The Valiant Little Tailor and Other Brave Declarations

If ever there was a fairy tale character to look up to, I think Grimm’s The Valiant Little Tailor should be at the top of the list. Here was a man who had no problems telling the world about his amazing deed, even though the “seven in one stroke” he killed were only flies who wanted his jam. It led to other great deeds with giants, unicorns and even marrying a princess.

The reason I admire the Valiant Little Tailor (or VLT for short) is his ability to declare his accomplishments to anyone and everyone he meets. I think we all have parts of ourselves of which we’re proud, but don’t date tell anyone. Mine is easy—I’m a writer.

I know that sounds like a statement from Captain Obvious, but I find it challenging to tell people I’m a writer. I have this recurring fantasy where I finally tell everyone while simultaneously passing around copies of my newly published book. In a sense, I’m a closeted writer and I only tell people I trust to keep it quiet.

But why? As I continue to navigate the publishing world, words like platform and following keep popping up. I know my silence will only hurt my chances of generating buzz and keeps me from things like Facebook and Twitter. Even this blog has the name FairytaleFeminista, but I’ve never listed my name. It’s hard to put yourself out there, but people who want to make their living in creative fields have to do it constantly.

Writing becomes so personal because it’s mostly you and your words inhabiting a cozy universe of your making. In this world you can delete the unpleasant bits, reword the awkward phrases, and configure personalities that fit into your creation. When your writing becomes public, you can’t erase what other people think, do, or write about your work. And honestly, who’s a bigger control freak than a person invents people and decides their fates based on the needs of a plot. Doctors have nothing on writers when it comes to a God complex!

Was VLT on to something? Should we just emblazon our truth on a sash and wear it out in the world? When is the right time to “come out” to friends and family about your literary aspirations? Will it be more like a debutant announcing herself at a cotillion or am I declaring my alternative lifestyle, horrifying the practical 9 to 5ers in my life? Well, I’ve taken a few positive steps in that regard and introduced myself as a writer to a stranger. That was easy. Let’s try some more.

Hello, my name is Ivia Cruz and I’m a writer. I’ve written three novels and I’m working on a fourth.

That felt good.

Now what should I do about that LinkedIn page?

How about you? What’s your VLT story?

Sympathy for the Devil?

There’s a new school of thought roaming the halls for fiction. I’ve referred to it in the past as revisionist fairy tale history. The stories handed down through the generations are very clearly morality tales all with the same basic message–being good is better than being bad. There are myriad ways to put that, but the easier to digest the better. Wolves, vain queens, little men who can spin straw into gold are best avoided and it’s easy because they so obviously look evil. It’s Black Hat Syndrome or the Disney-fication of character as I like to call it. But a new tendency, a revisionist modern view, is starting to take root in fairy tales.

I say modern because it’s our modern sensibilities, our post-Freudian minds, that asks the question, “Why does evil exist?” It begs the question, what happened in the evil queen’s life to make her hate the step-daughter so much? Can we really blame a wolf for wanting a meal–a lot of us eat meat? Is it wrong to expect payment for doing all the work while the maiden gets a new life? My question is, do you think our fairy tale reading ancestors would have asked these questions?

It’s a topic I’ve been wrestling with lately regarding the new crop of fairy tales. I’m sure everyone knows about Maleficent, Disney’s new live action take on Sleeping Beauty from the villain’s perspective. I will admit, when it first heard about it I was a little miffed because I was in the middle of writing a novel called The 13th Fairy based on the original story and I set it in Reconstruction America. It was told from the point of view of the overlooked fairy who didn’t make the party list because of a lack of golden dishware. A ridiculous reason to exclude a guest who has the potential to give some great gifts or (as they found out) a truly horrific curse. I started to wonder what happened to the fairy after she dropped the party-killing bomb. I thought her story would be much more interesting than a girl who falls asleep and waits for a prince she’s never met to wake her with a kiss. I always thought it was a little presumptuous of the other fairy to put the rest of the castle to sleep while they waited for the big rescue. Talk about royal prerogatives! Nowadays the castle folk would have sued.

But I digress. I think it’s a sign of maturity when you start wondering more about the bad guys in a story than the heroes. When we’re kids we ask why about everything, but I don’t remember questioning the stories that ended “….And they lived happily ever after.” I figured it went without saying it included pretty dresses and lots of cake, the only happily ever after a seven year old can imagine. Now I wonder about the other characters. Were the castle folk paid for their time in stasis? Were the king and queen relieved to have some new clothes? Most importantly, did Maleficent (the best name for a villain, by the way) regret her impetuous act or did she have a real axe to grind? I still haven’t seen Maleficent, but I can’t wait to find out what happens.

