Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Cautionary Tale

In my Untitled Fairy Tale Dystopia, I have a prologue that's titled "A Cautionary Tale." Originally, I didn't have plans for a prologue. But back then, fairy tales for children used to be cautionary tales with morals to the stories. For example, in "Little Red Riding Hood," you shouldn't talk to strangers and in "The Frog Prince," you should keep your promises. I figure that since this dystopian world is full of rules and structures, it needs some sort of cautionary tale that the adults tell the kids to keep them in line.

So here's my draft of a cautionary tale about my dystopian world of Anserini:

A Cautionary Tale:

The crones used to tell us a story when we were little girls, each one of us orphaned since the day we were born. Their whispered tale chilled us to the bone, regardless of their use of “Once upon a time” and “Happily ever after.” Those famous bookends had been ingrained into our little hearts since we could speak, beloved words that we wanted for ourselves, but the crones’ story wasn’t like the pretty fairy tales we usually listened to at story time. There were no beautiful princesses, no handsome princes, and no evil witches. There were no fairy godmothers, no helpful animals, and no magic.
There was just one little girl in one mad world.
Once upon a time, there was a little girl who slipped into her imaginary world because real life wasn’t so pretty or colorful or sparkly. When no one was looking but the dust bunnies under her bed and the stuffed bears on her pillows, she pretended to be a princess from one of her favorite storybooks.
She stole into her mother’s jewelry box and put on the pearl necklaces, diamond earrings, and gold rings. She stole into her mother’s collection of perfume bottles and dabbed her favorite scent on her neck, on her wrists, and behind her ears. She stole into her mother’s closet and slipped on the gown that shimmered whenever she spun around in circles, the extra length of fabric fluttering behind her like a trail of moonlight.
Then her parents came home at midnight.
Playtime was over, but she didn’t want it to be. Sobbing on their laps, she refused to remove her mother’s things and go back to being a regular little girl.
Her parents told her she looked beautiful, like a real princess, but they also told her that little girls didn’t stay little. All little girls grow up, but they didn’t become princesses or look model beautiful or kiss Prince Charming.
The little girl didn’t believe her parents…until she grew up.
The world she lived in was a very bad place. Sins that were considered deadly slowly took captive of people until their once pure bodies became unrecognizable. These people were angry, greedy, lazy, proud, promiscuous, jealous, and overweight. They wanted more and more, and if they didn’t get more, they became violent and wars broke out.
Everyone stopped being happy.
And the most tragic thing of all?
Love disappeared from this world.
Marriages ended in divorce because men and women were full of lust and not love. All they cared about were physical pleasures, not concerned about the consequences—the children who grew up unwanted and unloved.
At this point of the crones’ story, the other little girls and I started weeping. We didn’t want this horrible world. We wanted to be Cinderella, Snow White, or the Little Mermaid. We wanted to wear pretty dresses, look model-beautiful, and kiss Prince Charming.
Most of all, we wished for our happily ever after.
The crones told us to end our tears because we didn’t live in this world anymore. In our new world, little girls grew up to be storybook princesses, had special surgeries to look beautiful, and were perfectly matched with their Prince Charmings. It wouldn’t be easy, they reminded us. Little girls must work hard before they could become real princesses so they would never be angry, greedy, lazy, proud, promiscuous, jealous, or overweight.
We nodded because we never wanted to be the little girl who stopped dreaming, stopped pretending, and stopped loving.
It was a cautionary tale the crones told us before we were placed into real homes with stepmothers, stepfathers, and stepsisters—like “Little Red Riding Hood” taught us to never go into the Woods where wolves and other scary beasts liked to eat bad little girls.
If good little girls did what they were told, they would live happily ever after.


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