Shadow

By: Anonymous

Okay, first thing’s first, I’m not going to start this story with once upon a time because that implies that it will end with a happily ever after. Sure, James and Walt decided to tell the world that I’m a happy little boy who never wants to grow up, but their stories couldn’t be further from the truth. I don’t even know where the jealous fairy came from, or the hungry crocodile, but there were a few things in my storyline they got right.

 

I guess I’ll start from where you know the best, from the rooftops of London.

 

Finally. Was all I could think as I soared over a calm river, far different from the crystal clear waters of Neverland, but better than anything I’d ever seen. I was free, finally in the world I wanted to be, finally back to where I belonged, finally free from that island.

 

The buildings here were much different than the last time I’d been to London, and I appreciated the quaint rows of charming houses on each street. As I reached the center of town, a large bell tower rose above the rest of the buildings. A glowing smile on my face, I landed gently on the hour hand of the clock. Here I could see all of London, a glittering city of new hope and happiness.

 

Then everything came crashing down around me. That familiar tug, telling me I had gone too far. I thought I’d escaped, but evidently the shadow had followed me here and was yet again preying on some poor boy who will be bound to the island forever. My heart sank, this was not what I wanted.

 

Of course I had to go save the boy before the shadow destroyed his soul.

 

Flying across the town, passing the river once more, I simply followed that ever present connection I loathed. Unsurprised, I landed on the windowsill of a child’s bedroom, and even more unsurprising was that there were three beds inside. Two were occupied by sleeping figures, but the third had thrown back sheets and was completely empty. I worried that the shadow had already done too much damage for me to save the child.

 

The window creaked as I pressed it slowly open. I felt the shadow watching me before I saw it, mocking me from back wall. Frantically, I searched the room for a body, but thankfully there was none. A sigh of resignation escaped my lips, my freedom was nice while it lasted, then I pounced on the shadow. Of course, slippery little sucker, he jumped out of the way and I rammed straight into the wall. Whipping my head around, I checked on the children. They were still fast asleep, and the shadow was perched on the ceiling fan, still mocking me. It would drag me back  to that godforsaken island eventually, might as well be now before it has the chance to hurt anyone.

 

Faking a jump up at it, I flew straight onto the fan, but it still managed to slip from my grip. I was about to make another move when the gas light by the bedroom door turned on.

 

“John, Michael? What are you doing in here?” A girl, curled hair bouncing around her terror stricken face, dressed in a simple nightgown stood before us. The two sleeping boys stirred, one sitting up, searching for his glasses, the other hugging a bear close to his chest. Three pairs of eyes trained on me immediately. Instead of running to her parents with tears, the girl stepped forward, a glass of water in her hands. The shadow hovered above my head, ready to make a move. Three children, one of them a girl no less. I had to keep it from taking them.

 

It leaped off the wall, straight for the smallest boy, but I tackled it in the air before it could get close to the child with the stuffed bear.

 

“You’re Peter Pan… aren’t you?” The girl said in wonder. Shock made the shadow freeze, my fist wrapped firmly around its ankle. Her eyes sparked with disillusionment. “Are you here to save us? Take us to Neverland so I never have to move out of the nursery?” Her voice was tinted with excitement and, even worse, hope.

 

“Yay!” The small boy cried “We don’t ever have to grow up!” Fear filled me as I realized what happened. I was too late, the shadow had already influenced their minds, had given them fantasies of wonder and entertainment. Resignation took over, as it always did, because the shadow was going to take them either way, now that it brainwashed them into thinking I was a hero. Squaring my shoulders, I prepared for yet another explanation with a fake smile spread on my face.

 

“Yes, I am Peter Pan, and my shadow has gotten away from me.” I could feel the shadow mocking me once again. It won, like always, and I was left with a sickening feeling that I would never escape. But I smiled through the pain. Like all of the drills before, I taught them to believe in flying – my normal spiel of happiness and magic – even though it was really just the shadow lifting them into the air. The three of them smiled in bewilderment, the smallest clinging onto his bear the whole time, and the older boy inexplicably bringing along a top hat. This would be the first time we’ve ever had a girl on the island, but the shadow didn’t seem to care. Or didn’t notice.

 

We flew back across the river, up and up and up towards the brightest star. My stomach dropped and twisted at the thought of returning. It didn’t matter, the shadow just pulled me along because I had no choice in the matter. And then we arrived, Neverland coming into view below us, endless inescapable water surrounding it.

 

Without a moment’s notice, a cannonball flew at us from beneath. I rolled my eyes at the perpetual aggression of the one and only Captain Hook. “Watch out!” I screamed behind to the children. They didn’t even know what to watch out for, and luckily the cannonball flew straight past them. A hiss came from beside me and the shadow flew down towards the ship in anger. “Follow me,” I told the children hoping the shadow would be busy with the pirates for a while. Long enough for me to hide them away with the rest of the lost boys.

 

Captain Hook wanted to be free of this island as desperately as I did, but instead of dealing with the shadow and learning how to fly like I did (in vain, but I’ll get away some day), he simply tried to kill me. Every day. It was his belief that killing me would get rid of the shadow, which was wildly inaccurate. The shadow stole me away, prey of some other poor soul who was trapped like me now. The other boy died – I have never known how – and the shadow just picked another victim. And that just so happened to be me.

 

I guided the children down to the beaches, on the edge of the forest, and whistled into the trees. A chorus of whistles echoed back and I smiled mischievously. The lost boys were hiding in the woods, playing one of their games. It’s true, I hated it here more than anything, but my band of friends was the one thing that brightens my spirits, even if they were brainwashed to think never growing up is a good thing.

 

Before I could do anything, though,  the short boy with the top hat blocked my way with an outstretched hand. “My name is John Darling,” he said terribly formally, but I decided to shake his hand anyway. A sad smile worked its way to my lips. “And I’m Michael!” A small voice peeped from behind me. I turned to see him waving his bear around in the air, standing on the beach in all his footie pajama glory.

