This story was originally posted on April 17, 2019. I think we all do great and terrible things now and then. And sometimes, the bad choices we make can cause us big problems down the road. In fairy tales, the effects are magnified, of course. I think that’s what makes them so much fun to read.
Once upon a time, a king and queen were thrilled when they had a tiny new daughter. They invited the kingdom to celebrate, and gave special invitations to the resident fairies. The fairies made it a habit of attending baby blessings and using their magic powers to grant special powers and gifts to special babies.
Of course, a baby princess is a special baby indeed, and the fairies were delighted to come. All but one. Somehow, her invitation had been lost in the mail, and she felt snubbed.
“How dare they not invite me?” the fairy asked. “Inviting everyone except me is a deliberate insult.”
“I’m sure they meant to invite you,” the other fairies said. “Come anyway. I’m sure they’ll have great flower nectar and that spicy cracker mix you like.”
“Oh, I’ll come,” the fairy said. “I’ll give the baby a blessing they’ll never forget.”
“That’s the spirit,” the other fairies said, ignoring her dark tone.
And the day for the baby blessing came. The fairies hovered around the baby, giving her gifts of wisdom and beauty and other princessy things. The last fairy hovered over the princess and smiled much too widely.
“I bless you with the ability to go without sleep. In fact, you won’t ever sleep at all.” And then she swooped away cackling.
The crowd was confused. “Was that a good thing or a bad thing?” the queen asked her husband.
It didn’t take long for the answer to be clear. A baby that never sleeps at all is a very bad thing. Even with a rotating watch over her, the princess soon exhausted all her caregivers. She had so much extra time to figure out how to get into everything. She was always alert, never tired, and once she was a toddler she could soon outrun even the fastest runners in the kingdom.
“She will do great or terrible things,” the king said sadly one day, as he untied the laces of the shoes that had all been strung from the banisters of the spiral staircase.
“That’s fifty-fifty odds, right?” the queen said. She was still hunting for her shoes. “That’s not so bad.”
But the princess grew up to do both great and terrible things, as we all do. She just managed to do them on a bigger scale. She was, after all, a princess who never had to sleep. She had more time and resources than most.
By the time she was seventeen, her father sent her out on daily quests just to keep her out of trouble. She rescued kittens from trees and babies from dragons and ladies from lakes. She painted fences and helped build cathedrals. Her father started running out of quests.
And then he had the best idea yet. He sent her to go help out the fairy that had given her such a unique gift. The princess rode off on her horse and the kingdom breathed a sigh of relief for another day.
The fairy, on the other hand, found that her woes were just beginning. The princess had decided to build a gazebo in her yard at midnight. The fairy woke up to a terrible racket, and try as she might, none of her hexes could hit the princess. They just bounced off her polished shield like those fuzzy yellow balls bounce off tennis rackets.
The princess remodeled her kitchen and she couldn’t find anything. She dug up her potion ingredients and planted a bed of thorny roses. Then, when the fairy was hiding in the library, the princess came in and started indexing the books by the authors’ first names.
Enough was enough. The fairy stood and aimed her wand at the princess’s back. “You will be an ordinary princess who sleeps just as much as an ordinary princess does.”
The princess kept sorting books. “I am an ordinary princess,” she called over her shoulder. “I sleep an ordinary amount, for me.” And that night, she dug a wishing well that only worked if you threw in polished diamonds.
The fairy strode out, dark circles under her eyes. She pointed her wand at the princess. “I take it back. Whatever I said that made it so that you are here keeping me up at night, I take it back.”
The princess looked confused for a moment. “I think that maybe I’m sleepy?” And then she curled up next to the well and fell asleep for the first time in her life.
She rode home the next day, after the fairy urged her to go home and tell her parents the good news. Her parents were thrilled.
Of course, bad habits aren’t easily unlearned, and the princess never did sleep as much as everyone else. But, she did get into a little less trouble. And the entire kingdom rested easier.
Once upon a time, the three bears sat down to eat breakfast. Unfortunately, their porridge was too hot. So, they went for a walk in the woods while they waited for it to cool. While they were walking, they wandered into an area of the woods that they’d never visited before.
They paused as they heard voices up ahead. Peering through some conveniently placed bushes, they saw a strange sight. A woman dressed all in black was standing at the foot of a gingerbread tower.
