‘Seven Choices’, Rachel Rodman

Illustration © 2017 Cécile Matthey

cn: abortion; sa

 [ Fairy Tale, © 2017, Cécile Matthey ]

1. The Ruby Slippers

“Terminations aren’t legal in Oz,” Dorothy said. She touched her belly, where the half-straw fetus twitched. On the sonographer’s display, its half-sized brain floated, too small for its skull.

“That’s why I came home.”

2. Bibbity Bobbity Boo

“You are a whore,” taunted the first stepsister.

“A filthy whore,” added the second.

“Stay at home, or you will shame us,” said the stepmother.

After their carriage rolled away, Cinderella curled up in the ashes, arms tight around her distended middle, regretting things.

But then, in a flash of light, her fairy godmother appeared. At the wand’s touch, Cinderella’s womb emptied, and her belly shrank, and she had a beautiful gown to wear, slim at the waist.

There was a coach too, made of pumpkin. Footmen, who were actually mice. But Cinderella looked down, again and again, to admire her godmother’s greatest miracle: her own lap, marvelously petite, as if nothing had ever happened.

“Dance with me,” the prince entreated, while her stepsisters howled with jealousy.

3. The Fairest of Them All

Snow White spoke in a furtive code: “Something to hurry my courses.”

The peddler woman cackled knowingly at this, and sold her a magic apple.

It went a bit wrong. Maybe the magic was too strong. Or maybe she swallowed too much. But her stomach burned, and her muscles seized up, and then she hit her head hard, skull on the cobblestones.

When she woke, though, she was bleeding.

“It’s gone,” she assured Bashful when next they were alone.

4. A Midsummer’s Morning

The donkey-headed creature left her bed. Months later, from her gut, Titania heard a small, tinny “Hee-Haw! Hee-Haw!” and a terrible fear seized her.

She summoned her attendants, Cobweb and Moth, and instructed them to fetch her a little Eastern flower. It grew in a magic spot, where Athena’s helm had once fallen to the earth, and women called it “evicting-unwanted-parasites.”

Its petals were yellow, the color of regret.

5. The Seed of the Beast

The dates were wrong—too early. It had happened, almost surely, before the transformation, when her husband was still a monster.

Beauty would have learned to love a child like that. Furry, fanged, and horned. But she could not bear the possibility that it might grow to regret her decision—that it would withdraw from the world, as its father had, bitter in its deformity.

“Farewell,” she wept, by way of apology.

6. A Baby Hare is Called a “Leveret”

For her, the race was a pretext—a chance to visit the surgeon’s cottage, while evading her parents’ curfew.

It took longer than she expected. Hours of forms and surgical prep, followed by hours of slow bleeding.

When she left the cottage, the sun was setting. Far in the distance, close to the finish line, she could just make out the outline of her competitor. One thick shell. Four thick legs.

“I’ve lost,” she said, and began to laugh hysterically.

7. The First Little Pig

It was her fault, the forensics team informed her, for choosing straw. Clever girls used brick, and they were never assaulted.

“My fault?” she wondered. “My fault?” There was an unbearable burden in that. And a wild rage. So later, after the team had gone, she covered her snout with her hooves, and oinked until her throat was raw.

At a follow-up appointment, weeks later, they discovered a minute heartbeat, half wolf. So she scheduled a procedure to end it. “Out,” she whispered, with each scrape of the scalpel. “Out, out, out.”

After her body was empty, though, the Wolf stayed on in her head. “Your fault,” he leered, over and over.

© 2017 Rachel Rodman

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