Beautiful Brown Eyes–a fairy tale

I come to you today with a beautiful West African folktale! This one is a tale from the Yoruba people. I found it from this book called African-American Folktales For Young Readers, in case you wanted to read more. I haven’t read it all yet, but I really liked this fairy tale!

A girl with beautiful brown eyes lived beside a river in Benin. Every boy who saw those eyes was sure to fall a little bit in love, and the old folk in her village often talked among themselves about who she would marry, and what beautiful children she would surely have.* But when she grew up, everyone had more on their mind than her marriage. A drought had struck the village, withering the plants and drying the river. The hot sun beat down upon the earth, and there was no water to be found except for small muddy pools where the river had been.

*(As a side note, it always annoys me when old people do that. WHAT IF SHE GROWS UP TO BE A LESBIAN, CHARLES.)

The girl made many trips back and forth from the river, carrying water that saved the lives of the villagers. She always seemed to find more water than everyone else, but it was only because she was so dutiful and resourceful. But the drought continued, and eventually, even she could find no water to bring home. She sat down in the dry riverbed and began to weep.

Her tear hit the ground, and out of her tear came a fish.

The fish had beautiful dark eyes. “Give me your jar, and I will fill it for you,” he told her.

She was frightened at first, of course, but the fish’s voice was gentle and kind, and she had no other choice. She lowered the jar in front of him. The fish put his mouth to the opening of the jar, and spewed clear, sparkling water into it. The girl could hardly believe her luck.

The people at her village wanted to know where she had gotten such clear water, but she didn’t tell them, because she did not think they would believe her. Which, yeah, can’t say I’d blame them. This story is a drug trip and I love it. It’s a very beautiful drug trip.

She came to the fish for water the next day, and the next, until a week had passed. The fish had a gentle voice, and beautiful, colorful scales that reflected the bright light of the sun. She grew to love the fish, for his kindness as well as his beauty. And so the girl became the bride of the fish.

Yeah, the real horror of reading fairy tales is finding out your ancestors were all furries. ALL of them. They all sat around the fire and told stories about some boy with a beautiful seal-wife, or a girl with a fish-husband. I do not know for the life of me why this is such a common fairy tale trope, but it is.

I, for one, am supportive of fish-husband!

The girl’s parents were as in the dark about how she was getting the water as anyone else. They sent her youngest brother to follow her down to the river in secret. As he watched her from his hiding place, the girl got the water from the fish as always, and bent down to give the fish a kiss. The brother slipped away and told his parents what he had seen. The parents were angry, because now there would be no wedding, and the village would consider her an outcast. Additionally, the village might ostracize her family, as well, because apparently fish aren’t considered to be respectable in-laws. Who knew.

Okay. Okay this is hilarious. You live in a rural area where everyone knows each other and whenever something big happens, people talk about it for a while, you know? Anyway, you’re just peaceably living your life when suddenly, out of nowhere, you get eternally labeled as ‘that guy who’s daughter married a fish.’ I don’t know how I’d show my face again.

Anyway, the parents decide to take matters into their own hands. Of course, since they’re parents in a fairy tale, they do this in the most traumatizing way possible. They stopped the daughter from going down to the river, and sent the brother instead. The brother took a knife and a jar, carrying the jar the same way that the women did. When the fish came up out of the mud, the brother stabbed him. He took the fish’s body back home and gave it to his father, and the father tossed the body at the daughter’s feet. To the dad’s credit, the story does say that he thought the fish was an evil spirit. But still! That was her husband! Put some thought into how she must feel!

Also, like…the fish was providing the village with water, so exactly how evil a spirit are we talking here

The daughter took the fish in her hands and carried it through the village and down to the riverside. And so she stood in the empty riverbed and wept. As the tears ran down her face, the riverbed began to fill, until the water was up to her waist and the currents tore through, sending her skirts billowing. But still she cried, until the water rose over her head, and she drowned in the river. But instead of sinking to the bottom, she was transformed into a water lily, and all the water lilies in the river are her descendants.

