Horribly Beautiful: A Short Story
"Once upon a time" is how this story begins, but isn't that how all Fairy Tales: begin? Immediately when a child hears these words they know two things for certain: magic and a moral will be involved. The latter usually will escape from the child's mind because, naturally, children don't think or care about morals at such a young age. But for this particular tale, the moral is quite important. So, this being said, prop up a chair before a cozy fire, and let me tell you the frightening tale of the tale of queen who wished to be beautiful....
Once upon a time, there lived a young, beautiful queen. This queen, who was known throughout her realm as Queen Beauty, looked exactly as her name suggested. She had fair, golden, rich locks, pearly white skin, which was as soft as cotton, and a lovely, angelic voice which made her sound as if she were singing when she talked!
Queen Beauty lived with her husband, King Jackson, in a large castle by the sea, in a land that no ordinary human can every find (I’ve only been there once or twice myself). This castle overlooked the most beautiful sunsets imaginable, more magnificent than you have ever seen! The castle itself was gigantic, made entirely of marble, gold and other highly expensive metals! Its halls were perfectly rounded or squared (mainly rounded, as was the fashion in that land), and hung with paintings made by the finest painters!
With all this beauty, you would expect the Queen to be a kind hearted person, would you not? But sadly, this is not the case. In fact, the Queen was rather cold and vicious to everyone close to her, making all the servants and peasants fear her! Luckily, the King was a jolly, cheerful man, and was rather fair to his subjects, so Queen Beauty was put up with for the most part. King Jackson loved her very much, so the rest of the kingdom tried to make do as well.
But, as the years went by, the Queen began to get more and more mean to her people. Soon, her own people turned against their Monarchy, threatening to overthrow the King and Queen! To save his Kingdom and maintain peace with his people as well as his wife, King Jackson called for a gigantic royal ball in which all the people of the land could attend! The people were overjoyed with this, so the King took some of the Queen's old, worn out (yet still beautiful) gowns and traded them in for gold to give to his citizens. He did this in the middle of town for all to see, and this made the citizens' even happier.
The Queen, however, was very unhappy. Even though she didn't wear the gowns' anymore, the Queen was angry that the King was trying to please the peasants so much as too give them gold and invite their horrid, unwashed bodies into her fine home! In her anger, the Queen called upon a local witch who lived in the forest near the castle by the sea. The witch came immediately, walking right through the front, grand gates without the soldiers or squire even noticing her!
The witch walked right up to the Queen's chambers, somehow knowing the way, and knocked lightly on the hard oak doors.
The Queen opened the door, and, seeing no one, was about to close it, when she then looked down. There stood a small, impish little woman who hardly came up to the Queen's knees! The witch had long, wispy white hair that seemed to grow blue at the roots and knarled, aging and wrinkled skin and hands. She was dressed in nothing but simple dress and a thin cloak. The Queen was appalled to see the witch wasn't even wearing shoes!
The Queen stuttered, not used to seeing such ugliness in her presence," Are you the Witch of the Wood?"
"No," said the witch, her eyes squinting up at the Queen so much that they seemed like there was only wrinkles where her eyes should be.
"No?" The queen inquired, about to close the door in the Witch's face and call the guards. "Then I have no need of you. Be gone or tell me who you are!"
The little witch smiled and bowed," I am the Witch of the Castle. A few minutes ago, I was the Witch of the Town, and yes, when I was home in my cozy cottage, I was the Witch of the Wood."
The Queen was about to yell at the little witch and tell her she was in no mood for games, but, fearing the Witch wouldn't help her if she did so, the Queen ushered the witch inside, not even bothering to ask how she got past the guards unannounced. The little Witch jumped up on the cozy bed and sat down as the Queen stood, staring at her.
"So, your ladyship, what do you need from a poor soul like me?" The Witch asked.
The Queen told the Witch what her husband had done, and then said to her," I wish for 100 gowns of the finest silk and stitching you can find! I want them all to be more magnificent that anyone has ever seen! I believe I deserve this after what my husband has done."
"And what will I receive in turn for this magic?" The little witch asked.
"I will give you three bags of gold from the Royal Treasury," the Queen replied, without even blinking, producing the bags from her closet.
The Witch stared," Shouldn't that money be used towards the people?"
"Who cares? I do not."
"This is a small price to pay for such beauty," and that being said, the little Witch jumped off the bed without a backwards glance and walked from the room, grabbing her three bags of gold from the Queen.
The very next day, the 100 gowns the Queen had wanted appeared in her chambers. The Queen was overjoyed as she held the fine fabrics, which were even more beautiful than she thought they would be. She picked a splendid red one and wore it to the ball that was to be held for the peasants. The town people, seeing this expensive gown, glared at the Queen, and even the King gave her some foul looks for he knew she had stolen three bags of gold from the treasury.
Many years went by then, and once again the kingdom was happy again! The Queen herself was more kind, which only helped brighten the citizen's future, for a mean Queen was a bad Queen!
