Wow. It’s been a hectic week. There have been shows to tech, deadlines to meet, essays to plan and Easter to arrange (escape to the North – hurrah). Therefore I come to Sunday and I have ideas for posts but no actual energy or inspiration to write them. So I shall save them for another week and this week instead I shall indulge myself and share some of my creative writing with you. I’ve been tidying and organising my computer recently trying to get everything in the same place and have managed to bring all of my writings together. Some of it I would go so far as to say it is good, other stuff…needs work, shall we say. But I’ve chosen a few pieces to share with you over the next seven days.
The one I’m going to start with is the thing I have been working so hard on for the last three months. Once Upon A Fairy-Tale (working title) is a novel I have been writing for my Creative Writing module at uni. It’s a new genre which I have titled an Anti-Fairy Tale, kind along the lines of Gregory Maguire’s Oz works. The thing to remember with it is every creature you come across is the opposite of what you would expect.
I’ve decided to brave it and share the first chapter with you here. Any feedback would be appreciated (positive or negative) and maybe in the future I’ll post a few more chapters. But for now, here’s chapter one.
Prince Edgar sat alone on the corner of the dais, happy to be ignored while his older brother passed judgement on the peasants before them. Edgar had had much more enjoyable plans for the day but his parents, specifically his mother, had insisted he be present. He was to take a greater interest in running the kingdom now that he was a proper man, even though he would never actually rule this kingdom or any other. Nevertheless, his mother maintained her high if somewhat deluded aspirations of him marrying a beautiful princess from a prospering kingdom and living happily ever after, procreating in abundance until the end of their days. While he hated to disappoint his parents – even though it was something he appeared to be quite adept at – there was little chance of his marrying a princess. At least not the kind they wanted in the family. This was just another attempt at her making a ‘proper’ royal out of him.
“You shall pay six silver coins and spend one night and day in the stocks.”
Edgar glanced up at his brother’s proclamation just in time to see a starved and filthy farmer collapse into his wife’s burly arms. The punishment seemed a little harsh considering the offence.
“My Lord,” the woman bellowed, “you can’t do this to us. We don’t have six silver coins. We don’t even have one silver coin. My husband is innocent.”
The prince looked bored. What did he care if they could pay or not? All he was here for was to pass judgement. The farmer’s wife moved closer to his seat, stopped only by the two guards who held a stroking resemblance to a brick wall. The prince yawned. “You can’t pay? Fine. A week in the stocks.”
This time her wordless bellow was filled with distress. The couple clung to each other as they were escorted, practically carried, from the room by two of the many guards as the older prince turned and winked at Edgar.
“Enjoying yourself Ed?”
“Just smashing, thanks for asking. No need to ask if you are.” The replying grin was that of a child pulling the legs off a spider – full of a spiteful enjoyment. It made the younger prince’s stomach turn.
“Excuse me, Prince Charming.”
“What?” Charming looked down in disdain at the aide kneeling before him.
“Luncheon is to be served in ten minutes in the Great Hall.”
“Court dismissed,” Charming announced to the room at large as he waved the servant away. “I’m starving.”
Edgar stood up from the wooden chair he had been perching on for three hours and stretched his stiff limbs. Hopefully he wouldn’t be forced back to witness the afternoon session as well. If he escaped to his rooms quickly enough they might all forget about him and let him have some peace and quiet. He aimed for the nearest door, hoping to avoid any conversation. His brother caught up with him before he had taken a dozen steps.
“Have lunch with me.” It was an order, not a request. Charming didn’t do requests.
They marched through the corridors at a pace that made Edgar’s breath come in desperate, hushed gasps. Servants ducked through doorways and leapt behind suits of armour to avoid being in the path of the two princes. It would have been comical if it weren’t for the fear apparent in their eyes even from a distance. They weren’t worried about Edgar, but it was a common fact that court sessions tired Charming. More often than not he was likely to take out his foul mood on whoever was unfortunate enough to stand before him. The palace servants had learnt that the hard way, some still bearing the scars of their close encounters. Best to just get out of the way and drop whatever you were carrying than risk permanent damage.
“So, what’s happening with you little brother?”
Edgar sighed. This conversation again.
“Oh, you know. A million and one things that all pale in significance to your golden achievements.” Charming laughed his deep, booming laugh. Edgar hadn’t been joking, but in his brother’s defence sarcasm was a tricky concept to grasp. He clapped Edgar heavily on the back with one meaty paw, almost sending him sprawling into a nearby wall.
“You always know how to cheer me up. Seriously though, any progress on the wife front?”
Edgar hated this question. No, he hadn’t chosen a wife: he didn’t like the potential wives that were paraded in front of him and, more importantly, he didn’t actually want a wife. But he couldn’t tell his family that. You would think that one overly masculine and virile son would be enough for most parents. Not theirs though. Every day a different girl was presented to Edgar for him to examine, interrogate and hopefully fall madly in love with. The closest he had come to marrying was a rather passionate game of chess with… The name sadly escaped him. Needless to say, she was far too independent and headstrong for their family, even if Edgar had been interested.
Charming was still waiting for an answer. Edgar put on his best smile. “You know me. Too picky for my own good.” Charming shook his head uncomprehending as he blasted through the double doors to the Great Hall.
“Gotta get hitched soon,” he called over his shoulder, “or all the best ones will be taken before you know it.”
Their parents were already sat at the oversized table. Usually set for fifty people, there were a mere four places today. Charming kissed their mother on the cheek before seating himself in his usual position at the head of the table. Edgar followed reluctantly. If there was one thing worse than having lunch with his parents, it was having lunch with his parents in this hall meant for hundreds.
“What are you both talking about?” Queen Agatha asked, offering her cheek to her youngest son. He obliged before taking his seat opposite her. The king sat beside his wife, looking like he would rather be anywhere but here.
“Just telling Ed he needs to hurry up and get a wife.”
“Your brother isn’t wrong,” the Queen agreed, indicating to the nearest servant that they should commence with lunch. “I’m running out of suggestions. It’s about time you settled down.
“I’ll settle down when I’m good and ready.” Edgar placed his napkin in his lap as he was brought his first dish. Would there ever come a day when they didn’t eat six different courses for lunch? His stomach turned at the sight of his meal and he raised his eyes. His mother was sat watching him, eyebrows raised expectantly.
“Is there a problem dear?” she asked, in a voice coated with honey and dipped in sugar. Edgar took a slow, deep breath. Now was not a time to blaze in and fire at random. He needed to focus on the target and aim accordingly.
“You know there is Mother. Why have I been given eels again?”
Time stopped for a moment. Edgar and his mother glared at each other across the table. The king tried to hone his magical skills and disappear, appearing anywhere else but in this room with his family. Even Charming looked uncomfortable: it would appear that he had some comprehension of what was going on for once. A rare occurrence indeed. The queen spoke very slowly and clearly.
“The menu for dinner is as follows: eels in puree, bacon broth, meat tile, beef marrow fritters, cod liver pastries and smoked haddock. If you have a problem with the food provided to you in this castle, I suggest you arrange your own meals from now on.”
“What, no salad?” The King’s derision was ignored by some, completely missed by others.
Edgar stood up from his chair in disgust. “I’m no longer hungry.”