never ever after

Aug 25 2013

Once upon a time, in a faraway and now long gone land, lived a handsome king and beautiful queen, who ruled their people together with justice and mercy. To this fair pair was born a little girl, and they named her Jane. Once the queen had recovered from childbirth, they held a banquet to celebrate, and almost everyone was invited, whether ordinary or extraordinary.

But as the fairies crowded around the child’s cradle, there was silence. “Why, she’s just as plain as I am!” squealed the Weed Fairy. There was a gasp from all assembled, and the other fairies shushed him, but it was true – Princess Jane was plain; as plain as print, as plain as truth, as plain as the nose on your face. The Lilac Fairy gathered herself together. “All babies look a little bit funny when they first come into the world,” she declared, and her own nose involuntarily gave a little spasm. “To go with your honest complexion, I give you an honest voice, that will always speak true.”

The other fairies rallied. “I give you a shrewd intelligence, so that you may perceive things always as they are,” said the sophisticated Orchid. “And I give you an independent nature,” said the thorny Rose, “to protect you in hardship.”

But present in that gathering was someone who had not been invited – the wicked fairy Carabosse. Enraged that her blessing had been shunned, she had been concealing herself within a costume, but now she threw it off and rushed up to the cradle. Bending over the sleeping child and scratching beneath her chin with a ragged claw, she cackled in delight. “I curse you, my child, with an ugly heart, to equal your ugly face!”

Before the king and queen had time to react, a large crowd fell upon the evil Carabosse, and lynched her then and there. They tore her limb from limb in a matter of moments, each concealing a small fragment of her dismembered body in their clothing, and mopping up the blood with their napkins, so that when they withdrew it was as though she had never been. As loyal subjects, they felt it was the least they could do for their beloved rulers. But it was too late to save the princess. The queen wept inconsolably, and the king uttered a prayer.

As the baby grew into a young girl, the queen planned to nurture a virtue in her that might not be entirely natural, and read her anything relevant she thought might help. She hoped, especially, that the story “The Ugly Duckling” might become a favourite of the princess, and saved it for her child’s sixth birthday, a tender age when she believed it might be of greatest effect. “i hope you dont think this story is going to inspire me, mother”, said Jane, “im ugly inside and out, and you know it as well as i do”. By that time the queen had four other children, both princes and princesses, who the fairies had been very unusually generous to out of pity for their poor parents, and without meaning to she detached herself emotionally from her disappointing first daughter.

When she was fifteen, performing arduous feminine handicrafts in the company of a few carefully selected young ladies her age, she pricked her finger on a spindle. “ouch”, she said, “that fucking hurt”. Her companions were aghast. “Princess!” one of them dared to exclaim, “It isn’t polite to speak that way!” But Jane was not impressed by the offer of instruction. “what the hell is it to you”, she said, “what are you bitches even doing here? you can go and get fucked for all i care”. The girls rushed out, not without tears, and the princess tossed her work through the door after them. She dashed her whorl to the stone floor and shattered it. After that time she was left in peace by the people of the court, and this state of affairs seemed to suit her very well. She could usually be discovered reading a book in one of the small castle gardens, gazing from a window, or raiding the pantries. She demonstrated little tolerance for any imposition on her solitude, and regularly showed that it was not above her to hit or kick an attendant who was too much in the way.

When she was nineteen, her mother deemed her to be at a proper age for marriage, and called on her to attend her in her wardrobe where she explained the necessity of this solemn duty. Jane listened to her with a great deal of impatience – sighing, coughing, picking her nose, and cursing under her breath. “i want to be a single woman mother”, she interrupted, “all i ask of happiness in this life is that all of you assholes leave me alone”. However, for several reasons known not even to herself, the queen had other ideas.

Jane’s one confidante was a small grey mouse that was often lured to her chamber by the crumbs of food and other refuse she let fall around herself (although tolerably neat and tidy in her own person, because she found it more comfortable to be clean, the princess was not overly fastidious in the order of her personal spaces). Having accidentally overheard this private conversation between princess and queen from behind the wainscoting, the creature felt concern. “But don’t you want a family, Princess, and someone to belong to?”

“i belong to myself, officious little beast” said Jane, “and thats good enough for me, just as it is for your many offspring, which are devouring the queens most prized garments as we speak. i pray you say no more of this matter, or i will unleash an exotic cat upon the family living quarters, and you and your spawn will all die”. The mouse laughed as though this pronouncement were a joke and scurried away out of sight.

Before long it seemed as though the whole world was discussing the ball that was to be held for Jane, and it was very well understood that eligible bachelors were invited from as far away as possible in hopes of making an appropriate match for her. But when the night of the great event came, she received so little address that even her own brothers, though the bravest and noblest of young men, were afraid to dance with her for fear they might be desperately seized upon as prospective suitors.

There was only one young man from a distant realm, introduced as Prince John, who was different from the others. When he had been announced a few days prior he had at first dazzled the court with his glorious physique and charming bearing, but had quickly been surrounded in scandal when a few of the young ladies claimed that he had taken liberties with them that were less than gallant. Still, by the night of the ball he had successfully dispersed these rumors by playing a brilliant grin across his handsome features and tossing the curls of his golden mane, so that nobody really remembered anything bad that had been said about him, and they all were pleased to see him approach Jane. “This waltz Princess, if you please,” he begged, holding out his hand.

“get away from me you revolting piece of shit”, she said, and he bent down and forced her to her feet with such graceful ease that to everyone present it appeared she had simply fallen into his arms. He drew her to the floor and effortlessly spun her so flawlessly in time to the delicate strains of the royal strings that to those watching she appeared to be almost lovely. “You’re just like me, princess,” he said, “And I’m going to marry you, so that our ugly hearts can beat together as one until we both die.” For the first time in her life, the florid colour drained from her face. “i am nothing like you”, she said, “and you will never marry me”. John flexed his powerful muscles, and continued to spin her, around and around, until she thought she would vomit.

The following day, with the happy congratulations of her parents, Jane was married slung over the horse of Prince John, and then hauled screaming and kicking from the city. A cheering crowd lined the streets to say goodbye and express all of their best wishes for the felicity of the young couple. Her father had never felt prouder, and the queen waved farewell with tears of joy spilling from her gentle eyes. “somebody please help me”, Jane yelled, “i do not accept this man. i refuse my consent. this is against my will. havent any of you heard of rape?” But her cries were futile. Everything had turned out just the way it was supposed to, and they lived happily never ever after.

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