Mirror, Mirror Prologue, Chapter One and Chapter Two
This is a story.
This story happened Once Upon a Time, which really just means that it happened at no time in particular, but is a story worth telling anyway.
This is a story about a lot of things. It’s about love, certainly, but there’s also a lot about hate in it, too. It’s about courage, and cowardice.
It’s about a girl who was white as snow, red as blood, and black as ebony, and she was the fairest in the land. It’s about a sick queen who wished, a good king who died, a mad and evil queen who envied, a shy guard who failed, a prince who got just what he wanted, and seven kind dwarves who each learned something important.
It is about lies, and how wicked deception can be.
Most of all, this story is about truth.
Go on, reader. Take with you a warm hand to hold and a bright light to see by, so you don’t get lost when we go through the woods.
If you get trapped, don’t worry. The truth will set you free.
Once Upon a time, in the Kingdom of Lara of the Ebony Forests, Winter had come crashing upon the land with a fierceness rarely seen most anywhere. The snowflakes tumbled from the sky like feathers; playful and harmless, but the sheer number of them made even snow’s beauty seem sinister.
Something about the winter made Lara seem even more dark than usual. The people feared their kingdom was cursed, what with the Queen childless and ailing, and the King neglecting the people for his own interests and pleasures. The continual blizzard cemented their fears with new ones.
The Queen Esperanza was tired, as she usually was. She sat in her sitting room with her ladies-in-waiting, slowly making a stitch here or there in her embroidery frame of ebony, but mostly just watching the snow. In her distracted state, she didn’t watch what she was doing, and struck her finger hard with the needle.
Her cry startled the ladies-in-waiting (some of whom had been dozing) to their feet.
“My Lady! Your Majesty, your Highness, what is it?” They cried, considerably alarmed.
Esperanza just stared down at the embroidery frame, black as night, polished and shining.
From her finger fell three drops of blood onto the cream embroidery cloth. It was redder than a rose could dream to be…the deepest, lovliest red she had ever seen.
Her eyes raised to the snow outside, whirling and dancing, a curtain of purest white across the land.
“Your Ladyship? Your Highness? Queen Esperanza, are you alright?”
The Queen held up the embroidery frame so it was in line with the window.
“Oh,” she breathed. “Oh, that I had a child as white as snow, as red as blood, and as black as ebony,”
Nine months later, the Queen had a little daughter. The baby was strikingly lovely, with skin white as snow, lips as red as blood, and hair the same black as polished ebony.
The Queen was so weak she couldn’t lift her head. The midwife wrapped the little girl in a soft, yellow blanket and brought her to the Queen, laying her child gently in her arms.
Esperanza looked down at her baby, her breath coming out in pained gasps. She saw the little girl, so white, so red and so black, just as she’d wished.
“Snow White,” she said quietly. And then, she died.
A year after Snow White’s mother’s death, her father, King Florin took a new wife from a very distant kingdom over the Eastern mountains named Lady Hazel.
Hazel was unimaginably beautiful. She had flowing hair the color of honey at the peak of the season, golden skin, and eyes more dazzling and blue than sapphires. Her lips were large and pink, and she had a musical yet commanding voice. In spite of her glamorous beauty, she was proud and overbearing, but King Florin didn’t seem to mind in the least.
Snow White didn’t know Hazel very well. She barely saw her—or King Florin. They were always busy, and almost always together. Snow didn’t mind too much. She adored her father, and cherished the brief time he spent with her every evening he could. After dinner on those nights, he would follow Snow White to her room and kneel down next to her and play with her toy castle and dolls, sure to explain every doll’s duty in the castle. Than they would play cards or dice, and he had no shame in teaching his little girl to gamble. After that, he read her a story, gave her a snack, and sent her to bed.
Hazel hated those nights. Snow heard her yelling at Papa several times, saying she wanted to be with him at night, and Snow White had plenty of other people to play with her. But Papa kept coming whenever he could to play and laugh and drink hot chocolate together. Hazel kept complaining.
Snow White didn’t know what to think of Hazel. She was both afraid of her and puzzled by her. When she was very young…only four, she’d snuck into her father’s bedroom while only Hazel was there. Hazel had been standing before a twelve-inch long mirror that was hung on the wall. It had a very ornate frame, molded from shining silver. It had flowers and snakes and all sorts of complicated designs in the frame. Snow, hiding behind the bed, was fascinated by it.
It grew more fascinating still.
Hazel smiled into the mirror, and suddenly, started to speak.
“Mirror, mirror, upon the wall,
Who is fairest of them all?”
And, amazingly, a face appeared in the mirror. It was a man’s face, and it was neither handsome or ugly, old or young. It was completely indiscript, and yet, its face held knowledge that even young Snow perceived. It gazed at Hazel briefly, and replied in a warm, friendly voice,
“You are the fairest of them all,”
Hazel smiled smiled even wider. “Aw, Mirror. You speak the truth with the allure of deception. I love that about you. Thank you. You may go,”
And the face vanished from the mirror.