 

The girl didn’t even notice, for she was gazing off down the beach, towards Mermaid Lagoon. Bushes rustled behind me and two boys dressed in all manner of forest material with identical crops of ginger hair peeked out from the line of trees. They whistled.

 

“Peter! The shadow is back!” George stage whispered, hiding in the shrubbery. His twin, Jim, nodded his head vehemently, eyes wide. There were days when the shadow terrified them, and days where they wanted to play cards with it. I’d learned that it had to do with its mood, and looking out over the water where pirates were falling into the ocean, I decided now was a time to be scared.

 

“I know,” I whispered in the same tone, “this is John, Michael, and their sister – we need to get them to the tree.” The twins nodded dutifully and waved the boys over to them. I turned, ready to fly out to the pirates and try to get the shadow away from them when I noticed the girl was still staring out at the water. “Hey, you need to go with the lost boys – they will keep you safe.” She turned to me with a confused look on her face.

 

“It’s so beautiful here.” Loud shots from the cannons rang out over the water, and I whipped my head up to see the shadow flying back towards us. “Come on,” I took the girl’s hand and flew up over the trees, in the opposite direction of where the shadow was headed. I would have let go, but she struggled to stay afloat, for some odd reason. Everyone taken by the shadow believed in flight, and soared through the air as easily as she shadow itself. But not this girl.

 

“I’m Wendy, by the way.” She told me, struggling for breath as much as she was to stay in the air. Sending a smile her way, I turned towards Mermaid Lagoon, hoping the lost boys made it to the tree before the shadow could send its wrath down on them.

*

The next few days were spent avoiding the shadow, playing games in the woods, and telling stories in the tree at night. Tonight was Wendy’s turn to tell a story, and I’d noticed that she was very unsettled throughout the day. The lost boys had taken a liking to her, and surrounded the small room dug out beneath our tree eagerly, ready to hear her story. She settled in beside her smaller brother, Michael, and began.

 

It took only moments for me to recognize it.

 

Her story was of a boy who never wanted to grow up, who fought pirates and had valor and courage. It was a story the shadow had fabricated to make children believe in me long ago, but I hadn’t heard it for years. She told the story with such wonder in her eyes, excitement and joy in each of her words.

 

“And that boy…” she looked shyly up to where I was sitting in a hammock, “was named Peter Pan.” And then it clicked. All day she seemed off, she had a fight with the mermaids, kept talking about the future, and her flying kept getting worse. She was never brainwashed.

 

“Wendy, how long have you known this story?” I asked cautiously. The lost boys also seemed wary of her.

 

“Ever since I was little.” My eyes widened and I hopped down from my perch immediately. Beckoning Wendy to follow me, I brought her into the back room, separated from the rest of the tree by a heavy curtain. She followed, the boys all settling in for bed.

 

“Wendy, do you want to be here?” I asked her. She simply gave me a face of confusion. “Wendy I need to know,” I held her shoulders in my hands and gave her a little shake. Although this was an urgent matter, I may have been a little too forceful with my wording.

 

“No, as a matter of fact I do not.” Without listening to another word I had to say, she stormed out. I heard her call to her brothers. “Come on boys, we’re leaving.” Pieces came flying to me – why the shadow only took boys in the past, how Wendy was much older than anyone here, and how the pirates were stuck here because of greed and anger. Wendy was much younger than them, yes, but she was lured here by the shadow. The pirates were lured here by the prospect of gold and pillaging.

 

Wendy had the power to escape Neverland.

 

She had the power to save everyone, but that meant I would have to stay here. Keep the shadow at bay. Make sure it had no power to stop them. But at least they would all get to leave this place.

 

I had to tell her, make her listen, but when I ran out to the front room, no one was there. Only a note, stabbed into the tree by a dagger.

 

“Your life for theirs, Peter Pan,” It read. I scowled with a roll of my eyes. The pirates always had to ruin everything.

*

“Peter Pan will save us! You’ll see!” Wendy shouted as pirates pushed their swords towards her on the plank, fearless even in the face of death. I was going to miss her.

 

“WALK THE PLANK!” The brutes chanted. Straightening her shoulders, Wendy walked forward. With a smirk on my face, I flew beneath the ship, positioned to catch her. She dropped from the sky, and without a moment’s hesitation, I moved forward, catching her in my arms.

 

“I knew you would come!” She whispered in excitement. Above, the pirates began to panic. Wendy never hit the water, and they were dumbfounded.

 

“Wendy, you need to listen to me.” Her face became serious as I explained the plan to her. Tears formed in her eyes, as she knew this was the last time we would see each other.

 

“Goodbye Peter Pan,” she whispered, giving me a kiss on the cheek. I nodded, unable to say goodbye, as I flew up into the sails. Dropping her off on the climbing rope, so she could climb back to the deck, I flew down behind the mast where the lost boys and Wendy’s brothers were tied up. My knife slipped out of its sheath easily, and I cut through the rope. They wanted to celebrate, but I put my finger to my lips as Wendy stood up on the banister of the ship.

 

“Listen up!” She shouted. Everyone froze, the pirates with their swords out, ready to pounce. In the distance, I saw the shadow approaching. “I have a way for us all to escape!” The pirates’ swords wavered. “If we work together, we can leave this island forever.” I nodded to her, so she would keep going, and floated silently into the air. The shadow was fast approaching over the water.

 

For this plan to work, the shadow had to be distracted.

 

I flew just as fast as the menacing shadow itself, arrow straight. Slamming into the shadow at full force, I pushed it back towards the island. I’d never tried to fight the shadow in its own land before, so this was going to be an adventure.

