014. The Three Spinners

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.*

Sometimes I’m asked why I stayed with the agency for as long as I did. As cliché as it sounds, my only good answer is, the economy. I needed any gig I could get, and many of my assignments had me rubbing elbows with big names. I couldn’t afford not to take the agency assignments. But when I think back now—when I remember how there were some days all I got paid was a free meal at the wedding reception, I honestly can’t believe I made it through. We all have those jobs we look back on, though, right? You take two trains and walk seven blocks to get to your desk; you split yourself into three bodies with very specific physical characteristics (it’s harder than it sounds!) to get someone out of a days’ work for nothing but a plate of mediocre chicken…same thing. Obviously I’d rather have been putting some real meat on my resume. Something along the lines of “Baba Yaga, 2001-2013: Responsibilities included maintaining sentient hut, cannibalistic threats, administering tests of bravery, and interior décor with skulls,” but you have to start somewhere.

I’m very comfortable these days as a freelancer. I’m not living in a gingerbread castle with an army of flying monkeys, but I get by. And I learned a ton about myself in those early career years. Splitting yourself into three women forces you to learn some hard lessons—not only is it demanding spell work, but you have to confront and overcome any lingering vanity. We can’t all be the Snow Queen or Glinda the Pastel-Colored Good. Sometimes you have to roll up your sleeves, stretch out your bottom lip, and lick it up, Buttercup. I let the other girls take care of the princes and the deserving step-daughters. There are enough lazy, desperate folks out there who’d rather cry into their oatmeal than lift a finger to keep me in work for the rest of my unnatural life.

Cate Fricke
February 2014

illustration by John B. Gruelle

illustration by John B. Gruelle