Author sat at his deck, rubbing his forehead. It seemed he’d been rubbing it for days, waiting for inspiration to come. Maybe, just maybe, he exhausted all the fairy tales available. Maybe there wasn’t anything more to write about.
“You could have written a nicer story about me,” Little Red Riding Hood said from behind his left shoulder. “I could have gone to the mall or something, like really. Going to Grandma’s House with a wolf dressed as Grandma!”
“That’s the story,” he said, somewhat impatiently. She’d been whining about her story since it had been written.
“Do you see what I’m wearing?” she asked, holding out the sides of her dress in each hand, looking down at her checkered frock.
“It’s how you dress,” he said. “It’s how girls dressed in your time.”
“But you didn’t write me in my time,” she protested. “You wrote me in your time but you still put me in this stinking dress. Like why?”
“At least you aren’t perpetually in a nightgown,” the wolf growled, slinking in from the living room. “And a night hat.”
“It’s called a ‘kirchief,” he said, more impatiently. “You know that.”
“Still doesn’t mean I like it. You could have written me eating Little Red here,” he continued. “That is the moral of the story, you know.”
“We know the moral,” Red said with a roll of her eyes. “Really!”
“And you couldn’t have made me a nice wolf, you know. Sophisticated. Well-liked.”
“Nobody likes wolves,” Little Pig # 2 piped up.
“I ought to eat you,” snapped the wolf, “and I would have if you hadn’t run into Little Pig #3 house.”
“Speaking of that,” Little Pig #2 said, “Why did my house have to be of sticks. Why couldn’t I have had the house of bricks?”
Author slid around in his chair. “I wrote you all in your own stories. And that’s final.” He looked at Red. “No mall for you.” At the Big Bad Wolf, “No sophistication for you. You’re a big bad wolf, for crying out loud. And you, Little Pig, have the house you build. You aren’t smart enough to build the house of bricks.”
Little Piglet #3 snickered. “Like I always told you, Millard,” addressing Little Pig #2. “Author has the story right. I’m the one smart enough to build from bricks.”
Big Bad Wolf growled. “I’ll blow your house down eventually,” he said, lowering his head to stare right into Little Pig #3’s eyes.
“All right, you all,” Author said, waving his hands. “No wonder I can’t write. All of you arguing all the time.”
Snow White stalked in. “While we’re griping,” she said, “why put me with 7 short, dour, grumpy men. How about 7 Princes, huh? Did you think of that?”
“Seven?” Prince Charming shot back. “How about me. Aren’t I enough? I have a hard enough time with you running off into the forest to sing to all the animals as it is,” he continued. “Just think what I’d have to worry about if you had six more of me around. I’d never get anything done!”
Snow White rolled her eyes. “Yeah, yeah, if you weren’t so insecure…”
“Insecure! You’d make anybody insecure,” Charming shot back and would have continued on if The Big Bad Wolf hadn’t sidled up to him at that exact moment.
“I’ll eat her for you,” he said smoothly, “no charge and all your problems gone!”
Prince Charming thought for a moment.
Snow erupted. “You have to think about it? Really, Charming? You’d throw me to the Wolf?”
“No, no, of course not,” Prince said, pulling his sword. “I’ll cut his head off for you, my dear.”
Big Bad Wolf howled. “My head? How dare you!” He leapt at Charming and the two went down, tussling across the floor.
Author sighed and turned back to his blank page, head in hands, as behind him the argument spread among the Fairy Tales until all of them were screaming and fighting.
“I told you the troubles you would have,” Hans Christian said, seating himself on the edge of the desk.
“I know, but you really didn’t make it clear how horrible they all are.”
“Fairy Tales were horrible,” Hans pointed out. “A product of their time.”
“Then why aren’t they bitching to you?”
“Oh, back then they were content with their roles. It was all they had, after all. What else was a Little Pig or a Big Bad Wolf going to do?”
They were silent for a moment, watching the fights. Prince Charming had pinned down the Big Bad Wolf and was trying to saw his head off with a dulled sword.
“Good thinking, making his sword dull,” Hans commented.
Author shrugged, pleased.
“So what do I do?”
“You’re just going to have to rewrite their stories again,” Hans told him, “to fit this new world.”
“I did that with Red and she’s still not happy.”
“Oh for crying out loud, just let her go to this thing she calls the mall. Let the Big Bad Wolf eat somebody. That is all he wants you know, just to win once.”
“But I can’t let him eat Red or the Little Pigs,” Author protested. “What would happen to their Tales?”
“They would disappear, of course,” Hans replied thoughtfully. “An interesting idea. I wonder how many tales you could make disappear?”
Author looked at the battling Fairy Tales again and then said, “I bet I can make them all disappear.”
The Little Pigs were punching and kicking each other.
Hans nodded. “There you go. They have become so sickly sweet in your age that I’m ashamed to have written them.”
“Have no fear,” Author said, eager to get back to his writing. For the first time in ages, he felt the words stirring in his mind, eager to spill out onto the paper. Turning back to his empty page, he picked up his pen and started to write.
“Once upon a time, there was a Big Bad Wolf who had never eaten anybody…”