Anyway, the moral of this story is to not come between your daughter and her furry lifestyle

I’m kidding, I think it’s a beautiful story and I love how brave the heroine is. I guess you could interpret the ending as a suicide, but I think you can also interpret it as her sacrificing herself to save the same people who killed her husband, and that’s kind of how I prefer to interpret it? She just comes across as a loving, kind person who honestly deserves better. I really like her.

The Well ‘O The World’s End

So, The Well ‘O The World’s End, the only version of Princess and the Frog that I can stand! I didn’t expect to find a version of this I liked either. But I’m kind of thrilled that I did! It even features a sympathetic parental figure, which yes!

An old widow lives alone with her daughter in a small cottage, and one day the woman decides she would like to make some cakes. The only problem is, right after she has gotten most of the ingredients together, she realizes there is no water in the house.

Oh, I HATE it when this happens. You get started on a recipe and you realize you’re missing a key ingredient. God, I’m having flashbacks.

The mother goes outside to her daughter and hand her the jug and asks her to go to the Well o’ the World’s End, because the water is supposed to produce the best cakes or something. It is a long way from their house to the well, leaving me wondering why they don’t just try a closer water source just this once, and the girl is tired out by the time she reaches it. She finds out that the well is dried up, and she sits down and begins to cry, being both extremely tired and extremely annoyed. The story says that she didn’t know where to get more water, so maybe that explains things; there actually isn’t another water source in the area. Maybe a drought?

Anyway, the frog takes her crying as his cue to show up. He offers to help her if she’ll marry him, and she agrees, because fairy tale logic!

The frog jumps down to the bottom of the well, and the well becomes full to the brim. She fills the jug and goes back home without worrying about it much. That changes, however, when she and her mother are about to go to bed and she hears a knock on the door. She hears a voice sing:

“Open the door, my hinnie, my heart, Open the door, my own true love, And remember the promise that you and I made, down in the meadow, where we two met.”

Hinnie, is apparently, a Scottish/northern English word for sweetheart? I think?

The girl, feeling rather frightened, assures her mother that it’s just a frog. The mother, apparently very chill with the concept of talking animals, feels sorry for the frog and tells the daughter to let the frog in.

This. This is why I love the story better than its other variants. The mother doesn’t force her to invite the frog in because she made a promise, even though the promise was made under very shady circumstances. It’s not because she hates her daughter, either. It’s just because she feels sorry for the frog.

The girl unwillingly lets the frog in, and it hops across the room to the fireside. It begins to sing again:

“Oh give me my supper, my hinnie, my heart, Oh give me my supper, my own true love; Remember the promise that we both made, Down in the meadow where we two met.”

“Give the poor beast his supper,” says the old woman. “It’s an uncommon paddock that can sing like that.”

Paddock is an archaic word for frog. In case you didn’t know

The daughter is pretty cross and very frightened by this point, though I’m not sure if she’s specifically scared of frogs, magical talking frogs, or magical talking frogs that try to bargain their way into marriage. Either way, no judgement! “I’m not going to be so silly as to feed a wet, sticky paddock,” she snaps.

“Don’t be so ill-natured and cruel,” the mother says. “Who knows how far the little beastie has travelled? And I warrant that it would like a saucerful of milk.”

The daughter gets the frog some milk. The frog starts to sing again:

“Now chop off my head, my hinnie, my heart, Chop off my head, my own true love, And remember the promise that you and I made, Down in the meadow where we two met.”

“Pay no heed, the creature’s daft,” exclaims the old woman as the daughter raises the axe to chop off the frog’s head. Am I wrong for finding this visual hilarious? She didn’t waste any time grabbing that axe, tho

The daughter chops off the head before her mother can stop her. Rather than dying, the frog is transformed into a handsome prince. The mother and daughter begin to kneel, but the prince stops them. “‘Tis I that should kneel to thee, sweetheart,” he says to the girl. Awww. He explains that he was placed under a curse by a fairy who killed his father. The curse could only be broken if a maiden agreed to marry him, let him into the house, and cut off his head. I just love all the strangely specific things people have to do to break these curses.

