I wrote this story back in high school (early 1990s) and submitted it to a dozen or so magazines before finding one that offered to buy it … and then went out of business before they could send me a contract. Rereading it now, it's clear I'd had a bit too much literary analysis.
“It seems like it’s all over before it’s begun … ”
And they all lived happily ever after.
The evil Queen was depressed. This was not uncommon. Today, as usual, she sought someone upon whom to blame her visibly stormy mood. In a sarcastic sing-song voice she spoke to her mirror, which symbolized her conscience, in the words all of you could recite with your tongues blindfolded and tied behind your backs.
The mirror continued to show the Queen’s reflection for long enough that she almost thought she had finally taught it a lesson, but then it said, “Um, please rephrase your question.”
The Queen cursed. “All right! All right. Who are the fairest?”
The mirror immediately responded with a nice split-screen composite view of the Queen’s seven daughters, all of whom had identical jet-black hair and therefore, out of spite, were all named “Snow White.” “The, er, seven girls have been holding a checkers tournament this morning, and, em, none of them have even attempted to cheat, although I imagine the temptation would be great, since they are, eh, otherwise evenly matched. If, on the other hand, er, so to speak, you were using the other definition of the word, they recently won a beauty pageant in a, um, seven-way tie because the judges couldn’t tell them apart.”
The Queen drummed her fingers on the table while listening to this, continued for a while until she was certain the mirror had finished, and then said, in a voice as calm as the current in an electric fence, “Get me the Captain of the Guard. I want all seven girls taken to the woods and slaughtered.”
“Begging your pardon, your highness, but you’ll never earn the title that way.”
“I still don’t understand,” said Cinderella as the royal carriage rolled down the street, “why I have to stay with my stepfamily. What will you be doing?”
“Carrying your shoe around town, trying it on everyone’s foot,” answered the Prince.
“But why?! We were so happy! Why does this have to happen to our marriage?” She dropped out of melodrama long enough to add, in a confidential tone, “Besides, you know I’ve got weird feet.”
The carriage stopped at a gaudy little cottage amid a mob of excited people. Cinderella and the Prince got down and entered the cottage, where her stepfamily was angrily waiting.
“You better be grateful --” began the Stepmother.
“Not now, lady,” grated the Prince as he set Cinderella down in a chair. “Give me your shoe, dearest.”
“Please, no! Does it have to be like this … ”
“Look, it’s just for one night, OK? You’ll get it back before the ball.” He yanked the shoe off her foot.
“If you think I’ll walk in there with one bare foot … ”
“I’ll leave it on the stairs, OK?! See you at the ball.” With the shoe gripped in one fist, the Prince headed for the door. He turned and looked down his nose at the rags Cinderella had put on before boarding the carriage. “Oh, and get some better clothes by then.” He exited.
“You better be grateful to us for taking you in like this --”
The Prince re-entered. “I almost forgot. I have to try this shoe on all your feet.”
“Oh, but of course!” cooed the Stepmother in a sudden change of voice. “Cinderella, go peel some potatoes or something.”
She ran, crying, into the kitchen.
With some difficulty, the Captain of the Guard herded the seven Snow Whites into the woods, which symbolized the misadventures that all people must experience and learn from before they become wise, responsible adults. The seven girls had never been into the woods before, which says a lot about the way they were acting. The Captain of the Guard had been to the woods many times, but he had also had a lobotomy.
When the group became sufficiently removed from hearing range of the castle, the Captain, who symbolized the military, suggested that the girls play leapfrog and then readied himself to hack them apart as they leaped to the front of the line. This was not his own idea, of course; it had been suggested by the Evil Queen herself, who symbolized the ruling class under the feudal system. However, the Evil Queen had spent a few too many days with only lobotomized servants and her mirror for company, and so she had become a little out-of-touch and forgotten that some people have a slight degree of intelligence. This is a common problem among Evil Queens. Furthermore, if you recall, the seven girls had been in the woods for a few minutes now, and you know what that means.
At any rate, when the girls saw the Captain raising his axe, they ran away. The Captain knew he couldn’t follow all seven of them at once, so he cut himself into seven pieces. This is a common problem among Captains of the Guard. It’s called delegating responsibility, and it had the usual effect on his effectiveness.
Cinderella limped down the dirt road, cursing gently. Her stepfamily had left for the ball a few hours before, without her. She had tried in vain to find some means of transportation, and in her hurry she hadn’t changed clothes. She was wearing the same old rags and one high-heeled shoe which would have been uncomfortable even in a pair. She approached a spot in the road where some mice were swarming around a pumpkin.
