Silly Fairy Tale
Part the Second
(Part the First can be read here)
The Story Continued…
Needless to say, the sassy black lady wasn’t about to teach Sylvana how to read, no matter how much she pitied the poor child. I mean, ain’t nobody got time for that! And so the girl left the Royal Department of Human Resources, full of hope and full of despair. Full of hope, because she now clutched in her hand a list of names and addresses for all the woodsmen in the king’s service. Full of despair, because she didn’t know how to read it. Not knowing what else to do, she went back to the castle, whereupon did she bound right up the spiral staircase, run into her room, slam the door and crawl into bed. And she started to sob.
This being a castle, however, and she being a pre-princess, there was no such thing as privacy. Indeed, her very favorite lady-in-waiting was already in her room. Waiting, obviously. And when she saw the girl in such a state, she approached her and asked what was wrong. The girl then told her the whole story. When she’d finished, the lady-in-waiting smiled sweetly at her and patted her cheek.
“Be of good cheer, child,” she said. “Though the hour seemeth dark, there is yet hope. For I am a woman of letters, old crone though I be. And t’would be my honor to serve thee in thy quest for thy father. Ye have but to put yon parchment in my grasp, and lo, I shall be thy guide. I shall be as thine eyes. Such is my love for thee.”
“Oh my god!” cried the girl, throwing herself face-down into her pillow. “You know I don’t understand you when you talk like that. God, speak English!” Whereupon did the lady-in-waiting roll her eyes. Twice. Then she facepalmed herself.
“I said,” she said, “don’t get down, girlfriend. I know shit be lookin’ bad right now, but it’s all’a work out. I mean, I know how to read, hun. Even though I’m old. And I’m tryin’a say, I’d be happy to help you look for your pops. All you gotta do is gimme that there list, and I’ll take care of the rest. You dig?”
“I dig,” said the girl, drying her eyes. Then she threw her arms around the lady-in-waiting’s neck. “I love you Brangien (that was her name), you’re the best!” And Brangien hugged her back. “But wait,” said the girl. “You really know how to read? I mean, you’re…a woman.”
“Of course I do, sweety. Back in my country, I have a – “
“Lemme guess. A PhD, right? Apparently that’s a thing now.”
Anyway, they soon got started. Led by the noble Brangien, Sylvana visited one woodsman after another. But none of them were her father. Wouldn’t you know it, but they even visited her father’s flat. Only he wasn’t home at the time. Madison answered the door. He was very surprised to see Brangien. Sylvana was even more surprised when the two of them kissed each other passionately on the lips.
“You guys know each other?” asked the girl, clearly astonished.
“Oh yes,” said Madison. “We were at school together back in the old country. We even dated for a bit.”
“What happened?” asked the girl.
“The war,” they said together.
“We were both taken prisoners,” said Madison. “And we never saw each other again after that.” Then he looked at his old flame. “I had no idea you were here,” he said softly.
“I had no idea you were still alive,” she whispered.
“Well, here we all are now, happy together again,” said the girl impatiently. “But more important, I’m looking for my father. Have you seen him? He’s a woodsman in the king’s service.”
“I see,” said Madison. “And what’s his name.”
“Oh my god, why do people keep asking me that?!” The girl was clearly annoyed. “I’ve only ever called him father. I don’t know his name.”
“Well, what does he look like?”
“I don’t know. He looks like a man. With a beard. He has big strong forearms, stout legs and a barrel chest. He usually likes to wear plaid flannel and a knit cap.”
“So, you’re saying he looks like a woodsman.”
“I guess, yeah, I mean, like, I don’t know what other woodsmen look like. I just know that’s what he looks like.”
“Right.” Madison pondered this for a moment. “Well, look. My roommate is a woodsman, and he fits the description. But he’s never said anything about having a daughter. Not that we talk much. Honestly, he’s kind of a xenophobe. I mean, I don’t hold it against up. He lived his whole life in the woods, probably. Never met anybody from anywhere else. I suppose it’s only natural. Point is, we don’t talk much. So maybe he has a daughter, but what do I know?”
“So there’s nothing to indicate that he has an important person in his life?” pressed Brangien.
“Now that you mention it, he keeps this little square wooden frame next to his bed. I once asked him what the deal with that was. He said it was a ‘picture frame,’ whatever that is. But I think it’s meant to symbolize somebody that matters a great deal to him.”
“Like a daughter?” asked Brangien.
“Yeah, maybe. Or a wife. Or a mother. Or a dog. I’m not really a fan of hypotheticals.”
