“Why is Tinkerbell so angry?” Todd asked one afternoon, slouching lazily into the lumpy couch, flipping through his Tevo.

“Was that directed at me, or are you being rhetorical?” Lorelei asked.

He looked over at his pet-store mermaid on the mantelpiece. “Well, you ARE the fairy tale creature, here. And you used to belong to a little girl, so I imagine you’ve seen Peter Pan…” The images of the familiar Disney characters flickered across his plasma TV, muted.

“My previous — ” and then she paused, as if to avoid the word owner — “the girl I used to live with… She mostly was interested in movies that involved princesses, so that she and her friends could argue about which princess each of them was, respectively, based on their hair color.”

“Girls,” he guffawed — then realized — that probably wasn’t the joke to help build solidarity with Lorelei.

Silently, on the screen, an aghast Tinkerbell marveled at the width of her own hips in the reflection of the hand mirror on Wendy’s dresser.

“Imagine,” the little half-fish began, “being charmed by a young man who never wants to grow up…”

He made a face. “You’re such a martyr. And vain, like her. You know, maybe Peter would like Tinkerbell if she wasn’t so jealous, cranky and insecure.”

“So she should just accept playing second fiddle to the insipid Wendy?”

“At least Wendy doesn’t call him an ass.”

“Wendy is happy to follow along with him, dully, just to remain in the sphere of his fairy dust, which, by the way, Tinkerbell is already full of herself.”

“Certainly full of herself.”

The corner of Lorelei’s mouth turned upwards into a half-smile. She knocked some fuschia rocks at the bottom of her tank around, idly, with her fins. “Maybe she’s nothing to speak of, it’s true. But even if Tink was the most delightful, tactful and polite fairy… Wendy is Peter’s size. And so is Tiger Lily, for that matter — because I don’t believe for a second that he could be satisfied with that English girl alone… How could Peter ever notice Tink’s appeal amid the ease, familiarity and accessibility of the other females? Not when she makes it so hard. Anyway, a fairy cannot change what she is, not even for Peter.”

“Then why do you still sound as if you blame the boy? He can’t change her, either. Can you blame him for wanting the exotic attentions of Tiger Lily, or the domestic bliss that Wendy offers?”

“No. I cannot blame him for shunning Tinkerbell. She’s a pain, really. Even if she takes the poison for him. She knows what he is, and she loves him anyway — she’s a masochist. I blame… The tyranny of charisma –”

“Ha! Dramatic.”

” –Trumps morality at baser levels. Makes us choose people who make us miserable. Makes us alive…”

Todd looks at her incredulously. “You go from Peter Pan to ‘charisma makes us alive?’ You spend way too much time thinking in your fishbowl.”

“Then release me.”

“Not a chance, my dear. Not a chance. You’re not my size — but I want to keep you anyway.”