A Dark Snow White Short Story
Once upon a time, Snow White believed in happily ever after.
She has her one true love; her handsome prince now crowned king. When she wakes, it’s in a bed of silken sheets and the finest down, protected by high castle walls and ornate tapestries to ward off the chill of white winters. Each morning her reflection greets her with assurances that she is still beautiful and fair—still deserving of her name. She has everything she could want, everything she could possibly need, except for the happiness she was promised, and suddenly ever after strikes her as just another curse hiding in the shape of a gift.
The truth is, she’s living in riches when all she wants is a world of dreams. When she sleeps, she floats in rivers of stars and stares up at skies painted in an eternal sunset. She dreams of gnarled branches heavy with fresh, sweet smelling apples with candy red skins that whisper promises of perfection. Her fair hands pluck a specimen from its too green branches, fingertips caressing the smooth curves and admiring her pale, distorted reflection, before bringing it to her lips. Teeth sink into its crisp flesh, juice dribbling down her chin—she savors the taste of euphoria as it slides down her throat.
Waking is painful. Her husband's lips taste sour when he kisses her, the pillows feel lumpy, and the castle smells stale. She thinks of the empty glass coffin in woods, surrounded by the skeletal remains of flowered wreaths (her wreathes, her coffin) and tries not to think of the vastness of her dreams, or the disappointment she feels when her eyes flutter open. Poison, she reminds herself, it was poison. She repeats it silently, with a desperation that borders on a prayer, but even when she breathes the words to life—lets her red lips wrap around each one with the reverence they deserve—it falls flat. Hollow.
She tries to fill the void, satiate the itch, with everything that is red. She paints her lips with it; wraps her body in dyed silks and deep velvets. Around her neck she hangs strings of rubies so dark they look like drops of blood against her ivory skin. When she looks at her reflection in the mirror, she is every bit a queen, but even with the garnet rings adorning her fingers, her hands still look empty.
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, what is missing for the fairest of all?
The mirror gives no answer, but she doesn’t need one. Not really.
At morning mass, the priest preaches of the sins of Eve and of how her taste of the forbidden fruit damned humanity. Snow White listens, knuckles white and aching as they fist in her red velvet skirts. Her husband lays a hand, callused by the same sword that severed her stepmother’s head from her shoulders, over hers in what should be an act of comfort. He doesn’t understand.
Snow White has tasted that fruit, rolled its flesh over her tongue and pressed it lovingly against the roof of her mouth so that she may savor its sweetness. She wonders if Eve also longed for another bite, even as the world was burning all around her. She wonders if Eve was in love with her poison, the way she is.
There is a watch on her dainty wrist, drawn out in blood and invisible to everyone but her. When it’s quiet, she can hear her pulse ticking in her ears, marking the time until she can fall back into a vivid world of dreams. It is there from the moment she wakes, till the stars dot the sky and her eyes slip shut. Every morning, when the sun rises, all she wishes is for it to set. With every day there is a hunger in her that grows and remains unsatiated by the offerings of the castle’s cooks.
The warm days of summer wane, and with fall comes the scent of apples on the breeze—sitting, ripe and heavy, waiting to be plucked. In town, the cider makers bleed the juice from the fruit. Bakers roll dough for apple fritters and pies, and display the finished goods in their windows where they can seduce and arouse hunger.
She knows she won’t find any on the castle’s long polished table—knows they have been banned from even entering through the castle gates by her husband’s decree. Instead, she watches from a stone arched window—envy souring her stomach—as a child below skips with a strudel in hand; flakes of crust sticking to her syrupy lips with every enthusiastic bite. That night the kitchen staff serves her striped slices of Black Forest cake, and she sucks the taste of cherries from her silver fork, wishing it was a different red fruit entirely.
The first morning she wakes to find the ground iced over, veining across the lands and marking the approaching winter, she breathes a sigh of relief. The scent of autumn apples has been replaced by the cool, clean scent of winter pine. Soon the kingdom will be blanketed in snow—perfect in its purity, even as the cold of it numbs her fingers. She hopes it will numb the hunger as well.
She wanders the castle, aimlessly searching for a distraction—something to curb the gnawing of her stomach. It is the morning after a storm, when the snow is piled so high she would disappear were she to step into it, that she finds it. In the East Wing, there hangs a tapestry of Eve. There is a snake draped over her shoulders and whispering into her ear with his forked tongue; in her hand is the apple that damned them all—the thread still vividly red despite the rest of the tapestry being faded with age. Without thought, Snow reaches up to touch it—but recoils when the woven threads give beneath her fingers. Behind the tapestry is a passageway instead of a wall; the stairs dark and slippery. She brings a guiding hand to the wall and her fingers are met with damp moss.
At the bottom of the stairs is a room full of decaying furniture and the scent of rot. Disappointment teases at her heart, a gentle ache, until she sees the tiniest bit of vibrant, seductive red peeking out from what used to be a wicker basket. She blinks, in her hand the candle trembles, and it feels like hours before she finds the courage to take that first step towards it.
She pushes aside the tattered blanket, heart in her throat.
An apple. Beautiful and pristine in ways only magic and dreams can create. Snow White doesn’t have to wonder who's hands are responsible for crafting such a marvel. The skin is supple; its flesh inviting. She brings it to her ruby lips, smells the magic laced in its scent.
She wants to covet it, treasure it, but—mostly—she just wants to know if she will find another world of impossible dreams and ecstasy beneath the red satin skin.
Just a bite, she thinks, just a taste.
AN: Hello lovely readers! I hope you enjoyed this dark Snow White story; it is my thank you to you for all your love and support in helping Everlong reach its first 100 sales. <3 Please feel free to leave a comment on your thoughts!
If you are a new reader and are interested in checking out my debut novel, you can do so here. :)