A Reverse Fairy Tale

A Reverse Fairy Tale

Over on Tumblr I participate in the #writeblr community. Some have started posting spontaneous prompts and so far I’ve really enjoyed answering them. So much so that I wanted to share my responses here. These are written off the cuff, without any planning. Today’s prompt was a reverse fairy tale.
. . .

Rose had been raised among glitz and glamour. Her mother had somehow managed to be exceedingly rooted in reality; her budget for decorating the palace had been frugal. She stuck to maintaining what was already there rather than redecorating with new outrageous and lavish art and textiles. But that hadn’t changed the extravagant nature of her home. Most of the royal residences sprinkled throughout her kingdom weren’t much different.

People expected her to demand luxurious accommodations. Even her children were surprised when she ‘made do’ with a regular hotel or the guest room of one of their fathers’ friends. She thought they would lose their minds the one time she accompanied them on a camping trip.

“But where are you going?” her oldest son insisted. He had asked the same question every day for the last month.

And every day she gave him the same answer. “Don’t worry, dearheart, you’ll be able to contact me wherever I am.” She tapped her right temple. “Our connection is strong enough to override your usual range. If you need me, I’ll hear you.”

“Right,” Dormal sounded as if he were trying not to roll his eyes, “I’m aware of that. But I want to know where you’re going to be. What if we want to come visit you? We are going to miss you, Mother, you must be aware of that.”

She smiled, secretly pleased that her children still valued her presence so much. “You won’t miss me half so much as you think you will, dearheart, but it won’t be too difficult to arrange a visit. Don’t worry.”

“Mother…” there was a hint of a sigh in Dormal’s voice; it was quite reminiscent of his father’s exasperation. No doubt he had learned this particular tone from him. “We’re worried about you. We just want to make sure you’re going to be okay.”

Rose chuckled. “Don’t worry, darling, I’m actually quite good at taking care of myself.”

When he opened his mouth to protest again, she patted his shoulder. “You’re the king now, Dormal. You’ve got far more important things to worry about than me. I’ll be fine.”

She turned then, retrieving the suitcases she had left in the hallway, and swept down the hallway before he could speak. She had never been so pleased to put the palace gates behind her.

*  *  *  *  *  *

The journey was short; one of the benefits of personal gates. She had set this spell months ago, in anticipation of this day. Her son’s coronation couldn’t have gone more smoothly. In all the festival and spectacle, the press seemed to have forgotten her quiet abdication. With luck, they would all be so impressed by her son’s first days on the throne, there’d be no reason to talk about her abdication by the time they remembered it.

She set her suitcases aside and surveyed her new home. It was a modest cottage, built to her specific specifications. The lower floor was mostly dominated by a single large room. The kitchen was tucked to the right of the main entrance, cabinets, sink and oven all lined up in a row along the far wall. A wooden table for dinning marked its boundary. She could use that same table to extend her counter space if need be. It all blended into the sitting room, centered around a large fireplace. The furniture was upholstered with plain fabric. A few paintings decorated the walls, but much of the free space was dominated by bookshelves, packed full of books.

A small doorway led to the guest room and its private bathing quarters. A staircase tucked into the corner led upstairs to her personal bed chamber and a slightly larger bathing room. That tub was deep and there was a wide window next to it looking out over the thick forest surrounding her new home. In fact, her first act now that she was free of the crown was going to be a long, hot soak in that tub while she surveyed her tiny domain.

There was plenty of room out front for a garden. She had already decided which fruits and vegetables she intended to plant. She could see the tiny rows and little labels in her mind’s eye. When she had all that tended, she might just clear some of the undergrowth in the back to make room for a chicken coup.

How glorious it was going to be to live off of the land, her own little self-sustaining life, with no one’s affairs to manage but her own. She could be a hedge witch to the nearby villages, the charming recluse who rarely ventured from her clearing. She no longer needed to be the glorious sorceress or the regal queen. She had served long enough.

Steam filled the bathroom, a clear indication her bath was ready. She sighed as she slid into the tub, letting the hot water embrace her. “Free at last,” she murmured, reveling in the quiet sounds of the forest as she laid her head on the edge of the tub. She would never answer to your majesty again.

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