 

It hissed, as it usually did when angry, and tried to push back. However, unlike everyone else on the island, this shadow was part of me. It couldn’t simply float through me, or mess with my mind. Because it was part of me, I was part of it. And that gave me what little control I needed for Wendy to convince the pirates.

 

We spiraled down into the forest below, crashing through the trees. Whirling punches that I wasn’t even sure hurt it, I kept the shadow at an arm’s length. Before we hit the ground, I pulled up and the shadow was caught off guard and slammed into the dirt. The entire island seemed to darken, the sky turning gray and the trees wilting slightly. As I always suspected, Neverland was connected to the shadow as much as the shadow was connected to me.

 

Clearly I’d made it angry, as I’d hoped to do, and I just had to believe it would follow me out of anger. To keep the shadow away long enough, I had to capture it as it did to so many children before. Like I thought, as I sped through the forest, vines and twigs scraping at my arms and legs, the shadow followed, its incessant hissing accompanying it all the way. It was gaining speed, flying much faster than I’d ever been able to, but I couldn’t let it catch me. Our tree was in sight, the hollow opening at the top gaping and dark.

The shadow was just about to reach me when I shot straight down, into the tree hole. This was the last time I’d see this tree the way it was now. If I trapped the shadow, it would destroy the tree. If I failed, I would probably die and the shadow would lash out in anger and capture the soul of one of the lost boys to connect itself to.

 

I could not fail.

 

The shadow followed me in, a storm of rage. I held the curtain to the back room in my hands. A deep breath in and a deep breath out and I was ready. Its hissing seemed to grow louder, even more malicious. Then it pounced.

 

But I’d gotten this sheet a long time ago, when the shadow was off capturing children and I was helpless but to watch. I’d been preparing it for years and years, and the curtain possessed some of the shadow’s own magic, so that when I wrapped it around the shadow, it was trapped, at least momentarily. No time for celebration, speed was a necessity.

 

I flew out of the tree and sealed every opening to our home that I could think of and then sped off across the island. A great cracking came from behind me, and I knew the shadow was trying to break out from the tree, but its strength was diminished from the curtain.

 

When I reached the beach line, I heard the splintering explosion of the only home I’d ever really known. But the shadow was too late. It floated slowly beside me, hovering in the air above the water.

 

We watched together as a ship, so far in the distance that it looked the size of my thumb, flew straight into the stars and disappeared forever.

 

I suppose I could end this story with happily ever after, but I truly don’t know what became of my friends after the escaped Neverland. As for me, I was trapped in Neverland forever. It was a dying island with a dying shadow. A shadow that listened to me now, and stayed in its land never to return to the world to steal children to keep its island alive. We will fade away eventually, along with the island itself.
But for now we stayed, forever here in Neverland.

If Walls Could Talk – Rapunzel

By: Libby Parent

Here I sit, day after day waiting for someone to rescue me.  I’m bound to this structure of cement and brick with no voice to speak out for help.  I am hollow inside, and am slowly rusting away.  Bricks come loose and beg to fall to the ground hundreds of feet beneath where I stand.  I wish to do the same.  

She sings out from my window, begging for her savior to hear her.  She’s trapped too, only she has a way out.  She doesn’t wish to be with me, as i don’t wish to be with her.  She is forced into this life with neither cement nor bricks but a living force.  Everyday she lets down her long hair for this woman who owns her free will.  She wishes to gain some back but time and time again she is left in anguish.  

Moss grows more abundantly on the sides of my body, it is nearly impossible to see my bricks shine anymore, I feel dirty and old.  How I wish to end this pain.  Rapunzel in her tower sings out, her beautiful voice broken from crying, I can tell she’s giving up.  She wishes to leave, to escape agony and pain.  I try to comfort her as she weeps but she can never hear me through her gasps and sharp breaths.  She punches me and smacks me, trying to break me down; if only she were stronger.  

“Rapunzel, let down your long hair!”  This phrase is repeated everyday by an old witches voice, her sound screeches through the trees and echoes through the forest.  Today, the phrase sung from beneath us, only it was less raspy, and far less witchy.  Rapunzel let down her knotted long hair and awaited her evil guardian, but the face she saw was neither evil nor old, it was young, and kind.  A prince, agile and free.  She let out a shriek of terror, she had never spoken to a man before let alone a prince.  He spoke softly yet confidently, he was a friend not a tormentor.  Even though he couldn’t hear me,  I whispered, “Rescue her, she wishes to leave.”  

As I creak and groan I wonder how it would feel to move, stretch, and rest at last.  “Rapunzel, let down your long hair,” the prince sang from below me.  Hair comes gliding down, I could feel Rapunzel’s heartbeat getting louder every tug he took.  “I wish to go with you, take me away,” she cried as she buried herself within his chest.  “Bring a piece of silk with you everyday, I’ll make a ladder and we can leave this tower.”  

Every day her ladder grew, and everyday I envied her a little more.  “Rapunzel, let down your long hair,” the witch shrieked, it was a yell so loud it rustled the moss on my sides.  “Tell me how it is you are so heavy to pull up while the king’s son is so light,”  Rapunzel queried.  I heard a slap, and a yell.  Rapunzel fell to the ground and wept.  I heard snips and cries as the wretched witch cut off her long braided hair.  The witch dragged Rapunzel away from me, I could feel her hands claw at my sides.

Just as she took her first step on the ground,  I could feel my body of bricks and cement cracking and breaking.  One by one bricks tumbled out,  the moss holding my body together seemed to melt away, no longer needing to hold my structure.  The witch yelled as I fell on top of her, ending her reine once and for all.  Rapunzel cried as she held pieces of me, we had been together for so long she has no choice, but to mourn my loss.  For the first and last time, she heard me say, “I’m free, don’t mourn me.  Im finally happy.”

Rapunzel and all her beauty ran off in search of the only man she had ever loved.  We are both free and happy.  We rule over ourselves now.  

