As part of my creative writing degree, I have to take up a year long writing project. My project, The Unfair-y Tales, is a series of short stories adapted from the Grimm’s fairy tales but written from the perspective of the villain. Why is it that some characters are destined to be ‘good’, whilst others are branded ‘bad’? Isn’t it a bit, well… unfair? Want to know the real reason Rapunzel was locked up in her tower? Did the witch really lure Hansel and Gretel into her house? If you’re in any way curious, I would love your help.
If you have any thoughts on how to improve these stories, I would happily welcome them. Is there anything you really liked, or anything you think really needs changing? I want to hear from you! I was thinking on extending the part between Gothel and the prince in Rapunzel, what do you think? Give me your views. When I’ve gathered enough feedback, I’ll publish the polished version on this blog 🙂
An adaptation of Hansel & Gretel
Olga held her wand to her lips. ‘Yes, Mother Witch… Yes… I’m sorry Mother Witch…’
A voice worse than a hundred creaking doors poured from the tip of the wand, making it vibrate. ‘DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH YOU HAVE DISGRACED OUR FAMILY COVEN AND DISGRACED THE LINE OF OLGAS?!’
Tears sprang up in Olgas eyes. ‘Mother Witch, grant me but one visit this Sunday dawn, and if you are not pleased with what you will see I will never ever bother you again.’
‘ONE VISIT ONLY!’ Mother Witch had hung up the wand. Olga threw down her wand and danced around the house. That had been the fifth spell call to Mother Witch to try to convince her.
On the day she had been cast from the coven, Olga held tight to her dream. We’re meant to scare the hearts of humans not give them heart disease blah blah. No matter what anyone said, Olga couldn’t rid recipes from her head of croissants, sweetbreads, and scones. Her taste buds had taken over her heart and her wand, and they weren’t going to give in easily. As she trudged away from the coven and into the forest, and a new dream rose in her head like dough in a kiln. That dream was the Edible Bakery – a place where you could eat delicious desserts inside a delicious dessert. It was revolutionary! She had chosen a clearing deep into the forest, so no one could ruin her concentration, least of all little boys and girls.
Olga set to rolling the dough for the day ahead. She had been baking for weeks, combining hard work with wooden spoon magic to erect the four wafer walls and roof of the bungalow. The inside didn’t have much to show for itself but a bed, a sofa, and a kiln. It wasn’t much but to Olga it was everything. It was a chance to prove her worth to Mother Witch. Olga’s hoped to win her mother over through the gingerbread door, the sugar glass panes, the roof tiles made from cookies, and especially the chimney that spouted icing sugar.
It was quite the sight, enough to make any tongue water. If she hadn’t cast an anti-crow spell around the bakery, Olga was sure the crows would have pecked it to pieces, the sweet smells wafting from the bungalow drew them. The distance from Monday to Saturday was long and the work that Olga put in was tough. No matter the callouses on her hands or the aches in her legs, she wouldn’t relent.
Olga sat on a log in front of the Edible Bakery and admired her baking. The sugar paper tulips around the white chocolate pond were such a nice touch. Tomorrow morning, Mother Witch would visit, and Olga would perfect the Edible Bakery and out herself as the first good witch in the family for a century. Her eyes glazed over like the top of an iced bun as she thought these lovely thoughts and she didn’t pay much mind to two figures creeping around in her peripheral.
The sound of munching by the side of the bungalow shook Olga out of her daydreams. She ran over to the spot, knowing full well that if it was a deer with a sweet tooth it would spring away. Instead, it was a little boy and girl, no taller than Olga’s waist. The boy hung onto the corner of the roof with his teeth, whilst the little girl licked the sugar glass like a dog cleaning their master’s plate.
‘Children? Oh my. Please don’t eat my dream!’
The little boy jumped down, ran in front of his sister and bared his fists.
‘Don’t touch us! Who are you?’ The little boy demanded.
‘My name is Olga, Good Witch Olga.’
‘A witch!’ The little girl gasped.
‘Oh darlings, I won’t harm you. It looks like you haven’t eaten enough to feed a bird!’ This much was true. Their skin hung over their bones like cling film beneath their rags. The little girl’s stomach whined at the mention of eating.
‘I know! You children can be my first tasters. If you come into the bakery, I’ll give you some fresh gingerbread. How does that sound?’
