The Real Snow White
Once upon a time, long ago, in a land far, far away, there lived a king and his beautiful queen. One day, as the queen was sewing next to a window watching the first snow of the season, she pricked her finger and a drop of blood fell…certainly not on the snow, as it has been reported in other sources, because really, was she hanging out the window while she was sewing? No, a small drop of blood fell upon the snowy white fabric of her gown and she said aloud, sighing, “I wish I had a daughter with skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood and hair as black as night.” And because wishes really do come true, nine months later she gave birth to a little girl who she named, Snow White. As you can imagine, the king was not happy with the name the queen chose, wanting to name the princess after his mother, or even her mother, or his nanny, but the queen stood firm…well, that is, she did until she died after giving birth to Snow White. The grieving king briefly considered naming the child Anna, for his dead queen, but he knew her dying wish, so Snow White it was.
Finding life as a single parent quite trying despite a castle full of help, the king remarried within the year. He brought home his new beautiful queen and settled down to life as a family of three (plus 127 servants, 24 horses, 10 dogs and 6 cats).
Snow White had a happy childhood, spent largely in the company of the many servants and pets. She was sweet and kind and much beloved by all. Well, mostly all. The queen was fairly indifferent to her for most of Snow White’s childhood and the king, though he loved her dearly, really didn’t have much use for a daughter. Now a son, that would have been ideal. They could ride horses, go hunting, read history books. What did he know about embroidering and other such womanly tasks? Alas, neither of his queens provided him with a son and heir…
And the queen? Well, she was more interested in herself and the study of alchemy, than raising a child. Little did the king know her apparent barrenness was intentional. The idea of seeing her belly distended with child was anathema to her. Every day, she closeted herself in her secret chamber where she made potions – some of which actually worked hence her childless state, and asked a mirror of gilded frame, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” And she heard, “You are, my queen.” What? Yep, she heard it. I did not say, the mirror replied. The queen was certifiable. When was the last time a mirror talked to you? (If you actually answer that, might I suggest therapy?)
Anyway, all was going along quite well despite the queen’s questionable mental state (perhaps brought on by ingesting myriad concoctions to keep her young and childless…or simple narcissism), until the day her “mirror” told her that Snow White was the fairest in the land…it didn’t take a “magic” mirror to recognize the untold beauty of the kind, young princess. What to do, what to do? Ah! Get the huntsman to cut out her lungs and liver! Of course! (I know you’ve heard it was the heart, but my sources are impeccable, and it was the lungs and liver she requested.) And if you didn’t think she was not quite right in the mind before, I do hope that we are on the same page now.
So, the queen ordered the huntsman to take Snow White to the forest and return with her lungs and liver. The huntsman refused to follow orders blindly, but he also didn’t want to be on the wrong end of the queen’s psychosis, so he sent Snow White off into the woods to fend for herself and brought to the queen the lungs and liver of a boar.
Not one to be hoodwinked, the queen noted that the huntsman didn’t look her in the eye so it was no surprise when the “magic” mirror told her that Snow White was still the most beautiful in the land. (The huntsman was found later that night by one of the grooms. His heart had been removed. So, there was heart removal in the story. Just not Snow White’s.)
As for Snow White, she slept on the forest floor that night and when she awakened in the morning, she was surrounded by seven men, who we have come to know as the Seven Dwarves. The thing is, they weren’t actually dwarves. It’s just that, in addition to being beautiful of face and hair, Snow White was quite the Amazon. She could have done runway modeling, no problem. But to her, they were little men, so when she told the story later on, they became the seven dwarves.
Anyway, the seven dwarves took pity on the beautiful goddess at their feet and took her to their home to care for them. I mean to care for her. Right. She took one look at the pigsty they called home and shooed them out while she cleaned. They went off to work in the mines and when they returned it was to a clean home and a hot meal. Bliss. Snow White was sound asleep curled up on a rug by the fire (all the beds were too small for her). Of course, after dinner, they joined her there on the floor rather than make her sleep alone in a strange place…
Well, this story is getting a little long so we’ll cut to the chase: The queen was not pleased that Snow White was still living somewhere in the kingdom. She sent out spies (no, it was not the “magic” mirror that told her) and found out that she was living in the forest with seven men. ("What? Whore," she screamed to no one in particular.) She used her “magic” powers and created various poisons to kill her off, and on her third try (the dwarves foiled her plans the first two times), was finally successful with a poisoned apple and a few days off her "eternal youth" serum.