And of course, the girl and the prince get married. Awww.

This is probably going to be my last post for a little while, because I’ve got my SATs coming up and I need to study. (Pray for meeee, I am so underprepared) I might post intermittently or I might not post at all, it depends on how much time I actually end up having. So goodbye for now! Au revoir!

I would totally post a gif of George Wickham leaning out of his carriage and yelling “Au Revoir” but I can’t find one sorry

Bran and the Bear–a Snow White and Rose Red short story

Once again, Arielle from Fairy Tale Central came through this month with another awesome prompt! I’ve been really enjoying doing them!

The prompt can be found here if you want to come up with a story for it! I tweaked the prompt a little, as I usually do. And the fairy tale (along with truly amazing commentary) can be found here.

I have no idea where this is set and if it’s a fantasy world or if it’s historical fantasy, but you know what? Let’s just call this historical UK. Now, where is it in the UK? Is it in Scotland? England? What time period is it? I don’t know! I’m professional!

I tried to give Snow selective mutism, and I hope everything was accurate. *fingers crossed*

And I made a Pinterest board, of course. I also found this board that I did not make, but that inspired me while coming up with this story.

And as always: No plagiarism, do not steal. I’m sure that I don’t have to say this and that everyone who reads this is a lovely person, but it can happen occasionally, so. 😀

Snow rested atop the boulder, her tattered red cloak covered in snowflakes. She sat very still, as usual. She sat so still that she looked as if she were waiting for someone or something, and she stared intently out into the distance past the cliff’s edge where the thick, roiling grey clouds coated the earth beneath, and if Rose hadn’t known her, she would have thought she were doing something very important. But she was not. She was simply thinking about something, and Rose didn’t know what. Rose was never privy to those particular thoughts.

Rose snuck up behind her, the snow crunching loudly under her feet, and she ruffled Snow’s white-blond hair, accidentally tugging some of it out of her braid. It wouldn’t have worked on anyone but Snow. Rose was horrible at sneaking.

Snow jumped and turned around to see her. Her eyes narrowed, and she turned away. “Don’t do that,” she said, placing a hand to her hair.

“Sorry,” Rose said with a grin, brushing Snow’s cloak off, because she’d never do it herself. She sat down on the boulder with her back to Snow. She bit her lip, a million things she wanted to say and the words for none of them. But she had to tell someone, because the words tightened in her chest until they wanted to burst, and she should have said these things to her family by now anyway. “We’ve been growing older, haven’t we?” Her voice was soft and a bit hollow, but Snow didn’t notice.

“Obviously,” Snow said dryly. “Did you think we would be sixteen forever?” Rose shut her eyes. That hadn’t come out right at all.

“What I meant was…” She licked her lips. “Not physically. But I feel older.” She thought for a moment about leaving the subject there and saying something else. “You’ve made a friend, and I’ve…” And Rose didn’t fit in with her old friends anymore, and she looked at them now and she felt ancient and apart. “And I’ve been feeling positively antiquated,” she said frankly. Snow didn’t say anything.

Snow’s friend was—he was a man enchanted to be a bear, and Rose was never quite certain about the details, or if Snow had ever remembered to tell their mother about him. He’d come in late one winter’s night when their mother was away, covered in snow and soft whispers, and Rose had fled under the table, her hands over her head and waiting for the sharp teeth to pull her out. But Snow stood there in the doorway for a moment, watching him with her serious eyes, and then she stepped aside and let him in. Rose hadn’t been able to believe her eyes for a moment. Snow would probably have shut the door to a person. Rose thought that she must have gone mad.

But the bear hadn’t eaten them, and he began to talk to Snow, softly. Rose could not hear what he said, and she was too out of it to try to listen. Snow said nothing—she never said anything to strangers—but she nodded, shut the door, and began to stoke the fireplace, gesturing at Rose to come out. And he had stayed there for the night, and Snow rested her head against his back and went to sleep.

