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She Missed Her Chance.

C. J. Maloney spends his days working to fix incurable patients, and his nights dreaming of faraway worlds glimpsed through the fog of imagination. He has taken down a number of these ramblings, which vary from dark fantasy to slapstick science fiction humor. Just for DSF, he's added a page of his fictional work onto his medical website (chrisjlmaloney.com) which should raise the eyebrows of some of his patients but delight others. Thank you for reading, and giving him the rockets he deserves!

After locking her in, her stepmother blocked the attic door with an old armchair. The mice and sparrows had been useless, so she heaved and sobbed for over an hour. In desperation she sent the sparrows and mice to slow his exit, but they had driven him out instead.
When she finally broke free, scampering down the stairs clutching her single crystal shoe, only her stepmother waited for her in silence. The old woman saw the shoe, took it by force, and raced away. Ten doors down the prince hadn't come yet. So the mothers broke a girl's foot, kneading it so that when he came it slipped into the tiny shoes with ease. Producing the other shoe was all the confirmation the prince needed. What did he really know of some beautiful girl he'd seen for a few nights?
It was a triple wedding, as the stepmother had brokered a deal for both of her daughters to marry into nobility. The whole happy family depended on the services of a single serving wench, and the new husbands added extra chores.
She blamed the mice and sparrows. They grew distant. Her voice grew raspy and deep from hours of weeping. She made friends with the crows, and cultivated the rats as more worthy spies. Her tiny feet put strain on her knees, crippling her with arthritis. It was the rats who brought her bits of spell books stolen from dungeons and wizards' lairs. Over the years her hair grew tangled and her face twisted from misery.
Her stepmother died under suspicious circumstances, and the rest of the family followed at an alarming pace. They had been living beyond their means, and creditors descended. So she was turned out of the house, her house, and departed into the woods.
Perhaps she will build a house made of sweets, the sweets she never tasted in her childhood. Or perhaps she'll visit the king and his bride at the birth of their first-born child. But even a quiet life, growing magic beans in her garden, will give her no peace. She missed her chance, and someone has to pay.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, July 13th, 2017

Author Comments

ve always wondered where the witches in the fairy tales came from, if they popped up like toadstools. Like all my stories, this one visited me briefly, and I managed to capture its image before it departed again. Credit for it goes entirely to wherever stories come from, and I am only a faithful transcriptionist. As a doctor, I understand that each of us contains both our best and worst selves. My task is to work beyond healing the physical, to retelling the story of a patient's illness so that they continue on the path to their better selves. If only I'd had a chance to talk to the princess....

- C.J. Maloney
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