In the faraway Land of Fairytales, Rapunzel, Snow White, and Cinderella all sat around talking over old times. It had been eons since each beauty had had her adventures with heroes on white horses, princes, and such. They had lived Happily-Ever-After for ages now, never entertaining thoughts of doing much else. But that was the prophecy, no? That they all lived Happily-Ever-After. Who were they to argue with such notions of eternal bliss and prosperity?
Happiness, though, were they truly happy? Rapunzel tried to swing her hair over her right shoulder, but it cascaded back down into her face. “Ugh,” she cried out in desperation. “What I wouldn’t do to have my hair cut in a decent style for once. If I could only have normal hair here in the Land of Fairytales, hair like you, my two beautiful friends, then I should be the happiest woman alive!”
Cinderella chuckled. “I understand, friends, all too well. Just the other day, I lamented to my little bluebird friends how much I thought I should enjoy seeing my Fairy Godmother again! She helped me through that one tragic episode and has not been seen or heard from again. If I could just see her one more time, I think I should dash myself to bits in joy.”
Snow White wiped her ruby lips after lowering her cup of tea and chimed in. “I agree, ladies. How can we pretend to live happily ever after if our lives are not truly and completely fulfilled? Think of all the ways we’ve been denied full lives. Do any of us have children? No, because the ending was too vague. Do any of us have a true family life? No, because our heroes, our saviors, are busy ruling the Land of Fairytales. They give us everything we want, but do they treat us as equals? No, because we were damsels in distress and that is what our relationships are built on. Rapunzel, you want a haircut; Cinderella, you want to see your Fairy Godmother; well, I should love nothing more than to bask in the sun and have a little color flush my skin – if I venture too far out at night, people confuse me with a vampire because I’m so pale and virtually glow in the dark.”
With that, the three of them laughed uneasily in unison. Happily-Ever-After, they were promised, but Snow White had definitely hit some nerves. Each of them had felt like they were merely playthings, symbols of something almost unattainable, even to themselves, for a very long time. Each began coveting the one wish spoken aloud to her friends with all her heart. And, as often happens in the Land of Fairytales, their wishes eventually came true.
One day, Rapunzel requested the Land of Fairytale Hairdresser to cut off her mane of hair to something far more manageable. She imagined making countless wigs for special occasions with the remnants cut away. To her dismay, however, it all turned to straw when it hit the floor with a thud. She touched the hair on her head, worried. With good reason. And her heart sank. For, who was she without her hair? It was woven into her identity. It was part of her very fabric. Yet, she had just removed it, as though it were a cancer, leeching her soul dry.
The same day, Snow White stepped out into the afternoon sun and felt flushed for the first time in ages. There was much to do in her rose gardens, so she stayed out, even though uncomfortable. She wasn’t running, yet she felt feverish, sweaty, quite ill, in fact. She walked into her bedroom, feeling the need for fresh clothing, only to see her reflection in The Mirror, who looked back at her in terror. “Oh, dear!” She gasped. “Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, who’s the REDDEST of them all?!?” Her soft white skin was blistered from the sun and her streaming tears made the burn ten times worse, but still not as hurtful as her heart which broke inside her.
Sensing that something was amiss in the Land of Fairytales, Cinderella got down on her knees beseeching her Fairy Godmother to come to her, please, to show her face after all this time, because she felt like something had just caused a major rift in her being. The earth rumbled and the sky flashed angrily. A poof of black smoke appeared on the other side of the room. Even though Cinderella hadn’t seen her since her rescue from her former life, she recognized her immediately and ran to the fabled Fairy Godmother, reaching out, hugging her. “Trouble abounds, Cinderella! The Land of Fairytales has been shaken, the peace has been broken. Dark disturbances unimagined have descended upon the entirety of the land. You’re no longer safe here!”
“Where is my Prince Charming?” Cinderella asked, looking around, eyes sweeping the landscape.
“There is no Prince Charming, dear one. This time, you are on your own.”
“A pumpkin, then? And some field mice?”
“It will take more than that to appease this force, Cinderella. This is Death. And Death has come to find each of you who was promised Happily-Ever-After, because it was taken for granted, it was foolishly wished away.”
“We brought it on ourselves, then,” Cinderella cried. “Our musings have led to madness.”
“It wasn’t just you, my child. It was people everywhere. They quit hoping. They quit aspiring. They quit believing in the power, that something good could last forever. They let wishes and promises die. They let dreams fade away to nothingness. It’s why you mused in the first place. The lack of support. The lack of sustenance in what had always been.” Lightning flashed and a fire broke out outside Cinderella’s Castle, lighting the trees and the pathway on that side of the structure. “You must flee, Cinderella! You must go now!”
With that, Cinderella gathered her glittery dress and began running towards the stairwell, fearing for her life in a way that suddenly came flashing back to her from long ago, a time before the Land of Fairytales. As she reached the top of the stairs, she realized she was running too fast, though, and her ankle turned ever-so-slightly in her glass slipper, as she skidded to a standstill. She teetered on the edge of the staircase, trying to keep her balance, but all sense of balance was lost. She tumbled forward, downward, spiraling, the tinkling sound of glass breaking as she went, landing in a bruised and bloodied mess at the bottom, her feet gashed and shining with a thousand shards of promises, tiny pieces of what once shone like the happiness that reigned supreme in the Land of Fairytales.
“Fairytales all end alike,” my mother once told me. “Everyone dies.”