Snow White, Some Sexist Short Guys, and a Necro
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a princess who really kind of sucked at all things feminine. While all the other girls of a similarly high socio-economic standing in the castle were thin, wore dresses, chewed with their mouths closed and sang beautifully, Snow White would run about the royal grounds in once delicate, now tattered petticoats that clung desperately to her healthy, fleshed out frame, playing in the mud and making daisy chains for her untamable black hair. Youthful girlish naughtiness turned to wily teenage antics when she befriended the cook's son, a boy by the name of Tyler who matched her in age, interests, and wit (sometimes). And for the first decade and a half or so of her life, this was all fine and dandy because Snow White had the devoted love of her kingly father that allowed her unladylike crimes to be grudgingly forgiven with a pretentious sniff from the older women in the court and a few snide remarks from others her age. However, with the passing of her father midway through Snow White's seventeenth unladylike year, she was met with a few abrupt and unwelcome changes.
No longer able to hide behind her father's shadow when caught sliding down the banisters of the castle or wreaking havoc in the kitchen during one of many failed attempts to bake something even remotely edible ("Well at least she's trying to pretend she has ovaries," some of the maid girls would remark with sly smirks as they cleaned up the messes left behind), Snow White was quickly dealt with in the best way the royal court knew how – out of sight, out of mind. Banishment was the only option for the embarrassment of a princess, who would surely leave a black mark on the reputation of the kingdom should she not get proper training of the feminine nature. And so an elaborate story was spun and fed to the court and surrounding kingdoms that the notorious princess had fallen gravely ill and was moved to a smaller castle in the nearby forest in order to properly recover, which was not all that difficult for fellow gentry to believe considering Snow White's seeming ambivalence to playing with wild animals in the pastures of the castle grounds. Many even expressed their sincere surprise that she hadn't contracted rabies sooner.
Instead of bedridden and near-death, or foaming at the mouth and seizing as so many had been led to believe, however, Snow White was forced to abandon her carefree life in the place she'd always known to be home and live under the careful scrutiny of her father's second wife, a woman who'd always argued for reshaping her stepdaughter into something resembling a true lady by any means necessary. Harsh talks, tantalizing incentive ("Or bribery, if you wish," she'd ruefully admit), and physical force were all ideas she would run by Snow White's late father, but he would have none of it. And while Snow White's stepmother put on the airs of mourning for a truly devout week or so, it was no surprise to anyone when she forbid her stepchild from seeing her friend Tyler ever again and moved both herself and Snow White to the castle in the forest soon after.
And so Snow White spent her days confined to her cold, stone room, knitting with marked, bitter improvement, and feeling more claustrophobic with every missed stitch and subsequent reprimand. Day and night she was subjected to lessons in etiquette, diplomacy, posture, dancing, various forms of needlepoint, and a special focus on Not Mussing One's Hair, Not Tearing One's Dress, and Not Touching Anything That Has Probably Touched Dirt At Some Point In Its Existence. Though she grew thinner as the days wore on due to a heavily restricted diet, Snow White showed minimal improvement in all of these subjects, or at the very least managed to fail at them in new and unexpected ways. She figured out a cross stitch was, but could not quite get through a single session without pricking her finger enough times to bleed all over her loom. Though she managed to descend a staircase and take her appropriate seat at the dinner table without a single thread of her gown coming undone, cream of mushroom dribbled onto the bodice two minutes into the soup course. And while she never left the confines of the castle walls and restrained herself from sneaking out every morning to greet the day with the forest animals at her feet, there was absolutely no power in the world that seemed to be able to stop the birds from coming to her window and cooing her to sleep.
"Damn these pesky things," Snow White's stepmother sniffed as she entered the bedroom unannounced, her nose wrinkled in mild irritation (as mild irritation was just about as cross as a woman of the court was allowed to get, lest she be branded emotional). She crossed the room to the window and shooed the birds away with a flick of her wrist. They squawked threateningly in response but took off obediently as the queen pushed the window shut and Snow White sat up in bed, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.