But, as we all well know, good things aren’t meant to last. Sweets will always be eaten, soft bread will always mold, and money will eventually run out. But none of these happened to the kingdom. Instead, a plague came. It was a horrible plague, which spread from person to person as easily as words! Warts and bruises began to appear on the common folk, and then they grew deadly ill, so sick that their very hair began to fall out!
The King did what he could to make sure this did not spread, but, one day, the plague entered the castle and took several servants and even Queen Beauty herself captive.
As her hair began to fall out in thick blonde locks, the Queen cried and cursed the peasants from whom she believed she had gotten the sickness from.
Completely bald now, the Queen called upon the Witch of the Wood yet again.
The witch came instantly to the castle (easily slipping past the guards) and walked right in to the Queen's chambers, not even the least bit surprised at seeing the bald Queen.
"Ah, Witch of the Wood!" The Queen exclaimed upon seeing the Witch enter. “I see the plague has not yet reached you."
"I am the Witch of the Castle at the moment, my dear," the Witch said as she jumped on the bed where the Queen sat under the covers. The Witch was sitting painfully on the Queen's feet but she didn't say anything.
"Yes of course," the Queen tried to smile, losing her patience. "So, Witch of the Castle, I have yet another task for you to carry out for me."
"Anything, dear, anything."
"I want you to have my hair grow back to its former glory and I want me to be in good health and immune to this plague!"
"You only want yourself cured? Not the towns’ people?"
The Queen laughed," Them? Why should I help them? Those beasts are the ones' who gave me this malady!"
The Witch stared at her and said slowly," I will do as you ask on one condition: you give me back the 100 gowns I have given you. I asked for no money."
The Queen gaped at the woman," No! Absolutely not! I paid for those dresses!" The Queen then reached into a dresser besides her bed and pulled out three large, bulging bags of gold," I have these for you, anyway! Now be gone and see that this gets done!"
The Witch eyed the bags," From the treasury I presume?"
"Yes. Now go. Your presence annoys me."
"There is a price to pay for this beauty," and that being said, the Witch took the bags of gold and hopped of the bed and was out the door before you could even blink.
The next day, to the Queen's joy, the Queen had a full set of hair more beautiful and stunning than ever before! Her body also felt perfectly refreshed and she sprang from bed in her joy, got dressed in one of her golden gowns, and ran off to show her husband.
"How did this happen?" King Jackson whispered as he ran his hand down the Queen's soft head.
"I called upon a Witch and she made me all better! I only needed to ask her!" The Queen smiled.
The King quenched his fist, his eyebrows furrowing, and growled," But you stole from the treasury used to provide for our sick people! Just to save yourself! I am ashamed."
The Queen was hurt by his words, but quickly got over it, hardly even caring for at least she was well.
Eventually, the plague dispersed, leaving many peasants dead. The King did what he could for the families of the dead, but all were angry with the Queen who had somehow survived the illness without a scratch!
Many years went by then, until the King and Queen were in their 40's. Hatred towards the Queen had grown and grown over the years until it wasn’t even sage for her to step outside of her palace!
When the Queen turned 45, however, she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, who had thick, blonde hair just as she did! The Queen adored her son (at least when he was sleeping. She loathed his annoying bleating and crying), but due to the child birth and all the years of yelling, the Queen began to lose her beauty. Thick, deep wrinkles appeared all over her face, and the Queen's hair even showed signs of gray!
The Queen, outraged, called upon the Witch.
The Witch appeared in the Queen's chamber as the Queen sat before her Vanity mirror and touched the deep wrinkles.
"You called upon me, lady?" The witch said, glancing at the newborn baby who slept in his cradle.
"Yes!" The Queen almost screeched. "Get rid of these hideous wrinkles! And this horrid gray hair! Make me beautiful again!"
To the Witch, the Queen was still indeed rather beautiful, but the Witch knew by now that it is impossible to argue with the Queen. She told her," Fine, but then I require the 100 gowns I gave you, and your hair, which I have also given you!"
The Queen bellowed," MY HAIR?! NO! I WANT YOU TO GET RID OF THE GRAY HAIRS! AS FOR THE DRESSES, THEY ARE MINE! No one else’s! I will give you all of the money in the treasury if you will just do this task! I will give you a castle all to yourself!" At this point, the Queen's son began to cry from the shouting and the Queen, eyes blazing with craziness, said," Take the baby if you want! He caused this mess! I didn't even want him!"
The Witch, who had been calmly staring at the Queen from before this point, now gaped and glared at the Queen. She said to her slowly," This is too high of a price to pay for such beauty."
Then, with a snap of her fingers, the Witch turned the Queen into a snow white fox.
The fox/queen yowled and ran about the room and came to the foot of the Witch’s feet and sobbed. The Witch glared down at the fox," Queen Beauty, you have continuously betrayed your people to only better yourself, and just now wanted to give up your own son! Therefore, you will remain a fox until the end of your days, forever hunted and loathed and nothing but beautiful and selfish."
Then, the Witch produced from her tiny cloak six large bags filled with gold of which the Queen had given to her, and she sat them at the foot of the young prince's cradle. The Witch then turned on her heel and marched from the room, but before she left, she turned and said to the terrified fox on the floor," You better run, miss. Oh, and remember this: you are horribly beautiful."