Some fairy tales leave me cheering for the wrong side. Particularly “The Goose Girl.” I mean, think about it. We’re supposed to be totally on the side of the princess, and totally against the maid. But who in this fairy tale, exactly, is walking around talking to drops of blood? The princess. Who in this fairy tale, exactly, is constantly calling up a wind to blow away the hat of her mostly innocent coworker? The princess. Who in this fairy tale, exactly, is talking to the head of a dead horse? Again, the princess.
And who, exactly, ends up dead in the end?
Not the princess.
My little poem about it, The Chambermaid, just went up on Kaleidotrope today.
I love the happy endings of fairy tales. But they always leave me wondering: what happened after this? Oh, sure, the story says they lived happily ever after, but is that true? Were they really able to forget everything – and laugh? Or did that laughter – that joy – that happiness – have a bitter edge?
Coincidentally, two of my small works inspired by those endings just went up over the last couple of days: Gretel’s Bones, about – wait for it – Gretel and bones, and Transformation, Afterwards, about what happens after the princess kisses the frog.
Little Red Riding Hood has never been one of my favorite fairy tales. When I was a small kid, I much preferred the stories of the princesses with the beautiful dresses (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty) or the tales of the girls who went out on adventures and rescued their brothers or princes (East o’ the Sun, West o’ the Moon, The Seven Swans, though calling “weaving together nettle shirts” an adventure of any sort is probably a bit much). Little Red Riding Hood had a bright red hood, but that was about it for the clothing, and then a wolf ate her, and then someone else shot the wolf. Not really my sort of story.
As a grownup, I could appreciate the warning in the tale from Perrault and the Grimms. But appreciating the warning didn’t necessarily make me value the tale all that much.
Still, something about the story nagged at me – enough that I’ve ended up using it as inspiration for a poem or short story or two. This is the latest, The Wolf, up at Daily Science Fiction today. Enjoy!
Another small fairy tale from me up at Daily Science Fiction today, where I ask the all important question:
What happened to everyone attached to the Golden Goose after its owner married the princess?
Read it here.
My latest little flash fairy tale, Mercy, just popped up at Daily Science Fiction.
A new story by me up at Fireside Fiction today, The Witch in the Tower.
The Huntsmen was one of those stories that I wrote because the general concept wouldn’t stop nagging at me: how did the princess of the original tale, collected by the Grimm brothers back in the early 19th century, manage to find eleven women who looked just like her? (It was only after I finished the story that I remembered that the majority of people at the time had no access to corrective lenses, so many people would have been too nearsighted to tell the difference.) And why go to so much effort just to get an unfaithful lover back?
I was so focused on those questions that I more or less ignored the other oddity of the tale – the sudden, never explained entrance of a talking lion. But as I shuffled the lion to the side, he started nagging at me too.
This is the result.
It’s an example of how very often, when writing one story, another one appears. At least in my case.
The third issue of Truancy is out, and with it, the second part of my short story, “The Huntsmen,” a retelling of “The Twelve Huntsmen,” a tale originally collected by the Brothers Grimm in the early 19th century.
As a kid, I loved the story because it featured girls Doing Things – cross dressing, tricking lions, hunting, tricking adults – all great stuff. It took me years to realize just how weird the story is, even apart from the cross-dressing, and to find myself asking questions. A lot of questions. Which turned into several short stories, with at least one more coming up in Daily Science Fiction next year, and this one:
The latest in my series of flash fairy tales, “Hundreds,” just went up today at Daily Science Fiction. You can read it here – I promise, it won’t take long.
Since a couple of people have asked, all of these flash fairy tales are part of a collection/larger mosaic project that I am hoping to finish….one day. In the meantime, enjoy this tidbit.
A tiny new poem from me, up at Mythic Delirium today, After Midnight.