The Happiest Place in the Universe
“Daddy, look! It’s Tinkerbell! And she’s flying!”
Kara grinned at the sound of the little girl’s voice as she turned around, her sparkly green taffeta dress fluttering in the wind as she returned to the ground. The tiny brown-skinned girl appeared at her feet, beaming up at her beneath a bright pink tiara and a curly mop of blondish-brown hair. Her two front teeth were missing and Kara nearly melted at the sight. She kneeled down in front of the girl with a friendly smile.
“Hello,” she greeted, “what’s your name?”
“Bethany,” the girl replied. “But everybody calls me Beth.”
“That is such a pretty name,” Kara gushed. “Are you a princess, too?”
“My daddy says I am,” Beth replied, grinning up at the sheepish man standing a few feet away, holding a Minnie Mouse bag full of goodies. He waved to Kara and she waved back. “But my Papa says that I’m better than a princess. I’m a warrior!” She flexed tiny muscles and Kara laughed. “But I like the tiara and the dresses.” She turned side to side in her own sparkly Tinkerbell dress.
“Well, you know warriors can wear those things, right?”
“Of course they can!” Kara insisted. “I mean, look at me. I’m wearing a dress and I’m a warrior.”
“You are?” Beth asked, her eyes wide. Kara nodded and flexed her impressive biceps, making them bulge in her arms. “Wow…” Bethany’s eyes were wide and her smile was magnificent. Kara could see the deep dimples in her cheeks. “You must be really strong. Could I be that strong one day?”
Kara grinned down at her and nodded. “Anything’s possible,” she said, reaching into the bag at her hip, “with a little pixie dust.” She pulled her hand out and sprinkled a tiny bit of glitter into Beth’s hair and the girl gasped, reaching up to feel.
“Can I fly now?” she asked, eyes wide and hopeful.
“Sadly, I’m all out of that kind of pixie dust,” Kara said, honestly. “But this kind has its own kind of magic that lasts a lot longer. This will make you brave and strong and smart—though I doubt you need much help in any of those departments.” Beth giggled a flushed profusely. “But,” Kara added, “if you want to see the world from a slightly different perspective, I think I could give you a lift.” She looked up at Beth’s father. “If Daddy says yes, I mean.”
“Daddy, please?!” Beth begged, clasping her hands together under her chin.
Her father laughed and nodded. “Of course,” he said. “Just don’t go too high, please? Papa would never forgive me if I let something happen to his little angel.”
“Of course, sir,” Kara said before getting down on her knees and helping Beth onto her back. “Hold on really tight, okay?”
“Okay!” the tiny girl replied, enthusiastically, wrapping her arms tightly around Kara’s neck.
“Up, up, and away!” Kara exclaimed, taking off from the ground as Beth squealed right next to her ear.
“What happened to your long blonde hair?”
“It was cut by Flynn Rider,” Alex replied, running her hand through the short, choppy bob. “Don’t you like it?”
“I liked your long hair better,” the tiny redhead replied. “You could braid it!”
“Well, that’s true,” Alex said, “but, I—”
“Now, you kinda look like a boy.” Alex’s shoulders drooped. She’d been told that several times, even before she auditioned for the role of Rapunzel at Disneyland. But she needed the change and it was good for her. It landed her a coveted role at the ‘Happiest Place in the Universe’ and now she was closer to—
“I think she looks pretty.”
Alex jumped and turned around, her entire face going red at the sight of the young woman in the blue peasant dress, a book tucked against her chest and her brunette curls tied with a ribbon in her hair. She was slightly tanner than the typical Belle and she had dimples in her cheeks, but there was no doubt in Alex’s mind that her name should mean ‘beauty’. Alex’s heart pounded in her ears.
“Th-thanks, Belle,” she replied, remembering her character.
“You’re very welcome, Rapunzel,” Maggie Sawyer replied, with a smile that set Alex’s entire body aflame.
“But don’t you think a princess should have longer hair,” the girl asked. “Like you?”
“Princesses come in all different shapes and sizes, actually,” Maggie replied, softly and calmly, looking down at the girl. “And hair lengths.” Alex chuckled and Maggie’s smile widened. “The way you look shouldn’t determine whether or not you can be a princess. It’s what’s in here.” She placed a hand on her own chest.
“In your lungs?” the child asked, confused.
Maggie laughed and shook her head. “Your heart,” she corrected, gently. She turned to Alex and, in a surprisingly bold move, lowered her ear to rest just above the place where her heart lay in her ribcage. Alex had to find to keep standing on shaky knees, her fingers clenching at her sides. She was certain that her face looked like a tomato right about now and she wondered if her heartbeat was pounding in Maggie’s ears as loudly as it was in her own. “Yup,” Maggie said, pulling away with a knowing grin, “that right there is the heart of a princess.”
“How do you know?” the redhead asked.
“I read a lot.”