Once Upon A Mirror—It’s important to know when you’ve been beaten
By Zeina Hani
Once upon a time, in a kingdom far, far away, a baby girl was born. Her skin was white as snow, her hair was dark as night; and they called her Snow White—probably because that was the most pretentious name they could come up with. As fate would have it, Snow White’s mother died in childbirth. Left on his own, the father spoiled the young girl—he could afford to, of course, he was the king. The king loved his daughter and the whole kingdom loved him. The kingdom was a happy place where people danced and sang, day and night—apparently no one had a job back then, just singing and dancing, all day and all night.
The king raised the little girl by himself grooming her to one day lead, but over time he realized that there were some things he couldn’t teach her, so he married a new queen. This queen was the most beautiful woman of all, she was intelligent and strong and, just to clarify, she was me, and this is my story, not hers. Bewitched by my beauty, the king begged me to marry him. I was everything to him, the stars and the moon, but dark magic covered the land. The brave king bid farewell to Snow White, leaving her his favorite dagger—an interesting gift, more isn’t always less—and rode off into the dark woods and sadly was never seen again.
Snow White searched and searched for her father and when she realized that he was truly gone she was devastated. The girl was now left under my care. Ten years passed and Snow White grew older and blossomed, but the kingdom fell into an icy despair and I realized that if I wanted to remain the most beautiful in all the land, Snow would have to do what Snow does best: Snow would have to fall.
On the girl’s eighteenth birthday, Snow left her room and danced down in her yellow gown. I spotted the girl, caught her in front of me. I asked her if there was a fire in her room, because if there wasn’t then there’d be no reason for her to leave it. “No, well I was thinking I could go to the village, you know, because today’s my eighteenth birthday,” she said, with no emotion.
“Oh. Is it now!” I tried to seem like I cared and held her hand, “Well, let me think about that,” I said with a smile. “After all you’ve caused me no problems, no commotions, even so, there is something that’s just, umm irritating, about you . . . the slumped shoulders,” she sat up, “the squeaky voice,” she looked puzzled, “the raven hair, you know what, I think it’s the hair.” I grabbed her hair and pulled her chin up, “I don’t care if it’s your one hundredth birthday, don’t ever let me find you sneaking out of the castle like this again.” I could see the fear in her eyes. “It’s important to know when you’ve been beaten.”
Snow went down to the bakery room. “Surprise!” all the unknown bakers and cleaners yelled. She went down to Margret, the head baker, and received a gift. It was her father’s dagger, all polished.
“What would I do with this?” she asked.
“You could use it as a sign to take back your kingdom,” Margret said with such high hopes.
“It is not my kingdom.”
“Oh but it is, the people don’t sing and dance like they used to,” she showed Snow from the window.
Snow put on her huge coat and ran out to the palace guards.
“I’m going out!” she said to them.
“She’s going out? Is she allowed?”
“I guess she is going; I won’t tell if you won’t.”
Snow ran out and went to the snowy woods. She heard human voices and found two men hanging upside down.
“Need any help?” she offered.
“Yes please,” one of the men said.
“We fought bandits and we were outnumbered so they took our gold and left us like this.”
They weren’t actually bandits, they were dwarfs. They used springs to make them look like giants, and these weren’t just two men, one was a prince and the other was his royal assistant. They offered Snow to travel north with them but she was traveling south. Snow didn’t know this but the prince fell in love with her the minute he saw her, but she didn’t want to get distracted so she moved on and went to the village.
When she got there she was so shocked, there were people begging for food dressed in ripped, gray clothes, and they had nothing. Britton, my assistant, came in. Snow hid but she didn’t blend in. Luckily for her, Britton didn’t see her. He nailed a note on the notice board; it said he wanted more taxes. The people argued with him but they didn’t win of course. Britton reminded them of the beast which was real, because the truth is, I’m broke. I will collect taxes for the ball I’m having for the prince Snow ran into, because he’s built like an ox. I’ll marry him and with his money, my financial problems would be solved, just like that.
The beast is a monster I made. It’s real of course, and it lives in the woods and it does whatever I want because we’re linked. I put the moon necklace on him; the same one I never take off. If I did or he did, all my magic would backfire on me. The necklace controls the dark magic, and it’s all mine.
“Baker Margret! Baker Margret! Oh, it’s awful, the queen has ruined everything and she wants money from them even though they have nothing,” Snow yelled.
“Oh that’s to pay for all her lavish parties,” she took Snow in her arms.
“And she’s having another one tonight, for a prince.”
“Wait, a prince is coming?” she looked up “Well maybe he could help us, maybe he has an army. Oh my! Someone’s had quite a day! I know what you’re going to do; you’re going to crash that party!”
And that’s exactly what Snow did.
At the final dance of the party, Snow was dancing with my prince. She didn’t know it though, until they both turned around.
