by Cheri Chesley
I want to share with you my contribution for Totally Cliched, and I'm going to ask a favor. Because I'm moving, and am incredibly pressed for time, I'm going to ask all of you to help me edit it for the book. This is my "roughly polished" version, which means there's room for improvement. And it's short. Please don't hesitate to take it apart so I can make it the best it can be.
A Fairy by Any Other Name
By Cheri Chesley
Once upon a time there lived a beautiful—yet sadly overworked—orphaned princess named Rose. She hadn’t a friend in the world, except the sweet forest creatures who would keep her company every afternoon when she went to draw water from the well. Her evil stepmother insisted on a bath every evening, and it took Rose hours to gather enough water and heat it to just the right temperature to satisfy the cruel woman.
One afternoon, however, as Rose approached the well, she saw not a single forest creature. Instead an old, bent woman sat by the well. Being naturally polite, Rose greeted her, then lowered the bucket to draw water from the well. As she lifted the heavy bucket, the old woman spoke.
“My child, could I trouble you for just one tiny sip of your water?”
Rose obediently filled the dipper and handed it to the woman. “Hello, kindly fairy.”
The woman looked at her, then instantly transformed into a stunning fairy. “How did you know?”
Rose shrugged. “When I, a sad and troubled maiden, find myself helping an old woman I naturally assume she’s a fairy in disguise, testing my character.”
“Ah,” said the fairy, “then how did you know I was kind?”
“All fairies are kind,” replied Rose. “Everyone knows that.”
“Well, let’s get on with it then,” said the fairy.
“Ah, me,” said Rose, and sighed.
“Lovely child, what troubles you?”
“I don’t like to complain,” said Rose. “In fact, life would be perfect, if it weren’t for my evil stepmother making me slave for her day and night, and her horrible knights who belch loudly whenever I draw near. I only desire to restore my family’s dignity, and rule my kingdom as I rightly should.”
“Naturally,” said the fairy. She tapped her teeth with her finger. “Why don’t you run along and get yourself into some mischief so a prince can rescue you and claim you for his bride?”
“How do you know a prince will come to my rescue?” Rose asked.
The fairy waved her hand. “There’s always a prince or two roaming about looking for a wife.” She pointed with her wand. “Why don’t you take that path there, into the forest? It looks dark and gloomy enough. Meanwhile, I’ll flit around and see if I can’t find your prince.”
“How will you know where to send him to rescue me?”
“We fairies have our ways,” she said. “Don’t you worry about that. And, for goodness sake, child, take your hair out of that silly braid. You want to look your best when your prince comes.”
Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, Rose thanked the fairy and set down her bucket. As she walked the path that led into the gloomiest part of the forest, she threaded her fingers through her hair, gently combing the long, golden locks into soft waves that fell smoothly down her back.
Before long, Rose came to a brightly lit clearing. In the middle of the clearing sat a handsome cottage with a low fence around it. A sign that read, “DON’T FEED THE GANDER” hung on the fence. Beside it sat a sack of feed, and, on the other side of the fence, a white goose tried her best to get to the sack.
“You poor thing,” Rose said, immediately filled with compassion for the animal. She hurried to the fence and picked up a handful of feed for the goose. As she fed it, a large gander came around the side of the house, squawking loudly for his share.
Rose had pretty much surmised what was up. “Well, what’s good for the goose, I suppose, is good for the gander,” she said. She picked up another handful and tossed it toward the squawking fowl.
Instantly, the door of the cottage burst open. There stood a woman who could be nothing other than a witch with her long, hooked nose, sallow skin and stringy black hair. “How dare you ignore my warning!” the witch screamed. “Now I will punish you!”
“Here it comes,” Rose said, trying just a bit not to feel excited.
“The next thing you eat, no matter what it is, will cause you to fall into a deep sleep,” said the witch with an evil cackle. “You will only awaken by true love’s first kiss.” She raised her arms. “Now go! Flee!”
Rose wasted no time. The witch smelled terrible anyway, and the silly gander wouldn’t shut up long enough to eat his grain. Rose ran from the clearing and deep into the forest.
She soon came upon an apple tree. “Might just as well,” she said to herself. “I could be like princes . . . oh, what’s her name?”
Rose picked a shiny apple, cleaned it on her skirt, and bit deeply into the skin.
Not far away, the fairy had spied a young prince on horseback and changed to an old woman with an overturned cart.
Being naturally chivalrous, the prince dismounted his horse and offered to help her. As he set her cart to rights, she said, “My dear boy, I wish to reward you for your kindness to me.” She consulted her notes. “Deep in the forest, you will find a beautiful maiden asleep under an apple tree. If you but kiss her, she will awaken, and you can take her for your bride.”
“My word!” exclaimed the prince. “I happen to be in search of a bride. My father, the king, bade me never to return to the castle if I do not come back with a wife.”
The fairy couldn’t help herself. “When did he do that?”
“Why, just this morning,” said the prince. “What marvelous luck I’m having.” He thanked her and mounted his horse. “Now, which way did you say this maiden lies sleeping?”
The fairy pointed. “But I must warn you. Barring the path is the evil witch who cursed your maiden. You have to defeat her in order to claim your bride.”
“Never fear, old woman,” said the prince. “I shall prevail!” With that, he charged off toward the forest to rescue Princess Rose.
The fairy sighed. “Why is it the princes never recognize a fairy in disguise?”
The prince rode his magnificent stallion all the way to the witch’s cottage, which he found easily. Ignoring the goose, the gander, and the sign, he marched straight into the cottage and threw a handy bucket of water on the witch. Naturally, she melted, as witches do, and the prince turned and marched right back out again.
He mounted his horse once again, and raced to the sleeping maiden’s side.
He found her, just as the old woman had said, sleeping under an apple tree. Enraptured by her beauty, and her glorious hair spread like a wave upon the grass, he slid from his horse and slowly approached her. Bending to one knee, the prince gazed at her a moment before leaning down to place a chaste kiss on her perfect, pink lips.
Rose opened her eyes to find a handsome man staring at her. She smiled. It had worked!
“What is your name, sweet princess?” he asked.
“Rose,” she said. “But, how did you know I am a princess?”
“What else could you be?” he asked. He offered her his hand and helped her stand. “Except, you must now consent to be my wife. I will never be content until you agree.”
“Of course I consent,” Rose said. “And we shall live happily ever after.”
“Was there any doubt?” The prince helped her onto his horse, mounted behind her, and together they rode into the sunset toward his castle.
I hope I made you laugh. :)