July 29, 2021

Throwback Thursday: Happily Never After, By Michael M. Jones


No one asks what the fairy godmother wants,
what's in it for her...
Editor's Note: Magic can fix everything, right? Well, what about those that are the wish granters...do they have to pay a price? Author, Michael M. Jones, features a different point of view on a classic story in today's Throwback Thursday tale. Enjoy!
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


Unknown said...

I love this perspective, the longing and humanity.

Sharmon Gazaway said...

Wistful; poignant.

HulderMN said...

When the happily ever after is the happily never after. A farewell party and ultimate freedom may be well worth the wait.
Here, let me hold your wand for a sec'.