“You, you’re the prince?”
“I am, wait you’re the princess?”
“I am, but I didn’t come to dance tonight. I need your help,” but before she could finish she started running. She knew I had found her, then Britton caught her, and while everyone was dancing Snow, Britton, and I were having a little word.
“You sneaky little girl, what were you doing talking to my prince?” I said eagerly.
“Where did you get such a dress?”
“Do you want to talk about my dress or what you did to the village?”
I didn’t answer, I just gave her a frown, after all, she’s the one with the guards around her.
“I’ve been there! I’ve seen what you did to the people!”
“You left the castle grounds,” I said with a look, “Well, Snow White, breaking all the rules today, a punishable offence, you know.”
“Ah! By whose law!” she struggled past the guards. “You have no right to rule the way you do! And technically, I’m the rightful leader of this kingdom!” she yelled trying to prove a point. Britton gasped knowing Snow had said something wrong.
“Probably not the best thing you could have said right now,” I said calmly because I know she’ll pay. My necklace twinkled.
I called Britton into my room. I wanted her dead. I asked him to take her to the woods and feed her to the beast. He argued but it was impossible for him to win, so he took her to the woods . . . like he had a choice!
“Britton please, I don’t want to die like my father did,” Snow begged.
“You really think I want to be here; you brought this on yourself.”
“I’m afraid, Britton please, let me go.”
He sighed with tears in his eyes, “You father was a good man, he was always very kind to me, and for that I’ll give you one small piece of advice: Run, run like you’ve never run before; like this.” And he ran off leaving Snow White all alone.
Snow White ran and ran but she bumped into a sign she read just before she fell, “No entry over four feet tall.” When Snow woke up, she was surrounded by seven dwarfs; the same dwarfs that took the prince’s gold, but Snow didn’t know that. At first, the dwarfs didn’t let her stay with them but in the end they took a vote: it was six to one in favor of her staying. So she could stay, but there was one condition, she had to become a thief, just like them. She agreed as long as they were stealing from me and whatever they took went to the people. Over time, they got to know each other, and the dwarfs really loved her and she loved them. They warned her about the things she could find in these woods and everything she needed to know about them.
I was at the castle with my prince and he told me about the giant bandits. I tried to seem like I cared but the only thing I wanted was him to marry me. I tried to convince him to marry me but I couldn’t, so after he left, I went to my room. In the dressing room there was a door that only I had the key to. Inside, there was a magic mirror. All I had to say was, “Mirror, mirror on the wall,” and the mirror would shake. I’d step through it and I’d be in my own world. I walked on a line of wood and into a huge shack with over ten mirrors with my reflection but it wasn’t really me. This was my magic self. She was very irritating though, always going on about the price of magic and how everyone has magic in them but very few discover it and learn to spend it wisely. She always spoke without emotion.
“She’s dead, I made the right choice, oh, I feel great!” I went on and on, “Now help me to figure out what to do about this prince.”
“His heart yearns for Snow White, trust me, I am an exact reflection of you. Well, not an exact reflection,” she started whispering “I have no wrinkles.”
“Uh, these are not wrinkles!” I said, stretching my face.
“You have to marry someone rich and quickly, because one day you’ll ask me who the fairest of them all is, and you won’t like the answer,” she said quietly.
Snow White was by herself while the dwarfs were out. The prince was on his horse riding away and when he saw her, he couldn’t believe his eyes after I had told him she was dead. He went up to her and begged her to marry him, but she wasn’t interested—a smart thing to do, considering the prince was mine. The prince begged and begged but she refused.
“Very well, I must be going anyway, but before I go, I suggest we be friends. Here’s a piece offering,” he gave her a glass with a potion in it, thinking it would make her fall in love with him, but he gave her the wrong potion. Instead of a love potion, it was a potion of confidence and it made Snow White want to take over my kingdom. She left the cottage and came back to the castle. The dwarfs locked the prince up and kept him in their little house.
“Baker Margret!” Snow said quietly. Margret and all the servants were astonished that Snow White was alive, “I need something from you.”
“Oh anything dear, what happened to you?”
“Oh, it’s long story, but I need you to tell the queen that I’m not dead and if she wants me she has to come get me, and that the prince is with me,” she said confidently and ran back to the cottage.
I was searching for the prince everywhere, and when I found out that he was with Snow White I went straight to my mirror.
“I don’t understand, Britton said he killed her!”
“I was going to tell you but I thought it would be more entertaining to let you find out on your own. She’s been staying with the dwarfs that your prince fought.”
“Dwarfs? I thought they were giant bandits.”
“Umm, yes giant dwarfs,” I could see she didn’t know what she was talking about. “It’s confusing.”
“Yes! Confusing, a good word, grand word for this situation, if you look up the word you’ll find a dead girl who’s alive and a pack of giant dwarfs! Ugh, and here I was, having such a good day!” I screamed at my reflection.
