The phone rang for all of about two seconds before picking up. It sounded like a surprisingly busy setting for the call, like some kind of dinner party befitting for the one and only Tiffany Waspman.
“Moonbeam!? Is that you!?” said Tiffany in her inimitable, gleefully posh voice.
“Hey Tiffany. Yeah, I got the message and wanted to see how you were doing. And…please just call me Ellery by the way if you can.”
“I know Ellery, it’s just been so long and I’ve wanted to catch up so much! I…I assume you’ve heard about what’s happened with Bailey.”
“Yeah, it’s…surprising, to say the least. I didn’t even know how big a deal her whole streaming thing was, or how risqué it seems to have gotten at times either.”
“I know, Ellery. If you ask me that’s not the kind of thing she should’ve gotten herself into after leaving our group.”
This line took me back for a second because it almost sounded sort of backhandedly threatening. I dismissed the thought as me just overthinking and focused back on her as she continued, talking over the residue of her upper-class atmosphere.
“Anyway I’ve been meaning to talk to you! Listen, I’ve been working in R&D with Starburst, and we’re trying to introduce a sort of mentorship program for magical girls so they can better explore their powers and have more support after they flatline out of the industry—this ordeal with Bailey today only proves how we need to ensure a safe space for magical girls.”
I’m working at a smoothie place, and she’s doing magic research with one of the biggest magical girl labels? Geez, we really did go our separate ways. Same old Tiffany, able to perfectly weave what was definitely a humblebrag into her weird R&D sales pitch, seconds into the first time we’d spoken to each other in years. She continued all the same.
“Now, this is super sudden—I know—but would you be interested in coming back to the industry for this mentorship program I’m trying to get off the ground? The current crop of girls would love having you! It’d be just like old times!”
I froze in place. I had just spent four years of college trying to get out of the magical girl system and I was not ready to have Tiffany rope me back into it.
“I don’t know, I’m…I…I don’t really think I’d feel comfortable coming back to the world of magical girls. Don’t you think that part of our lives is over?” I squeamishly responded, nervously fiddling with the shoulder-strap of the training bra I’d slipped into.
“Over!? Ellery, you haven’t even flatlined yet!”
“Does that make a difference!? How did you even know!?” I blurted out defensively, the phone connection getting staticky as my magic slightly flared up from being directly caught off guard about my magical persuasion.
“You know they track when we all flatline, and since joining the agency after graduating from business school I have access to all that info. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, being older and still having your powers. Listen, if we could get Bailey’s two bandmates together to mentor younger magical girls, that would boost the morale in the community so much right now!”
Was I the bad guy for being hesitating about going back to the Magical Girl Industry? Tiffany is the type to want an answer immediately, and I had very little time to sort this mentorship business out in addition to learning about how one of my idolmates was just violently assaulted to almost-death. The thing with Tiffany is she has and has always had an ability to dress up her thoughts with a sexy air of logical and/or moral certitude. Her tone switched back to the sales pitch type without missing a beat.
“…And listen, I know you’re trying to compose your own music and get a label. I promise we could make that happen so easy! I’ll connect you with music agents, totally unrelated to magical girl stuff. It’d be nothing in exchange for your help, which would totes mean the world to me and to the girls we’d be mentoring!”
Champagne glasses clinked to laughter over the line. After another week of smoothie making…damn did the idea of getting a label sound good.
“Where are you, anyway?” I asked.
“I’m at a dinner party with the agents at StarVocal and the Congressional Commission on Magical Girls! We’re celebrating our final preparations for the Lunar Solstice and the newest crop of magical girls this weekend!”
Oh yeah, I guess the Solstice was this weekend. Shows you how little I kept up with magical girl stuff. My throat tensed up as I reluctantly wanted to learn more.
“Listen, I’ll…I’ll maybe see how it is on Monday when the first girls start coming to the Asphalt Castle next week. Can I have arrangements to see you there?” I said, questioning myself as my magic kept crackling over the phone. Tiffany’s side of the line radiated confident, Friday night high-society energy. Mine radiated lonely, awkward post-adolescent spurts of magic.
“Oh my gods, Ellery that would amazing!! Thank you so much!!”
“I just want more info, I’m not agreeing to anything just yet.”
“Do you still have your uniforms, Ellery?”
“Tiffany I am not putting on my fucking uniforms to any of this.”
“No no, I just mean, as a motivational thing. Where are they?”
“They’re in my closet right here, I…I haven’t looked at them in a long time.”
“Go look at them.”
“What!? Wh-why!?” I was starting to crackle up in anxiety.
“Come on, Ellery! Tell me when you’re looking at them!”
I hate playing these games; Tiffany is the kind of girl for whom everything is a game. I awkwardly got up, shuffled through my closet and, where I had specifically hid them away, I gazed upon the sugary, frilly magical girl outfits I had worn all those years ago.
“I’m…I’m looking at them,” I said, with a weird mix of half-nostalgia and half-embarrassment.
“Now remember, Ellery, what do they say about the magical girl, her azure hair and her frilly outfit?”
She was motivating me with nostalgia, and it was working. All of my memories as a magical girl idol started flooding back at her request. I gazed on the frilly, goofy uniform in silence, and I couldn’t help but think about when I first transformed as a 13-year-old.