He’d come to their house a few more times, never when anyone besides them were there, and Snow had even begun to talk to him sometimes. Rose couldn’t begin to say how much of a relief that was to her, despite the fact that he was—well, enchanted to be a bear. Snow never talked to anyone who could talk back, besides her family. Rose had no idea what their prior relationship was, or how he had been enchanted, and sometimes the fact that she was left out of so much in this family rubbed in her throat, but she never said that.

“Antiquated how?” Snow asked. Rose jumped. She’d been silent for so long Rose hadn’t expected her to answer.

“I—” She waved her hand. “I…” Because the woods had gotten a little too deep into her and sung her their wild uncanny ways and– “I fell in love,” she said, changing the subject. “I think.”

She did not turn to see Snow roll her eyes, but Rose was fairly certain she was. Or maybe Rose was being paranoid. “With whom?” Snow asked, and her voice was not sarcastic.

“With…With…I met him during a dance.” She felt Snow nod her head against hers. “And I danced with him a lot, and he…” She swallowed. Her voice was a little higher-pitched than usual. “He wanted me to stay there forever with him,” she said slowly. “But I would not, because I still loved this place, and I loved my friends, and I love you and Mother.” Her hands trembled. She had never, ever said this aloud, not to him nor to anyone else. She had never even whispered it, but the thought kept coming to her in the dark of night until she felt certain that it would eat her. “But I don’t want this anymore.” She was whispering. “I want to be there with him—”

“Who—” There was a dangerous edge to Snow’s voice—“Is him?”

“His—his name is Bran,” she said. “You wouldn’t have met him.” Her hands twisted in her lap. They felt frozen, even with gloves on.

“What is he, then.” It was not a question. Rose thought of trying to lie, but there wasn’t much point.

“He’s fey,” she whispered even softer, “and I’ve never seen his true form, but he always appears to me as either a beautiful man or a wild antlered thing from the woods. But he is…” She swallowed. Holy. Sublime. She could not say that without sounding utterly ridiculous.

“Oh, good heavens,” Snow said, and her voice could not have been more dry. Trust Snow to react that way. “Why couldn’t you have fallen in love with a human like an ordinary girl, Sister?”

That stung a bit. “Says the girl who is falling in love with a bear,” she snapped back. Snow did not say anything for a moment, and Rose was not sure if she were hurt or surprised; but when she turned to apologize, Snow was only looking thoughtfully past the cliff’s edge, her lips parted slightly. Rose found she did not know what to say.

Snow shook her head sharply, breaking out of the reverie. “Don’t make our relationship sound stranger than it is,” she said, her voice gentle. “Have you told Mother?”

Rose bit her lip. “No. Have you ever told her about the bear?” It was a question she’d wanted to ask for a while.

Snow paused. “No.” Her voice was a little different. “We had probably…better do that soon, shouldn’t we?”

Rose sighed, her breath turning to mist in the cold air. “Yes, we probably should. So let’s go and do it, because we’ve waited an embarrassingly long time. Poor Mother.” She got up, dusting the snow off her dress, and held her hand out to Snow.

Snow looked at it for a moment and took it with a wry smile. “Poor Mother,” she agreed. “Yes, let’s.” And they walked off together, Rose not entirely sure what she was going to say when she got home.

I like the idea of Bran a lot, and I might reuse that idea for another story, honestly. The same goes for Snow. I’m probably not going to do anything more with this story in particular–at least probably not, though there’s always a possibility with me–but my little sister did give me the idea of doing a Snow White and Rose Red retelling set in Alaska, and just…Excuse me, let me go add that to my queue of stories I want to write. (Has anyone else done Snow White and Rose Red with Eskimo characters yet? And can you rec it to me if they have?) [Edit: I did NOT know back when I wrote this that ‘eskimo’ was very much not the right word to use, I am so sorry. (◞‸ლ) ]

This story’s working title was ‘Awkward boyfriends’ and if that doesn’t sum up this story I don’t know what does. My mom helped me come up with the actual title, and can I just say…Thank you?? That title is perfect??

Also, in case you’re wondering…I most certainly named Bran after the character from one of my very favorite Irish poems.