Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Queen's Confession...

It's writing challenge time, brought to you by Indie Ink. New contestants: Virgins; New feedback and comments: Vivacious; Not meeting deadlines: Vile. For everything else, there's me.

Welcome to Week 19.

Week 19.
My Challenger: Aimee
My Challenge: "Dear ______, I haven't been completely honest with you..."
Who I am Challenging: The Drama Mama
What I Challenged Them With: Writing outside the box: Tell me about a day in the life of a sloth named Fernando without once using one of two letters in your entire story (your choice which letter not to use): either "m" or "i".

The Queen's Confession...

Dearest Wicked Step Mother,

I haven't been completely honest with you...

But then again, one would hardly blame me for that--they say you learn from the best, and indeed, if an award were to be given for dishonesty on such a grand scale...? Well, let's just say Mirror wouldn't even deny you this.

Brr... It's cold today. I keep telling the servants to stoke the fire hotter, and to hang heavier draperies in front of the windows, but you know how drafty these old castles are. I am still prone to sore throats where that damnable apple lodged itself in my throat that fateful morning.

You remember, don't you, dearest step mother? They say the third time is the charm, and when both the colorful bodice and the poisoned comb didn't work, I should have been prepared. But when you appeared before the cottage, looking so homely and plain, offering the apple, it didn't even cross my mind that you would allow yourself to be so common just to get to me. The flat, thin hair, that pudgy stomach, the mottled skin. Oh, that was so clever of you! I still wonder how long it took you to cast that spell, how long you and Mirror stared at one another, sacrificing your physical beauty but for a moment, to ensure that you would never be ugly compared to anyone ever again...

Of course, if you hadn't been so hell-bent on my destruction, I never would have met Charming, his kiss would have never dislodged the apple, and the rest--well, the rest is history, isn't it?

Here I am, queen of the realm.

You, I assume, are in hell--if Beelzebub himself would have you.

It may make you feel better to know, Father hasn't spoken to me since Charming and I were wed. He couldn't see the blackness of your soul as I could. To this day, he believes it was simply jealousy that made Charming and I order the magic iron dancing shoes; he believes envy was why we had them heated over the blacksmith's fires; he believes unresolved anger over you taking the place of my dead mother was why we the shoes placed on your feet, red-hot from the fires, and dance until you died right there before the wedding banquet table.

I admit to some glee as I watched your agony, happiness as you begged for the shoes to stop, ecstatic joy as your legs caught fire, and yet you danced. Danced and danced and danced until your broken, burned, and battered body collapsed in a heap. I swear, some days, as I sit on the throne listening to all the court gossip, I still catch the faint smell of your charred flesh--and I smile.

The dwarves, as well, have stopped calling on our court. They say I changed that day, that I stopped being the innocent princess they had lived with all those years in the Black Forest once Charming and I were wed. Little do they know, I never was as innocent or naive as they thought. They were simply the best hiding place I could find at the time. After all, young girls alone in the black forest have to do what they can to survive. And once I convinced the Huntsman to let me go, using the crocodile tear method I had learned from watching you and father? Well, let's just say I finally saw the light, as it were.

They were simply pawns, and when they were no longer needed? That's what Charming was for. Not that I hadn't grown fond of them, the dwarves, that is. But no one is that innocent, especially when their step mother is looking to kill them. They were a sweet bunch, but not too bright, truth be told. Dopey wasn't the only one who was short-changed, but I'll just let that go. I worked with what I had to.

But honestly? It was almost as if a higher power had been guiding me to safety from you, I'll admit that. Stumbling upon the cottage, setting up house in that tiny, ramshackle cabin was no picnic compared to this drafty castle, granted--especially when one is forced to live with so much riffraff! Bird feathers and rabbit droppings alone were enough to make me want to scream.

But you, step mother, yes, YOU were the reason I continued to live. Through the long nights in the dead of winter, when trapped with the dwarves in that cottage, I nursed my hatred. Every time my fingers cracked and bled from doing dishes for eight; when my back was sore and tired from washing all our clothing in the pond; whenever my stomach rumbled for want of food and I counted my ribs through my snow white flesh, I nursed my hatred for you, biding my time.

Of course, even now as I realize how much I had underestimated you, once that apple was dislodged and I saw that handsome prince staring at me from the other side of that glass coffin? I knew my time was coming. I knew I would have my revenge.

I knew I would finally have the power to be rid of you once and for all.

Mirror told me he told you about my wedding. He told me how he purposely withheld who's wedding it was, just to be sure you would show up to see the bride that dared to be more beautiful than you. He told me how angry you were, how you spit and threw a tantrum, almost smashing him in the process. Mirror and I talk a lot, you know, and I know why it was he in whom you confided your darkest feelings, your deepest desires. He's a very smooth talker, that one.

But I'm not writing this to you to relive my victory over you, although I dare say it has done me a world of good, cheering me up during this gloomy, drab bit of weather we're having.