“Rapunzel, I said to let down your hair. I forgot something, and I’m going to be late.” The woman stomped her foot.
A window opened at the top of the tower and a younger woman looked out. “What did you forget? I’ll toss it down to you.”
The woman in black stomped her foot again. “Just let down your hair. I don’t have time to describe it to you.”
The woman at the window tossed out a very, very long, blond braid. The woman in black used it to climb the tower. She climbed back down a few minutes later and pointed a stick at a pumpkin in the garden next to the tower.
The pumpkin turned into a carriage. With a few more flicks of her wand, some mice nibbling at the tower became horses. The bears, hidden in the bushes, shuddered. They were glad they’d decided to remain hidden. It could have been them turned into horses!
The witch, for what else could she be, hitched the horses to the carriage and rode away. The bears looked at each other.
“If she’s not home, it might be safe to look a little closer,” Mama bear said.
“The gingerbread smells heavenly,” Papa bear said.
“Did you forget what happened to the mice?” Baby bear said. “They were turned into horses. We might be turned into pigs. Then we’ll be eaten!”
“Nonsense,” Mama bear said. “With all this gingerbread, who would want bacon?”
Papa bear shook his head.
And so, with Baby bear trailing behind them and looking around suspiciously, they approached the tower. Because they hadn’t eaten breakfast yet, they were all quite hungry. Soon there was a large hole eaten from the side of the tower.
“Oops,” Mama bear said. “I just meant to taste it to see if I could bake something like it at home.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Papa bear said. “They needed a door anyway. Now they won’t have to climb out the window.”
“I could go in and bake them a door to put in the hole,” Mama bear said. “I have a nice brownie recipe.”
“That’s a terrible idea,” Baby bear whispered loudly. “We should run away now!”
But they went inside anyway, and Baby bear followed them in. Inside, seven very short men were busily working in a kitchen that filled the base of the tower. One of the men looked up and scowled.
“It looks like we need a five by six patch.”
“Five by six?” The man in glasses next to him put down his mixing bowl and took out a notepad and pencil. He wrote on the pad and then tore the page out and handed it to the bears.
Papa bear took the page. “Is this a bill?”
The man in glasses nodded. “We charge by the square foot.”
“I thought I could bake you a door,” Mama bear said. “I make great brownies.”
“Brownies are terrible construction material. Too soft,” the scowling man said. “And we don’t need a door.”
“But the witch…” Mama bear began.
“She’s just overly efficient,” said a voice behind them.
The bears whirled around. The blond woman was behind them. Baby bear squeezed himself between his parents and tried to wish himself invisible.
“Weren’t you trapped in the tower?” Papa bear asked nervously.
“No, I just spin in there. My hair grows unnaturally fast, so I spin it and braid it into ropes. The witch is my product tester. She insists on using my hair ropes to enter and leave so that product testing is built into her day. If she was really in a hurry, she’d ride her broom.”
“So if you wanted to leave…” Mama bear began.
“There is a door on the other side of the tower.” Rapunzel yawned. “Wow. Spinning sure makes me sleepy. One of these days, I’m going to fall asleep at the wheel and prick my finger on the spindle.”
Papa bear pulled out his wallet and paid, and the bears went home. Inside their house, they found that the porridge was eaten, a chair was broken, and a little girl was asleep in Baby bear’s bed. Baby bear woke up the girl.
She looked at her watch and leaped out of bed. “You’re late!” she threw on a red cloak and picked up a basket that was waiting by the bed. “I’m going to be late getting these goodies to grandma’s house.”
“Just don’t stop to talk to strangers this time,” Baby bear said.
The little girl made a face at him, then jumped out the window and ran away. The bears looked at each other.
“That was different,” Papa bear said. “But it’s fun to try new things.”
“It was fun,” Mama bear said. “We should go back to the tower again. I want to taste a window. Just to see if I could make one at home, of course.”
Baby bear sighed. “That was stressful and exhausting. I need a nap.” And hew went upstairs and went to bed.
“Should we have told him about the magic beans?” Mama bear asked. “Maybe he needs a bit of warning.”
“I’m sure he’ll be fine,” Papa bear said. “Just toss them out the window. Let’s see if they grow.”
Was Sleeping Beauty really a zombie?