The queen fixed her make-up and then smiled at the mirror. “Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?”
A fuzzy face appeared in the mirror and her reflection disappeared. “My queen, you are fair, it is true, but Snow White is a thousand times more fair than you.”
The queen scowled and turned from the mirror, a dozen murderous plots already forming in her mind. And then she paused and turned around. “What do you mean when you say fair?”
The mirror narrowed its fuzzy eyes. “What, no rhyme?”
The queen shrugged. “Is it really necessary?”
“I guess not.” The mirror sighed. “There are so many meanings to the word fair. But I know that you meant beautiful, and really she is more beautiful than you at this point.”
“A thousand times more?”
“No, of course not. But, we were doing rhyming couplets then, and I had to make the meter work.”
The queen nodded. “I guess that makes sense. What tipped the balance?”
“She’s younger, and you’re getting older. It happens to you mortals.” The mirror smiled. “Now mirrors on the other hand…”
The queen smiled back. “…last just until they’re broken into tiny pieces.”
The mirror stopped smiling. “That’s true. Did you have any other questions, my queen?”
“Can you show the future?”
“Of course not.”
“Well then show me the luckiest person in the kingdom.” The queen folded her arms and raised an eyebrow.
“Ah yes, right away.” The face disappeared, instead showing a very ordinary looking man sitting in a very ordinary-looking house.
The queen scowled. “And why is he more lucky than me? I’m the queen.”
The fuzzy face reappeared in the mirror with a sigh. “Indeed. With all the responsibilities and troubles that come with the crown. This man is completely normal and boring. So many people want to be normal.”
“I’m beginning to think that you and I don’t think the same way,” the queen said. “What was I thinking, asking advice from a magic mirror? What do mirrors know anyway?”
The mirror frowned. “I know a lot. You just need to ask the right questions.”
Tapping her foot, the queen thought for a moment. “We’re having problems with the goblins in the north. What’s their weakness?”
“Goblins are actually terrible cowards. They wear layers of armor day and night because they are always frightened of being attacked. They hide in dark caves, so nothing can find them. If they weren’t so fearful, they wouldn’t be chronically overheated and low in vitamin D, not to mention what all that worry is doing to their skin and hair.”
The queen didn’t look convinced. “Then why are they always attacking travelers? If they were cowards, they’d hide and let them pass.”
“Preemptive strikes. They don’t want anyone attacking them from behind. They truly believe everyone is out to get them, and so they think that if they strike first, they’ll get the upper hand.”
The queen uncrossed her arms and tapped a finger against her chin as she thought. “So, if they felt safer, they’d leave us alone? They’d need a food source.”
“They have the river. They do know how to fish,” the mirror said.
“I’ll go meet with my human advisers. Maybe we can wall off the mountain or build them some doors to their caves that lock on the inside or something. Hopefully, if they worry less, they’ll be much more pleasant neighbors.”
The mirror smiled. “That’s a very fair solution. Look, you’ve become more fair already.”
Laughing, the queen turned to leave. “I suppose it depends on what you mean by fair.”
“What? Would you rather be normal?” the mirror called after her.
“I’ll leave that to the experts,” she called back over her shoulder. “Apparently we have one in our kingdom who’s doing a marvelous job of it.” She swept out of the room.
“My queen, you’ve passed your first true test. Someday you’ll be a queen of legends,” the mirror said quietly. And then the fuzzy face faded away.