‘Hansel, Mother never let us have gingerbread. It smells fantastic. Pleeeease come in with me and try it.’ She pleaded to her brother on her knees. He stood still, fists still raised.
‘Well fine, Hansel. I’m going in by myself then!’ Gretel took Olga’s hand in excitement. Olga and Gretel walked towards the front door, smiles both on their faces.
‘Oh, and I could whip up some cinnamon twists as well, darling.’
Hansel ran up to the two of them. ‘Hey I like them too! That’s not fair’.
Having Hansel and Gretel eat and enjoy Olga’s baking felt like a cuddle in the freezing cold. She first gave them a few slices of sweet bread. A moment barely had time to pass before it was eaten and crumbs coated the mouths of the children.
‘More!’ They both cried, clapping their hands. And so Olga gave them more. More muffins, more biscuits, and more buns.
When Olga watched the children eat, it was as if each bite made them hungrier, their eyes got darker and their skin clung tighter to their bones.
‘Darlings, you’ve just about eaten half of my goods for the day. I’m very glad you like my baking, but If you eat more I’m afraid you’ll be sick.’
‘But I’m still so hungry!’ cried Gretel.
Olga went over to her bed and drew aside the pastry blanket. She ushered the children to the bed.
‘Give your bellies a rest for the night and I’ll bake you more things in the morning.’
In a strop, Hansel and Gretel got into the bed and pulled the pastry blanket up over their heads. Muffled, Hansel said ‘You won’t let us have what we want! You’re worse than mother and you ARE a nasty wicked witch!’
Olga suppressed a gasp. ‘Goodnight children’ she whimpered and lay down on the sofa for sleep. The tears cleared from her eyes as she dreamed of Mother Witch trying her delicious cakes and making her the coven’s first baker. Sunday dawn would be the best moment of Olga’s life and the Edible Bakery would be to thank for it.
Olga screamed at the sound of teeth gnashing in her ear. Hansel and Gretel had eaten most of the wafer sofa she slept on. She stood up in fright.
‘MY BAKERY!’ An anger grew in Olga, far hotter than the kiln fires. ‘YOU’VE EATEN EVERYTHING! MY DREAM! OH MY DREAM!’
Gretel began to cry and stomp her feet.
The children had eaten the cookie roof, the walls, the floor, the door, the windows. They had licked away the sugar glass panes, swallowed whole the sugar paper tulips, and drank the milk chocolate pond dry.
‘We’re hungry. You didn’t feed us. You’re a wicked witch!’ complained Hansel.
‘Mother Witch can’t see this mess. I’ll be a mockery, more of a failure than I was before!’
Hansel prodded Olga hard in the side. ‘Bake us more wicked witch. Now!’
‘No, you greedy monsters! Mother Witch is flying over at any moment. I need to fix this. I-I’ll re-bake the wafer walls straight away.’ She said urgently.
The children both screamed in frustration. Olga ignored them and tried to push away thoughts of disaster. She leant her body into the mouth of the kiln with a flame at the tip of her wand.
Flames sparked, flickered, and grew in the belly of the kiln to her relief. I can do this Olga vowed to herself.
She felt a great force on her rump which heaved her body into the kiln. The iron door trapped her in.
She shrieked and she shrieked as the fires hissed, licked away her skin, and munched on her flesh. Hansel and Gretel peaked through the slots of the door, waving Olga farewell and giggling.
That was the tale of Olga the Good Witch, cast from the coven and deep into the oven. Mother Witch was indeed happy with her visit, as those two children went down a treat.
An adaptation of Rapunzel
Dame Gothel was a talented enchantress. Growing up, she knew the inside of magic tomes better than she knew her peers. Gothel had been a lonely child, who had grown into a lonely teenager and then a lonely adult. That was before she had met Orlin. Far greater than any spell she had learned was their love for one another. Both talented enchanters, their magic only bloomed brighter with their marriage and many happy years were passed with love.
Orlin, being heir to a prestigious magic line had the responsibility of producing his own heir. Being both immersed in love for another, Gothel and Orlin began to try for a child, and try they did. As Gothel’s stomach grew by each moon, her excitement at nursing a little Orlin in her arms greatly excited her. But the stars didn’t have pregnancy in their plans for Gothel, who through many tears and fits delivered stillborn or miscarried.
