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I’m really late for the Fairy Tale Blogfest hosted by Emily White.

This is best described in the Emily’s words:

Write in no more than 1000 words a story based on a fairy tale in a genre OTHER than fantasy. You can do horror, suspense, sci-fi, thriller, etc. (romance is okay, but you need to add another genre with it, otherwise you’ll just end up with a fantasy romance), and the plot has to be closely related to the original tale.
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It was a little dense on the part of the Whites to name their daughter Lily, but they could not help it, it seemed quite a lark at the time. She was born after trying naturally for five years, artificially for another five, and they felt themselves justified in acting silly over her. Lily White grew, as girls do, from infant, to toddler, to a young woman.

The Whites were doting parents, at least Mr. White was. In the face of his daughter, he saw the blossoming of all his hopes and ambitions. He worked as the director of a Cosmetic Research Institute, and the drug he had given Mrs. White during her pregnancy inside her Folic acid capsules seemed to have worked as expected.

Lily grew more radiant everyday, and Mr. White took pictures of her each weekend, and if he managed to find an excuse, a few days of the week as well. Lily hated having her pictures taken, and hid from her father, who always found her out.

In the album he kept locked up in his study, he scribbled notes beside each picture, drawing arrows to various points in his daughter’s face. Documentation was everything for an experiment.

Mrs. White, on the other hand, was not so enthusiastic about her daughter. For one, her daughter did not smile or make faces. Babies differ, from one to the other, but Lily was absolutely different: her face remained frozen, no matter the provocation or pleasure. No trace of expression crossed it even when Mrs. White annoyed Lily by putting her toys just out of her reach, or put a sweet near Lily’s mouth only to pop it into her own at the very last second.

She pointed their daughter’s lack of facial expression out to her husband.

“We have a princess of a daughter, look how beautiful she is,” he replied, watching their daughter as she put her doll’s house in order.

He did not want Mrs. White upsetting his plans. In fact, she was part of the plan, and had been recruited into his experiment due to the genes that gave her exemplary bone structure and robust health. Good skin would not work if it did not hang on a suitable frame.

Years passed. Mrs. White faded and wrinkled in the aftermath of the various miscarriages preceding Lily’s birth, and the strain of bringing her up afterwards, while Lily bloomed fair and white like her name.

She reached her fifteenth year, and Mr. White watched his daughter with increasing excitement and trepidation. He would present her to the world on her sixteenth birthday, as a triumph of scientific research, because according to his calculations that would be the year she reached her acme, and stay there the rest of her life.

On her sixteenth birthday, Mr.White stole into his daughter’s room, to put her birthday gift next to her, a surprise. Mrs. White watched him tiptoe out of their bedroom, a slim wrapped package in his hand. In the years after Lily was born, all Mr. White’s gifts were for his daughter. Mrs. White had received none. Not for Christmas, nor her birthdays.

Mr. White came back from his daughter’s room, got ready, and went to office after polishing off the breakfast Mrs. White had prepared for him.

“See you at the party tonight,” he said to Mrs. White with a dry peck on her wrinkled cheek.

After her breakfast, Mrs. White began preparing for the party, festooned their home, baked the cake, waited for Mr. White’s Princess to come awake. When it was past mid-day, and Lily had not emerged from her room yet, Mrs. White walked upstairs to look for her daughter, and found her in bed, asleep.

She called and shook Lily, and prodded Lily, but to no effect. She checked her daughter’s pulse and breathing, and they were normal. But Lily couldn’t feel Mrs. White’s pinches, and from experience Mrs. White knew she found them painful. She had pinched her daughter often enough and brought her to tears– Lily shed tears, her eyes watering up, her face like a statue.

She ran downstairs and called Mr.White, to tell him his Princess had taken up a strange new way to upset her mother.

“I’ll come with a doctor rightaway,” said Mr. White, without asking any questions. He did not seem surprised.

“She will sleep, Mr. White, for a long time,” said the pale-faced specialist, and Mrs. White Heard them through the keyhole.

