The queen sighed at her hands. “Not as milky white yet, still creamy and soft.” She gingerly caressed her body neath thick folds of scarlet brocade. “Alas, no longer girlish, but there’s more for my husband to embrace.”
She studied her features in her hand-held looking glass. “Still lovely, I think. Crimson lips tempting and full, though my face has grown a little wan, but a bloom of youth remains.”
She touched her tight black wimple and adjusted her jewelled coronet, saddening over the silvery streaks running rampant through her once ebony locks. She strode over to the enchanted mirror. “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, tell me, am I still the fairest of them all?”
The highly polished surface clouded revealing an opaque face.
“My Queen,” it tenderly answered, “throughout this land, both high and low, thou has been the fairest of them all. But it has come to pass that there is another, sweeter of face, purer of heart, and she is the fairest one of all.”
“Another …” gasped the queen.
A playful smile curled the corners of her mouth as she recalled a vision of a young girl with hair as black as coal, lips as red as blood and skin as white as snow. She’d been terrified by a huntsman, had cleaned house and cavorted with seven little men. She sang to birds and frolicked with woodland critters. A disturbing image of a ruby apple, so succulent yet deadly emerged along with the yearning of a true love’s first kiss.
She sighed. “Magic mirror, is this girl as fresh as spring and as sweet budding roses?”
“The maiden you speak of is indeed lovely, but she is not the fairest of them all.”
“Tell me,” demanded the queen, “where does this other girl live?”
“She lives within thine own kingdom.”
“Mirror, where can this girl be found?”
“My queen, thou only needs to look out of thine window to see her.”
The queen ran to the window. In the royal garden below she spied two young girls, one fair and sweet as newly budded roses. The other girl was dancing about singing, her glossy jet tresses bouncing, full blood-red lips smiling as her snowy skin glistened in the golden sunlight. Keeping to the shadows she listened to the darkhaired girl’s sweet song.
A handsome youth suddenly appeared at the top of the garden wall, he was mesmerised by the alluring songstress. The queen watched him as he clamoured from the wall to the ground.
“Young Prince Gerald, from yonder kingdom,” she whispered. Tears welled in her lovely rounded eyes. “Sixteen years ago my husband and I were blessed with a daughter as fresh as spring, and as sweet as roses. My sweet Princess Rosebud loves that silly prince. How can I ensure she finds true love if another’s charms destroy her happiness …”?
She rushed back to the looking-glass. “Mirror, tell me, now what would my late step-mother have done …?”
Australian born Kim Michelle Ross lives in Newcastle with her husband, three boys & dog. She’s also a belly dancer. Former lab rat (pathology), ex-medieval re-en-actor & HWC 2010 Lit-Link Mentorship recipient.