Pressures for a child corrupted Orlin’s love for his wife into something black and acidic. Where once Orlin left kisses and love bites on Gothel were now bruises, cuts, and scars that sunk beneath the skin. Love had left their home years ago, and one dusk Orlin made the decision to follow it.
Gothel closed in on herself and drained the hurting from her mind through magic and horticulture. Her womb didn’t have the power to make life, but her hands and mind did. Nothing gave purpose to her life more than the rampion that crowded her garden in a pool of purple.
‘Who are you?’ Gothel demanded, pointing her wand at the thief. Her hand shook. ‘And why are you holding my precious rampion?’
The man fell to his knees. He was not a large man, but one who’s poverty had affected his body and behaviour. ‘Please, have mercy neighbour. My wife is pregnant and I can’t provide enough food for her. Her strongest cravings have been for this plant as she can smell it from her window. I was only hoping to take what you wouldn’t notice.’
After deep thought, Gothel spoke quietly. ‘You can take as much rampion from my garden on the condition that as I will help to feed your child, you will give it to me and I will raise it from poverty.’
Desperate to satiate his wife’s hunger and his own, he agreed.
‘One more thing! If you lay one hurtful finger on your wife, I will know about it and the agreement will be lost. Understand?’
Through the months of child-carrying, Gothel dedicated herself to motherhood. She found a beautiful grove a fair distance from civilisation and its men, and erected a tower far taller than any redwood. It would be their home.
On the day of the child’s birth, Gothel cried happy tears and named the girl Rapunzel.
Rapunzel grew up to be a very beautiful young woman, and outdid any plant in Gothel’s first garden. What was most distinctive about her beauty was her hair that grew from her head and flowed across the tower floor like a trail of honey.
Rapunzel was not only beautiful, but excelled in the study of magic and invested her time in numerous hobbies. Mostly she was either seen reading, helping Gothel around the tower, or singing a high and lovely tune, one which drew birds to their windows.
When Rapunzel turned eighteen, Gothel moved out of the tower to give her daughter the space every young lady needs.
‘Good evening, my dear Rapunzel.’ Gothel hugged her daughter and sat with her. ‘How have you spent this lovely day?’
A dreamy look swam in Rapunzel’s eyes. ‘Oh it has been a really lovely day. I’ve painted, and cooked, and sang.’
Gothel got up to begin preparing their evening meal, when something stuck to the underside of her boot. She held it up for inspection. It was a handkerchief. Peppered on its corners were embroidered tulips.
‘Tell me what this is, Rapunzel?’
Panic crossed Rapunzel’s face. ‘Silly me, did I leave one of my projects on the floor? I-I’ve also been practising my embroidery today, mother.’
‘This was done with a neat hand, I only taught you to embroider a month past.’
Rapunzel took the handkerchief and tossed it on her bed. ‘I’ve been trying to improve my skill while you’re away. I wanted to surprise you.’
‘How sweet, darling.’ Gothel wrapped her daughter into a hug. Nothing else was said of the matter. Gothel had raised her to be an intelligent woman, the handkerchief was just doubt picking at Gothel’s mind.
‘Mother, please go home. I’m very ill. I would feel so guilty if you caught this.’
‘Nonsense. You’re my daughter and this is my job. I’ll fix you some tea.’
‘Nonsense. Stay in your bed and rest.’
Gothel brought the tea to Rapunzel’s bedside, whose face was deathly white. She drank the tea without looking at Gothel, who stroked her hair.
‘I know what always makes me feel better when I’m ill, darling.’ Gothel began to draw back the covers. ‘Fresh bedding.’
‘NO!’ Rapunzel screamed and wrestled for the covers.
Shocked, Gothel pulled harder and the covers came away. Rapunzel burst into tears.
Her dress was soaked with blood and pooled around her on the bed.
‘Rapunzel? Your moon blood shouldn’t happen for at least a few more weeks. What have you done?!’
‘Mother, I am so sorry! Mother!’
Gothel stalked over to the kitchen and slammed her hands on the counter. ‘You have had a man here.’
‘A prince though, a prince who wouldn’t ever harm me!’
Gothel shook her head and muttered to herself. ‘I should have known, with that handkerchief, but I chose to trust you. I raised you to be a smart woman and now you have fallen to the power of a man! He will crush your heart and your body if I don’t step in!’
Rapunzel grabbed her mother’s arm and made Gothel face her.
