While I was trying to choose a universe in which to write my weekly flash fiction for this fourth Fiction Friday, an idea involving several well-known fairy tales, and the motif of working with thread and cloth which is so much a part of the European tradition, sneaked up and took possession of my mind, and refused to go away.
So, rather than fight for space in one of my established worlds, I wrote down what I was thinking about, and thus today's Fiction Friday piece is a fairy tale crossover. It could well be a Legendbreakers story if I'm ever inspired to expand it -- our Princess du jour had to get this idea from somewhere, after all...
But in any case, here it is. Please enjoy.
The Princess's mockingbird began to sing at precisely seven minutes past the hour of six in the morning, prompting that gracious lady to fumble under her bed and extract one small and dainty shoe, which she flung across the room to clatter off the mockingbird's cage. "Fi' mo' min's," she mumbled, subsiding back into sleep.
The mockingbird, choosing prudence over valor, waited eight minutes instead.
At the second repetition of the trilling song, the Princess groaned and sat up, her gray-blue eyes still clouded with the remnants of dreams. "Mornings," she muttered, pushing aside her bedcovers and heading for the washroom, her incredible mane of hair, as golden as wheat-straw in autumn, trailing along behind her. "Why do they have to start so early?"
From its cage, the mockingbird voiced a single tentative chirp, as if to say, You're a princess, aren't you? You could sleep as late as you like.
"Well, yes." The Princess splashed cool water on her face, then dipped a soft-bristled brush into a container of white powder. "But that's only if I want to stay in Mother Gothel's pretty tower forever, tied fast by my hair. Which I don't. Still, to escape it only to find myself mewed up in a larger prison, the sort called a palace, and chained there with a golden ring on my finger, is hardly an improvement. And if I take my Prince's offer, tempting as it is, that ring is the only gold I ever would see, for under the laws of our land, the goods of a wife, like the wife herself, belong solely to her husband..."
She began to apply the brush vigorously to her teeth, which effort the mockingbird aided with a little song to help her keep her time. When the bird's last note had died away, the Princess spat into the basin, rinsed her mouth and spat again, and picked up her hairbrush with a sigh. "Start at the end," she murmured, "work up slowly, and try to keep as many intact as possible."
Half an hour later, the gargantuan task was finally finished, and the Princess cradled a double handful of long, silky hairs. "Into the basket with it," she said, suiting action to word. "And after I get dressed and have something to eat, off to the spinning wheel for me." She smiled. "Even if spinning straw into gold is a different story altogether. Fine ladies still pay good money for anything out of the ordinary, anything that will make them stand out in the crowd. And a spun thread of golden hair, embroidered in neat patterns on a silken cloth, and delivered directly to their chambers by a mockingbird courier..." She smiled at her feathered friend, who fluttered his wings in reply. "...is something very much out of the ordinary."
She wondered sometimes if her Prince had ever noticed that the ladder she was supposed to be weaving from his skeins of silk was taking a very long time to appear.