“This is Kleine-Levin Syndrome, whose victims worldwide may number no more than 1,000. The victims live normally for weeks or months at a time, with normal sleep patterns and normal energy levels. Then, with little warning, they’ll go to sleep for days or weeks at a time,” he pronounced in a monotone.

“Is there no cure?”

“No. The patients come out of it naturally in 12-15 years. Though in your daughter’s case, I detect a degree of muscular paralysis, which seems to be spreading. She may not be able to eat or expel waste, as other patients of this disease do. Maybe we should hospitalise her for observation.”

“Sure, doctor. But today is her birthday and it would break her mother’s heart if she were taken away. Maybe tomorrow?”

“Sure.”

As he led the doctor out Mr. White began thinking of various solutions to the problem; the specialist would not be fooled for long. That his experiment to create ageless beauty had failed was clear, it was a marvel Lily had lasted as long as she had.

Mrs. White, who was wiping the glasses in a nearby shelf, had heard the entire conversation. A tiny smile played on her face. When Mr. White was out of the door, she began humming.

Lily White lay on her white sheets, her lips red as coral and her dark hair fanned about her face, sleeping, dreaming of a life without her parents.
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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her forthcoming literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and will be published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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17 Comments

  • Tessa Conte says:

    Yikes that was creepy. In a very well done great way, but creepy. *shivers*

    Well done my dear!

  • Lots of lovely phrasing here! This was very dark and twisty – what a creepy pair of parents. The father for his part and the mother for being so abusive. Well done!

  • Rebecca T. says:

    That was great. Very intriguing twist. Mr. White was such a jerk!

  • Clara says:

    I dont think I read any twist on Snow White, so this was refreshing. Very well done!

  • Interesting take on Snow White. Despite my sympathy for Mrs White being neglected by her husband, I still disliked how she abused poor Lily. And I thought it was cool how you included the sleeping syndrome. Gonna go look it up now! πŸ™‚

    "Years passed. Mrs. White faded and wrinkled in the aftermath of the various miscarriages preceding Lily's birth, and the strain of bringing her up afterwards, while Lily bloomed fair and white like her name."

    That was my favourite–such a pretty sentence.

  • Neat twist on the "Snow White" story! Thanks for posting.

  • Sad and sort of haunting. I wasn't sure you were going to hold my interest at first, but you did- I couldn't stop reading. Interesting twist.

  • AchingHope says:

    Aw, I'm so sad for Lily πŸ™ Though I did like that the mother, though still a little wicked, wasn't entirely evil since her husband was a jerk. Very interesting indeed. I liked it πŸ™‚

  • You caught me up and kept me with your narrative flow up until the end.

    A life without parents.

    That is the same, sad dream of so many real children — and with as good reasons.

    You did a magnificent job, Roland

  • Vicki Rocho says:

    Very compelling! I couldn't wait to get to the end to find out what happened to Lily.

  • aspiring_x says:

    very interesting! what crazy parents! you write the most twisted characters!

  • M. Bail says:

    Interesting. I couldn't tell if it was supposed to be Snow White or Sleeping Beauty, but the mix of both worked pretty well. Nice job!

  • I was not expecting this. At all. It was wraught with tension and kept me reading until the very end.

    Nicely done!

  • DL Hammons says:

    A very entertaining take on an old standard. You did a good job of keeping the reader invested in the story. Well done!

  • Emily White says:

    I just wanted to let you know that I did read your story and I'm glad you were able to post it! πŸ˜€

    The lateness of the post will in no way be counted against you as I'm picking finalists. So no worries there!

  • Jen says:

    I think you're the only one who has done this fairy tale!!! I loved it, loved the take you took, it was brilliant!!!

    I saw your name on the participation list and new I had to stop by! Well worth it!!

  • Summer Ross says:

    what an interesting take on snow white. I love what you did with it..it almost goes into sleeping beauty. I would be interested to see this play all the way out. great piece

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