February 2018 Holiday Short Story Contest
|A single rose with a note attached hung from the door. The note simply stated: Remember
Rosalie frowned as she peeled off the duct tape plastered on her front door. The flower dropped into her palm and the note fluttered to her feet.
"Remember?" she muttered, gazing at the red blossoms. A single thorn on the rose pricked her finger. With a yelp, she dropped the flower. Time seemed to slow as a drop of blood beaded on her index finger. The petals hit the porch and sent up a plume of dust.
"What the..." Rosalie gasped as the world spun. She closed her eyes and held a hand to her stomach, fighting the urge to throw up.
There was a touch at her elbow.
"Are you okay?"
Rosalie's eyes popped open. A woman with a long, green dress, flowing blond hair, and gentle eyes was staring into her face. Rosalie's eyes flickered past the woman and to the trees surrounding them.
"H...how did I get here?"
"I sent for you," the woman beamed, causing her fair face to shine as bright as the sun.
Rosalie shook off the woman's hand and stepped back a pace, nervous. "Look, I don't know who you are or how you got me here, but if you take me back home I promise I won't tell the police."
"Oh, dear," the woman's smile faded into a pouty frown. She shifted a wooden basket to the crook of her arm. "I was afraid this would happen. You don't remember me, do you?"
Rosalie licked her lips. The shadows were stretching from the trees and down the dirt path.
The path! Rosalie's eyes lit up. There was a path! She could escape the woods and run for help. Biting her lower lip, Rosalie edged her way around the woman. Just as she was about to make a break for it, the woman sighed.
"Rose Red, it's me, Snow White. Your sister. Remember?"
Remember, remember, remember. The word seemed to both mock Rosalie and jiggle a memory. Snow White reached out a hand and then pulled it back.
"Remember when we were girls and we made friends with the cursed bear? Remember the day he turned into a Prince and I married him?"
"He had...a brother," Rosalie whispered.
Snow White smiled. "Yes, he did." She opened her mouth as if to say more but snapped it shut again as Rosalie's brow furrowed.
"Remember the dwarf?" Snow White continued, "Remember the day we..."
"Cut his beard!" Rosalie interrupted. She laughed as the memory came flooding back. "Twice! Once when he got it stuck in a tree and again when he tangled it in his fishing line!"
"He was hopping mad," Snow White grinned.
"But we were only trying to help," Rosalie chuckled. Her laughter faded as realized the impossibility of her situation.
"I must be dreaming. Snow White and Rose Red aren't real. They're fairy tale creatures!"
Snow White's lips twitched in amusement as she leaned forward to pinch Rosalie's arm.
"You're not dreaming," Snow White giggled as Rosalie squealed and rubbed away the pain.
"But...none of this makes sense," Rosalie felt a tremble in her legs. Feeling weak, she lowered herself to the dirt path and sat, cross-legged, in front of her sister. "I've lived in California for nine years--"
"You were supposed to return after one," Snow White chided. "You cannot imagine the trouble I went through to get one of Rumpelstiltskin's magical roses over to you in the Mundane World. I almost had to promise my firstborn child just to get you back!"
"This is all so confusing," Rosalie groaned, "Why was I in the Mundane World anyway?"
Snow White's fair face paled, "How quickly that world makes one forget! My dear sister, you were on a quest for the Object that would free the Princes Berwyn and Karhu from the dwarves!"
"Prince Karhu and Berwyn?"
"Your husband and mine," Snow White whispered.
Rosalie's heart gave a wild thump. She jumped to her feet and slapped her hand against the cell phone in her pocket, "I remember now, sis." Rosalie's eye twinkled, "Looks like it's time to rescue a couple of princes!"