Once upon a time, in land that lies just beyond the first star of twilight, somewhere between wide awake and almost fast asleep, Snow White, the King’s daughter, is playing at the edge of the forest with the Chancellor’s daughter, Snell Primrose.
Sometime else, before now, the Queen has passed away; falling in to a coma following a long and brutal childbirth through the night: her life slipping away on the tailwind of the dawn.
Somewhere else the King meets a new wife, a beautiful, but ruthless accountant, responsible for some of the business surrounding his late wife’s will. He marries her: she is pronounced the new Queen of the land.
Some year else, in another time, Snow White has grown up. She is very beautiful, but victim to the Queen’s unkind hand. Seeking solace in her friendship with Snell Primrose, Snow White, ever the optimist knows that things can only get better.
She is wrong, of course. Things are going to get worse, before they get better.
The Queen has a friend who works at the Daily Mirror. Every morning she rings up and asks her friend: “Who the fairest in the land?” And her friend replies: ‘You my Queen!’ Then they laugh. The papers have made it their business to decide who is ugly and who is beautiful; each morning they publish a picture of the most beautiful in the land on front cover, in the top left hand corner. For the last twenty years, no one has ever beaten the Queen, and each morning after the hearing the good news that she has yet to be usurped, she jabs three botox injections in her forehead before heading off to work. Trained in finance, she runs the kingdom’s accounts from an emerald encrusted skyscraper in the financial district of the Kingdom. She enjoys working so high up in a tower, because she can look down on the people below and note how unimportant they look (and are.)
Someday (Snow White’s 18th Birthday, to be precise) everything changes. The Queen calls the Mirror, as she has done every day for the last twenty years. Today, her friend’s voice falters, “I’m sorry my Queen, but Snow White takes first place today, she has surpassed your beauty.”
The Queen slams down the phone, smashes three china vases and an ornate dove house in a frightful rage. She’s not worried, she suspects she’ll buy new ones and just claim them on her expenses at a later date. She formulates a plan.
When Snow White arrives home, the Evil Queen grabs hold of her, hurling a torrent of abuse, before ordering her huntswoman to take Snow White in to the woods and cut out her heart. Fortunately the Huntswoman and Snow White get along well, so she releases her in to the forest and tells the Queen she has killed her, marrying this news with the presentation of a still pumping, bloodied deer heart.
Soon Snow White meets seven little people who offer her a spare room in their house, they seem nice, but she’s streetwise and knows that it would be folly to go in to a stranger’s house, especially after the run of luck she’s been having. Instead she builds her own house, engineered from logs and leaves. She’s happy. Snell Primrose visits regularly, until she moves up north to study bio-chemistry at the University of Spun-Knowledge.
Sometime later, Snow White is papped whilst out in the forest by one of the Mirror’s paparazzi, it makes front page news and the Queen finds out that Snow White is not dead. She scoots in to the forest and lays an apple laced with a rare and highly toxic drug in Snow White’s path. Snow White eats the apple and falls in to a coma. The little people find her, and instead of taking her to a hospital, put her in a glass case in the forest. (See, she was lucky to be wary of them, most people would just call an ambulance.) Although this was a little odd, they keep watch over her, believing that one day a Prince will come and save her with true love’s kiss. The Mirror publish daily updates on her condition, which alerts Snell Primrose to the danger she is in. Doctors are eventually called, but no doctor in the land knows how to wake Snow White. Snell Primrose boards the first flight to the Land of Tanzane, where it has been rumoured that the Pobel Veen flower grows; the juice of which will act as an antidote to any poison, even the most lethal. She ventures through vast grasslands, fighting off poisonous spiders, and giant wasps. Three days later she finds it, boards the first flight back to the Kingdom, and heads for the forest. At the same time, a Prince from the Kingdom of Galore hears the news and jumps on his horse, travelling at breakneck speed to save the Princess. Snell Primrose and the Prince arrive at exactly the same moment. They meet face to face over the glass coffin.
“Move out of my way, woman. I am here to save the Princess.”
“Are you now? And how do you plan on doing that?”
“Why, with true love’s kiss, of course.”
The little people pipe up, a babble of excitement flows among them, finally their beautiful Princess will wake.
“Go on then.” Snell Primrose dares the Prince. He smiles, so very sure of himself, leans in and kisses Snow White on the lips. Nothing happens, so he tries again, and again, until Snell Primrose interjects.
“You do know that kissing sleeping girls without their permission is not ‘okay’, don’t you?”
The Prince takes a step back.
“I can’t believe it didn’t work. The prophecy from the Book of Borealis said that…”
“Oh, tsk the prophecy in the Book of Borealis, it’s all absolute trash. Move over, ‘man’.”
Snell Primrose steps in and injects a short sharp dose of anti-venom from the Pobel-Veen Plant, a single trickle of deep red blood falls from Snow White’s arm, she awakes and looks at her best friend.
“What’s going on?”
“This Prince was trying to kiss you while you were unconscious. He thought you’d wake up. Luckily I had the antidote to the poison you’d ingested and all’s fine.”
The Prince steps in, ready to take the Princess as his own.
“Snow White, I am here to make you my Princess.”
Snow White looks dubiously at the Prince.
“No offence, and I’m grateful you’ve come all this way, but I’m nobody’s Princess. Now go back from whence you came.”
“And no un-consensual contact with sleeping girls, okay?” Added Snell Primrose, for good measure.
The Prince remounted his horse and rode off in a sulk, the little people went home and Snow White decided to live with Snell Primrose at the University of Spun Knowledge (far from the evil Queen.)
And in perhaps in time, their friendship became more, for perhaps true love is not concealed only in a kiss, but in a great many other things, in actions, in words, in acts of love and kindness in shared moments and tangled histories, but that is a story for another day.
(And as for the Queen, she botoxed herself so much, it eventually flowed in to her veins, and she could no longer move face nor limb. But she was happy, because she still looked like a twenty-five year old.)