The Story of Peter Pan

By: Lexi Escaleira

“Mother and father are going to a ball for father’s work, that is why the nanny is here” Wendy told her brothers.  Their parents knocked on the door.  “We’ve come to say goodnight” “Oh mother must you leave, why can’t father go alone?” he asked as the Darling parents walked into the room.  “Oh my sweet Michael, I will be there when you wake in the morning.  I love you all and I will see your beautiful faces in the early light, goodnight my sweet angels,” she said as she was walking toward the door.  “Goodnight mother, goodnight father,” they all say in unison.  The nanny enters after walking the Darlings out, “Okay children it is time for bed!  Put your pajamas on, brush your teeth and get into bed.”  The children did as they were told.  When they were all done they laid in bed while waiting to be tucked in by their nanny.  They shortly fell fast asleep.  

Suddenly there was a bright light that seemed to fill the entire room.  Wendy was woken up by the light but her brother didn’t seem to notice.  She walked slowly, toward the window.  When she finally reached the latch she touched it but quickly pulled back her hand, afraid of what would be lurking outside.  Once she gathered up the courage, Wendy opened the window and something flew in!  This something bounced off walls, her dresser, the beds until finally landing in the middle of the room on the floor.  “What was that? Was that a bug?”  “Tink is not a bug!  She’s a fairy!”  The voice frightened her, she turned around to face what spoke those words.  When she saw what was in that direction, she froze in complete shock.  It was a boy but he was floating outside her window.  “Hey I’m Pan, Peter Pan, but everyone usually calls me Pan”  “No one calls you that Peter!”  “And that’s Tinkerbell but I call her Tink.”  

“Where are you from Peter?”  “Well I’m from a land far away called Neverland.”  “Why is it called “Never-land”?”  “Because when you’re there you never age, you’re a kid forever.”  “But how is that possible? It can’t be true!”  “Oh but it is …?, you never did tell me your name.”  “I’m Wendy Darling, and those are my brothers John and Michael.”  “Nice to meet you.  If ya want I could take you to Neverland with me?”  “Oh boy really? You would do that gollie!!”  She starts running around the room to her brothers’ beds.  “John! Michael! Wake up you two!! We’re going to Neverland!”  “What are you talking about Wendy?” asked John, “Is mother home yet?” asked Michael.  “Peter Pan is going to take us to Neverland”  “Who?”  “Me”  “Oh hello, my name is John and this Michael”  “Okay gather around all,  if you want to go to Neverland then you will need some pixie dust.”  “Pixie dust? What for?”  “Well, Michael the only way to get to Neverland is to fly and Pixie dust helps us do that.”  They all gather in the middle of the Darling’s bedroom.  “Alright the only way it’ll work is if you believe in Fairies.”  “Believe in fairies? I don’t even believe this is all happening!”  “John! Didn’t mother ever teach you your manners?, I believe Peter” said Wendy.  “I believe Peter!” said Michael.  “Okay, okay I believe too” said John.  And so Tinkerbell poured the dust all over the children and Peter.  “So when will we fly Peter?”  “As soon as you open your eyes Wendy.”  She opened her eyes and looked down, a smile filled her face.  She was flying, as she scanned the room she saw everyone was flying.  “Alright Darlings follow me to Neverland, it’s the second star to the right and straight on till morning.”

It wasn’t the most graceful landing but they made it to Neverland.  Peter held out his hand to help her.  “Such a gentleman” Wendy thought.  When everyone found each other Peter introduced them to the Lost boys.  They were a group of maybe 50 boys ranging in the ages 5-12.  Wendy thought to herself “where are their mothers? and why are they so dirty?”  The boys were scared, they had never seen a girl before.  “Boys this is Wendy Darling and her brothers John and Michael they’re gonna be joining us.”  “Boys why don’t you take John and Michael on a tour of the island?”  “Sure Peter come on guys!”  Once the lost boys and the Darling boys were gone Peter turned to Wendy.  “So I wanna show you Neverland but I wanted to be alone, is that ok?”  Wendy smiled “Of course it is Peter,” she said while taking his hand in hers.  She looked up at him and  she could see he was blushing.  They spent hours and hours walking all over the island.  She climbed rocks, swam with mermaids, met a few animals and fell more in love with Peter Pan.  At the end of his tour they sat on the highest rock in Neverland and watched as the sun set.  “Did you have fun today Wendy?”  Wendy thought to herself before answering “I had a marvelous day, thank you for showing me your island.”  “You know? Everyday can be like this…”  “What do you mean?”  “Well if you stayed here, you know, with me…I mean the lost boys…umm yeah they want you to stay.”  “Oh just the lost boys? Well what do you want Peter?”  “What do I want? Well umm…I want you…to uhh…stay..here… with me, yeah that’s what I want,”  Peter looked up at her with such confidence and pride that he said what had been floating in his mind since he met Wendy.  She smiled and without even thinking twice she kissed him.

The boys caught up to them, only to find them “Ewwww” they all say in unison.  The couple breaks apart trying to get their bearings.  “Uhh you boys are back early.”  “I guess not early enough” one boy said.  “I have good news boys…Wendy is staying in Neverland!”  “Does that mean you’re gonna be our mother?” a young lost boy asked Wendy.  She looked taken aback, “I’m too young to be your mother, I don’t think I’d be any good, besides you all have mothers anyway and I bet they miss you terribly.”  “No our mothers don’t remember us,” “they don’t want us anymore,” “that’s why we’re here in Neverland with Peter! This is where we belong!”  “Are you gonna stay with us Wendy?” “Oh please stay, please be our mother.”  “Come on Wendy you gotta stay here with me…I mean us yeah um.. For the boys yeah the boys really want you to stay.”  “Peter I want to stay but I have a family, our parents are probably worried sick by now, wondering where John, Michael and I are.”  “So you lied to me? You said you wanted to stay..”  “Peter I want to stay but it’s not responsible, I have to go.”  Peter was silent “But I want you to stay with me, we can stay here forever, never age never be grown ups and you can be the boys’ mother and teach them everything they need to know and we can be together Wendy.”  “I’m sorry Peter but I have to go home, we will leave in the morning, I’m sorry.”

