Three teenage boys slouched in the Grimm High School hallway, smartphones inches from their faces. Nearby, someone had decorated a locker with construction-paper flowers and “Goldy!” in magnetic stars.
The first boy waved his phone. “Her livestream’s starting. She better give me a shout-out.” This was Prince, who dated Goldilocks but loved only himself.
The second boy bit his lip. “She really shouldn’t break into bear houses.” This was Hansel, who dated no one but loved only Goldilocks.
The third boy rolled his eyes. “I’ve broken into places way more dangerous.” This was Jack, who dated many people but loved only Hansel.
“That’s bear porridge she’s eating,” Hansel gasped, panic choking his voice. “Riddled with bacteria. I told her to bring breadcrumbs for sustenance!”
Prince furiously typed into his phone. “I’m commenting ‘#CubGrub.’”
“That hashtag’s too cutesy for Instagram, Prince,” Jack said.
“What’re you talking about?” Prince scoffed. “My hashtags are comedy gold.”
But Jack’s attention was already back on the video. “She’s gotta move quicker on forest jobs,” he sighed. “Look at her, dawdling over that porridge.”
Hansel glanced toward Prince. “Maybe… she hasn’t figured out what she wants.”
Jack glanced toward Hansel. “Maybe none of us has.”
“Booooring.” Prince spat out an uncouth raspberry. “Now, she’s just trying out their chairs.” He snorted and typed in another comment. “‘#BearChair.’”
“Meh,” Jack said, no more impressed by this hashtag than the last. “Too charming.”
Hansel grimaced. “Those chairs don’t ergonomically support her delicate frame.”
Jack elbowed Hansel’s ribs. “Give it up, dude.”
Hansel shot back a suspicious glance. “Give what up?”
“You’re crushing on Goldilocks.”
“I’m not… crushing.” Hansel’s attempted laugh sounded like a gruff billy goat.
Jack ticked off the evidence on his fingers. “Carrying her books? Making her gingerbread houses? Decorating her locker?” He tapped the nearby locker in its flowery glory. “You’re crushing hard.”
“Pipe down,” Hansel whispered. “She’s dating Prince.” He shot a thumb toward their oblivious companion.
Jack gritted his teeth. “Sorry, man. Wasn’t thinking.” He sighed. “Guess I know what it’s like when your beanstalk grows for the wrong person.”
Hansel lowered his voice further. “It’s… frustrating. Prince only dates Goldy because she’s famous. Well, internet famous. Did you know he’s seeing other girls behind her back? The one with all the hair. The one with the spinning wheel. The one with the pumpkin.”
Jack scrunched his lips. “Pumpkin Girl’s such a fake.”
“Goldy thinks Prince’ll give her some fairy-tale ending, but—”
“Dudes!” Prince yelled, waving his phone. “She’s in their bedroom. Hopping on their bear beds.” He frowned. “What’s a good hashtag for that?”
“Dang, that’s ballsy,” Jack said, phone back in his face.
“Do you think the bears will…” Hansel gulped, “devour her when they get home?”
“They’re not wolves,” Jack said. “But they’ll at least maim her.”
“Gross,” Prince said. “But also: entertaining. She’ll get so many Likes.” His jaw dropped, and his eyes grew wide. “#MaimFame?”
Jack pondered the hashtag. “Y’know, Prince?” he said. “That one’s just right.”
John Adams (he/him/his) writes about teenage detectives, robo-butlers, and cursed cowboys. His favorite genre is one he’s coined “absurdist speculative melodrama” — meaning “monsters being monstrous, aliens being alien, and humans being all too painfully human.” His short stories have been published by Australian Writers’ Centre, Dream of Shadows, Intrinsick, Metaphorosis, and Paper Butterfly. His plays have been selected for productions and readings by theatrical organizations like the William Inge Theater Festival, Whim Productions, the Barn Players, and the Midwest Dramatists Conference. He performs across the U.S. with That’s No Movie, a multi-genre improv team. Web: johnamusesnoone.com. Twitter: @JohnAmusesNoOne.