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The Apple

Marlaina Cockcroft is a freelance writer and editor with a lifelong love of fantasy and an intern who might actually be a cat. In addition to the news articles she writes for her day job, she creates short stories for adults and books for children. She lives with her family in New Jersey.

I knew the apple was poisoned.
Foolish girl, the people whisper as I walk through the market, head high, refusing to hide inside my castle. So innocent, so trusting, so silly to take that apple and bite down.
I ignore their looks of pity.
They don't know what it was like.
She was so beautiful, and she smiled so kindly, and I thought we could be happy. One happy family, once again. Then Father was gone, and we were two, and she dropped the smile.
I tried so hard to get that smile back. Sweep the floors? Yes, Mother. Clean out the stable? Of course, Mother. Whatever you want, look, I can even sing in these rags. Just smile at me, Mother.
"You will refer to me as Your Majesty," she thundered, and marched away in a swirl of robes.
I sank down to the stone floor and cried.
When I ran, I thought, even then, that she didn't mean it. She wouldn't really kill me. She didn't really want my heart. Wasn't I family? But the huntsman's cracked voice scared me, and I hid in the woods.
"You don't deserve her," said the dwarf, as the others slept off the meal I'd made. I stared at my reflection in the wash water. Family wasn't a thing you deserved.
Was it?
I recognized her at once, of course, when I opened the dwarves' front door. She never could bear to be ugly, and her red lips gleamed through the old woman's cloak. I thought, this is a game, and I will cry, I see you, Mother, and she will laugh, and we will go home together. But then she did smile, slow and venomous, and I saw the truth.
I knew the apple was poisoned. But it was the only thing she'd ever given me. I took a bite.
My prince is kind, and he's almost enough. He holds me when I cry in the night.
Our daughter is five, so happy, so fair. We walk through the market, and she picks up an apple from the cart.
I grab the apple, my crown half falling off my head in my haste. I fling the apple away.
My daughter wails. I ignore the apple-cart man's protests behind me, and I bend to meet my daughter's eyes, smoothing down her black hair. I smile.
"I love you most of all," I tell her. "And I promise, I will never give you an apple."
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, October 7th, 2020

Author Comments

Snow White gets a bad rap. She's not naive or foolish; she's the survivor of a literally toxic relationship. How would that affect her? I wanted her to tell her story on her own terms.

- Marlaina Cockcroft
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