“Let’s go, Blondie. Move it. We ain’t got all day, you know. “
“Sorry,” she said, blowing her nose again. “It’s being locked in that room full of straw. Really made my hay fever flare up. Can we stop soon?”
“Just down this path. We can crash at my brother’s house. But we need to talk. Figure out what you’re gonna do next. Then I’m out. Except for what you promised, of course. I’m not helping you out of the goodness of my heart, you know.
“So,” he said, after they reached the house, “How’d you get in this fix in the first place? What made the king think you could spin straw into gold? I’m the only one can do that. It’s a gift. Unique, you know? And the king never heard of me or my gift. Why you?”
“Oh, my dad was at the tavern one day, going on about his beautiful daughter with hair as yellow as straw. And when I sit in the sun, spinning, it turns to gold. He meant my hair, not the straw, but some flunky just heard ‘straw… spin… gold’, and the next thing you know, I’m ‘invited’ to the palace and told to spin straw into gold or die. I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t showed up, Mr. Stiltskin. I guess I’d be dead by now.”
“But I did show up, and you could have been the next queen. The king was planning to marry you after that last batch of gold, right? Why leave that cushy crib, girl?”
“And do what the next time he wanted more gold? If you weren’t around? And the politics in that palace? Everyone jockeying for position and power, wanting favors? I’d never be able to trust anybody again. Besides, I’m engaged to Peter the shoemaker. I have enough gold in my pocket for us to relocate to Swanovia. He has relatives there and we’ll be able to live happily ever after. You can come by every week for a pie, like I promised.”
The next morning she started out for the shoemaker’s shop. “Goodbye, Mr. Stiltskin! Thanks for everything.”
“Yeah, well, good luck with that happy ever after thing, Blondie, and don’t waste any time moving on. The king’ll be looking for you, you know. Good idea if you’d dye your hair.” He turned and disappeared into the woods, whistling merrily. Oh, wouldn’t a lot of people be surprised next week when the gold started turning back into straw!
Author’s Note: This appeared in The Clarion Call, Vol. 4: FairyTale Riot; by The Agorist Writers Workshop. Published by Very Good Books. 2018