A collection of short stories sweet and cruel

Every Word I Speak: Most of us know the fairy tale of the girl who, because of her kindness, was given the gift of gems and flowers that fell from her mouth with every word she spoke, but what happens afterward? Who can she trust and what will they want from her? This version of the story is a dark and troubling tale, and absolutely delicious for those of us who like our fairy tales unmarred by a Disney ending.

One Hundred Eight Degrees: Once upon a time, a fairy tale princess discovered the truth of her kindom and led a revolt to overthrow the evil tyrant. And then she died on a pyre, her allies dead or scattered. That’s only the beginning. This fairy tale princess gets a new start in a new world, one with computers, and canned soft drinks, and cars, but what will she do with it, and can she start over with a clear conscience, knowing that she’s left her people behind?

Remember: In “Remember,” the fairy tale princess is just a dancer who falls in love with an artist, but the artist isn’t free to fall in love. It’s not safe. So what happens to the princess who finds her happily ever after and then loses it in the blood of her lover?

What Will I Do When This Dream is Over?: Matilda is a unicorn, calmly cropping the grass in Emmy’s front yard. Hank is her ex-boyfriend, who can’t see her anymore because, she’s afraid, he’s angry with her for not putting out. Emmy’s been preparing for the day Matilda would show up all her life. It’s been like a dream, always there. She’s been called upon to do a job, to save the world, and now it’s time. Emmy’s off on an adventure. She hopes she’ll win, beat the bad guys, save the day, but if she does, what happens after?

The Fortunate Ones: Once upon a time, there lived a people who were always fortunate. And then they discovered that their fortune resided in their women, so they turned them into a commodity to be bought and sold. Annabelle is living the dream with her very successful husband, except he beats her sometimes, when he’s angry, when things don’t go right. She doesn’t like knowing she’s a commodity. She doesn’t like thinking like that. But she has to, and it’s up to her to save herself. If she can. If she can take her fortune back into her own hands.

But Can You Let Him Go?: The fairy godmother who provides Cinderella with her pretty clothes and shoes and the ride to the ball is paying penance for her mistakes. When she’s not passing judgement on foolish and avaricious humans, she’s hunting for Cinderella, the Cinderella in this tale, at this time, and the handsome prince who will give Cinderella her happily ever after. She needs to get it right. She needs to save them both. If she doesn’t, she’ll never see her people again. Her sister, however, is determined to see her fail, and she’ll do all in her power to make that come to pass.

And With This Slipper…: In this essay, Cindy Lynn Speer discusses the many Cinderella stories there are in the world, in almost every culture, and what it is that makes us love it so.

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