A Bionovian Fairy tale retelling

Photo by Andrew Collins
Once upon a time, there was a young mother reading to her daughter in a wooden house on the outer edges of the biggest city in the world, Mỹ Tuy.
“Once upon a time, there was-,” the young mother began before her ever-skeptical daughter interrupted her.
“Má why does it start that way?” It was hard to not love her for it. For her eyes were always brown and bright the wires in her head constantly connecting every little piece that Bionova can offer.
“Because that’s the way the author wrote it,” má said with a small smile, still not quite used to her daughter’s ever-questioning mind.
“Who’s the author?”
“Some Earthen person named the Grimm Brothers.”
“Who names their kid the Grimm Brothers?”
“I don’t know con, I don’t know.”
“Why don’t you don’t know?”
“Because I’m not some wizard con. Now can we get back to the story?” She asked staring down into little Mai’s eyes. The dim light made má’s eyes darker than normal, a hidden evil lurked beneath the surface. Little Mai shut up knowing better than to push her má when she gets like that. The red bruise on her skinny, brown wrist a good reminder of this.
“Okay, good,” má said clearing her throat. She relaxed her hands not realizing that she had been gripping the book’s hardcover the whole time. “Once upon a time, there was this king and his husband who tried for many, many years.”
“How many is many?” Little Mai said unable to help herself.
“I don’t know, now please don’t interrupt,” má said glancing down at Little Mai. “Now, where was I? Oh yeah. Okay, for many, many years trying to conceive a child till one day it worked and King Phillip was pregnant.”
“What did they do má? Did they go to some weird dragon voodoo or…?”
“It was a joyous day,” má said ignoring what her daughter just said. “That they decided to invite everyone they knew to a giant party to celebrate when the little princess was born. That is except for the Seelie queen because the kings still didn’t appreciate the fact that she didn’t invite them to her wedding. So, as everyone was celebrating and giving the little princess a variety of presents like Brownie-made toys, elfin shoes, dragon fire...” she continued to list many more Bionovaian treats but stopped when Little Mai cleared her own throat, her foot tapping against her silver wooden bed.
“Oh right, sorry. Where was I again? Okay, so during the celebration the queen came by angry as usual but this time there was a…”
Everyone is dead.
And from the looks of it, they’ve been dead for a while. As everyone rested in their graves, I’ve been asleep for who knows how long, dreaming morbid dreams, and waiting for some other royal charming to non-consensually kiss me awake. However, there is no royal charming; Bionova has turned into what má would call an Earthen Eden paradise minus the Adam and Eve; and the demon of this story is the Seelie queen, who does not care for my existence ninety-nine percent of the time. And I could care less for her either.
Picking up my tattered fairy tale book, I settle beside the rocks near the waterfall. For a moment, I thought I heard mermaid giggles and saw scaly feet going deeper into the water, but it was just my imagination.
“A what má?” Little Mai asked snuggling into her má’s arms.
“A hint of evil,” má said lightly touching her daughter’s nose. Little Mai rolled my eyes thinking, of course, it would involve evil, like all great stories should.  
“When the queen stalked up to the little girl she smiled, just like this,” má would then twist her thin brown lips into the scariest grimace she could manage, “and then tapped the girl on the head, once, twice,” má said tapping Little Mai’s head. “While everyone watched horrified wondering about all the possibilities that could have happened. For you see-”
“I know má, the queen is the most powerful being in the world, blah, blah, blah. She could zap us both in the eyes if she really wanted to.”
“Right,” she smiled, “And after she did that, she then turned around and left without saying anything, that creepy little smile still on her face.”
As I got to the part where the royal charming was killing the evil dragon queen, I hear a, “hello,” right behind me. I jump, still not used to her silent presence.
“Hi,” I say, straining my neck to see her clearly. It still amazes me how casually she dresses and yet how fitting she is to all the scary descriptions that I’ve heard about her. Her subtle anger, her silence, her monotone expression. Even the silver trees behind her can’t help but bow with fear.
“How are you?” she asks not bothering to come any closer to me. I blink still not quite believing that she’s right there.
She raises her eyebrows, still waiting for my answer. I gulp before stumbling over my next words. “I-I’m fine. How are you? Umm, why are you talking to me after-?”
“After not talking to you all this time?” I nod, curious about her answer. For some reason, I could feel my insides boil which is not good.
A hint of a smile appears on her lips, “Even a queen gets bored.”
I scoff, “but you have everything you could ever want in the world. A nice castle, servants, an unlimited amount of money, every piece of technology, books.” At that last statement, I raise my fairy tale book into the air.
“Yes, yes,” she says waving her hand flippantly into the air. “But those only meet my material wants not my intellectual or social needs that another being can offer.”
“So, that is where I come in.”
“Exactly, and so far, you’re a disappointment.”
I roll my eyes, “I’m sorry that I’m not an aristocrat, your majesty.
She sighs and moves a bit closer, I blink again, realizing that she’s on a small cloud a few inches above the dry ground. “Don’t bother with titles, peasant. As far as I’m concerned, we are the only two people left on this planet.” Psh, calling me a peasant, what kind of elitist term is that? I think to myself, not noticing the soft dents on the book’s pages.
“Fine, your majesty, but on one condition.” She raises one of her sharp eyebrows. “I’ll only do it if you’re not a hypocrite yourself.”
“Then what would you like to be called, peasant?” Gah, that term is starting to grate on my nerves.
“Mai, just call me Mai.”
“Fine, Mai,” she says as if my name tasted like dirt. “Please call me Tiên.”
I blink a couple of times, not sure if the queen just gave me her real name or not. But the water isn’t exploding in anger, the trees aren’t crouching in fear, and the air under the golden dust mite sky doesn’t seem stifling like what legends say would happen if the queen revealed her real name. So, I’m good for the moment. I get to live another day on this empty planet. 

And now the weather:
Young God by Halsey
~ Stacy N.


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