Creative Writing, Queer Literature
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Cobwebs and Silks: A Queer Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, there was a woman who wished she could do something wonderful, like spin straw into gold. She visited the neighborhood witch, and offered her firstborn child in exchange for the talent. Grimfeasance agreed. (She was an ugly old woman whom not many people liked, so she thought a child would be nice to have around.)

Once upon approximately the same time, there was a man who broke into a witch’s garden to steal her golden roses. When she caught him, he offered his firstborn child in exchange for escape from her wrath. Maloire agreed. (She didn’t want a child, and would have sold the roses for a few pennies, but something told her this man would have been a terrible father.)

One year later, the man with the golden roses met the woman with the golden straw. One year after that, they realized they were in love. And one year after that, they got married.

All of this was very unsurprising. Stories have a way of working themselves out, especially in the fairy-tale lands which witches tend to populate. It’s improbable that this man and this woman could have ever lived out their lives without meeting and falling in love with each other.

One year after that, they had a baby daughter.

***

Grimfeasance and Maloire appeared in the baby’s nursery at the same time. They were not happy to see each other.

“That little girl is mine!” shouted Grimfeasance.

“That little girl is mine!” screeched Maloire.

There was no winning side to the argument. They both had equal claim to the firstborn child of the man and the woman. Splitting her in half would have been impractical, because that would very shortly leave them with zero living child. There was only one other option.

They had to compromise and carry her off together.

***

But they couldn’t agree on where to take her.

“Little girls should be locked in towers with no stairs until they grow out their hair,” said Grimfeasance.

“Don’t be silly, she’d catch a cold from all the wind that high up. Little girls should be thrown in dungeons with barred windows and no sunlight,” said Maloire.

They had to compromise and get a cottage in the woods for all three of them.

***

But then they couldn’t agree on what to name her.

“She should be named Gold or Grace or Greed or Grimfeasance,” said Grimfeasance.

“She should be named Marigold or Mary or Mine or Maloire,” said Maloire.

They compromised and named her Susan.

***

But then they couldn’t agree on what to feed her.

“Growing children need gingerbread and spun sugar glass and sweet peppermint tea to fatten them up,” said Grimfeasance.

“No, they need frogs and toads and bubbling cauldron brew,” said Maloire.

Grimfeasance was horrified. “Frogs and toads are a witch’s friends!”

“No, that’d be cats,” said Maloire.

They compromised and fed Susan bread and cheese. And Maloire was careful not to eat any frogs or toads where Grimfeasance could see her.

***

But then they couldn’t agree on what toys to give Susan.

“Little girls want to play with cobwebs and draw in the dust, said Grimfeasance.

“No, little girls like to have cauldron cooking sets and read spellbooks,” said Maloire.

Both of them were perplexed when Susan seemed to prefer playing with dolls and flowers. But they decided it suited her very well.

***

But then they couldn’t agree on how to clothe her.

“Young ladies should wear rags and tatters,” said Grimfeasance.

“No, young ladies should wear silk and satin,” said Maloire, though she thought rags and tatters looked quite nice when worn by Grimfeasance.

“Silk and satin? How hideous,” said Grimfeasance, though she thought Maloire pulled the look off rather well.

In the end, they agreed that Susan looked most comfortable wearing sturdy plain pants.

***

And then Susan made a friend.

His name was Richard and he lived in the next cottage over. His parents were swineherds. Susan loved to go over and play with the pigs, and Richard’s parents loved to invite Maloire and Grimfeasance over for lunch.

“He’s actually a prince,” they said to the witches one day. “We’re not supposed to tell him until he turns sixteen, but then he’s going to go and rule the kingdom. What about your daughter?”

“We’re waiting until she turns fourteen, and then we’re going to put her under a curse,” said Grimfeasance.

“I thought you wanted to fatten her up and then eat her!” said Maloire.

Grimfeasance looked ashamed. “Well…”

“It’s okay,” said Maloire, “I’ve grown fond of her too. We can just curse her if you want.”

***

And then Susan turned fourteen.

“I’m worried, said Grimfeasance to Maloire. “This is the age when things happen to little girls. They become more beautiful than their mothers and get banished from kingdoms.”

“And I’m sad,” replied Maloire. “This is the age when they break curses and meet princes and get married.”

They looked out the cottage window at Susan and Richard. They both still seemed like very small children. True, they were quite bright, and had long since figured out that Richard was a prince. But instead of ruling the kingdom, he and Susan were arguing over how many bubbles to put in the pigs’ bubble bath.

“You know, she doesn’t have to break a curse,” said Maloire, “as long as you don’t curse her.”

“And if I don’t curse her,” said Grimfeasance happily, “then she won’t need a prince to break it.”

“And if no prince breaks her curse,” said Maloire, “then she won’t need to get married!”

Grimfeasance smiled sadly. “That’s too bad,” she admitted. “I do rather like weddings.”

Maloire laughed. “Don’t be silly. A fairy tale can’t end without a wedding.” And she leaned across the table and took Grimfeasance’s hand.

***

Stories have a way of working themselves out, especially in the fairy-tale lands which witches tend to populate. Magic relies on certain actions—sometimes on a spoken spell or a brewed-up potion, sometimes on a stolen flower or the spinning of gold, sometimes on the slow passage of three or seven or fourteen years. But most often, in fairy-tale lands, you’ll find that magic relies on a kiss.

***

So there was a wedding that spring, and Susan was the flower girl. Richard’s parents helped decorate the cottage, and Richard himself led the ceremony, stumbling over some of the longer words and occasionally pausing to fix the too-heavy crown that kept slipping down his forehead. The pigs were a very appreciative audience and oinked in all the right places.

Grimfeasance and Maloire wore long white gowns made from cobwebs and tatters and satins and silks. They had never looked more radiant than they did that day.

And they all lived happily ever after.


Story inspired by this tumblr post

Filed under: Creative Writing, Queer Literature

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Anastacia Kellogg is a third year English major. Her interests include tea, grammar, superheroes, entomology, and Victorian children's literature; her hobbies include reading, crying, and sleeping.

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