When she got within three feet of the pumpkin, there was a tremendous flash of light, and she found herself riding in a glorious coach with horses and the whole works, and herself wearing a beautiful gown -- and still just one shoe. The clock in town began to strike midnight.
The seven Snow Whites ran screaming through the woods until they encountered a Dwarf. Dwarves are short, industrious little men who will work long hours for very little financial gain but then turn around and offer you everything they have. They traditionally symbolize the Japanese, but they are quickly buying third-world nations to symbolize as well. This particular Dwarf offered all seven girls the use of his house and futon and promised to sleep somewhere else, at least until they knew him better.
He worked all day, every day in a diamond mine, but since he worked alone he didn’t get much done. He relied heavily on the tunnels already dug by gophers and leprechauns, who both, in this case anyway, symbolize the tendency of Americans do do remarkable things just for the hell of it but then leave them unfinished and in danger of caving in, leaving someone else to capitalize tremendously on the work they began.
In return for the Dwarf’s hospitality, the Snow Whites did all sorts of improvements on his house and basically offered their services in any way he could think of. They saw to it that those things best done by a few at a time were done on a rotational basis. The Dwarf was very glad he had asked them in.
Cinderella found her shoe on the stairs, just as the Prince had promised. She squeezed it on over her blistered foot and tried her best to make a grand entrance. The Prince rushed to meet her, and they danced almost every dance together -- which was only proper, since they had been happily married ever after.
When the dance began to peter out, Cinderella rode back to her stepfamily’s house in style. Unfortunately, when she got there, a strange fat lady with tiny wings was waiting for her.
“How was the dance, my pretty?”
“Fine, thanks. Who the hell are you?”
“Bibbity bobbity boo!” cried the fat lady, shaking a stick at Cinderella. Instantly she was dressed in rags again. The shoes disappeared, and the coach turned back into a pumpkin and the horses into mice.
Cinderella was too shocked for intelligent conversation, so she settled on a terrible curse that won’t be repeated here as she lunged at the fat fairy.
The latter stumbled lightly away as if filled with helium, twittering airily and chortling, “No-no-nooo, dearie, you don’t understand. I’m your fairy godmother. I robbed you blind for your own good!”
Cinderella snatched again and again just short of the fairy’s overstuffed bustle, then tripped and fell to the ground. “First my home!” she screamed, “Then my husband! Now my clothes and my coach! Damn you, that’s all I had left!” The fairy was drifting away over the treetops, wings beating madly and chubby arms waving the stick from side to side.
Cinderella cried herself to sleep again that night.
The next time the Evil Queen asked her mirror the troublesome question, it really seemed reluctant to answer. “Have you, erm, seen what your son has been up to?” it said hopefully. “He managed to get rid of his wife and reduce her to poverty. You should be proud … ”
“Answer the question!”
The mirror showed the same split-screen view as before. The Queen flew into a fit of rage and pulled the mirror off the wall. “Perhaps if you tried to earn the title rather than killing off everyone else … ” began the mirror, but then it broke into several thousand of those things they make disco balls out of because the Queen threw it to the floor.
Having rid herself of what symbolized her conscience, she began to plan to rid herself of her daughters as well. She disguised herself as an ugly old hag, which didn’t take much doing, found the Snow Whites where they were working and whistling in seven-part harmony, and offered them a bushel of poisoned apples. Unfortunately for her, her daughters had become considerably less innocent since she’d seen them last. Not only did they immediately recognize her (though they pretended not to, just to be polite), they insisted that she taste one of the apples first. She did so and quickly fell into a coma. Thus were pesticides discovered.
Cinderella never saw her Prince again. He simply refused to acknowledge her existence, much less any claim to being his wife. He even advertised himself as an eligible bachelor.
Her Stepmother and Stepsisters continued to berate her for being ungrateful for their hospitality, regardless of how much demeaning housework she did for them. It was a tremendous relief for her when her Father got a divorce from the evil woman and an utter surprise when her Birth-Mother returned from the dead.
Cinderella and her parents lived happily ever before.
As for the Prince, he found his sisters living in the woods with their comatose Mother and a Dwarf in a very suspicious relationship that undoubtedly would provide him with a baker’s half-dozen illegitimate nieces and nephews in the near future. This disappointed him, because he had somehow always felt destined to kiss the Snow Whites while they were sleeping, and it was this type of shameful incestual urge that had caused him to leave his wife. Although it’s clear to all of us that he symbolized Fate, it wasn’t yet clear to him, so he wandered off into the woods to find himself, dragging his Mother behind.