Are there any fairy tale villains you wish you knew more about?

“Jack” and the Beanstalk

I think we can all agree that, on the whole, fairy tales try to teach us something about life. Usually there are warnings about the dangers of taking a dark path, talking to strangers, and not minding your elders. Others show how goodness can reap its own rewards and sometimes a castle and a title for your troubles. What about stories that do neither? I’m talking about Jack and the Beanstalk.

There’s some debate as to how old the story of Jack and the Beanstalk is, but the story pretty much stays the same. Jack and his mother are poor and their last asset, a milking cow, is no longer viable. Jack has to take the cow to market, but is met by a man along the way who offers him magic beans in exchange for his cow. Jack, for some reason, jumps at the chance and upon showing his prize to his mother is rebuked. She tosses them out the window in a huff, but by morning they have grown clear to the clouds. Jack climbs, finds a home and a sympathetic woman who feeds him and warns that her husband will come back hungry for the “blood of an Englishman”. Jack, who is either clever or proof that God takes care of fools and babies, eludes the giant three times and steals his gold, his golden egg laying goose, and a self-playing harp. He then chops down the beanstalk killing the giant and lives with his mother happily ever after and rich.

It’s a great story, action-packed and complete with a happy ending, but what’s the moral? If you’re stupid enough to sell your cow for some magic beans you may luck into a fortune if you’re willing to kill a giant? I’ve read and seen a few versions of this story. My favorite was the one with Matthew Modine called Jim Henson’s Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story aired on NBC when it did mini-series before succumbing to the black hole that is cheap reality TV. It gave a plausible account as to why Jack did what he did and the repercussions of his actions. Of course I saw the Warner Bros. big screen adaptation, Jack the Giant Slayer, which was a slight disappointment. At the end when (spoiler alert!) the magical crown that controlled the evil giants was finally taken by the princess, she handed it over to Jack instead of using its power herself. This after an entire movie of her trying to prove that she could take care of herself. But it got me thinking, what if Jack had been female? Would it have turned out the same way? Is it true that women prefer diplomacy to violent confrontations? I would submit that there are few who actually like physical confrontations, but it seems more acceptable for women to take that path.

 

Once there was a poor farmer who lived with his daughter. Her name was Jacqueline, but everyone knew her as Jack. Jack and her father only had one milking cow and very little else, but the day came when the cow no longer gave milk. Jack’s father decided the best thing to do would be to sell the cow at market to a butcher and in that way have some food to eat for the winter. Jack loved the little cow, but her father was unmoved by her pleas. So with a heavy heart and a small snack for the road, Jack offered to take the cow herself so she might have a chance to bid the creature a proper goodbye.

Along the way, she met with a man who looked even hungrier than her. Already feeling down about having to butcher the cow, she offered her meager lunch to the man. He gratefully sat down to eat and asked that she sit beside him. At length he finished the meal and then asked Jack why she looked so sad. Jack told the man the story of her cow and what had to be done to keep food on the table. The man considered a moment and said, “What if you didn’t have to kill your cow and could still put food on your table?”

I would say it’s a miracle,” replied Jack.

Not a miracle. Magic. Magic beans to be more precise,” corrected the man. He fished into his tattered pocket and pulled out four iridescent beans no bigger than a fingernail. He placed them in Jack’s hand. “Now, although I am thankful you shared your meal with me, I cannot give these to you without payment. Magic unpaid costs more in the end.”

But I have nothing to give you. I’ve told you I’m poor,” reasoned Jack.

“Ah, but you have that nice cow. I promise she will not be killed or eaten, but to keep her alive and your stomach full you must give her to me in exchange for the beans,” he replied. Jack was skeptical, but was heartsick over the thought of having to eat her friend, so she handed the lead over to the man. Looking down at the handful of beans, sparkling in the sunlight, Jack had only one question.

“How do they work?” But the man and the cow had disappeared. Jack saw that as proof of the man’s magical claims and ran home, the beans clutched tightly in her hand…

Magic and Mayhem VII

“Are you sure this is the only way?” asked her companion.