Snow quickly ducked under the bed as Hazel swept out of the room, humming happily to herself.
“Queen Hazel has a magic mirror!” Snow giggled, and squiggled out of her hiding space, her little hands shaking with anticipation. She went to the wall, climbed on top of a chest, and reached out to touch the mirror, drawn to its beauty and its magic. One hand took hold of the side of the frame.
A scream suddenly sliced through the air behind Snow White. Surpised, she whirled around and tumbled off the chest, the mirror slipping off the wall before her hand released. Hazel had returned!
The scream turned into a wild roar of fury. Hazel shot past Snow and caught the mirror just before it hit the ground.
Snow lay on her back, staring up at Hazel, who clutched the mirror to her chest, panting and looking extremely relieved. Slowly, Hazel turned and hung the mirror back on the wall.
Than, she turned to face Snow White.
“I will kill you,” she said, her voice shaking with anger, her eyes cold with hate.
Before Snow could move, Hazel grabbed her, shook her, smacked her, and bodily threw her out of the room.
“Never touch the Mirror!” Hazel screamed at the sobbing little girl. “Never! Next time, I will kill you!!”
Snow avoided Hazel as much as she could, and fearfully told her father of the incident.
He frowned angrily. “Snow White, never tell lies!”
“Papa, look!” she cried, placing her hands on her face. “She hit me, Papa! Tell her to be nice to me!”
Instead, he spanked her and sent her to her room. “Lying is a sin, Snow White! Never lie again, or you will be punished till you stop,”
Snow lay on the large rug in her room and wept, feeling her Papa didn’t love her anymore. That night, however, he came to her room after dinner.
“Papa?” Snow White said timidly.
“Yes, my Princess?” he asked, kissing her head.
“I didn’t lie. Hazel really did yell and hit me. But I was bad. Maybe she punished me for being bad, too,”
King Florin frowned. “What did you do that was bad?”
Snow hung her head. “I snuck into your room, and I tried to play with her nice mirror. Its such a pretty mirror, and it talks, too! I wanted to say hello to it, that’s all,”
Her father’s face clouded, his eyes turning dark and angry. “Ah. I see. Her beloved mirror. I understand now, Snow White. I’m sorry for spanking you. But you must never touch that mirror, Snow White. Never. Do you understand?”
Snow nodded hard, desperately trying to fix what she’d done. It seemed she could, because Papa started playing castle and didn’t bring it up again.
However, after that, her father’s visits become much less frequent, sometimes only once a week.
When Snow turned six, her father seemed to suddenly grow ill. He was weak, and a cough plagued him day and night. But he was usually still strong enough to do everything he normally did, so Snow didn’t worry about it. However, the year she turned seven, he seemed to only get worse. All his visits to Snow White stopped, and he spent all his time in bed, working on what he could and drinking strong teas.
Lonesome and worried, Snow would often wander back and forth down the hall, passing her father and step-mother’s door, hoping to hear no coughing, and maybe some laughter.
She heard coughing, and Hazel snapping angrily at her husband. It made Snow sad, but there was nothing she could do.
Than, one night, when Snow couldn’t sleep and was wandering the halls, as she passed the King’s room, she heard yelling and crashing. Curious and worried, she quietly opened the door a crack, and peered in.
What she saw frightened her, but she couldn’t look away.
Her father wore only short breeches; her stepmother only a sheer, short shift. Clearly, they had been going to bed. What had happened? They were yelling at each other…Hazel was throwing things at Snow’s father. He clutched in his hands Hazel’s mirror.
Snow wanted to stop Hazel…poor Papa was sick! Weak! Why was she trying to hurt him? And yet…Hazel was so beautiful, Snow could only stare at her, glancing occasionally at her father. Even screaming and throwing things, Hazel was gorgeous. Only now, her beauty was horrible…cold; sharp; cruel.
And what they were saying made no sense.
“You can’t do this, Hazel!” Papa gasped. “Its unnatural! Leave Snow White out of it, please!”
“Put it down!” Hazel screamed. “Give it back!” Over and over. “Put it down! Give it back! Its mine!”
Snow just stood, frozen with horror, watching them. Her beloved Papa was pelted, cut, bruised, broken by the dozens of hard objects Hazel found to batter him with.
Finally, Hazel threw a silver pitcher from the nightstand. It struck the King’s head. Snow cried out, but it mixed with her father’s own cry, and he slumped forward.
The mirror went flying.
Hazel screamed as it hit the ground, the glass cracking jaggedly down the middle. One half fell out of the frame. The frame along with the other half slid far across the room, past Hazel. Snow screamed, too, but again, no one heard her.
Hazel dove after the frame of the mirror, and Snow gasped as her father struggled to his hands and knees and grabbed the half of the mirror that had broken free. He rose rapidly but unsteadily to his feet.
Snow ducked back and pressed herself against the wall as the door flew open. Her father fled, stumbling and gasping. Hazel remained in the room, but screeched and swore after him.
Snow ran away as fast as she could, shaking uncontrollably. She never went near their bedroom again.