“Please mister,” whined Sylvana. “This is important! Like, très important.” And somewhere, the sassy black lady was all, Oh, you know how to use très in a sentence, but you didn’t get my clou joke? Shiiiit.
“Tell you what, child,” said Madison. “Why don’t you come back tomorrow around supper-time and you can meet my roommate. Maybe he’s your daddy, maybe not. But there’s only one way to find out.”
“Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!” cried the girl. And she gave him a big hug. Then she turned to her lady-in-waiting. “OK, Brangie, let’s go.”
“Actually,” she said slowly, “I think I’m gonna stay for a bit. Madison and I have…a lot of catching up to do.”
“Oh, you mean like telling stories about all that’s happened in your lives since you were separated by the war? Sure, sure. I get it.”
“Umm, yeeeahhh, that,” said Brangien and Madison together.
Whereupon did Sylvana take her leave and headed back to the castle. And she strolled the city streets, she wondered to herself, what kind of hipster name is Madison?
Anyway, to make a long story short – or rather, to cut out the bits that arent’ really relevant – the next night, Sylvana returned to chez Madison around supper time. The woodsman wasn’t home yet, so she just sat on the couch and drank tea with upwardly mobile emancipated slave. At last, the doorknob turned, the door opened, and there stood the woodsman. He looked at the girl. She looked at him.
“Hey, chief,” said Madison. “Homegirl here thinks she might be – “
“My daughter!” And they raced to each other and were soon locked in a warm embrace. And when they had broken off their hug, the woodsman looked once more upon his daughter’s face. “What are you doing here?” he asked.
“Looking for you, silly!”
“No, I mean, what are you doing in the city? Do you live here now?”
“Oh my god, I didn’t even tell you! I’m engaged to the prince!” she squeeed.
“What wonderful news!” exclaimed the woodsman.
“Say what?” blurted Madison.
“Yeah,” she started. “He, like, just found me in the woods one day and wanted to marry me! Can you imagine? Marry a prince? So obvi, I was all, ‘yes,’ and shit. And here I am!”
“Ain’t that some shit,” muttered Madison to himself. “Here I am, with a PhD in advanced mathematics, and I’m bustin’ my ass, just to get emancipated. Ten years working in the Royal Office of Accounting, and all I got to show for it is this lousy flat and a xenophobic roommate. Meanwhile, homegirl here get’s to marry into royalty, because why? Because she’s pretty? Homegirl can’t even read. Ain’t that some shit.” But the girl and the woodsman heard none of this.
“Daddy, I’m going to bring you to live with me in the castle. It’s going to be uh-mazing!”
And that’s just what she did. I suppose I could end the story here. I suppose I could just say that she married the prince, her dad moved into the castle and they all lived happily ever after. Which is basically – Spoiler Alert – what happened. But why not tell the story the right way?
OK, so the woodsman moved into the castle. And for two months, father and daughter were delighted to be together again. I mean, it was a little awkward. After all, there was indeed a rather high degree of class-bias at court. Everybody sort of looked down on the woodsman, with his beard and his flannel. And while there was plenty of talk behind his back, everybody saw how happy the soon-to-be princess was and so they basically just put up with him.
Well, after two months, it was time for the wedding. There was, of course, a royal wedding planner. She took care of renting the hall. Or rather, reserving the hall. The hall, of course, belonged to the king, so they didn’t have to rent it so much as just raise taxes for a few weeks to cover expenses. Obviously not a big hit with the locals, but it’s not like they could vote the king out. So what can you do?
Anyway, the royal wedding planner had hired (read: conscripted) a decorator for the event. Only, nobody was really happy with him. I mean, he was very good. But his style was rather rococo. A bit over the top. It didn’t really fit with the hippy girl from the woods. That’s when the woodsman had an idea.
“You know,” he said at a wedding planning meeting, to the prince, and his daughter and the wedding planner, “my old roommate is actually a great decorator. He was always doing the loveliest things with flowers and drapes and…doilies? Is doilies a word? Why don’t we see if he can help us? I’m sure he’d do a great job.”
“Hmm, yes” said the wedding planner, trying to be polite. “But this is a royal wedding. Isn’t your ex-roommate a…slave?”
“An emancipated slave,” said the woodsman proudly. “And he has a PhD in advanced mathematics.”
“Typical,” said the wedding planner with disgust. “All these immigrants with their advanced degrees. How are we citizens supposed to compete for jobs anymore? And anyway, advanced mathematics is not decorating.”
“I’m telling you he’s good,” insisted the woodsman.
“We want to give him a chance,” added Sylvana. “Don’t we, honey?” she said, squeezing the prince’s hand.
