006. Faithful Johannes

by crfricke

*This post is part of A Grimm Project, a series of short fiction pieces using each of the Brothers Grimms’ Nursery and Household Tales as writing prompts. For more information about the project, click here. For more about the story which inspired this freewrite, click here.*

My sweet children, sit on this rock beside me, and together we will watch the waves tow their burdens into port. If you squint your precious eyes tightly until they are nearly closed, you may see the faint shadow of the land where I was born. It was across this sea that your two fathers brought me as a golden prize. In that land we cannot see from here, I was like a trinket. Here, I was happily made your mother.

You must forgive me, dear ones, for not saying I would save you. You must understand, we all knew how it would turn out. Me, and both your fathers—fathers, yes, for they have both given you life—understood how the story works, and for this understanding, we were rewarded with your lives.

My place in the story is to exist as the prize. The Princess of the Golden Roof is made to be won, and to acquiesce. The king’s love must have a voice, even if that love is not truly for me. I am here to distract, as precious metals always do. It was hard, at first, knowing that the king did not love me best—I knew it even before he did. But we are all very happy now. I have my own prize, do I not? My two darling children.

Are you not happy too? You, you lucky ducklings, have all three parents to love. And we do, my dears, despite how callous we might seem on the page. May you grow to be as open-minded as your mother, and as tender-hearted as your two fathers. Ah! Come and kiss me, and then let’s gaze at the gulls. My children! How dear you are with your heads back on.

Cate Fricke
October 2013

illustration by Walter Crane

illustration by Walter Crane