They all went to sleep for the night, the lost boys, John and Michael were sad, but fell asleep fast, Wendy and Peter cried themselves to sleep thinking of how different their life would be after the other was gone.  

***BEEP BEEP BEEP***

“What happened?”

“She’s awake!! Wendy is awake”

Snow White and The House of Spirits

By: Anonymous

In midwinter with snow dusting the castle walls, the queen looked longingly at the window at the midnight sky. She clutched her chest with a feeling of emptiness. The desire to have a child with hair as black as midnight, lips red as rubies, and skin white as snow grew in her heart. The hunger of loneliness ripped into her being, staring out at the sky each night and yearning for something she did not have. However, during the spring she felt the kick of small feet in her stomach. Her dear heart leapt with joy, and immediately announced to the proud king that she was with child. The kingdom held festivals in their honor, with flowing ribbons of bright pinks, yellows, and oranges, thousands of roses at the courtyard, and many theatrical and musical performances given in their honor throughout the summer. By the turning of the leaves, the child was born. Bloody and screaming and restless as the waiting woman clutched the baby in her arms, tearing him away from the corpse of his mother who died during his birth. Her spirit lifted to the heavens, to watch over her beloved child from afar. They called him Snow-short for Snow White-because he was born during the first snowfall. The beginning of a cold winter.

Throughout his youth he served as an apprentice to his father, the King.  He attended the royal ceremonies and the conferences with noblemen, dutifully taking notes. In his spare time, he became a fair swordsman; although, the other squires jeered at his red lips and soft features. He wasn’t the strongest or the fastest, but he worked the hardest despite his status.

His father took a wife, a beautiful but wicked sorceress called Nemesis. The king fell desperately in love with Nemesis and was blind to her cruel magic that seized his aching heart, still grieving his past wife. He married her, so she became Queen over the kingdom and ruled with untamed bloodlust. As told in legend, she was profoundly vain and obsessed with her good looks. She created a magic mirror that always told her who was the fairest of them all. She was always the most beautiful and never had any close competitors.

But when Snow turned fifteen, the Queen asked,”Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who is the fairest of them all?”

The mirror replied, for it could not lie, “You, my queen, are radiant beyond compare. But Snow White is far more fair than thee.”

Fury struck like lightening in her veins. The idea seemed illogical. How could the King’s son be the most beautiful in the land when Nemesis was as cunning as she was glowing? Wicked and slender? Feminine and fatale? He wore squire’s clothes, never brushed his hair, and had a glow of sweat on his shoulders. He never looked anyone directly in the eye. The mirror had to be wrong.

“Mirror, mirror. Do not dare to deceive me. I conjured you to never tell a lie.  The most beautiful is me.”

“Aye, my queen, what you say is true. But you are cold at heart and your wickedness shines through. Snow White is courageous, just, and fair. You are driven by evil. You can see it in your stare.”

The queen flushed with wrath. The clunk of her onyx high heeled shoes echoed as she stomped from her chambers to the courtroom, where her personal huntsman was waiting with tattered boots and a ragged beard. He bowed respectfully, with a glimmer of terror in his brown eyes.

She looked at him coldly and whispered, “I want the boy’s heart in my hands. Do what you need to do.”

There was a feeling of understanding between them. The huntsman turned on his heel in a stride and walked out towards the pavilion under the castle. A plan forged in his mind. How to get Snow alone. How to deafen the scream. How to hide the body. A quiver danced on his lips. He didn’t like to hunt people-only animals. And even when he killed an animal, he slit their throats quickly. No need to torture the animal any further. It wasn’t personal. Just for survival.But times were tough. It wouldn’t be the first time he took a life for Nemesis. Any man knew better than to question her, even in the face of the damnation of his mortal soul. Even if it meant killing a child. Her torture would be more than anyone could survive.

But as he turned the corner, he saw Snow with the other squires. I saw them jeering, throwing their shields at him, kicking dirt in his face. The radiant boy rose to his face, laughed along with them but his face long and solemn as he turned away and continued off into the forest. The huntsman followed, with soft footsteps barely treading on the forest floor. It wasn’t until a twig snapped under his foot that Snow snapped his head around.

“You’re here to kill me.” Snow said, looking distraughtly at the huntsman.

“Oh…. Heavens, no, dear prince. I-I-I was only…um…looking for a doe for tomorrow’s supper!” He stumbled over words to construct a somewhat believable lie, only with sweat seeping through his collar.

“I was only pulling your leg huntsman.” He said, chuckling. “I don’t think I’d make very good supper. However, I’ve never tasted myself.”The huntsman forced himself to laugh in jarring cackles, to the confusement of Snow, as not give himself away-clutching a butcher’s knife in his fist behind his back.

“Well…” Snow trailed off. “I best be off. I wish you luck with your hunting. Till next time, huntsman.” As he turned to leave, the huntsman rose his knife.

“I’m sorry, Prince Snow. It’s not anything personal. The Queen asked for your heart. I can’t have her torturing me. You understand. I promise I’ll be quick.” The huntsman edged towards him, the knife clenched in his fist.

Snow took off in a crazed sprint- feet racing, chest heaving, heart beating in his throat. He dashed into the forest with his footprints leaving imprints on fallen leaves. He ran for ten minutes. Twenty minutes. Thirty minutes. Never looking behind his shoulder so he wouldn’t be slowed down. He only heard the huntsman’s periodic pleading-for his wife, for his children, for the people he fed everyday by giving them meat. But he could not stop. As he sped into a clearing, he saw a cottage in the distance with smoke puffing from the chimney. Without thinking he headed towards it since the lights were not on inside. They may not be home, and he’s pretty sure he lost the huntsman in the woods. He threw open the door and latched all six locks on the door. The cottage was bleak and empty, but with freshly picked apples and citrus on a rickety picnic table in the center of a desolate room.