“She wants you, you know,” I looked at her, “She’s waiting for the fight.”
“Oh, so she wants a fight, well if she wants on she’s going to get one.”
I rode on my white horse faster than ever, but I stopped when I saw the little house. Snow had had time to bond with my prince and they had fallen in love. She had agreed to marry him, which was one of the many reasons I came.
“Guys she’s here,” she said with a shrug, “Listen I can’t think of a greater group of warriors to lead into battle with me.”
“Yeah!” They all yelled.
“But this is my fight,” She ran and locked the door behind her.
“Snow, open the door,” yelled the prince.
“You know, all this time when I was locked up in the castle I did a lot of reading and in all the stories, the prince saves the princess in the end. I think it’s time we change that ending. If she wants you, well, she’ll have to get through me first.”
So Snow White left the men and came running down to me.
“Well, well, Snow White, wants a fight, but I just want you dead.”
The beast slithered past me, and she gasped.
“Wait, the beast doesn’t frighten you?”
“It does whatever I want.”
She was shocked.
“This one will be, um well, easy,” I whispered to her, “Snow, you must do what you do best, Snow; you must fall. Die well, Snow White, die well,” I rode off back to my mirror.
When I got back, the prince had broken the door and he ran out with all the dwarfs behind him. They all ran after Snow White. Meanwhile, Snow White was doing her own running. The beast was right in front of her but it had heard a sound. It looked back and the dwarfs and the prince were right there. The beast wacked its tale so hard that it made them all fall but the prince got up, took Snow’s hand, and they ran together.
“What are you doing here?” she screamed.
“I figured that if I’m going to die, I might as well die with the one I love.”
Before Snow could say anything, the beast grabbed the prince and pushed him against a tree with its paw. Luckily, Snow had her dagger. She pulled it out but she was wondering why the beast wasn’t harming her.
“Kill it! Snow, kill it!” The prince struggled to get his words out with the beast’s paw on his throat. The beast put his head up and Snow White saw a necklace she recognized. It was the one I wore all the time, a silver necklace with a moon on it. The clever girl got her dagger out and cut the necklace. I was in my chamber and I felt myself lose power and the necklace I was wearing came off right in the palm of my hand.
“Are you ready to discover the price of using magic?” the mirror said to me with a smile. I looked at myself in the mirror; I was myself, my wrinkly, old 115-year-old self, without any magic.
Once Snow White cut the necklace, it wasn’t any good on her side either. There was a blinding light and then there was no more beast, just her father. Yes, if you must know, I used up my potion on her father, so I couldn’t use it on the prince. Poor Snow White couldn’t even say a word because she fell into the Snow and died.
“No, no, is that my daughter?” said the king with tears in his eyes.
“Forgive me, your majesty, but I think I know a way to bring her back.”
“Oh, please, what do I have to do?”
“Nothing, leave it all to me.”
After a while, the prince came back with an apple in his hand, as red as blood.
“If we can get her to eat this, she’ll come back to us.”
“What’s in it?” the king asked curiously.
“It’s a potion, if your heart stops working and you take it, you’ll come back, but if you take it when there’s nothing wrong with you . . . well, let’s just say the opposite happens.”
He opened Snow’s mouth and in less than three seconds her heart was beating as good as new.
“Father?” she gave her dad a big hug.
“Thank you,” he said, “All of you, and is there any way I can repay you?”
“Thank you, but there’s only one thing I desire.”
After they went back to the kingdom, I dragged myself through the snow, because I didn’t have the body I used to have, and bent down to get the apple. I may not have gotten everything I wanted but the game wasn’t over for me yet.
I went to Snow’s wedding and no one recognized me.
“Really, you could have had all the things you’ve ever wanted in the world but you chose me, this was your desire?” asked Snow.
The prince just smiled. After the ceremony, Snow started talking to people in the crowd, but I felt weaker by the minute, so I had to act fast; if I couldn’t have the prince, she wouldn’t get him either.
“It would make me very happy if you could accept this little gift on your wedding day,” I held out the apple with a small handkerchief to hide the bite, “To the fairest of them all.” After I said so, she took the apple away from her lips and took the handkerchief off, she saw the bite and she knew it was me. She took out her dagger and sliced the apple.
“Age before beauty, it’s important to know when you’ve been beaten.” she handed the slice of apple out to me.
She melted into the ground and the queen’s mirror shack broke to pieces not because she ate the apple but because it wasn’t her story, which is why I’m telling the story now.
Once upon a time there lived a girl; this girl was the fairest of them all. Her story happened in the snow, which was oh so white. They called her Snow White not because of how she looked but because of where and how her story happened, and long story short, she lived happily ever after.
So, it was Snow White’s story after all.
University Runner Ups