"I recall asking you to knock," Snow White spat indignantly, her own face creased in an expression that demonstrated an emotion vastly greater than mild irritation.
"I recall asking you to cross your legs at the dinner table, but you neglected to remember that earlier this evening," the queen snapped back, her eyebrows threatening to dive into an equally spiteful appearance. To Snow White's disappointment, they held their ground.
"What do you want?"
The queen's face rearranged itself into a look of mild surprise. "Simply to bid you goodnight, my dear."
Snow White snorted loudly, and her stepmother winced as mildly as she could while still actually conveying her disgust.
"How uncouth," she muttered audibly, and Snow White made a mental note to comment on her stepmother's brilliant use of subtlety somewhere down the line when she really needed some good verbal ammunition. "Now hand over the meat."
Snow White's jaw clenched. She thought she'd been so careful when she snuck into the kitchen just before bed and snagged some of the leftover ham from the servants' evening meal. Someone must've noticed the missing meat and ratted her out. With a frustrated grunt, she reluctantly reached under her bed and tossed the carefully wrapped forbidden ham at her figurative captor.
"This is what's best for you," the queen insisted, holding the package of meat between her thumb and forefinger as though it were diseased. "What do you think is going to happen to your figure if you keep eating things like this?"
"I don't know," Snow White replied, rolling her eyes, "maybe I'll regain something resembling a figure instead of this emaciated anorexic look I have going for me right now from the one plate of dressing-less salad you allow me for every meal."
Her stepmother scoffed mildly. "A thousand girls would die to have your kind of waistline."
"Some girls are dead with my kind of waistline." The queen chose to ignore this bitter observation.
"I expect you to be in the dining hall at sunrise, dressed appropriately." Snow White smiled at the vivid memory of coming to breakfast dressed only in her nightgown the morning prior. The staff was scandalized by her brazen display of her sparsely satin-clad body, and she was sent back to her room at once and restricted to posture lessons in the most heavily layered and collared dress with the tightest corset immediately available for the rest of the sweltering hot day. By the time she shook herself from her thoughts, the queen had already exited the room.
Settling herself back into bed for a good night's rest before enduring another round of feminine torture, Snow White had nearly escaped again to her dream world when she heard a tap on her window. It was soft at first, like a bird returning to its perch and pecking sadly at the sealed glass portal, but then the rhythm became more steadily urgent and Snow White found herself unable to ignore it. Grudgingly dragging her tired body out of bed, she carefully unlatched the window and peaked into the darkness that appeared still at first glance, but came alive under a more careful eye that took note of the gentle rustling in the trees and bushes that indicated life that she both adored and had been separated from. And there, tangled in a bush beneath her window was the prime example of all that she'd loved and lost: Tyler's bright green eyes met her own, a handful of small stones in his left hand, and Snow White had to use every suppression lesson she'd ever learned from her darling stepmother to hold down the excitable scream that nearly erupted from her newly delighted being.
"What're you doing here?" she whispered, almost hysterically giddy from the childhood friend she hadn't seen in what felt like years, but was really only a few months.
"I've come to rescue you," Tyler hissed back, his always mischievous grin just as infectious as she remembered. He dropped the rocks on the ground and dusted his hand off on the rough denim of his jeans, then held it out to her like a ticket to an intoxicating freedom that she'd only dreamed of until that very moment.
She took his hand, as rough and warm as his jeans, without a second thought, leaping out of her window and into the arms of a common boy her stepmother most certainly found reprehensible at best and absolutely not giving a damn about it.
The problem with Snow White, the queen had decided long ago, was that she really was very beautiful in a feral sort of way. It was almost disturbing how a girl so coarse could somehow effortlessly maintain such attractive features. Inappropriate, even. And so the queen swore to herself that such beauty would not go to waste. Though her infuriating simpleton of a husband refused to allow for any kind of reformation and indulged his daughter's every unladylike whim, there was still time in the months following his death to undo the damage so deeply ingrained in her equally infuriating simpleton of a stepdaughter.