“Hello? Anyone home?” He asked the empty cottage.

He put his hand on the dagger in his belt.

“Hello, Snow.”

“Who are you?”

“That’s none of your concern,”the light voice replied. “Have a seat.”

A chair was pulled by an invisible force and knocked him off his feet, tucking him into the table. Stunned, Snow just gaped dumbly at what occurred.

“We’re going to take care of you now. Don’t you worry.”

An orange magically lifted from the table into his palm. The house began to feel warm. Lavious furniture appeared, with velvet sofas, leather chairs, and fur rugs. Books forged from midair to rest on end tables. Candles resided on every windowsill and a steel stove was conjured from the kitchen with a good looking roast cooking on the inside.

“We are the House of Spirits, Snow. We’re going to take care of you now.”

Beauty and the Shoe

By: Anonymous

“He’s gone,” the townsperson looked down at his worn shoes.

“Well I’ll have to go find him myself, then.” Belle raised her head and looked confidently ahead. “I know he headed due West past Saturday. I can follow the path of his carriage with the other carriage and be back by Tuesday. Tell Merriwether to watch the home.”

With that, she took off down the road to her cottage, cape trailing behind her.

The cottage emerged from behind the tall trees separating the town from the Inventor and his daughter. Belle quickly burst into her home, collecting supplies for her journey. A bag of food, rope, and coats slung over her shoulder as the door slammed shut at her heels. The family’s second horse was secured onto the four-wheeled carriage even before the townsperson could deliver the news to the small town. Belle was going after her missing father.

 

The cool winter’s day developed to a frigid night as Belle carried on towards the direction of her father. An oil lamp and the full moon led her way deeper into the hooded trees of the forest. The eerie quiet of the darkness kept her senses alert.  An abrupt howl of a wolf in the distance made Belle jump out of her skin. As she crept further, the sound of wolves grew louder until the creatures were close enough to hear their panting. Belle’s horse spooked and tried to turn back, jostling the carriage and flinging Belle onto the ground along with her things. She called after her horse in vain. The wolves circled around the defenseless Belle, creeping closer and closer. She froze in shock and wondered if this was the fate her and her father shared. Suddenly an arrow whizzed past her head and struck a wolf in the chest. More arrows soared through the air, all clearly hitting their targets and causing the others to scamper off into the shadows. The bloody fight cleared and a hooded figure emerged from the woods, donning a crossbow.

“Who are you?” Belle picked herself up from the ground, legs still shaking and face bruised.

“They call me Cinderella,” The figure took down her hood to reveal shimmering blonde hair that appeared almost white in the snow. Each strand was perfectly placed into a tight bun, exposing her bright blue eyes and porcelain skin. “And you?” Her eyebrow raised slightly in question.

“Belle,” she replied. Cinderella muttered under her breath, “No wonder, her name means beauty,”

Belle ignored her, accustomed to the common phrase.

“I arrived from the village just east of here. I was on my way to rescue my father when those wolves attacked and spooked my horse.” She dusted off her coat and began to collect her things from the trail, Cinderella following her every move.

“Girls like you shouldn’t be alone in these woods at this time of night.”

“Girls like you shouldn’t be living in the woods alone with a crossbow,”

“What would have happened if I hadn’t shown up with my crossbow?” Cinderella swung her crossbow over her head and cocked a hip out.

Belle looked up in amusement. “I would have been dinner. Thank you, by the way. I’m not sure how I could ever repay you.” She gathered her rations back into the sack.

“Pass me some of those blueberries and we should be even.” She stuck her hand out, beckoning her to come closer.

The two heroines met face to face as Belle carefully placed 6 blueberries into Cinderella’s hand.

“Do I know you from somewhere?” Cinderella asked.

“I have a bit of a…reputation around my village,” she blushed, “As-”

“As the village sweetheart? The most beautiful girl in town?”

Belle paused. “I was going to say ‘As the one who doesn’t fit in’,”

Cinderella shrugged. “I was close enough. What’s your grand plan now, Belle? Back to the village? They’re probably floundering without anyone to play the ‘outcast’ role.”

Belle finished packing up her things, slung them over her shoulder, and held her head high.

“I will continue my route until I find my father,”

“What if I could come with you?” Cinderella asked.

Belle blushed, “Oh I couldn’t ask you to do that. It may be dangerous! We could run into… other animals! Storms!”

Cinderella zipped up her cape. “I have been living in the forest myself, you know. It will be nice to finally have some company. Plus- you asked me how I got this crossbow. It’s a good opportunity to chat.”

Belle pondered this argument, knowing that Cinderella was right. She nodded her head with a small smile. “Ok. We shall go together to find my father.”

The silent night carried on, now accompanied by two pairs of footprints and soft voices. Cinderella, for the first time, was able to tell her whole story to an unbiased third party. And she was enjoying it.

“Shall I word it like a fairytale then? Very well. Once upon a time, there was a girl who was cared for by her evil stepmother. Her two step-sisters would badger, bully, and beat her. They made her do all the chores and never let her go out. They named her ‘Cinderella’ because of her dusty appearance in the fireplace. Then one day, a noble guard knocked on the door and told of an invitation to The Royal Ball. You see, a Prince was to be there, searching for a Princess. The evil stepmother told Cinderella that she would not be able to go, that she must ‘stay home and sew our dresses and sweep the stairs.’ So, she left. She wasn’t like the brave Princesses in the stories that suck it up and sing to the birds for happiness. She wasn’t willing to wait for her fairy godmother to make things better. She knew if she wanted change she had to go find it herself. So she took whatever clothes she could carry and ran out of the house. She thought the best way to get vengeance against her sisters would be to go to the castle herself and try to woo the Prince. It seems silly now, but it was a solid plan in the moment, believe me. When she got to the castle, she saw the Prince there, calling his guards foolish names and acting like an outrageous rich person. She then realized the Prince wasn’t worth all this struggle. She stole a crossbow from a sleeping guard. She retreated into the woods until something better would show up. Maybe she was waiting for a fairy godmother, after all.”

