“Once upon a time, the world was a lawless place. Beautiful people nursed evil in their hearts, and ugly children grew into ugly adults, no matter that they were pure of heart. Girls who wished upon a star might never find true love, and a peasant born would a peasant remain. A person might have said, ‘Life’s not fair,’ and meant it. People told fairy tales to while the time away, dreaming of better lives they would never have.
“Until one day, the Godmothers came. No one knows from where they appeared, and no one knows when they might go, leaving us alone, again, in an unfair world. The fairies brought with them the stories we had always told; magic to turn a peasant into a princess, true love’s kiss, evil witches and coal-red shoes.”
“Will I be a princess?”
“You’re already a princess, sweetheart – but who knows which princess you’ll be.”
“Can I be the one who goes to the ball?” Elodie asked. “I want to dance – and dance and dance…”
“You could be the one who walks through the woods and meets – A WOLF!” Her mother pounced, tickling, and Elodie shrieked and squirmed.
“No, mama, if I’m the one with the wolf he’ll eat Grammy.” She looked sad, suddenly, her seven year old’s face transformed. “I don’t want to be a princess, mama, if it means someone eats Grammy.”
“Not the one with the wolf, then,” her mother quietly agreed. “There are so many princesses, sweetheart, and so many stories. You could be anything.”
“What’s the matter?”
“Why are all the stories sad in the middle part?”
“Well – because, that’s how you get a happily ever after.”
“I don’t think I want one,” her daughter said. In her small dark eyes were thoughts still raw and untested. Her mother bent and kissed her forehead, knowing she was supposed to say how wonderful it was to be a hero, how love was worth any challenge. Stories weren’t things anyone was taught to protect themselves from.
“Your life doesn’t have to be a story, Elodie,” her mother whispered instead. “I won’t let anything hurt you.”