The queen followed the winding halls back to her room, making mental notes on things she still had yet to alter in the personality of young Snow White. Though the process had been slower than wading through an ocean of the thickest molasses available at the markets, her stepdaughter did appear to be slimming down quite nicely, and her knitting was getting something in the vicinity of recognizable objects. Perhaps she wasn't beyond saving quite yet. And even if it turned out that Snow White simply would not bend to her stepmother's will…
Well, there were always alternatives.
She entered her chamber with a soft sigh, an elaborate expression of discontent for a restrained individual such as herself. As the queen moved about the room in her regular evening routine of reading herself for bed, she stole a quick glance at the mirror that hung on the wall opposite her bed. Hefty and ornate, the dingy reflective surface seemed to stare seductively back at her, beckoning her to the stool that sat before it. The queen turned away from it, exchanging her day clothes for bed wear, as she'd already checked the mirror periodically throughout the day and twenty eight seemed like an excessive number of times to spy on her stepdaughter. Still, as the moonlight shone through the window and hit the glassy surface with an eerie glow, she found herself unable to resist its call. Running a wooden comb though her hair absentmindedly, she took a seat before the mirror and addressed it as such:
"Mirror, mirror, on the wall
On her head, what fate doth fall?"
The glinting surface swam murkily in the moonlight, and in the place of the queen's reflection bloomed a scene that made even the most restrained individual swear aloud and rush from her quarters, pausing only for a moment to properly clothe herself.
They lay together under the stars, breathing in the damp grass smell that lingered all about them.
"You look so thin," Tyler commented, running a finger along Snow White's arm. She couldn't help but smile at the worried tone in his voice where she'd almost been both fearing and expecting admiration. "Are you sure you're not really sick like everyone says?"
He was teasing, and she knew this. "Shut up, I'm fine."
"You're always fine," Tyler said, vaguely annoyed. "You fell off the bridge outside the castle when we were ten and broke your arm and you were fine then, too. Are you sure you really need to be taught restraint exercises? Because as I recall, you were always pretty good at hiding things when you wanted to."
"When I want to isn't good enough for Her Royal Pain In My Ass," Snow White replied with an irritated grunt, crossing her arms over her nightgown-clad body. They sat in silence for a few moments before she spoke again. "You know I can't go back."
Tyler visibly winced at her words. "I wish you'd at least take a second to consider-"
"I can't, Tyler," she all but pleaded, her words so unusually grave that any sort of protest he was about to fling in response died in his throat. "I might hate every moment of this feminine training shit, but my father always meant for me to rule his kingdom one day. I can't just turn my back on that."
"But you're not ruling it the way he would've wanted you to, your way."
"Do you honestly think that anyone in the kingdom would accept me as I am?" Snow White asked, closing her eyes so she wouldn't have to see Tyler's usually sharp features twisted with dejection. "I need to do this to satisfy the will of the people. Only then can I hope to change things."
"Your father wouldn't want you to rule if it meant you would be unhappy."
She chose to ignore that comment in favor of silently reaching for his hand and pouring her whole soul into squeezing it, hoping he could feel every emotion she was nearly dying to release in her practiced restraint. And when he squeezed back, she let go of a breath she hadn't even realized she'd been holding.
Then with a screech of rage and the slash of a knife's blade that glittered in the moonlight, all hell broke loose.
It all happened faster than Snow White had the ability to register. By the time her feet slowed and allowed her to entirely shattered body the mercy of rest, the young princess was hopelessly lost in the wilderness of the forest. She collapsed at the base of a tree, her breathing labored and at one point almost nonexistent. How long she'd been running, how far she'd gone, and how deep she'd ventured all seemed to escape her in the rush of adrenaline that had carried her as far as she could possibly go before simply dropping dead from exhaustion. Without a sparing a thought for shelter, Snow White curled up in the roots of the oak under which she sat and let her body shut down entirely.