“Bronwen seems to think so and Uriel is getting suspicious. Why else would he go through this farce of trying to marry me off to someone who can learn what we do at night,” replied Mariana.

“We know nothing of military tactics and have no magic. How will we take the kingdom from Father?”

“It still surprises me that you can call him that, Mariano, considering what he’s done to you and our brothers,” she said with bitterness.

“Be that as it may, we need help to accomplish this,” Mariano said. “It was daunting enough figuring out that we could only meet at night in the nether realms if we danced together. We’ve never tried leaving before.”

“Yes, but mother was convinced that we had to wait until we were all of age and together. Anora and Lenoro are now thirteen so we need only figure out how to defeat Uriel,” she said. Both of them knew full well that getting to the surface with their brothers would be for naught if Uriel could just banish them again. “I’ll think of something, but be ready soon.”

The soldier continued to listen to the pair hatch plans and then reject them as too far-fetched or requiring too much time. His training saw the flaws in each idea and began to improve upon them instinctively resolving the matters they couldn’t grasp. Soon he was intrigued by the idea of helping them, but they were leaving for the surface. With farewells and promises to return the following night, the princesses climbed the spiral staircase back to their room before dawn.

On the second night, much the same happened and the soldier spent most of his time admiring the sharp mind and tenacity of the eldest princess. He wanted to reveal himself, but didn’t want to startle her and her siblings. The following night at dinner he overheard a conversation between the king and his sorcerer.

“This soldier will fail as the others have, but I think I have a better idea. Perhaps I should try to figure out what the princesses are up to at night. If I do, I would gladly marry Mariana,” he said with great humility. The soldier could see the sorcerer wore humility as he wore his cloak of invisibility—as a tool. Finally he made up his mind.

That night, when the Princess Mariana brought the soldier his cup of wine before bed, he stopped her.

“Princess I know where you go at night, but your bigger concern should be if I fail. The king has agreed to let Uriel follow you after I’m banished and marry you when he reports your whereabouts. It’s time to execute your plan,” he said holding her hand. She was visibly startled by his revelation, but was dismayed that her time was up.

“Our plans aren’t ready. We don’t even know how to overcome Uriel’s magic,” she said.

“Leave that to me,” he replied and quickly donned his cloak.

To the others they said nothing until they reached the enchanted palace by the lake. The soldier explained what he would do and explained each of their roles in the coming ruse. When the princesses left at dawn, the soldier stayed behind with the princes.

The next night the princesses came down as always, but there was some hesitancy in the youngest. She knew they were being followed and couldn’t play the part of ignorant as well as her elder sisters. However, Uriel barely noticed her agitation as he walked at a discreet distance from the party. Marveling at the surroundings he didn’t feel anything amiss until he was toppled by the darkness.

The eldest prince and princess helped to drag him to the water’s edge. With the aid of the swans, Uriel was lifted then dropped in the center of the lake and the swans fluttered and squawked on the surface keeping him under. Soon the thrashing ceased and one swan plunged down into the depths and came up with the sorcerer in his beak. Lifeless, the soldier checked for signs of life and found none. Wasting no time, the princes, princesses, and the soldier hurried to the portal and up the stairs.

Being rid of the sorcerer gave the siblings courage to confront their father. The king was lost without his adviser and gave up his kingdom without a fight. Prince Mariano, now king showed his gratitude to the soldier by giving him titles, honors and a generous tract of land to govern, which he did with the help of Princess Mariana. At their wedding, the soldier was introduced to the princess’s confidante, Bronwen and they shared a secret smile.

“What is so funny?” asked Mariana.

“It’s a rather interesting story,” said Bronwen and the three continued to enjoy the celebration.

The End

Magic and Mayhem Part V

A week later in the council, Uriel brought up a delicate matter before those present. He waited until he had a full audience to make sure none would miss the opportunity to hear his words.

“You Highness, an alarming report has come to my attention. I believe the princesses have been sneaking out of the castle at night. Of course my concern is only for their welfare and the reputation of the kingdom, but we should ask Princess Mariana what she knows of this,” he said with his head bowed. He took a quick glance of the princess from the corner of his vision, hoping to catch a glimpse of her reaction.

“Mariana is this true? Do you and your sisters leave the castle unescorted at night?” asked the king with a frown. His daughter, with a curtsey, moved towards the dais.

