Fairy tales will never die.
In the passage of time, we push them to the background. They fade from memory as we age, forgotten. While tucking a child into bed, we are faced with that timeless request to keep the dark at bay: “Tell us a story.”
And in an instant, we are transported back to youth.
And yet, fairy tales are not really for the young exclusively. They are for all our times, all our ages. We are always telling ourselves fairy tales, for better or for worse. Sometimes, they are as simple as being the captain of a school sports team, or achieving honors in a class. Sometimes, it’s climbing a mountain, meeting our true love, or running a business. For others, it’s going to school, graduating, getting a job, making a living, getting married, buying a house, and having children of our own – a fairy tale we might call the American Dream.
The problem sets in when we tell ourselves one fairy tale – and only one. At which point, it ceases to be fairy tale at all and becomes a delusion, an obsession, a grave mistake.
Yet, our lives do not end simply because they did not adhere to a fairy tale we told ourselves. Sometimes, we awaken to discover we are in the wrong narrative. We spend our lives searching for the fairy tale that suits us – and our pursuit becomes the story of our lives.
We do not have to settle for one that contains only a certain set of values, for fairy tales hold a multitude. A person shaping an unexpected life may find their fairy tale will be completely, radically different from another’s. A young girl running from an abusive father may find catharsis in Allerleirauh; a man experiencing a nervous breakdown might identify with the huntsman in Red Riding Hood, perceiving the wolf as the beast he must split open to save an inner part of himself swallowed up by the jaws of life. We have tales in this world to suit our every turning point, to find ourselves again and awaken to the myriad of purpose, armed with a huntsman’s hatchet, a princess’s crown, an enchanted spinning wheel.
The real crime in this world is having only one fairy tale to hold close to your heart, and insisting everyone follow it, and believing that you must, too. This way of thinking breeds an awful despair, a rose bud crushed before it has the chance to bloom. We live in a world in grave need of stories, as many stories with as many different ideas within them as possible.
Awaken, readers young and old – we have more stories for you, stories to remind you that you are beloved, you are a king, you are a queen, you are a child again, running through a wicked wild wood with gingerbread between your teeth, and in the darkness, you may see all of us dreamers running with you, hand in hand. We have stories for everything you want to be, stories that will support you, uphold you, and cherish you for moments you find yourself alone and with no one there to tell you “this – this is not who you are” when in fact this – this is very much who you are, who you want to be, who you have always been, and who you are fiercely becoming.
We tell fairy tales as an expression of life itself, to remember who we were before we became rigid and brittle and believed in our stinginess that we had only one story and this one story was the only one that mattered; before we turned life into a paint-by-numbers affair, a factory made product with a money back guarantee that left us wholly unsatisfied with our meager portion.
Beloved, tonight, when you go to bed, tell me a story. And when you are done, do not stop. Tell me another. And another. Until we have exhausted life of every possibility and sucked it dry with nothing remaining to fuel doubt, and we fall asleep to dreaming of the tales we will tell ourselves tomorrow.
Fairy tales will never die; not as long as we have breath to tell ourselves just one more.
Claudia Quint writes fantasy, romance, and erotica when she isn’t brewing wine, taking care of her society finches, and messing about in her garden. Her new story, “A Sleeve of Feathers” will be published in the After the Happily Ever After anthology on December 15th.
Photo credit: “Simply You” (c) Monty Adams