Here’s my contribution to the 8LW 2021 short story challenge: a holiday tale about a brand new start, featuring some or all of the prompt words: daisy, annoying, romantic, formula, country, careless, confidence, piano, fluent, guest, options, ivory, star, snow, blurry, and photograph. I think I got ‘em all!
Snow White and the Three Kisses
“I vote for Plan F,” Swanilda “Snow” White, refugee princess, reality TV star, and marketing director of Sevendwarfs Fine Gems International, told her royal fiancé. “I know faking my own funeral is almost as retro as assassination by poisoned apple, but wintersnight is just two days away and our other options are grimmer.”
“I prefer Plan M.” Tortoni, bless him, was as protective as his witch of a mother was murderous. His image in the magic mirror was blurry but his arguments were sharp. “You stay put. I break out of the palace. We hold the wedding in the jeweled hall under Sevendwarfs Mountain. Then we use our marriage-melded powers to send Mother home and reclaim your throne.”
“Better to take her by surprise,” Snow countered. “My magic will be stronger once I’m back on home turf. And on wintersnight the portal will be fully open. If we waste this chance Glacia will be wielding my wand for another whole year. One careless move and she’ll zap me into an ice sculpture.”
“Plan F it is, then,” Toni said with resolute confidence. “I’ll tell the family to expect Mother home for the holidays. Her guest pass here expires on wintersnight.”
Toni watched, face pressed against the mirror, as Snow climbed into the glass coffin. She arranged the folds of her ivory silk wedding dress, settled the embroidered veil over her face and around her shoulders, and lay back on the comfortable padded satin.
Shimmering images of spring and summer—daisy and buttercup, dragonfly and honeybee—decorated the fine lace. Win/win. The exquisitely worked veil would hide her face and better still, it would infuriate Queen Glacia. They hadn’t grown green shoots in Alabaster since the winter witch usurped Snow’s throne.
“See you in the chapel.” Snow lifted the shiny red apple to her veiled face and inhaled delicately. Enough to put her into a convincing stasis. Not enough to do serious damage. Honestly. The formula Glacia had used went out with glass slippers and bibbety-bobbety-boo.
Snow awoke to the annoying click-click-click of paparazzi cameras. Behind her lacy barrier she peeped through her eyelashes as every celebrity newshound in the country jostled for the perfect front page photograph. Good thing she’d invested in non-reflective glass.
“Hi ho!” Sevendwarfs’ CEO, Smarty, clicked his heels together and bellowed the miners’ legendary call to action.
“Hi ho!” Rocky, Snarky, Witty, Bossy, and Geeky’s full-throated response echoed around the high-walled palace courtyard.
“Yo, Snow, here we go,” Glock, Sevendwarfs’ Director of Security, bellowed from behind her head. There was a lightning storm of camera flashes as she was lifted smoothly on to the shoulders of the best brothers-in-arms any renegade princess could ever want. The clink of lethally sharp picks and diamond-honed ceremonial axes confirmed that the boys were tooled up and ready for trouble.
A solo piano tinkled mournfully as seven pairs of heavy boots marched down the aisle in perfect time. They set her coffin down with exquisite care and remained in an honor guard as Oswald, Archprelate of Alabaster, welcomed the mourners in solemn tones. A hush settled over the chapel, broken only by the fluent whispering of the TV commentator identifying each A-lister and describing their clothes, accessories, and companions. The turnout was impressive despite the short notice. Queen Glacia had invited everyone who was anyone to witness Snow’s demise.
Snow’s fingers tightened around the apple. Be careful what you wish for.
“So tragic. So romantic. So dead.” Glacia spoke in a hushed whisper that nevertheless echoed around the entire chapel. “Allergic to an apple. And such a healthy choice…”
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here…” Archprelate Oswald began, sadness infusing every syllable.
“Wait, please, Your Reverence.” Toni raised his voice. “I need a moment to say goodbye.”
Even the TV presenter fell silent as Toni’s footsteps clipped over to Snow’s resting place. The glass lid eased open and he leaned in to fold back her veil. He looked down at her for a long moment and then lifted his face to the nearest camera. “Maybe she needs a kiss from a handsome prince. It worked for Sleeping Beauty.”
“Earth to Tortoni,” his mother hissed. “It worked because Sleeping Beauty wasn’t dead.”
“Neither is Snow.” Toni’s sorrowful expression melted into a glorious smile.
Glacia’s panicked snarl was all Snow could have wished. “Tortoni Napolitano, get back here this minute.”
“Goodbye, Mother.” Toni bent over and locked his lips to Snow’s.
It was heaven. Cool sweetness and a promise of passion. Over far too soon. She licked her lips, chasing the elusive taste.
“Later, babe.” The poisoned apple went flying as Toni lifted her out of the coffin and set her on her feet. He had serious muscles under that shiny silver suit.
“Princess Swanilda! I’m so sorry… so happy… so confused…” Archprelate Oswald stopped himself mid-babble. “Is that a wedding dress?”
“I hope so.” She tilted her head subtly toward Queen Glacia. “How quickly can you marry Toni and me, Your Reverence?”
“Ah. Right.” Oswald’s eyes gleamed in the dazzling arc lights. You didn’t make archprelate without learning a thing or two about high-level politics. “Princess Swanilda. Prince Tortoni. Do you each take the other to be your lawful wedded spouse?”
“I do,” Snow said quickly.
“I do,” Toni echoed.
“Here.” Snow shoved the Sevendwarfs® wedding band on Toni’s finger as he slid his royal signet ring on hers.
“Prince Tortoni, you may kiss your wife.” Oswald shot a quick look over Snow’s shoulder toward the royal pew. “You’d better look sharp.”
This one was the swiftest of pecks, but it did the job. Toni and Snow both shivered a little as their magics met, melded, and settled into place. They locked their newly ringed hands together and spoke in unison:
Mirror, mirror, glass immortal. Send the witch home through the portal.
A flash of light, a muffled shriek, and Glacia was gone.
“We did it!” Snow flung her arms around Toni’s neck. This time, she kissed him. It was most definitely not a mere peck, and he responded with gratifying enthusiasm. When she finally dragged her lips away they were both gasping for breath. Cameras whirred. The congregation cheered. Even the archprelate applauded.
Eventually Toni found his voice. He kept it to a soft murmur. “Your move, Snow. What next? Dazzle the celebrity commentators or argue magical politics with the broadsheet heavyweights? Party with your people? I bet my mother had a dance band lined up.”
Snow shook her head decisively. “I vote for Plan H.”
“Plan H?” For a moment, he looked blank. Then his lips curved up in a slow, sensuous smile. “I’m pretty sure I do, too, but perhaps we should review the details.”
The passion in that smile warmed Snow from her Sevendwarfs® tiara to her sparkly satin slippers. Toni’s arm curved snugly around her waist as she went up on tiptoe to whisper in his ear. “Holidays. Honeymoon. And Happy Ever After.”
I hope you enjoyed that! Happy holidays everyone, and wishing you a safe and satisfying new year.