Haven't posted much fiction for a while but last month, I had a go at The Word Cloud monthly competition for the first time in months. The theme was 'once upon a time...' and the story had to open with those words, include something magical, and be a 'told' story. It appealed to my storytelling nature - after all, Granny Rainbow is full of 'told' stories - so I thought I'd share what I wrote with you. Enjoy!
Once upon a time…but which time, exactly? There are times of then, of now, and of yet to come…
Then there are other times.
In such an other time, when the ganderbuss trees were in blossom and the river rushed green from snowmelt, a sickly babe’s incessant wailing sent her mother, the Queen, half-mad.
“How I wish the child was mute!” the Queen cried.
Which would have been as effective as a prample-juice poultice for a pimple, had not the western wind been blowing northwards that evening. And when THAT happens, wishes come true…
The baby was struck dumb.
Wracked with guilt, the Queen sought out the finest of fairies, the whitest of witches -sometimes the blackest of them, too - to undo the damage. Until…
“She will speak only when she must,” the Hag of Hogarth croaked. “The wish was made in desperation. Only in desperation can it be broken.”
The princess grew. When she was hurt, she sobbed: silently. When happy, her body shook with laughter: silently. When angry, she stamped her foot and frowned, but could not give vent to her feelings with the words she wanted to speak.
Until she learned her letters. Then, her pencil fair flew across the page, the previously unvoiced conversations pouring out onto paper.
Happy that - at last - her daughter could communicate, the Queen stopped searching for a way to break the bindings of her wish.
One autumn morn, when a waterfall of russet leaves was falling and the princess had reached her sixteenth silent year, a traveller arrived at the palace.
“My gift will make the princess speak,” he told the Queen. “All I ask is for her hand in marriage when she does.”
The Queen studied the young man with the long black beard. He stood as much chance of succeeding as the others before him, which was none.
And so the young man handed over his gift: a pen.
The princess took it up with a smile and wrote her thanks.
What appeared on the page was not ‘Thank you’, but 'Buggity plopbasket.'
The princess’s eyes widened. She tried again.
The mountain of discarded paper grew, covered in flackery muppetburger…jubeelious mickettyflop…pustulous creppittyho…
The pen was bewitched! But when the princess tried to throw it away - horror of horrors - it was stuck fast to her hand! No amount of tugging or pulling could release it. Her only means of communication had been snatched away - what cruelty was this?
Without thought, the princess opened her mouth. “Help!” she whispered.
The pen disappeared with a bang and a flash of green flame as the wish was broken. The princess found her voice, married the young man and if, sometimes, he wished for a moment’s peace from her chatter thereafter, he never showed it.
Least of all when his wife whispered ‘I love you’ in his ear.