Yet no matter how fast she'd run, she couldn't seem to escape the blood which spurted from the vicious gash that had split the skin from the left side of Tyler's forehead to his chin, and the terrifying, mildly irritated expression that stayed fixed on her stepmother's face.
The warmth of the morning sun woke Snow White, back aching from sleeping on hardened tree roots and legs groaning with frustration when she attempted to pull herself into a standing position against the massive oak. Jumbled memories of the night before plagued her brain, but she forced them down in the true spirit of repression and attempted to take a few steps away from the support of the tree.
Her body gave out from under her as soon as she let go of the sturdy trunk, and she cried out in pain as she hit the ground.
Unwilling to accept the limitations of her current state of frailty, Snow White compelled herself to return to her standing position and, after another three failed attempts, gathered the pain threshold necessary to really get into the swing of hobbling forward (though not without the need to stop every few trees and steady her shaking frame. Seconds of struggle became minutes, and minutes turned into hours as she slowly made her way through the hazily lit forest until, to her surprise, she happened upon a quaint cottage in the middle of a clearing. So desperate was she for a more comfortable place to sleep and something to eat that she didn't bother considering all the breaking and entering laws she was violating as she cracked open the door of the seemingly empty place and breathed a sigh of relief upon finding not one, but seven beds upon which she could rest. It wasn't the tidiest of abodes, but Snow White was hardly in a position to complain, and she wasn't exactly the neatest individual herself. And a whole selection of cured meats in the pantry! She grabbed for them greedily, stuffing slice after slice in her mouth and savoring the salt that coated her tongue. Her rumbling stomach satisfied for the time being, Snow White stumbled clumsily to the nearest bed and collapsed into a second, fitful sleep, assuring herself that should the occupants of the cottage return while she slept, she'd figure out a way to reciprocate their generous hospitality.
"Is…is that a chick? In my bed?"
"Looks like you got lucky, Hal."
"Can I get a chick in my bed?"
"Lou, you could roofie some dumb whore and still not get her into bed."
"Suck it, asshole."
"Not even if you had something to suck."
"She's hot, too."
"And sorta naked."
"If that's the nakedest you've ever seen a bitch, Earl, then you ain't seen many bitches."
Snow White awoke to harsh voices all around her. She groaned and shifted, not ready to open her eyes and face the people whose house she'd blatantly taken advantage of and stolen from.
"Shit! She's moving!"
"What do we do?"
"Who…who are you guys?" Snow White asked slowly, blinking into consciousness for the second time that day, except there was no longer dim sunshine pouring through the windows of the cottage, only a canvas of darkness. Surrounding her were a collection of stout men who were pushing four feet at absolute best.
"Who are we?" the one closest to her demanded incredulously, spraying spittle in her face as he spoke. "Who are you?"
"Snow White," she said, sitting up and scooting away from the spitting speaker, suddenly very aware of exactly how underdressed she was in just her silk nightgown. She drew the blankets that she'd flung to the floor in her slumber back around her body protectively.
"Aw, now don't be shy Snow," the one whose voice she recognized from the conversation that woke her as Lou said, his mouth twisted into a seedy smile. The way he said her name sent shivers up her spine.
"I'm sorry I barged into your house like this," Snow White stuttered quickly, her voice raw and unused. "I just really needed some food and a place to sleep for a bit."
"It's no problem, Snow," another one of them, seven in total if she was counting correctly, piped up with an expression in his face that mirrored Lou's.
"If there's anything I can do to repay you…" her voice trailed off hesitantly, well aware of how frighteningly open ended her offer had been. "For letting me stay here, for eating your food…"
"How considerate of you," the spitting speaker said, thrusting a hand in her direction with gusto. "I'm Moe." Snow White let him take her delicate fingers into his own meaty digits, and she tried to quell the shudder her body gave off in reaction to his touch. "That there is Bob, and over there is Lou," he gestured with his other hand as he spoke, refusing to give up his grasp on her pale skin. "Those four are Andy, Hal, Joe, and Vince. We're the Seven Dwarves."
