Happily Ever After
Modern romance, gift shop encounters, and an underwater music video shoot
When Lyssa was seven, her mother took her to see the movie where the mermaid wants legs. At the ending, she shook her head and squinted at the prince and said, “Why would she leave her family for that?” which for years contributed to the prevailing belief that Lyssa was sentimental or softhearted, when in fact she just knew a bad trade when she saw one. The whole ocean for one man. Not that she knew much about the ocean: Lyssa had been born in a landlocked state, and at 30, it seemed the closest approximation she might get was her job working the gift shop in the lobby of the Titanic. It was not a metaphor: It was an actual replica of the Titanic, with a mini-museum on the lower level, though it made most of its money off weddings and children’s birthday parties hosted on the upper decks.
A second-tier pop star had rented the whole structure for a music video shoot, which would shut down normal operations for three full days. Lyssa had been planning on the time off, but when the video’s director came to finalize the plans for the space, he stopped in front of the shop glass, stared for a minute, walked in, and said, “You — you’re perfect.”
She agreed to remain on site for the filming and canceled her follow-up with the doctor, giving herself, in her head, the stern lecture she imagined he would have. Her co-worker Mackenzie sulked around the rest of the afternoon, flinging herself into the director’s line of vision without success. Mackenzie sometimes worked the gift shop counter with Lyssa, but only sometimes; whenever there was a princess party, Mackenzie wore the costume dress and chaperoned as the princess-on-deck. Lyssa never worked parties; the one time anyone had bothered to give her an explanation for this (she hadn’t asked), it was a supervisor who mumbled something about historical accuracy meaning no black princesses.
“We’d hate for the six-year-olds having tea parties on the Titanic to get the wrong idea about history,” Lyssa said, so straight-faced that the supervisor failed to call her out for her attitude.