Here’s my TBT short story – I’m really not sure when I wrote it (before 2010) and it wasn’t one that was inspired by a classic fairy tale but is my own fairy tale.
The Kingdom of Pillars
by Dorlana Vann
“I didn’t do anything!”
“Do you want father’s wings to be taken off? Is that what you want? You march yourself right back there.”
I stared at my sister, all blue and getting bluer by the minute. If we would’ve been having this conversation a couple of months earlier, I might have turned my back to her and aired her out. Instead, I smiled.
“What are you up to, Rose?” she growled.
“I understand everything now. I’m happy and miserable at the same time.” I sighed and sat down on a buttercup. “I even understand love and how it can fill your heart and break it at the same time.”
“You did go to the Kingdom of Pillars, right?” Indigo glared at me.
“I didn’t have a choice. Remember? Guards with sticks and mean words.”
“Hmmm… Are you telling me you fell in love in there? With what? Your reflection?”
“It is a lovely sight, isn’t it? But no, you see, I was once like you, only able to see outer beauty.”
“Is that so?” she said. “Let me get this straight. You think the Kingdom of Pillars is beautiful … or is the King?” I could see her thinking herself into a small gag and look of distaste.
“When I’d first arrived, I looked at them the same way everyone does. It’s like a line has been drawn between the lands. One side, our side, is light and green. You make one tiny step and the world becomes scary and dark. And I was scared.”
Indigo looked a wee bit uncomfortable, almost guilty, so I kept going.
“I understand why father picked me to go instead of you. You were already betrothed to Emerald before you were born. He had no choice but to send me. It wasn’t your fault I was born second. Always second. I understand that a princess had to be sent in order to bring peace. Besides, if I wouldn’t have gone, the curse might not have been broken.”
“Wait a minute.” She smoothed her long, sparkly blue hair behind her ears. “You’re telling me that you broke the five thousand-year-old curse?”
“It was the most wonderful sight in the whole entire world. First, let me tell you what happened in the beginning, when I arrived in the Kingdom of Pillars.”
Indigo arched her eyebrow as she sat down in the morning dew.
“I was a bit grossed out when I first met the King. You know how Pillars look, right? Kind of round and prickly-looking. Those black and yellow spots and rings aren’t very flattering either. Oh, dandy me, he crawled so slowly … on the ground. He had tiny little legs and those black little dot eyes. He was no where near as hideously handsome as Emerald.”
Indigo had been staring at me with curiosity and a growing grin, but at this, she looked down.
“I suppose I wasn’t the best guest,” I continued. “But I was in shock, you know, out of my element. Could you blame me? I was surrounded by these … grubs. Not to mention, I felt like my own family had deserted and sacrificed—”
She shot me a look. “Now you’re just being dramatic.”
“Really? My husband had sixteen legs.”
“You just told me you thought he was beautiful,” she said smugly.
“Well, maybe at first, I didn’t. I hated him, the place, you …”
Indigo crossed her arms.
“The first night I did nothing but sulk and refuse anything offered to me. Really now, how could I eat that dull food? Everything was already half dead, like winter had already arrived. It seemed strange to eat and live in such sadness. That was how I felt; alone and sad as I sat there and watched them eat and eat in the madness of the day. King would look at me every once in a while and ask if I was okay. I hate to say, but I turned my back to him and fluttered my wings.
“He kept asking, again and again, so I let him have it. I told him exactly what I thought about him and his ugly kingdom. I hurt his feelings, and I was glad … until he said, ‘I’m sorry, my Queen. I will not bother you again. Even though your presence makes this gloomy world bright, you are free to leave.”
“So you did?” Indigo jumped up and put her hands on her hips. “You came back home! How could you, Rose?”
“But I didn’t!” I smiled. “At that very moment, I felt special. More special than I had ever felt in your shadow. Indigo this, and Indigo that. I was Queen, no longer a princess.” I wrapped my arms around myself and flew into the air, twirling around as I did.
“Get down here, Rose,” she shouted.
“Come with me,” I said. “You have to see.”
She sluggishly stood, but a second later she was beside me, and we flew through our forest.
“Oh … he lavished me,” I continued. “He was kind and made me feel like I was the most important creature in the world. He brought me flowers and dew drops and honey. The food didn’t taste as dull as it looked, it was fine. Everything was fine.”
“Hmmm … so then, if it is such paradise, why are you here?”
“One day he told me not to worry, that he would be sleeping for a couple of days. He said the kingdom did this every couple of months. Still, when it happened, I grew scared and cried and cried over him.”
“You cried because he went to sleep?”
“No, not just asleep; it was bizarre. They were all wrapped in these web-like cases.” I tried to explain it with my hands. “I didn’t think he could breathe in there. Something was wrong. I thought he was dying, so I sprinkled my life-dust on him.”
Indigo’s mouth grew into a giant circle and she stopped mid-air. “You used your personal dust on him? Rose, you know you can’t use it on yourself any longer! If something happens to you—”
I held up my hand. I understood the consequences. “It doesn’t matter. The most amazing thing happened. His prison started coming apart, and the most beautiful, amazing winged creature emerged. It was my King! He had huge double-like wings, oh so much bigger than any fairies. So many colors! Not just one, like ours. He was bright yellow and white and orange.” I put my hands to my face. “And then, and then… they all emerged. The entire kingdom, all so colorful and beautiful, floated into the air. They reminded me of buttercups, daisies, and roses, being blown by the wind. Even the dark, gloomy clouds drifted away and the sun began to shine.”
Indigo’s face froze with an expression of bewilderment. Then she said, “I didn’t think it was true. I had heard that they used to be beautiful creatures before one of us cast a spell.”
I closed my eyes as my thoughts turned bittersweet. “We played and flew and chased for days on end. Even when the sun set the splendor of the colors was almost more than one could bear. But then …” I grabbed her hand and flew faster to my destination.
“What?” She asked, letting me drag her through the air. “What happened? Why do you look so sad? If it was so wonderful, why did you come back?”
I choked back a cry with a smile as I looked at my sister who seemed genuinely concerned. “Like snowflakes they all slowly began to return to the earth. I went to the king, who balanced on a leaf barely able to move. I asked what was happening.” I held my hands to my heart as I remembered his words. “He told me not to worry, that I had broken the curse. That he and his kingdom owed everything to me and my sacrifice. My little fairy dust did all of that. I went to give more, and he told me he didn’t need it. He said he had finally been able to live out his cycle and now it was time for them to move on—to die. They had been trapped and unable to evolve for thousands of years.”
Indigo gently pulled free to wipe her eyes. “That is so sad,” she said.
“The fluttering of their wings quietly died away. The last words my king said to me were, ‘Long live Queen Rose.’” I pointed down to the valley below. “Look! Can you see them?”
Indigo sucked in a quick breath. “I thought you said they all died.”
“They,” I said looking at my adopted children, “are the next generation. A generation that will live, fly, and die like they are suppose to. This is why I came back to see you one last time; I needed to tell you, to tell father, that the feud between the two lands is truly over. And from now on, my home is no longer to be called the Kingdom of Pillars, but the protected Land of the Butterflies.”