The following story was inspired by Sonia G Medeiros. She has been exploring fairy stories over on her blog and for September issued the challenge to retell, rewrite or expand on a traditional fairy tale. Unfortunately, this story wanted more than 500 words so it stands at around 1,000. It is based on one of my favourite fairy stories from childhood and I am sure it will be easy to tell which one as you read through.
Happy Eventually After
Carol hung up the phone, she removed a balled up tissue from the inside of her sleeve and used it to wipe her eyes. She poured herself a steaming cup of coffee, which dripped several times as she shuffled back to her favourite corner of the couch. I made my way over and sat at her side. She put on her glasses and lifted a large brown bound book onto her lap.
“Once upon a time,” she said in a hushed tone.
At first, she silently flipped through several pages of faded old photographs only pausing to glance at the odd one here or there. Then she smiled down at me and said, “There she is, that is the Lily I choose to remember. We were always best of friends you know?”
I looked at the photo as she tapped it. Two girls stood together in front of a large window. A frizzy mop of brown hair swarmed around the taller girl’s head. She wore a puffy purple metallic dress that added to her statuesque appearance. Metal strips lined her teeth and several volcanic eruptions appeared on her face
In contrast, her companion looked elegant. Her long white off the shoulder dress tapered to her waist and then billowed out again setting off her perfect well proportioned body. Her golden hair caught the light from behind and seemed to glow.
“I was always taller than Lily. That is why I ended up going to the prom with Christopher instead of Michael that day. Michael took a couple more years of growing to catch up to his brother’s height.” She studied the photo for a few more moments before she added, “You can see now where my Kristen and Katelyn got their looks from.” The twins did look just like her.
She began turning the pages again pointing out things such as Lily’s wedding to Michael and hers to Christopher. There were pictures of the couples on trips together and one of Carol and Lily pregnant together.
She clicked her tongue. “See it started when she was just a baby. Lily never could say no to Elle.” A pretty toddler sat on the floor, her golden curls framed her round rosy face. The blue of her eyes matched her party dress. On either side of her like matching bookends were two plain looking girls wearing identical dresses. In front of them, a mountain of presents sat yet unopened. “Poor Lily was in the hospital that month and missed Elle’s party.”
She carried on turning pages. “This one was taken on the worst Christmas ever. The girls and I had Michael and Elle around for dinner to keep each other company. Christopher had died tragically a few months before and Lily was in the hospital again. We were a sad bunch that day. Elle had a temper tantrum because she got the smaller end of the wishbone and then broke my mother’s serving platter when she knocked it from the table. I was heartbroken. My girls took the pieces out of the trash and tried to superglue it back together for me the next day. It was two weeks later when Lily died.”
“Here is Michael and I on our wedding day. Look how beautiful the three girls look in their matching dresses. We moved into his home the day after. That was when the arguments began. Elle would not lift a finger to help around the house. I found it difficult dealing with her. My girls were used to chores but Elle was having none of it. I started taking things away from her every time she refused to do something. At one point she had almost nothing left in her room. ”
“Gosh look at the three of them in this one, the awkward teen years. Elle was a natural beauty like Lily. Every so often, I caught her talking to the birds in the garden as if they were people. I am sorry to say I even had her tested for drugs at one point.”
“I remember this as if it were yesterday. The girls were all excited because they were going to sleep away camp. I was looking forward to some time alone with Michael but…” She took the tissue out from under her sleeve again. “The pressures of work and family must have been too much for him. I hope his soul has found peace now.”
“Elle took his death hard. I tried to keep the fact it was a suicide from her. I told her it was a heart attack like the one Christopher had. She threw that back in my face and called me a husband killer. When the bailiffs came, she blamed me as well. She said I had wasted all her family’s money on the girls. The truth was Michael had bought shares in his failing company against the house. ”
“Here are my girls get ready for prom. Yet another happy time ruined by Elle’s selfishness, I had grounded her but she somehow managed to get herself a dress and sneak off without me knowing. That night she met a fast talking rich boy who promised her the life of a princess. She was naïve enough to believe him. It was long after midnight before she arrived here. She was drunk, her dress was in tatters, and she had walked home with just one shoe.”
Carol closed the book. She picked up her cup of cold coffee and made her way to the kitchen. I followed her this time. She began setting the table, which usually meant the girls were on their way home from college. I curled up in my basket at the side of the refrigerator and watched with interest.
“She got pregnant that night you know. To save face the parents of that prince of hers forced him into marrying her. She did not need me anymore so I have heard nothing from her for three year, until today that is.”
A car door slammed shut out on the drive. Carol glanced out the window and gasped. I jumped up on the counter to get a better view. Coming up the path was a young girl dress in a white sundress. Her golden curls bounced in the sunlight, behind her a small child toddled after her trying to keep up. She looked just like Lily had in the photograph. Carol opened the door and the two fell into an emotional embrace.