On September 9, 2020, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt involving a new recipe, thread, and sudden silence.
This freebie story for Fairest came to me as a result, crossing over with events summarized in my story. This tale turned out to be huge, so I’m breaking it down into segments…
Perhaps she could try a new recipe. There were edible berries ripening outside in the Forest of Tears. She’d tried popping one into her mouth without suffering any sickness. Reckless, yes, but the girl wanted to prove she was worthy of the name Quartz had given her; The Fairest of Them All or simply Fairest.
Tears prickled behind her eyelids. Oriana had coveted that title so desperately but what had it mean to her? Quartz was certain it was the sum of a person’s deeds, but the girl’s host was a romantic. She was coming to realize this about the dwarf who’d allowed her into the cottage he and his brothers shared, the same dwarf whom followed kobolds into the unknown and talked to dragons. Quartz believed in the best of people, no matter how much he might protest.
The girl who’d once been Princess Blanche no longer could. She’d seen into the jealous heart of the golden beauty of the dawn, embodied by the most beautiful of women. She’d seen the heart’s gaping, hungry maw, hollowed out by malevolence. She’d watched it collapsed into bubbling flesh, condensing into a sour little green apple. What had that mouth filled with jagged teeth been in the end, but a forced smile, squashing every question, every enraged protest, every poisonous trickle of malice behind a mask of sweet compliance? Only poison rotted the mask from within, melting and distorting its fair countenance. The mask had become a monster, but the monster endured so short a life, hunting down her prey. Even the monster eroded from within. How little was left of it.
The girl wound thread after thread around a spindle with especial care, wrapping the mass of stranfs around her hands, letting them engage in this constructive action. She could quiet her mind and heart when she kept her fingers busy. There was also that recipe to think of with the berries. She could make the dwarves’s morning porridge all the more interesting with them.
She began to hum, winding the strands around her hands but there was already music in the air. A low, lovely voice drifted in through the window, a girl’s voice, coming closer and closer:
“Who is the fairest of them all?
You, me, or her?
In castle, cottage, or circle small
What will you endure?
Are you fair of face and eye alone?
Or is your fairness true?
When under the sleeping curse you lie
What will change into?”
She dropped the spindle and the threads to the ground, dimly hearing them clatter as the song came to an end.