“Anything for the little lady,” said the prince, displaying no trace of independent thought. “Make it so.”
“As you wish,” said the wedding planner.
An hour later, the four of them were knocking on Madison’s door. And they explained their proposition to him. And when they’d said their piece, he looked confused.
“I mean, I appreciate you guys thinking of me, honestly,” he said. “But, you know I’m not a decorator. I’m just gay.”
“You mean…” said the woodsman.
“I like men, yes.”
“But what about Brangien?” asked Sylvana. “You said you guys used to date.”
“Girl, it’s a spectrum,” answered Madison, waving her off.
“I don’t know about this,” said the royal wedding planner. “A gay, decorating the royal wedding?”
“I don’t know about this,” echoed the woodsman. “A gay, decorating my daughter’s wedding?”
“Oh, daddy,” said the girl, gripping her father’s epically massive forearm. “Don’t be like that. Madison is allowed to love whoever he wants. Who are we to judge him? And anyway, it’s not like he’s a Jew.”
“Jesus Christ,” said Madison, facepalming.
“See?!” exclaimed Sylvana.
“You will, of course, be paid quite handsomely,” said the royal wedding planner.
“Money, I got,” said Madison somewhat indignantly. “If y’all want me to decorate this shindig, you’re gonna have to do better than just a big fat check.”
“A what?” asked the royal wedding planner.
“Gold coins, whatever.”
“What’s your price?” asked the prince.
“I want a transfer out of the Royal Office of Accounting. I want a position at the Royal Institute of Mathematics.”
“You want a RIM job?!” asked the prince incredulously. “You. An ex-slave.”
“That’s right, and I won’t settle for anything less.
“Oh, let him have it, honey,” pleaded the girl. “It’ll be so worth it.”
“Very well,” said the prince. “I will personally see to your RIM job. On the sole condition that my bride is satisfied with your services.” Whereupon did Madison extend his hand to the prince. Whereupon did the prince look skeptically upon the ex-slave-hand before him. But, after a quick elbow to the ribs from his fiancée, they shook on it.
Well, needless to say, the wedding went off without a hitch. The decorations were beyond fabulous. Everybody had a great time. And when it was all over, the prince took his literally criminally underage bride up to his royal quarters and there did what all medieval princes do with their more-often-than-not criminally underage brides. It wasn’t long before she got preggers, and the whole kingdom was rejoicing at the news of it.
So now the girl-princess, the royal-by-marriage woodsman and the prince were all living together happily in the castle, enjoying life with their children/grandchildren and basically making a story-book existence of it all.
Not that there weren’t rough patches. The princess opened up a little menagerie on the castle grounds, where she brought her bear and squirrel friends from the woods to live with her. And for most of them, this was great. There was a never ending supply of nuts in the castle, and fresh fish every day.
But one of the squirrels soon became a little too enamored with life at the royal court. It wasn’t long before he started hanging out with the wrong crowd, spending way too much time with the idle, foppish dilettantes who clung to the king. And being of the aristocracy, they were very free with spending their fathers’ money. You know the type. Anyway, this particular squirrel soon developed a nasty coke habit. I mean, you think regular squirrels are fast. You should’ve seen this guy go after a couple of lines.
It got to the point that the princess – to say nothing of the other squirrels – was really starting to worry about him. But she figured it was his business, and she didn’t want to intrude. But he made it personal when he stole one of her pearl necklaces and sold it for two ounces of coke and a bag of chestnuts. The princess, bless her heart, wasn’t so much angry as hurt.
So she, and the other squirrels, staged a little intervention. And they told him that if he didn’t “straighten up and fly right,” they’d kick him out of the castle and send him back to the woods. It was hard, at first. It always is. But eventually, the squirrel got his shit together, and he’s been clean ever since.
And so that brings us to the end of our story. The princess and the prince were a happy couple. The woodsman and the girl were happy to be reunited. The animals were living it up. Even the courtiers had begun to accept the woodsman, as he was often carving little trinkets for them. Oh, and Madison got his job at the Royal Institute of Mathematics. Not only that, but he and Brangien got back together, only this time, it was in the form of a poly relationship that included the village blacksmith. As for the sassy black lady, well, the princess never forgot how she’d helped her. So she saw to it that a proper window was installed in the Royal Department of Human Resources. To which, SBL said, “Oh, thank you, child. You’re a sweet thing,” before adding under her breath, “Ex-slave gets a RIM job and all I get is a stupid-ass window. Shiiit.”
And they all lived happily ever after.