The poor dwarves were bereft. (Who would take care of them now?) They lay her to rest in a glass coffin so that they could gaze upon her beauty (as her body decayed???) Lo and behold, not two days later, a prince from the neighboring kingdom happened to be hunting in the very same forest where Snow White lay. He ordered his grooms to carry the beautiful woman in the glass case to his castle. Needless to say, no easy task given her size and, not surprisingly, one of the grooms dropped his end. And a good thing it was: It wasn’t poison that kept Snow White in the death-like state. It was a piece of apple lodged in her throat. Being dropped knocked it out and she awakened. The prince knelt beside her amongst the broken glass and begged her to marry him (which would join the two kingdoms and make him the richest, most powerful king). Of course, she said yes (or perhaps just nodded and smiled. There is some debate that two days with minimal oxygen intake left her with some neurological issues. Or maybe it was the poison.)
The prince, knowing what the wicked queen had done, invited her to the wedding feast. For her attempt to murder his beloved, Snow White, he ordered her to dance in red-hot iron shoes until she dropped dead. Um, what? Yep. Red-hot iron shoes. I kid you not.
And they lived happily, ever after…
Alice and the Hatter
“I’m quite mad, you know.”
The Hatter stared into the blue eyes of a young woman. He and Alice had met many years prior, when she was just a girl. Now those eyes, still the same large Christmas ornaments they had been all those moons ago, had replaced fright with affection.
“I know,” said Alice. “I’ve known all along.”
“And I’m quite a bit older than you.”
“Why, yes. Of course I’ve thought of that. But you see, you’re stuck in time. One day, I’ll catch up to you.”
“I’ll grow older than you. My hair will turn white, my skin will sag. The youthful girl before you will be no more.”
“But my eyes? My eyes will always belong to you.”
The Hatter pushed Alice’s hair behind her ear, still golden and full of life. He remembered first meeting her, once in a dream. He had loved her in a different light then. But as her mind filled with wisdom, her heart with passion, and her body with womanhood, the fatherly love quietly, subtly morphed into something else.
He kissed her gently. First, on her head, smelling the fragrant tiger lilies she used to wash her hair. Then, harder, on her bow-shaped lips. He lingered a moment, feeling the coolness of her mouth, letting it spread like a cold cloth on a fever.
“Or perhaps Time will pity a hatter. Pity him something fierce and stop for you, too.”
“Perhaps he will. Until then, you can teach me to grow.”
Alice looked at the man before her. She couldn’t remember a time her heart had been so full. All around, colors swarmed with pastel exhilaration. The blue sky was a painting of Easter morning. Butterflies looked like they had been dipped in paints by clumsy children. The trees and the grass and the flowers danced to the music of her jiving soul. She was deeply, madly, in love.
The romantic relationship of Alice and the Hatter was one best enjoyed in secret. The folks of Wonderland had a real knack for outlandish gossip, so distorted from one person to the next that fact became fiction, and fiction became nothing more than a children’s fairy tale. So the two lovers often stowed away in a rolling field for picnics and love-making. They met so frequently that the field became “their” field, a place known to most but meaningful only to those who used it for magic.
In this field, during timeless hours, they shared their deepest wants and desires. The Hatter longed for a pardon from the Queen. He wished for a home on the outskirts of the kingdom, one to grow old with Alice. And he wished for the ability to grow old. After all, eternity seemed like a very long time.
Alice, not wanting to sound naive, listed off hopes and dreams from a life long ago. She told the Hatter she one day wished to be a teacher of children. “Math and Science and all that.” And she’d like a pet of some sort, but “definitely not a hare or a cat.” Although these things were once her truths, in the depths of all that made up the woman she had become, Alice’s only unvarnished desire was a forever with her Hatter.