“Father, I know not to what Uriel is referring. We don’t leave the grounds and if we do it’s never unattended or after dark. Perhaps he is mistaken,” she replied with a straight back, but she wiped her hands discretely on the sides of her gown.

“You Highness, I wouldn’t want to accuse your daughters of telling falsehoods, but perhaps a disinterested third party would be a better judge. I propose that we ask someone from outside of the kingdom to discover the lies in this dangerous slander,” Uriel said and paused with a small smile as though an idea was forming.

“Allow others into my kingdom? I do not like the idea of others thinking they can better manage the goings-on of my own daughters,” said the king looking sharply at his eldest.

“Perhaps we can make it a contest of sorts. Suitable men will be given three days to discover the truth or lies to this tale and for a reward they can have the hand of one of your daughters. However, if they should fail they will be locked away so they cannot report this to anyone. To the other kingdoms it will merely look as though you are finding candidates for your daughters to wed,” he replied slowly. The king stood up still looking at his daughter. Something he saw in her face made him pause.

“Agreed. Let there be a royal proclamation that my eldest daughter is of marriageable age,” he said to Mariana. She bowed her head and swept out of the room, but caught the smile on Uriel face.

Magic and Mayhem Part IV

Magic and Mayhem Part I

Magic and Mayhem Part II

Magic and Mayhem Part III

The next morning, Princess Amara left with her father on a week’s progress. All in attendance thought that she looked every inch a princess with a new gown, satin slippers, and a regal bearing. If any noted that she also looked exhausted they ignored her sluggish steps. The circles under her eyes could only be seen by the king, who shared her coach.

Uriel was left to look over state affairs and one of his first acts was to hire girl from the village who could help Bronwen with onerous chores. She was also charged with letting Uriel know if there was anything amiss. Thankful to have employment and smitten with Uriel, she was only too eager to oblige. What she discovered was puzzling.

“Sir, I think the princesses leave the castle at night,” she reported. “Wherever they go it must be a wilderness for their slippers as well as their tempers are frayed the next morning. Do you suppose they go to the village through the old woods?” Uriel did not answer her questions and dismissed her curtly to attend his thoughts.

After the maid left, Uriel looked over his books on portents and prophesies. While many knew the king’s fate to lose his kingdom while still living, none but two knew the first part.

Twins will come to a kingdom, one to wed and another to rule

The male will use the king as his tool

But when a son is born to the pair with a daughter

His realm will he lose to the former, not the latter

 

The rhyme reminded him of the faithful day that he and his sister had come to the palace. His twin sister had been a blushing bride and perfect queen until she began to bear twins to the king. Uriel was able to instill fear in the king with the last couplet and convinced him to banish his sons to the nether realms. His sister remembered the rhyme and became a fierce adversary until Uriel had to banish her, too. He was lucky that magic was not one of her gifts and he assumed her children were just as powerless.

But now he began to wonder where the girls went at night and to what purpose. Mariana had always been a contrary creature, seeking out matters that were none of her concern. Perhaps the girls were trying to find their mother. It was of little consequence none but he knew where she had been sent, but perhaps it was time to get the eldest princess out of the way.

Magic and Mayhem Part III

Magic and Mayhem Part I

Magic and Mayhem Part II

The council was well under way when Mariana ambled in following Uriel. Nothing of note was to be discussed today, so she wondered why her father had insisted she attend. It was her custom to hold court at his side, but she had other matters today. Her preparations for Amara’s birthday surprise weren’t yet finished and Uriel had rudely interrupted her plans.

“Mariana, we thank you for your presence. I wanted your opinion regarding Amara’s present,” he said when she approached the dais. Her curtsey was correct to the point of rudeness. Of late she had been distant and deflective. He hoped seeking her out would warm her to him, but her feelings had yet to thaw. Since her mother’s departure he felt her feelings towards him change and not for the better.

“Father, I’m sure your choice is best,” she replied looking at him yet through him. Lately she’d been oddly deferential. Uriel had pointed it out and he had to agree. With Amara turning thirteen, he realized he had little time left. This was the birthday when they all his girls turned on him. At first he wondered if it was the change from child to woman that made them aloof from their father, but now he wasn’t so sure. At the heart of it, he feared his eldest was to blame and he meant to correct it before it was too late for Amara.

“Well, I’ve decided to take Amara away on a progress of the kingdom. She has such an adventurous spirit I feel the trip will be a welcome delight. What say you to that?” asked the king. Searching her face he found no reaction, but her cool manner reminded him of her mother, the queen. He awaited the argument that would ensue.