She didn't like how they all looked at her with the eyes of a starving man getting his first look at a steak in ten years. She didn't like how she had to tug her hand away from Moe's firm grip. She didn't like any of this at all, and she needed to pay her dues and be out of there as soon as she possibly could.
"This place is a wreck," Snow White commented abruptly, rising from the bed and crossing the room in hopes of escaping their eager gazes, the blanket still wrapped tightly about her. "Perhaps I could help clean it up in return for your…kindness." She'd had to force the word out of her mouth.
"…Sure," Moe said, apparently the group speaker. He shared a grin with his fellow dwarves that Snow White didn't miss. "Feel free to clean up around here a little. Then maybe later we can clean you up." The seven shared a collective chuckle that made her skin crawl to the point where she was surprised that her flesh hadn't fallen from her bones and run from the cabin.
But she had a debt to repay, and so she set to work on sprucing the place while the seven dwarves broke out the beers and settled into what she supposed was their sitting room, but was really just a collection of pillows strewn about the floor around a fireplace. And as she cleaned (or attempted to, anyways), she pretended she couldn't hear every drunken comment about her "nice tits for a skinny chick".
The queen had collected herself by the following morning, once the blood had been wiped clean of her blade. She hadn't meant to slash at the boy, but he'd thrown himself in front of Snow White before the dagger could grace her pale skin. Coward that she was, Snow White had fled into the woods at the commoner's urgent behest, and though the queen had considered following, there was no really no point in doing so. Her murderous rage had not disappeared, but she'd managed to compartmentalize it appropriately so that she could devote her time to more careful planning rather than random and useless fits of rage. Though she'd been able to control her expression, going after Snow White in the middle of an open field with a blade had been rash and stupid. There was simply no question about it, now: Snow White had to pay for her insolence with her life, and the queen wouldn't get it wrong this time. She even knew exactly what she would poison; the weight of the apple, Snow White's favorite fruit and entirely inappropriate for a lady to eat considering how messy it could be, felt right in her hand.
Shaking her head to clear her thoughts, the queen sat before her magic mirror and recited:
"Mirror, mirror, on the wall
On her head, what fate doth fall?"
Throughout the course of the evening, Snow White slowly began to realize that as she was doing more harm than help as she went about the cottage "cleaning". She'd broken eight dishes in her clumsy attempt to wash them, spilled bleach on more than one set of sheets, and mixed up the wood polish with some kind of fluid that was now eating away at some of the furniture. Still, the dwarves didn't seem too concerned with the results of her cleaning, only that she was occasionally close enough for one of them to reach out and squeeze her "nice little ass" as she worked. And by the time they'd finally all dropped off into a collective drunken stupor, Snow White felt that her debt was more than repaid. Still clutching the blanket close to her slight frame, she grabbed another package of cured meats before slipping out the front door and faded into the night.
Snow White was jolted awake the next morning with a pair of lips pressing forcibly against her own. Unable to scream, she did the only thing left to her, which was to knee her assaulter in the crotch as hard as she could possibly manage under his weight.
A man completely unfamiliar to her sprang back and howled in pain, clutching his groin and hopping around in circles. He was clothed in royal garb, complete with the ridiculous shoulder pads and a flowing cape. And he was handsome too, by the looks of it, a true Adonis if Snow White was being completely honest with herself. But none of that really made her forget the fact that she'd woken up with a tongue in her mouth.
"Who the fuck are you," she demanded angrily, "and why the flying fuck did you think you were doing?" The man was still doubled over in a considerable amount of pain, but he managed to get out a few strangled words.
"My name is…Charming," he wheezed. "Prince Charming."
"And why exactly did you try to suck all the saliva out of my mouth, Prince Charming?" Snow White continued viciously, wiping at her mouth for any lingering traces of his.
"You were in a deep slumber!"
"Yeah, I was tired, you disgusting asshole."
"Not that kind of slumber," Prince Charming explained, finally able to stand upright again. "A coma-like slumber."