But on this particular day, at this particular picnic, during this very particular time of year, Alice felt bare. You see, if time were counted, it would have been one year since the Hatter had first confessed he fancied her and Alice had returned the sentiment. It sparked a fire in Alice so robust and searing that she wished to unzip herself right down the middle and expose any secrets that lingered. So she decided to do just that.
“Hatter, my dearest?” Said Alice, absentmindedly plucking blades of fresh grass from the earth.
“Yes, my love?”
“I’d like it if we married one day. I’d like it very much.”
The Hatter had been in the middle of pouring a rather large glass of peach wine. Alice’s words jumbled his brain a great deal. So much so, in fact, that it did not communicate with his hand quickly enough, and the sweet liquid spilled over the goblet.
After coming to know Alice, the Hatter had never imagined a life without her. Never wanted one. He’d become accustomed to her presence and enjoyed it so that he found himself longing, aching, when she was absent. He’d seen himself with her as the man he was in current time, and the man he would be in all other timelines he might happen across. But the problem with being a man stuck in time is that thinking in finites makes infinity drag on forever. And marriage seemed the most finite of all.
His silence worried Alice, making her question his heart.
“Don’t you love me, Hat? Don’t you love me with all that you are, the way I do you?”
The Hatter felt immediate guilt for his quiet reaction, but he had spent so much of his life speaking before thinking and really, truly, having no idea what he was talking about. He didn’t want that reckless dithering in the words he shared with Alice.
When he did finally speak, his words were gentle. He picked up Alice’s hand as one does an antique ceramic figure, delicate and priceless.
“My sweet Alice,” said the Hatter. “You are my greatest joy, my only love. Life before you was riddles with no answers. I’d known nothing of the heart’s senses before feeling the metronome of your name. Al-ice. Al-ice.” The Hatter demonstrated the thrumming on his chest with his fist.
“I know there is a but coming…” said Alice.
“But I am a man without time. We speak of what ifs, but what of the right nows? There is no cure for forever, not unless Time says so. And if Time were to take away the gift he has bestowed, the right nows and the what ifs would be nothings because the Queen would have my head.”
Alice considered this. “Oh darling, for a man of such wisdom, you are often but a fool. Without time, there are no what ifs. Right now is all there will ever be because you will only exist in your present state. People change, but you needn’t have such worries. You will always be who you are, right here, right now, in this field.”
“Yes, but you will change. And what if your heart changes, too?”
“There is no room in my story for an ending without you. Which leads me to something I need to share with you.”
The Hatter sat at attention, a soldier ready for his lieutenant to finish providing crucial instructions. He leaned forward, urging her on.
“About a year ago, I went to see Time. I asked him for a favor.”
“Alice! You didn’t!”
“Is it not something you want?”
“Of course it is. I’ve already said it is so. But it is not a decision I wanted you to make until you were of an age and time when you were ready. You’ve still got so much living to do.”
“I agree. Which is why I’ve asked Time to stop me only when I intersect at your freezing point. I figure that’ll be all the time I need.”
The Hatter chuckled. “Are you calling me old, my dear?”
Alice returned his laughter. “Timeless. The term I am looking for is timeless.”
“Then what was all that business about you growing older than your Hatter?”
“This place has taught me to never show my cards before the hand is dealt.”
The Hatter looked into young Alice’s eyes, and he knew they were the eyes of his wife. Suddenly, the cruelty of eternity seemed softer, exciting even. There was finally something to look forward to. He gazed at their surroundings, nothing out of place, not even them. They were a part of the scenery, something beautiful to be seen and talked about, even painted.
“And what would you do if we were trapped in this field? Just the two of us, forever?”
Alice pondered a moment.
“Well, I reckon I’d eat dandelions. I’d eat dandelions for the rest of my life.”
Dankness limp like water slips from black-rot joists and rusted metal above, festering, ever dripping, a-moldering the slick clay leading down to the river below and infecting his saturated skin with untoward disease. The stench of stagnancy fetes the air in his lungs and reddens the whites in his eyes, but he does what he can to placate his urges, rubbing at sores with crooked hands and patiently waiting, a hunger building inside him that food can not, that mere sustenance would never, placate.
