Snow White, Rose Red
By Rebekah Postupak
“You should’ve stayed on the path.”
I eyed my sister. Her hair fell in rays of gold on the other side of the mist wall. Perfect and beautiful of course—even this thick mist couldn’t obscure that—and her cheeks were flushed with an anxiety that only served to make her look more perfect. Here in the sudden shadows, my own hair settled listless and dull on my shoulders, and a raven cleared its throat on a branch above me. I shuddered.
“I couldn’t help it. Didn’t you hear the voice calling us? It sounded like a rainbow. Or a honeycomb.”
“Yes, I heard it. But we’ve been warned about witches and candy and siren songs since birth. I knew not to follow it. Why didn’t you?”
“The song was too beautiful. And anyway, perhaps our parents made all that up.”
“You’re talking nonsense. Our mother, a liar? Never. She didn’t abandon the cinders and marry a prince because she’s got coal for a heart.”
I laughed at the image. Our mother was as gentle-spirited as they came. People told us it took a good five years of her being Queen to convince her to quit scrubbing the curtains herself. Our grandmother, on the other hand….
The darkness curled slowly, implacably, around my ankles and the laughter rotted away in my mouth.
“I know. I can feel it.”
Fear shimmered, trembled in the air, and as if on cue, we each reached out a hand to touch the wall.
“It doesn’t yield.”
“It’s like a mountain.”
“I can’t cross back.”
We let our hands drop. Grief lit her face, even as sundrops danced a minuet on her brow. No one in our kingdom needed a mirror to discern which of us was the fairest: it had been her, always her. Nor did I begrudge her the honor. Princes died for her, or they would, if she asked it. But she would never ask them. Unlike mine, her heart was too like our mother’s.
Desperation began to claw at the wall.
“I’m going for help. Can you wait?”
“I don’t know. It’s—it’s getting hard to see you.”
“You’ve got to wait! This stupid forest!”
“It’s not the forest’s fault.”
“Of course it is! And our parents’, for feeding us year after stupid year with those stupid stories about stupid enchanted forests and their stupid wonders.”
“It’s my fault.”
“Stop! Don’t say it! I’m getting help—I’ll be right back—”
“Please. Just stay with me. It’s almost over.”
“No! How can I live without you? What is this world without you??”
Even as I cried out, the sun swallowed her completely, grace and laughter and her single moment of disobedience running down its chin.
Turning to walk back home alone through the suffocating night, tripping over my own shadowed, ugly feet, only one thing was clear.
I shouldn’t have stayed on the path.
494 words, written for the weekly flash contest #FinishThatThought (give it a shot next week!), beginning with the mandatory opening sentence and incorporating the judge’s optional challenge of an enchanted forest.