 

Belle thought about Cinderella’s story for a beat.

“You are a brave Princess, though. You did what you wanted to do, you spoke your mind, and stayed true to yourself. How could you possibly be any braver than that?”

“Belle, I don’t have a plan. I don’t have any clue what to do now!”

“We can figure it out. Together.”

The princesses continued down the trail in silence. Belle looked up from the ground to see silent tears running down Cinderella’s cheek. She edged closer to the other girl and took her hand into hers. When Cinderella looked up in confusion she gave her hand a comforting squeeze.

 

They arrived at a dark and looming castle in the forest. The sky was now warming up to a dazzling sunrise. The girls were exhausted from their feelings and trekking through the snow. The castle seemed like the only option for some rest or food if the owner was willing. Belle raised her hand to hold the brass knocker established on the bulging door. Three loud raps echoed through the forest. After a brief moment of held breath, the door creaked open. A scuttle of metal on tile drew their attention to the floor, where a clock was looking up at them.

“Are you… a dog in a clock costume?”

The clock opened the door wider to reveal more of the castle inside. “I’m afraid not, m’lady. I am simply a clock that happens to be alive.”

Belle leaned into Cinderella to whisper. “Have we been walking long enough to be hallucinating like this?”

The clock looked nervous, as if opening the door for friendly strangers would get him into serious trouble. Cinderella knew about getting into serious trouble.

“We don’t mean to bother you, Mr….Clock. We are-”

“SHHHH!” The clock panicked, “I know why you are here. The Master’s affairs are some I cannot agree with. I will help you retrieve the man you are looking for, but you must listen very carefully to what I say and agree that you never saw me in this castle.”

The girls enthusiastically nodded, now understanding this is where the Inventor had been trapped.

“You shall head up these stairs to the painting on the third floor. From there, open the painting as if it were a door and take the steps all the way down. Your father will be in the second cell to the left. The keys are hidden but there are to no use to you, there is a trapdoor on the left side of his cell under the bed where he can escape from. It leads to the southernmost side of the castle. Be quick!”

The girls thanked the mysterious clock and quickly followed his instructions to find Belle’s father. They found him shivering in the corner of the cell. Belle was overcome with relief in seeing her father was in solid condition.  Hurriedly, they told him of the secret door and watched him descend into the darkness.

Then came the hardest part: Escaping themselves. They could hear the scattered footprints and voices of those above them in the hallway. As Cinderella began to hatch a plan, they caught the sound of heavy boots and shattering glass. Gun shots echoed through the castle, seemingly shaking the walls.

“Now what’s going on?” Cinderella panicked.

A deep and booming voice carried to the basement, “Step forward, the one who has taken my Belle!”

Belle filled with dread. “Gaston!” She whispered. “He’s here!”

“Who is Gaston?” Cinderella scoured the sides of the chambers, looking for a way to escape the basement.

“It’s just… a man, in my village, where I come from. He wants to marry me because he thinks I’m the most beautiful girl in all the land or something,” Belle searched alongside Cinderella, feeling the walls for a weak spot.

Cinderella stopped her quest to look annoyingly at Belle.

“See, I knew you were the most beautiful girl in town,”

“That’s not the point!! Help me find this key into the cell!”

The booming footsteps stopped at the opening door to the basement. Both girls pressed themselves to the wall and held their breath.

“BELLE! Are you down there? Have they kept you captive!?”

Belle hit her head against the wall in defeat. A piece of brick shifted behind her skull. The girls looked at each other with awe. They carefully slid the brick out of the wall to find a single golden key held up by a hook. Cinderella got to work opening the cell Belle’s father had just inhabited. The door to the basement opened with an eerie squeak as Gaston made his way to the chambers. The cell door was unlocked and the girls hid the key behind them as the basement door burst open. Gaston donned a red hunting polo and a satchel carrying everything from a bow to a bayonette.

“Oh, Belle!” He threw himself into her, knocking her off-center. “I thought I would never see you again!”

Belle, unamused at his facade of emotion, pushed him aside.

“I know you just came to save me for the honor and glory, Gaston. Why, I’m not sure you’re even aware of my favorite book!” She crossed her arms in front of her, successfully pulling his attention away from Cinderella shifting the bed away from the trap door.

“Of course I know your favorite book! You’re always…. Reading… places… and at times,”

Belle slowly walked closer to Gaston, pushing him closer into the cell across from her father’s.

“You don’t know anything about me. Well I’ll tell you one thing. I don’t need any man to save me from this dungeon. I don’t need any man in general! You are a rotten, no-good, conceited, egotistical, misogynistic man who will never get the satisfaction of taking me back to town to show off as a trophy wife!”

At this point, Belle had pushed Gaston into the open cell. He kept his signature smirk but a hint of panic rose in his eyes as he realized Belle was saying ‘no’ to him.

“Belle! Mark my words. You will be mine. I will wait in this ‘damp basement’ until the day I find love!”

Belle slammed the cell door shut and took out the key, locking it in front of Gaston.

“Be Our Guest,” She replied with a wink.

She followed Cinderella to the other cell towards the trap door, ignoring the various pleas from Gaston. Together, they escaped out of the basement and into the woods. There, her father was waiting anxiously for their return.

“I-I-I heard the gunshots! I was so afraid!” He ran into Belle’s arms, finally receiving the reunion they deserved.