No, I'm writing to you now, beloved step mother, to let you know how I haven't been completely honest with you. Not about my hatred for you, or even of my joy at your death during my wedding. But for some strange reason, I feel compelled to let you in on a little secret, the one little piece of knowledge that even I, myself, had a hard time admitting to for years...

You see, in a strange and twisted way, I admired you.

Not for your beauty--after all, what were you compared to me? A frog's wart?

No, I admired your strength, your tenacity, your will to go out and get whatever it was you wanted, whenever you wanted it, heaven and hell be damned! I still remember that time, when you had me scrubbing your bed chamber--do you remember, step mother? You were talking with your ladies' in waiting, and you had noticed one of them, the newest one, had the most ethereal green eyes, brilliant as emeralds, greener than the trees in mid-spring, brighter than the scales of the dragon! I remember how you caught your breath, staring deeply into those eyes.

And, as I hid under your bed that night, knowing it was the one place I could hide where you never thought to look for me--so close, yet so far!--I remember watching you cast that spell. How you and Mirror conspired, how the sparks flew, the castle shook, the words of which I couldn't understand, thunderously echoing in that small stone room...

I remember how, the next morning, your ladies' in waiting came in to say how sad they were to tell you about green-eyed girls' death, how her body had been found with her eyes plucked out and her skin all shriveled... and how they gasped when they noticed, for the first time it seems, just how similar your own brilliant green eyes were to hers, how magnificently they set off your flame-red hair and complimented your precious-stone-studded crown.

And then there was that other night, when Father had gone off to war with the neighboring kingdom because you had noticed the tapestries in their hall and wanted them for your own. I was there, hiding under the bed skirt as the demons you summoned came forth from the fire place, how you sent them into the bodies of the soldiers who had fallen in battle around your husband. I watched as you watched the battle in Mirror's reflection, the stench of sulfur filling your room as they continued to file out of the fire and through Mirror to turn the tide of war in your favor, in your
tapestries favor.

I suppose you can understand why sometimes I preferred the beatings and the chores around the castle to hiding where you never thought to look for me. I still have nightmares.

Yes, evil step mother, I feared yet admired you. You let nothing stand in your way, excepting your own pride and vanity.

But even now, though, I find myself empathizing with you more and more, much as I hate myself for it. I watch now, as I get older, how my once pearl-white skin grows blotchy. As my once raven-black hair has begun to turn a mousy gray. My ruby-red lips, once so full and red and the envy of everyone, including yourself, have begun to wrinkle, crinkle, and crack. I fear these changes in me, but I also realize, perhaps in ways that you didn't, how this is a part of life. I feel grateful and fortunate to have outlived you, but also to have born three healthy children and to have learned to deeply love Charming, heart and soul.

And while Mirror tries to get me to use some of your old tricks--"Just a small spell, my Queen, to lift and brighten the eyes!"--I remember how ugly you were in your beauty, how vile you were in your physical perfection.

I can't help but fear that one day--just one day, Mirror may talk me into doing something yet.

The only thing stopping me at the moment is the thought of your dead soul coming out of the fire place like those demons so many years ago.

And still, I can't help but have admired you.

I'm sure the feeling will pass. All it will take is me going to court today, sitting on that throne, and catching that faint breeze which carries the scent of your dead soul...

And I will smile.


Snow White

Previous Challenges I have answered:


supermaren said...

Wow. I love it! We need to compile all the challenge fairy tales and put them in a separate space. You know, when any of us has any free time. But that was fan-frickin'-tastic!

Grace O'Malley said...


Out of curiosity? How much proofreading or how many drafts do you usually go through? I love your ideas and the writing, but I'm often put off a little by the typos. I know the story is the main event, so to speak, but it's so much easier to get into it when it's been polished sharp.

Love this piece. I think the challenge needs more fairy tales. I am, of course, biased.

Jason Hughes said...

Thanks, Maren!!

@Grace: Noted!! I'll admit, I'm the first one to usually type "form" in place of "from" and "teh" for "the"... My freakin' fingers will be the death of me one day!! Thanks for pointing it out, though--I'll definitely see what I can do to improve my proofing skills!! ("Dammit, Jim, I'm an Editor, not a Proof Reader!!" LOL! Sorry, had to throw that in there!!) :)

Anonymous said...

I loved this so much! Such a perfect confessional. Finally, the truth about those dwarves!
The feelings conveyed - complex and brutally honest - made for a great read.

Anonymous said...

I loved this so much! Such a perfect confessional. Finally, the truth about those dwarves!
The feelings conveyed - complex and brutally honest - made for a great read.

Anonymous said...

This is just brilliant, I could taste the revenge and the restained aggression. Beautiful!

Jo Bryant said...

I loved seeing this side of the princess - knowing all along that there is a dark side to us all, including the fairy tales. Thank you for this wonderful glimpse behind the wall.

the Drama mama said...

What a fabulous take on your prompt. I love being inside Snow White's mind and seeing things from her {twisted} POV. I love it.

Billy said...

Great tale! You should rewrite them all as a series of short stories and package them out for adults! I digress, I loved the story, revenge can be so sweet, and Snow White, brilliant.