‘I’m in love with him! Truly, deeply, faithfully in love with this man.’
‘You’re deluded, exactly as I was!’
‘No I’m not!’
‘I WILL NOT HAVE ANY MAN HURT MY DAUGHTER.’
Gothel fetched a pair of scissors from the kitchen and sternly told Rapunzel to sit at the dining table. Rapunzel obeyed with tears falling down her face.
The blades of the scissors soared across Rapunzel’s hair with no strungle, and her golden tresses fell limp on the floor. Rapunzel screamed and jumped out of the chair.
‘My hair! You monster!’
‘No, no darling. Don’t you see? He won’t recognise you and we can travel far far away and be safe and happy.’
No matter how many times Rapunzel refused, Gothel’s mind was set on protecting her only child.
Gothel lifted the protection spell from the tower, and a staircase wound to the ground floor. Her mother’s frenzy convinced her to leave the tower and live in the ruins of the desert.
Rapunzel’s belly and resentments grew over the months. Her mother told her again and again that the prince made no return to the tower. What Rapunzel didn’t know was that, Gothel had lured him up the tower with Rapunzel’s hair and gave him a rough push the moment he looked into Gothel’s face. He did not survive the fall.
Rapunzel bore two children, both of which would never know their father’s face.
An adaptation of Jorinda and Jorindel
Windy was an odd little girl straight from the moment her mother bore her. Windy was a part of the Lilyfog family, which consisted of a Fairy Mother Lilyfrog, Fairy Father Lilyfrog, her seven brothers, and Windy.
The beginning of Windy’s childhood was lived very happily until her wings poked from her shoulder blades on her sixth birthday. After years watching her brothers learn to fly, Windy was ecstatic to try it herself.
‘Father, my wings! My wings!’
Father Lilyfog chuckled to himself and returned to his work. Windy wouldn’t have it. She kept on calling him until Mother Lilyfrog led her away and slapped her wrist.
‘Windy stop that nonsense immediately.’ cautioned Mother Lilyfrog.
‘But Mother, my wings are poking through. I can learn to fly like my brothers!’
‘No, Windy. We have female fairy wings. They’re… different. We’re not meant to fly with them. We only have to groom our wings so they look beautiful.’
Windy put out her tongue and wrinkled her eyes. ‘But that’s not fun!’
From that moment onwards, Mother Lilyfrog was tougher on Windy the more she mentioned flying. Their family were more right wing than left, and Windy suffered for it.
‘Father, please just listen to me for a moment. I’m ten years of age. I have mastered my domestic spells and can get most of my chores finished by morning. I will work hard and make you proud if you’ll only let me learn the fairy magic you teach my brothers.’
‘No. Talk no more of this. Domestic magic is all that is needed of female fairies.’
‘Enough unruly child!’
Windy had learnt to swallow down her anger, yet in that moment it was particularly bitter. She walked away from her father, clenching her fists.
One evening when Windy was sixteen, the perfect opportunity offered its hand. Her mother was visiting an elderly fairy and six of her brothers were elsewhere. Windy peeked through the keyhole of Father Lilyfrog’s study. He was giving her eldest brother a lesson in magic.
‘Father,’ It was her brother’s voice. ‘I was reading up on the infirmatur but I don’t quite understand it.’
‘Ah. To put it simply, an infirmatur is a plant that will null the magic of a fairy. It’s different for each of us.’
Windy whispered the word to herself, infirmatur. It sat wickedly on her tongue.
Her father raised his voice as to instruct. ‘Now, concentrate on this hare. To cast healing magic you must say clearly: salutem!’
Windy would learn the hard way that the pronunciation of spells can be muffled through a keyhole.
Windy copied them, ‘Salantem!’
Her brother and Father Lilyfrog stopped talking. Windy cursed herself and was ready to bolt away when the door was thrown back. Windy locked eyes with her father. Before he could even blink, Father Lilyfrog had turned to stone.
Windy screamed, ‘What have I done?’
Looking into the study, she could see that her brother was a statue too!
Windy cried and cried as she waited for her mother to return. She had no clue what she was going to tell her. Whatever had happened, Windy regretted challenging her place.
Mother Lilyfrog opened the door. Windy raced to her and dropped to her knees.