“I wonder that you never offered any of my sisters the same opportunity, but I would ask that you waited until tomorrow so I might give her my gift before you leave. She might have use of it on her journey,” she said with the same cool restraint. Only a momentary widening of the eyes alerted Uriel to her displeasure. The king, on the other hand, was grateful for her quiet submissiveness.

Magic and Mayhem Part II

Magic and Mayhem Part I

Thirteen Years Later…

Bronwen searched through an old trunk looking for a discarded dress of one of the older princesses. The garment still had usable fabric perfect for cannibalizing. If memory served, and little escaped her recollection, Princess Anora’s castoff gown matched Princess Amara’s perfectly. It was amazing that the youngest was now to celebrate her thirteenth year. Where had the time gone? With all the activity going on, Bronwen took it upon herself to make sure Amara’s dress was the loveliest at the ball. Her eyes began to mist thinking that this task should have been the queen’s, but she shook her head. She refused to let sadness to take root in any part of this day.

Rummaging through the trunk, she found more discards. Other dresses, faded and dried flowers, and a multitude of old dancing slippers padded the bottom. She clicked her tongue, fishing out the sought after dress and then closed the lid gently. What would she do with those girls?

“I really should tell them to be more careful. If anyone knew where they went…”

“And where do they go, Bronwen?” asked smooth and silky voice. Bronwen started and instinctively sat down on the top of the trunk. She could feel the heat from a banked fire warm her backside. Clutching the fabric to her chest, she regarded the intruder.

“Who said anyone goes anywhere? What do mean by sneaking up on old woman about their own business?” she asked with a sneer. The intruder merely raised an eyebrow and walked further into the room.  His eyes swept languidly across the scene in front of him.

“All that goes on in this kingdom is my business, or have you forgotten that I have the ear of the king?” he asked willing a confrontation.

“More like the soul of our king. And I would find that more impressive if I didn’t have the ear of the queen,” she replied looking towards the ground. The tears that had threatened earlier were coming to the surface, but she wouldn’t let them fall in front of this odious man.

“And where is she now? My sister has been gone these 10 years and most likely dead. At least I think of her as such,” he said. Her head snapped up at that remark as he knew it would. Goading her was just a perk, but her evasiveness made him curious. “What are doing?”

“None of your concern, Uriel. I’m merely making sure the Princess has her gown ready for the birthday festivities. Shouldn’t you be in council?”

“Yes I should, but I was sent to find Princess Mariana. Do you know where she’s gotten to?” asked Uriel watching Bronwen’s face very carefully. He knew the old woman was hiding something, but her face betrayed nothing. Her hands however were worrying the fabric.

“Try the rose gardens or the sword room. My lady has a penchant for all things sharp,” she replied noting his attention. Abruptly she put the fabric down, but did not rise.

“Of course. And by the way, perhaps we’ve overtaxed you with duties. You shouldn’t have to mend dresses when those lower than you could. I’ll take it upon myself to find you a useful girl to help with menial tasks,” he said over his shoulder as he went in search of the king’s eldest. Bronwen had a keen mind and knew that anyone Uriel gave her would be more spy than helper. Rising slowly from the chest, she emptied it of all the tattered and torn dancing shoes. Stoking the fire, she threw them all in and hoped Uriel hadn’t seen them.

Magic and Mayhem – A reimaging of the 12 Dancing Princesses

I’ve read quite a few versions of the 12 Dancing Princesses and even remember watching a TV movie or two. Basically, it revolves around a mystery. A king has 12 daughters who he locks up every night only to find that their dancing shoes are worn through every morning. He asks them where they go. The eldest tells their father that they never leave their room. How can they? He locks them in every night. So, he proclaims that the man who can figure out where they go gets the eldest as his wife. Of course plenty of eligible nobles try and fail, but a wounded soldier is able to follow them with the help of a wisewoman, who cloaks him in invisibility. He follows them to an underground kingdom where the girls dance with enchanted princes every night. After falling in love with the eldest princess, he tells the king the truth and marries the princess.

Call me crazy, but what kind of deal it that? Getting locked in your room and then when you try and have a little fun you’re sold to a snitch? I’m thinking of changing the name of this blog to Happily Ever After? because when you look at these stories it’s hard to see the up side. So I tried to write a story that would give these princesses their much deserved happily ever after.