"You thought I was in a coma," Snow White said incredulously, "so you shoved your tongue down my throat. What kind of sick bastard are you?"
"You don't understand," the prince rushed to explain. "It's my destiny! I'm meant to kiss my true love and bring her back to life!"
"I'm sure that's what all the necrophiliacs say."
"No, truly, I…I'm looking for a princess in a coma named Aurora. Are you not her?" Prince Charming looked utterly bewildered.
"Princess Aurora?" The name sounded familiar to Snow White. She pondered it for a moment. "Isn't she the princess from the next kingdom ove-"
"Well isn't this lovely," a soft, cracked voice intruded upon her thoughts, and both Snow White and the prince turned to see an old woman hunched over, clutching something red in her left hand. "Two lovers meeting in a forest."
"We are not lovers," Snow White insisted, her fists clenched.
The old woman didn't seem to have heard her. "Here, an apple for the beautiful girl." She extended her hand and dropped the most luscious and beautiful red apple Snow White had ever seen into her palm, then smiled with mild serenity and stepped back. "Do take a bite. I want to know if it's as good as it looks, and my teeth are too frail to indulge in such a treat."
Snow White did have to admit that the apple looked delicious, even if the woman's appearance was setting off some nervousness at the base of her skull. But before she could even take a bite, the prince gallantly stepped forward…and plucked the apple right out of her hand.
"I'm absolutely starving," he said with a grateful smile at the old woman, whose face had suddenly turned to panic. "I think I'll take the first bite if you wouldn't mind-"
"No!" The old woman lunged forward, but it was too late. Prince Charming had taken a bite and immediately crumpled into a heap on the ground. She pawed desperately at the apple, wrenching it out of the prince's hand and ferociously rounding on Snow White with a glint in her eyes that the princess was all too familiar with.
Ladies of high standing convey everything with their eyes. Not one muscle should move on your face, Snow White. Your eyes should tell the only story that needs to be seen.
Brain switching into survival mode, Snow White dove to the ground and rolled to the side, just barely missing the old woman's vicious lunge. The princess clambered forward and reached for the sword on the prince's hilt, withdrawing it with a firm yank and, with an infuriated scream fueled by every emotion she'd suppressed over the past two days, she shoved the blade deep into the old woman's chest. The woman shuddered against the sword and collapsed to the floor, dropping the apple she clutched so dearly to the floor beside her. With shaky hands and heavy breaths, Snow White pulled the blade from her stepmother's chest and watched as the blood bloomed from the open wound, travelled across her sternum, and spilled onto the surrounding leaves.
In a final, defiant act of liberation, the princess knelt to the ground, took the poisoned apple, and stuffed it in her evil stepmother's mouth, still hanging slightly open from the mild surprise of the blade in her chest.
She found him repainting the door of the small house he shared with his mother, the left side of his face covered in bandages and gauze. Her gentle touch, a hand on his shoulder, was all he needed to identify his best friend. He dropped the bucket of green paint and turned to face her with a grin that lit up his whole damaged face.
"You look like hell," he said, the delight shining all over his face in a way she couldn't help but love.
"So do you," she responded with an easy laugh.
And then he wrapped his arms around her and kissed her like he'd meant to since she'd fallen off that bridge when they were ten years old.
And so the kingdom was passed on to cousins who were twice removed or something along those lines; Snow White had stopped caring the moment she plunged the sword into her stepmother's heart. She and Tyler were married years later, commoners and delighted by the fact, fractured individually but together whole. Once she caught word of Princess Aurora who did indeed live in the next kingdom over, awoken by her true love's kiss. Which sort of left one to wonder exactly how many true loves she really had.
And Snow White and Tyler lived with the usual domestic problems, but otherwise happily ever after.
The ending started out really well, but it slowly descended into rushed shit by the end. I guess it makes sense, considering I wrote this for my Literature of Dissent/Feminist Literature class final from 10 to 5 in the morning.
Alas, I still like it.