Daniel Jones (Centerville, GA)
We arrive at the Anime Weekend Atlanta annual convention ball and already people are rushing over wanting to take pictures of my beautiful friends in their gorgeous My Little Pony gala costumes. No one wants pictures of me. I’m just wearing a suit and tie. However, they did paint a “cutie mark” of a time turner on my face. My friends decided I would make a good “Dr. Whooves” who, by the way, isn’t a canon character but still manages to be exceedingly popular.
I just hold their bags and smile off to the side. I have no expectations for the evening. In the romantically lit ballroom, filled with decorations of red flowers and people looking their absolute best, no one will notice me. I accept this and prepare myself for a night of playing games on my smartphone while my friends dance with attractive, straight cis-men in ties.
“Look!” cries my best friend, Jessica. She points to a table not far from the entrance to the ballroom where a beautiful girl, dressed in a stunning white ball gown and a pale blue and pink wig and unicorn horn stands there, is waving and taking pictures for people. “It’s Princess Celestia!”
Of course, Jessica wants a picture with Celestia. She is dressed as Twilight Sparkle and Twilight Sparkle is Princess Celestia’s apprentice. I did not know Princesses did apprenticeships.
Jessica runs over to the Princess and asks for a picture. Her friend, Jennifer, takes the picture while I hold her stuff, then we request to sit with the Princess at her table. I pull out a chair for my friend Jessica, I am quite the gentleman, and I take a seat next to her, a seat away from the beautiful Celestia who sat next to a man dressed as Roy Mustang from the anime television series Full Metal Alchemist.
This man is not unattractive and he pulls off the cosplay quite nicely with his dark hair and eyes. I’m impressed especially with his uniform which is not the cartoonish blue color most people go with when trying this cosplay. It looks like a real military uniform. I wonder if he made it. He didn’t even need a wig, his hair was naturally black and messy.
The not unattractive man wraps his arm around Celestia, smiles a charming smile and chats with everyone at the table. He acts as if he has known Celestia forever. I assume they’re a couple.
My friend Kirsten, dressed in a bubble gum pink wig for her Pinky Pie cosplay, tugs on my arm and leans into the table a little.
“Guys, I really want to go dance!” she squeals excitedly, bright eyes gleaming. That high pitched Pinky Pie voice is annoying, but it goes along with the theme. She is dressed from head to toe in pink with candy decorations on the skirt and stripes on the top. Kirsten is a good contrast from Jessica, who was dressed in a more serious, dark blue gown that sparkled and gleamed because, again, she is Twilight Sparkle. If the dress didn’t sparkle, it would defeat the purpose.
Everyone at the table agrees we should go dance. I stand from my place at the table and make sure I still have everything I came with on my person. All I care about is that I have my phone to entertain me while my friends dance. I will not bother to ask anyone. Who would ever want to dance with…?
“Hey, Danny!” says my friend Jessica, grabbing my arm before I can walk off ahead of the group. “Celestia wants to dance with you!”
“Really?” I turn back around, past the point of surprised. The beautiful girl is smiling at me. Why doesn’t she want to dance with her boyfriend? “You want to dance with me?” I need to be certain I heard right.
“If you don’t mind,” says the beautiful Princess. God, she’s gorgeous. But, taken of course…by a real man.
“Um…well…sure, I don’t mind at all,” I manage to squeak awkwardly with my heart pounding in my chest. I hold out my arm to her politely and she takes it with a pale, delicate hand like porcelain. I shudder a little excitedly at her touch and lead her out to the dance floor.
“My name’s Lochlan, by the way,” she says to me in her sweet, angelic voice. “What’s yours?”
“Emily…but, you can call me Danny!” I quickly add, “I’m gender queer.”
You dufus, I think to myself furiously. Why did you tell her that? You’ve barely come out to half your friends, but you came out to a total stranger? She’s gonna think you’re a freak now.
“Oh, that’s cool,” she says, giggling a little. I blush. That’s a new one.
Her tone gets more serious. “You know that Roy Mustang back there?”
“Yeah,” I respond, glancing back at the not unattractive man. “What about him?”
“He won’t leave me alone,” Lochlan whispers. “I told him I don’t play for his team and he said: ‘That’s okay, I can change your mind.’”
“What a jerk,” I tell her, while inwardly having a minor heart attack while letting her words wash over me. She doesn’t play for his team. So, she plays for mine? Oh God, what do I do? I have never been in this predicament before. “Well, you’re with me now, so maybe he’ll leave you alone.” I tried to make it sound flirty, but I think it just came out shaky and dorky.
Either way, she smiled at me again and said, “I hope so.”
By this point, we are on the dance floor and we turn to face each other. I notice she has the most beautiful blue eyes I’ve ever seen. They glitter faintly in the dim lighting of the ballroom. My racing heart stops and promptly drops into my stomach.
We dance horribly, but don’t care. I’m staring into those beautiful, shining blue eyes, lost in another world and listening to the Princess tell me about herself. She wants to work with animals. She also happens to have a pet snake and I feel a tad envious. I always wanted a snake.
We dance absorbed and enchanted by each other, then notice that the music has stopped. We are still dancing. Awkwardly, we laugh and take a step back from each other.
Come on, I tell myself. Don’t blow this. Don’t look like an idiot in front of her!
The next song is about to start. I pull her to me once more, prepared to continue our absolutely terrible dance when, very unexpectedly, the moment is shattered as the not unattractive man comes up behind the Princess and grabs her by the shoulder, asking her to dance with him.
She hesitates to answer and looks at me, fear instead of excitement now reflecting in those eyes I lost myself in just moments ago.
Say something! I tell myself. Tell him to back off! Protect her!
No words make it to my lips. He takes her away from me. The Princess looks desperately back to me, clearly wanting me to step in and stop him. Instead, I stand immobile on the dance floor, unable to do anything but mouth an “I’m sorry,” and watch helplessly as he takes the Princess away.
I lose her in the crowd, though I expect she will go back to the table at some point. That gives me an idea! I will make it up to her at the table right in front of that creep!
I begin my search for the woman who walks around the ballroom regularly selling roses and buy a pink one before rushing back to the table. I plan to give it to her; offer to escort her elsewhere. My friends and I could wait with her until she could get a ride. Maybe we could all go eat somewhere in the convention center and lose him in the crowd. Either way, I will rescue her.
I reach the table and her stuff is gone… and so is his. I turn to my friend, Kirsten, who has returned to the table to text, and ask her where the Princess has gone.
“I think she left to get away from that creepy guy,” she responds, looking up from her phone. “Who gave you the rose?”
I don’t answer. I stare down at the flower in my hand and think about the flower I had before. I should have spoken up for her on the dance floor. I was supposed to be her hero, a knight in shining armor. Instead, I was a fool in a tuxedo who let the most beautiful young woman ever held in their arms be stolen from them. I let my Princess down.