FAIRY TALE FLASH - Happily Never After by Michael M. Jones

No one asks what the fairy godmother wants,
what's in it for her...
A hundred girls.

A hundred wishes.

A hundred balls.

I'm caught in this endless loop of yearning and fulfillment, desire and reward.

And no one has ever once asked what I want. No one asks what the fairy godmother wants, what's in it for her.

No one even stops to wonder, just once, where wish-granting fairy godmothers even come from or why we only show up for certain kinds of people.

No one ever asks the price... because they don't have to pay it.

And yet magic has a cost. A final bill that must be paid eventually.

Once upon a time...

There was a forbidden room.

A door with a lock.

A curious girl with a stolen key.

A candle in the dark, its flame flickering.

Hot wax, dripping and burning.

A yelp. A sudden gesture. A burned wrist, an uncooperative lock, a lost key.

An angry witch.

A curse.

An eternity of granting wishes and never once mentioning the cost.

A hundred desperate, foolish, ambitious, tormented girls, so eager to escape their terrible lives or wretched families that they never asked why, or how much, or what if.

A hundred grateful, newly-made noble women and princesses and queens, in my debt.

A hundred hearts and souls to be collected someday.

I wish I could tell them. Warn just one.

I wish just one would have the foresight to ask, the wisdom, the skepticism to stop and think about it.

But you whistle up a magic dress, transform some rodents, change fruit into carriages and they're too blinded by the shiny pretty magic to think twice. They go to the ball, they dance with the prince, they lose their shoe...

Happily ever after.

For everyone but me.

And yet all hope is not lost.

All I need is one girl to think about me instead of the prince. To look past the glamour and sparkles and see who I was instead of what I am and what I can do for them.

Every time I respond to another wish, spoken or unspoken, I pray this will be the one. But it's always the same, and I always lose.

I'd love to be free.

To go to the ball.

To dance away the night.

To live without rules.

When I fled at the stroke of midnight, you'd never see me again.
Michael M. Jones lives in southwest Virginia with too many books, just enough cats, and a wife who knows better than to make unwise deals at the crossroads. His word can be found in anthologies such as Clockwork Phoenix 3, E is for Evil, and Dark Luminous Wings. He is the editor of collections such as Scheherazade's Facade and Schoolbooks & Sorcery.
For more, visit him at www.michaelmjones.com.

Cover: Amanda Bergloff

Thank you for reading today's Fairy Tale Flash story, and please share your thoughts about Michael's tale with him in the comments section below. He'd love to hear from you!

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Comments

  1. Guilty. I am guilty of never thinking what the fairy godmother might want out of all that helpful magic. An intriguing perspective never pondered before. Until now. Terrific story, Michael.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Guy. I'm glad you enjoyed this story. :)

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  2. I like the fact that this isn't hopeless - one day, there'll be that girl, and fairy godmother will be free.

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    Replies
    1. You and me both. I'm holding out hope for this poor fairy godmother as well.

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  3. Replies
    1. A wise decision! After all, you never know just what the hidden costs of magical assistance might be. Just ask the heroine of Rumpelstiltskin!

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  4. I love this, as I always want to know more about the fairies and fairy godmothers who help fairy tale characters. Do they have motivations other than a desire to help mortals?

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    1. That's why I wrote this. I wanted to know just what might drive a background character like this, and the answer was surprisingly dark in places... I never realized the fairy godmother might actually be a bit bitter.

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  5. This made me think of the tale in which the ferryman must just get someone to take his oar and then he is free...I thoroughly enjoyed this thoughtful tale!

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