‘I’m so sorry mother – so sorry – you were right all along – female fairies shouldn’t –‘
Windy’s eyes widened. Whatever spell she had cast earlier, the moment her mother walked through the door she had turned into a nightingale! Mother Lilyfrog twittered angrily and flew out the window.
‘No, mother! Come back!’
Windy ran to the local village for help. Whoever she tried to approach, the spell would touch them too. So she ran deep into the woods to mourn her parents and brother. When her eyes had cleared of tears, she recalled that her fairy grandparents once lived in a castle in the woods, but had now passed to heaven. From that day further, Windy lived a life of solitude in castle, and would venture in the woods each day to search for her own infirmatur.
The spell intensified through the years. Many people would wander by the castle and suffer the same fate as Windy’s parents. By the time she was an adult, Windy had a knack for bird catching. Each young lady who turned into a nightingale would have a cage in her home. The twittering helped to stave off the lonely thoughts.
One day, Windy was reading a magic book by the window when she saw two figures in the distance. My keep away signs should scare them off she thought. Yet in her peripheral, Windy could see the figures nearing the castle.
‘Stay away! It isn’t safe!’ Windy shouted from the castle, but they couldn’t hear her. The young man walked up to the door and Windy watched from the window as he turned to stone. She ran outside to catch the newly-formed nightingale.
‘I’m very sorry,’ Windy said to the nightingale in her palms and kissed her head. ‘I’ll find a way to undo this one day’.
Windy turned to the statue of the young man, ‘And as for you chap, it will be a day until you transform back. I’ve watched it before. I don’t know why it only happens to the men.’
And so Windy carried on with her excursions to find her infirmatur, with one extra nightingale in her castle and more bird poo to clean up.
One evening, when Windy was dreaming of a time before her mistake, the castle was broken into. Windy awoke to the sound of the doors slamming open. A beast must have bounded in, She thought, it couldn’t have been man or woman. Windy grabbed a dagger as she crept down the stairs.
She crashed into a figure on the stairs who held a handful of purple flowers.
‘Oh my!’ Windy cried, ‘Oh my! Oh my! Oh my!’
‘Don’t be alarmed,’ The handsome young man said, holding up his hands. ‘I am Jorindel, the man you mistakenly turned to stone. I dreamt that these purple flowers by my cottage would save my love, Jorinda.’
‘Oh I’m not alarmed, I’m overjoyed! You, wonderful man, have found my infirmatur. Let me take you to her.’
Windy took Jorindel’s hand and led him to the Grand Hall, where she kept the myriads of cages. Excited twittering filled their ears. The nightingales fluttered in their cages.
‘I’m afraid I don’t know which bird is your Jorinda,’ Windy explained ‘but I shall help you open all the cages.’
When all the birds were free, Jorindel brushed the flowers over each bird’s head, restoring them back to their feminine forms. After a decade of emptiness, the Grand Hall was filled with the number of guests it was built to entertain.
Jorindel ran over to Jorinda and planted a soft kiss on her lips. ‘I cannot ever lose you like that again, Jorinda.’ And so Jorindel bent down on one knee as asked if she would be his wife. Jorinda said yes and hugged him tightly.
To celebrate, all the newly freed women and the happily engaged couple ran down to the village to have a feast. Windy watched them leave from her window in a river of colours. I thought I would be happy in this moment, but all I feel is loneliness.
A hand patted Windy’s shoulder. She turned around.
‘I have much to thank you for, Windy.’ One of the women had stayed. She cried happy tears. Windy noticed that she had wings.
‘You have nothing to thank me for. Jorindel is your hero.’
The woman shook her head. ‘When I was a nightingale, there wasn’t one day when you weren’t out searching for the plant that would help us all.’ The woman hugged Windy.
‘Fly with me to the feast. You will be a happy addition.’ The woman stood on the window ledge and offered Windy her hand.
‘I – I can’t. I don’t know how to. I was told female fairies couldn’t fly.’
‘Then walk with me to the feast, and after you will be my apprentice. I will teach you to fly and cast magic.’
‘More than the domestic kind?’
‘So much more.’
Windy enjoyed the feast and her new fairy apprenticeship. She became a talented fairy, one who made her mark on the village for the better. Jorinda and Jorindel married in the summer and not long gave birth to a little girl. Windy became her godmother. Windy learned that there’s nothing wrong with making mistakes as long as you don’t let them keep you down.
© 2017Elizabeth Brown All Rights Reserved