Part I

An expectant hush pervaded the room. All that could be heard was the crackling of a stoked fire and the snoring of a lone drunk sleeping it off in the corner. The new arrival walked purposeful to the man who held himself slightly apart. Those around him instinctively took a step back in deference to his importance. Their visitor’s light tread faltered slightly when she reached the king, but she held her expression as blank as possible.

“What news? Is it done?” asked the king neutrally. The emissary wasn’t fooled seeing how tightly he held on the back of his chair.

“You have a fine daughter,” replied the woman and barely had the words out before the cheers and well wishes were declared in chummy unison. Movement suffused the space as men smiled and patted each other on the back. In a mass they all converged on the king, still gripping the back of the chair waiting for the woman to finish her task. She had yet to move and set his mouth in a grim line waiting for her next words. “And an equally fine son,” she continued in a whisper.

A burly man with a scarred face was about to clap his hand on the king’s shoulder, but quickly stopped his approach when he heard the words uttered. Another whispered in the corner to a confused witness, “It’s the prophesy. It’ll always have its say, it will. No matter how many children the king has it’s always twins, a girl and a boy.”

“Why should that make a difference? The queen is in good health and sons are always a blessing to a king with a large kingdom and enemies to spare,” replied the stranger.

“Not when the enemies are inside. The prophesy states that one of his son will inherit the kingdom while the king still lives,” he replied and didn’t have to add that a son inheriting a kingdom from a living king must have committed an act of treason to do so.

The happy bonhomie of a few moments ago became a stilted silence. Even the fire dimmed slightly. The king finally released his grip on the chair.

“Thank you, Bronwen. I will see the queen momentarily. Someone fetch the court sorcerer,” he said and exhaled audibly. No one met his eye as he sought another glass of wine and the solace of the hearth. It did little to save his mood.

The Tale of Red Riding Hood…Part III

The Tale of Red Riding Hood Part I

The Tale of Red Riding Hood Part II

When last we left our heroine, she was running from a pack of vengeful wolves in the company of her mysterious travel companion, Rummy…

On Red Riding Hood ran, feeling the same panic she felt as a little girl facing down a wolf in her grandmother’s gown. There was no woodsman to save her now, but the thought jolted her memory. Still running, she fumbled with her cape feeling the familiar heaviness of the ax. Her concentration was so focused on freeing the weapon from the billowing fabric, that she didn’t notice the exposed root of an oak in front of her. She landed with a crash, but quickly grabbed up the ax.

The wolves were now in a tight circle around her, snapping and salivating. Rummy was close behind, still laughing at the foolish girl on the ground.

“This is the family of the two wolves you killed. The fairies promised to make me one of them if I could help a creature who is reviled. Nothing is more hated than a wolf lurking in the woods. Now they shall have their revenge and I’ll have my reward.”

Red had little time to think about his words for before long she was beset by teeth and claws. Her ax was her only defense, which she used in short, hacking strokes. The wolves had not expected Red to be armed, but their blood lust and need for revenge fueled their attacks. Two of them continued to lunge even after sustaining terrible wounds and another three tried plunging under the arc of the ax.

Her arm began to feel heavy, but Red continued in fear for her life. The attacks were becoming clumsy on both sides. The two fiercest wolves were beginning to succumb to their injuries and the other three were losing the rhythm of her hacks. Soon all of them were in a heap of fur and blood and Red, bloodied and bruised herself, was the victor. An enraged Rummy stomped his feet and railed against the silence.

“I did as you asked. It’s not my fault they weren’t able to revenge themselves!” he yelled at the heavens. Red raised her ax keeping a safe distance from herself and the man shrieking in front of her. Through the trees a voice whispered on the wind.

“Helping those in need is not hurting others. This is your third such offense. You may not join us and what’s more you will become a figure of ridicule until you can find a soul to love you,” said the voice and Rummy was transformed into small wizened man with scant hair and a pointy face. He looked like an angry man child stomping his feet and then running away from the forest.

“To you Red of the Riding Hood, we give our good wishes. If there is anything you want, please name it.”

Red thought long and hard about her wish and was inspired by the events of the day. The fairies honored her request and sent her back to her cottage in the woods from which an ax shaped sign swung reading, “Red of the Riding Hood, Forest Escort”.

As for Rummy, he found another who needed his help. A miller’s daughter with a room full of straw…

 THE END?