Sunday, July 1, 2012

Retelling Sleeping Beauty

It's a very popular thing recently to re-imagine old fairy tales. My sisters read these recreated tales all of the time. A few days ago I was thinking about a way to recreate a fairy tale, and this is the beginning I came up with:

Once upon a time in a kingdom far far away there lived a woman named Mary. She was a very good cook, and everyday she drove into the place to help cook for the king, the queen, and their daughter. She had never met the royal family - she simply rolled out pie crusts, peeled potatoes, and did other chores that no one else felt like doing. It wasn't great work, but she had been doing it for many years, since before the princess was born. Mary had a daughter, Elise, who was preparing for her wedding, and a son, Eddie, who was quite young and still got into mischief. Everyday she left Eddie in Elise's care while she worked at the palace. Mary knew that there was something odd about the princess - a story that involved a fairy, and pricking her finger - but she didn't have time for that magic nonsense, so she didn't pay much attention. She  was too busy working to make Elise's wedding dress, to find a good school where Eddie could be educated, and to keep her little garden in tip-top order. One day, as she was stirring a large pot of applesauce, Mary felt her eyes grow heavy, and noticed every other servant in the castle seemed to also be nodding off to sleep. Slightly alarmed, she managed to dump her pot of applesauce on the low fire to put it out before she and the rest of the kitchen staff fell into a stupor.

Well, as you can imagine, my poor Mary is from the story of Sleeping Beauty. As I was imagining a re-telling, I contemplated those people in the palace who were NOT a member of the royal family. Mary has two children who are outside the castle gates, children who will be long gone when she wakes up in 100 years. If I were to flesh this out into a longer, better story, I would have Mary go on a quest to discover the histories of her missing children. I have a hard time imagining how it would feel, to wake up not knowing where or who you were anymore, because the time was so different, but I feel like it would be quite startling. My Mary is a particularly practical person - notice how she put out the fire before she fell asleep - very wise, because otherwise what's to prevent them all from burning down? I sort of wonder if rats and other animals overran the castle while all the humans slept. That might be another interesting angle to take on the Sleeping Beauty tale. Anyways, I'm open as to suggestions on what to do with Mary - I'm considering (again) trying my hand at a NaNoWriMo novel with this story as the basic plot line. I'd have to flesh out the introduction so that you feel connected to her son and daughter more, but I think it would be a fun story. I'm also considering putting her into a steam-punk future. That would be super interesting. Let me know what works!

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