“Don’t worry Papa,” Belle replied, “We’ll be home soon.”

Cinderella, on the other hand, feared they had no means of returning home. And if they could, where was home for her? In that moment, a flash of light appeared in the clearing of woods a few trees away. The group moved closer to see the magical bursts of color and sparkles appearing in the clearing. A tornado shape of silver and gold reached high into the sky as a little old lady with a wand came into view. She wore a bright blue cape and a warm smile that eased the tense travelers.

“Hello there, I am your fairy godmother,” Her voice spread over the land like a warm summer’s day. The gang stood in awe, mouths open and cares forgotten.

“Cinderella, I have been watching over you. You have proven your bravery. But now it is time to return to safety and find your home. And I think I have something that could help!”

The fairy flicked her wand at a nearby tree, erupting stars in the morning daylight. The tree began to transform into a magical carriage equipped with a horse and enough seating for three.

“You have been independent and self-reliant, yes. But sometimes it is alright to ask for help!”

The godmother was content in her work and sat back as the group examined the properties of their transportation.

“Fairy godmother, how can I ever repay you!” Cinderella fell at her feet beside the fairy, overcome with gladness.

“My dear, you have been good enough. You may repay me by keeping your confidence in yourself.” The fairy lightly touched Cinderella’s chest. “Though you have doubted me in the past, I certainly placed you right where you needed to be,” She nodded slyly towards Belle, who was still in shock of the new creation. Her father tinkered next to her, finding inspiration for his inventions.

Cinderella enveloped her fairy godmother in an embrace. “Thank you,” she whispered.

And with that, the fairy godmother was gone, leaving behind her carriage and three relieved travelers. They took off down the trail, due East towards Belle’s village. When they arrived home, Belle took one look at the lonely cottage and knew it was no longer her home. She kissed her father goodbye and promised to visit. She then hopped back into the carriage with Cinderella and carried on down the road. As they rode into the sunset, they could see a patch of glitter erupt in the sky.

And they all lived happily ever after.

Little Red

By: Juliana Rivera

Once upon a time in the big apple, there lived a girl. She was pretty and short with long locks of ginger hair. These traits granted her the nickname, Little Red.

 

Everyday Little Red would wake up at the ungodly hour of 5am to head to school 5 blocks away from her tiny apartment. After her courses she would eat lunch for 20 minutes in Bryant Park  and then take the subway uptown to work. Little Red worked in the biggest most beautiful department store there was; Saks Fifth Avenue. She worked on the fifth floor where the evening gowns were sold.

 

After work on Fridays, Little Red would visit her grandmother, the only relative she had in the city. Little Red would tell her grandmother about her day and bring her a small pepperoni pizza to share.

 

One Friday evening after selling numerous gowns by Monique Lhuillier and Adrianna Papel, Little Red hopped on the 1 train to go downtown. She sat on the subway with her pepperoni pizza listening to her favorite song.

Across from her sat a man with a scruffy beard and a baseball cap. She felt his eyes watching her. Little Red decided to ignore him.

 

Little Red paid no mind to the man sitting across from her until he moved to the seat next to her.

She tried hard to look invisible so the man wouldn’t speak to her but-

 

“What are you listening to?” He asked

Little Red answered and the man continued asking more and more questions

Little Red answered and the man suggested that he should walk with her to her grandmother’s apartment.

“The city is a dangerous place at this time of night” He said

 

Little Red told him there was no need and go off her stop, leaving the man behind.

 

She walked a couple blocks and noticed a familiar face following her. It was the man from the subway who asked her all the questions. Little Red had a bad feeling.

The man kept his distance but continued to follow her.  She began walking faster and taking quicker turns, but every time she looked back the man was still there.

 

At last, Little Red made it to her grandmother’s apartment building. She look behind her as soon as she entered the front door and the man was nowhere to be seen. Little Red too a long deep breath and immediately felt safe again.

Little Red made it up the stairs to the fifth floor and knocked on apartment 121. She knocked 4 times but the door was unlocked and creaked open from the force of each one.

“Granny?” Little Red called as she walked inside. She set the pizza down on the small kitchen counter. The apartment was dim and silent. Little Red made her way to her grandmother’s bedroom. She knocked on the door frame.

“Oh hello, dear” A voice said in the darkness.

“Granny?” Little Red asked, “Are you alright? Why are the lights all out?”

Granny just said, “Come closer, dear”

Little Red stepped over to the bedside and saw the shadows of her grandmother’s face. She was shocked by how strange she looked.

 

“Granny, your eyes,” Little Red said “your ears and nose. Your mouth…are you alright?”

Granny began to rise from her bed. She was abnormally larger than she should’ve been. She loomed over Little Red and said in a deep voice,

“Of course, dear.”

 

Little Red recognized the voice and the face of the man who was following her off the subway. Before she could scream, the man grabbed her by the shirt and began strangling her. After a terrifying struggle, Little Red managed to reach in her back pocket and take out her mace. She aimed at the mans dark eyes and sprayed.

 

“Ahhh my eyes!” He yelled. He let go of her to rub his eyes. Little Red threw him off granny’s bed and kicked him in the groin with her steel toed Doc Martins. The man yelped and fell to the ground.

Little Red tied him up with the bed sheets and sat him on an arm chair.

 

“Where’s my grandmother?!” She yelled as she dialled 911 on her cellphone.

The man just moaned and pointed to the small closet behind Little Red. She bolted to the door and found her grandmother tied up and gagged on the ground. Little Red freed her granny and the embraced until the police arrived.

 

“Ahh, Mr. Donovan Wolf,” One officer said to Little Red, “The fellow has quite the record. We’ve been looking for him for a while. You’ve done well, young lady.”

The two officers carried the man, now known as Donovan Wolf, out of the apartment.

 

Little Red and her granny waved goodbye to them while enjoying their small pepperoni pizza together at last.

 

The End