The meth is worn off, the heroin a distant, blessed memory. Through knotted muscles and collapsed veins only icy anxiety courses where chemical bliss once flowed, an anxiety trembling for the next rush, troubling his mind and other delicate organs which had come to depend upon numbness for survival. The greatest of despairs had found him here in this best of hiding places when he heard it, the drum of feet, “Oh Glory, Glory be!” He pulled erect onto blistered, rotted feet.
The sound of innocent footsteps approaching, a deliverance of hope for the lost, a ghost of what once was! He slaps at his crook’d hands, one with the other, quelling their eagerness. Putting them to use, he grasps the joist and lifts his head above, squinting into the light for a look-see. A boy! A boy! It is with difficulty that he waits, his eagerness filling him with natural narcotics; adrenaline and dopamine easing his troubles. He lets go, dropping down, his eagerness made known through a dance. Eager hands slap again, demanding patience, dreadful patience of one another. The footsteps grow closer… ever closer, til he can stand it no more. When he spoke it was through an unfamiliar, gravel-filled voice.
”Who is that? Who trips and traps? This bridge requires a toll!
State your name and name your game to satisfy ”The Troll!”
”I am Billy Kidd.”
Something stepped into the boy’s view on the far side of the bridge, strangely rubbing it’s hands together as if washing them in invisible water.
His fearful feet pause. It is a man such as the boy has never seen. He recoils with disgust, but cannot force his eyes away, as it seems too awful to be true.
Excited hands slap and clap in front of it, their motion strange, and unwordly.
”Billy Kidd! Did you say Billy Kidd? Ahhh, a sheepish name for a sheepish boy! A high pitched squeak, like rubber from a door stopper laughed out from his fetid throat. He was quickly beside the boy, his hands slapping, closing the bridge’s distance with a lively pace despite his seeming moribundity.
The boy closed his eyes from the horror, and pushed out his palms to ward it off, but it had him grasped by the wrist in an iron grip and was pulling him. Billy set his feet to resist, he was a strong lad, but the grip grew tighter, the pulling more violent ’til he was pulled along. His mother had warmed him of this very thing, had told him to never, ever come to this place; that the wild grass across’t this bridge only looked greener than what could be grown with his own hands. He had only wanted to try it though, Billy had, just to have a taste…
Billy Kidd woke naked but alive. Dream-like were the mem’ries, trance-like the now, but there was the feeling of floating, then and now, of flying both with fear and exhilaration, but the dream-flight was done. Now it was submerged floating, heavily buoyant, exhausted, sick. In the crook of his arm was a mark, a bruise, deep and black with an eye at it’s center, an eye as red as the troll’s. Billy needed his mother, but could not go home, not like this naked and marked. He wretched into the slimy clay, and wallowed in the filth below the bridge until he adopted it’s smell and it’s look. He waited there, curled and cold, the drips finding and festering him, too sick to stay, too ashamed to go.
The deepest of despairs had found him here in the best of hiding places when Billy heard it, the drum of feet, “Oh Glory, Glory be!” Billy pulled himself up onto rotted feet, his clawed fingers slapping at one other in anticipation.
His voice sounded unnatural from under the bridge’s dank hollow;
”Who is that? Who trips and traps? This bridge requires a toll!” He said.
So, state your name and name your game to satisfy ”The Troll!”
She was paused, her eyes wide as she recoiled from him in horror. His hands slapped excitedly as they awaited a name.
”I am Capri Corn,” she managed, as Billy rushed to make her acquaintance, eager to show her the greener grass.
What did the porridge consist of?
Goldilocks walked through the forest lost. Where would she go? Her family was gone, but where? She walked until she came upon a cottage. The door was open so she walked on in. Upon the table set three bowls of porridge, going down in size. She was starved so stealing seemed to be her only option. The largest bowl was too hot, the medium too cold, but the smallest was just right. After her long journey she was exhausted. She walked up the stairs where she found three beds. All going down in size. The largest bed was too hard, the medium one too soft, but the smallest, just right. She fell fast asleep, forgetting all her worries. She was awoken by the front door being slammed shut. She was startled what was she to do. "Someone has eaten all my porridge!" Cried a young voice.
"That's okay hunny, we still have the mother in the backroom and a daughter to catch." Goldilocks felt her heart drop. All she could think was, "Will I get out of here, or will I be the meal replacement?"