I love fairy tales, and I love to create new takes on them for a new era. Here is a twist on "Snow White" that I'm rather proud of.
How did I meet your mother? You want to hear that old story. Are you sure you won’t be scared? Yes, you can sit in my lap. But if you fall asleep, I’m taking you straight off to bed.
Once upon a time, seven dwifes stood weeping around a crystal casket in a forest glade. Yes, that’s the right word: dwifes. Are you telling this story or am I? Inside the casket was the handsomest prince in the whole world, Stormwhite.
I’m starting at the wrong place? Alright. We'll go farther back.
Stormwhite was born during a blizzard such as no one had ever seen. Snow peaked as tall as mountains. Stormwhite’s father, the king, was visiting a remote village when the storm struck, and every soul there froze.
When the queen heard that her husband was dead, she tried to throw herself from the tallest castle tower. The servants held her back, but she was so stricken by grief that she began to waste away. At last, they sent for a wizard who lived in the dark forest to see if he could help their queen. He arrived in a cloud of ravens and examined her. “I can help,” he said. “But if I do, you must let me make her my wife. I will be king over you all.”
That is what happened. The queen married the wizard. The wizard became our king.
In those years, I hunted wild game to feed the castle’s ovens. What happened inside that mass of towers didn't concern me much, as long as I was paid and left alone. But even I noticed the ravens. They filled the halls, and screamed at the servants. They pecked the dogs and terrorized the cats. The queen was nowhere to be seen; and Stormwhite, who was by then a rambunctious little boy, was left to run wild.
One day, I knocked at the kitchen door to drop off game, and found no one there. I wandered through dusty corridors under the beady gaze of the wizard’s birds. I heard voices, and went silently up a graceful staircase. The wizard-king stood before a huge, gilt-framed mirror. He wore the king’s crown on his head and the queen’s circlet on his brow. Stormwhite played with chicken bones on the bare floor at his feet.
The king raised his hands and commanded: “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?”
Golden clouds filled the glass, and a woman’s face appeared. “You, oh king, are my fairest flower. If you ever loved me, free me to feel the sun on my face and your kiss on my lips.”
“Love is fickle,” replied the king. “Love is weak. Only strength survives, and only strength makes beauty thrive.” He spun toward the doorway where I spied. “You there, come out!” Though I hesitated, I didn’t run. “As you see, the servants have all abandoned us. You are now my chatelain, my cook, and this child’s keeper.” He waved dismissively at Stormwhite.
Such was the power of his voice, that what he said came true. I spent my days hunting, my nights and mornings serving. Stormwhite followed me everywhere. The child was starved for love. He was a sweet boy - love was easy to give.
Each and every morning, the king stood in front of the mirror and asked the same question: “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all?” The sad creature answered the same way every time: “You, oh king, are fairest.”
On Stormwhite’s sixteenth birthday, the king stood before the mirror as always. But this time, the mirror declared, “You are the fairest king, it’s true. But Stormwhite has grown fairer than you.” The king turned purple with rage. The ravens screamed and hurled themselves about the room.
“You!” he ordered me. “Take Stormwhite into the woods and kill him. Bring back his heart so that I know the deed is done!”
Such was the power of the king’s voice that once again I had to do his bidding. Though Stormwhite had grown tall, I was stronger still. I grabbed an axe, and we left the castle. The sweet boy begged me to stop, but it was only when we’d gone deep into the woods that I could resist the spell. “Quickly,” I said. “Leave me before I strike you dead. Go, and never return.”
When Stormwhite was well away, I slew a deer, carved out it’s heart, and bore it to the king, who made me serve it to him with turnips and potatoes.
Stormwhite wandered the forest, hungry and lost. He came across a little cottage up against a hill. Inside, he found seven chairs around a wooden table set with seven plates of gold, seven spoons, and seven knives. There were seven fiddles by the fireplace, and seven beds and wardrobes. Stormwhite ate what he found in the pantry and fell asleep on the softest bed.
He woke to find seven little dwifes staring at him from seven suspicious sets of eyes. Each had a pretty beard but was womanly formed in every other way. The tallest demanded, “Who are you? Why have you eaten our food, and slept in my bed?”
“I’m Stormwhite,” said the lad. “My step-father sent me into the forest to die, but fortune brought me here. If you let me stay, I’ll cook and clean for you, and make things comfortable in every way.”
“He doesn’t look like he’d be much good at cleaning,” said one of the dwifes. “Look at those soft hands.”
“Doesn’t look like he’d be much good at cooking,” said another. “You see an ounce of fat on those arms?”
“Well,” said the leader, “I’m sure we can find some use for a strapping young lad around here, don’t you, ladies?”
Stormwhite learned many things from the dwifes, and was very happy there.
Back at the castle, the king stood before his mirror again. “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?”
The mirror answered, “You are the fairest king it’s true, but Stormwhite in the house of the seven dwifes is fairer still than you.” The king smashed the mirror, then stood weeping and raging among the shards. The ravens took him up in a roiling cloud, off, and over the hills.
Stormwhite was standing at the kitchen sink, yawning, and puzzling how to work the fawcett, when a knock came at the cottage door. An old woman stood there with a basket of apples. “Hello,” said the king - for it was the king in disguise, of course. “Will you buy an apple from an old woman?” He held out a beautiful red fruit.
“Of course, Grandmother,” said Stormwhite. No sooner did Stormwhite bite into the poisoned apple than he fell into a deep, deep sleep.
The king laughed and danced, dropping his disguise. He didn’t notice the dwifes returning from the mines. They took one look at Stormwhite, and realized what had happened. The leader grabbed a gem from her pack and cast it at the king’s head. He tried to prepare a spell, but a second stone took him in the temple. Then another struck, and another. The king fell to the ground, where they crushed him with their shovels.
Leaving the king to the ravens, the dwifes rushed to Stormwhite. They tried every remedy they knew, but nothing roused him. Finally, they made a casket from their finest crystal and placed the boy inside.
This was how things stood for many months. The dwifes visited Stormwhite frequently. As for me, I watched from the trees, ashamed to draw closer.
Word spread of the sleeping prince. As happens, the truth grew more confused the farther the story traveled. Sometimes the sleeper was a beautiful princess; sometimes a handsome prince. So it was that in a distant kingdom, Princess Charming heard there was an enchanted girl and decided to see her for herself. She journeyed many miles, before she reached the place where Stormwhite slept.
Let no one tell you that there’s no such thing as love at first sight. I stood in the shadowed trees, pulse pounding at the sight of the princess. I did what I hadn’t done in years. I reached inside my shirt, and unwound the wrappings that bound my breasts, un-hid my womanhood. I stepped forward, and met your mother.
As for Stormwhite, your mother’s and my embrace was so ardent that we bumped over the crystal casket. Stormwhite rolled onto the ground, and a piece of apple lodged in his throat came free. Racing to the clearing at the sound of breaking glass, the dwifes greeted the waking lad with joyous cries of “Dwusband!”
It’s time for bed now, sweetling. The moral of the story? Alright, if really you need one, remember this. “Love is treasure. Love is sweet. Only love survives, and only love makes beauty thrive.”