatures in Dahl’s work) and Dana says “Verisimilitudinous Kids” (‘Real’ Kids).

    That really has me stumped. Maybe this fever is getting to me.

    • Sarah Crysl Akhtar
      She couldn't properly remember/misheard the name since it's composed of imaginary words, and her brain substituted plausible ones...
      • Maybe, but I'm not buying it. It seems as remote as knowing the Verisimilitudinous as a real word. Kids and Knids are very different as well. Using a made up word altogether might make that scenario believable to me.
        • Sarah Crysl Akhtar
          I think those particular words were used to slyly emphasize that our pixie isn't actually a real kid. Seems quite verisimilitudinous, except for those sparkling eyes...
          • The description of the multiple security guards not engaging him after taking a dip in the fountain was enough for me. I applaud the use of an unfamiliar word. It just seemed out of place in Dana's dialog.
  • monksunkadan

    Made my day. Everything Sarah said and more!!!

  • monksunkadan

    I think I’m just going to sit here and enjoy the piece. Too much analysis.
    But I will read and digest and enjoy that too!!!

  • Uriel Harper

    Very interesting take on the MPDG trope. I think you did a great job flipping the roles while commenting on this trope as a whole. The pacing was good and though I do agree with some of the comments about tightening up the writing a bit, I think all in all it is a good piece!