about the author

Joe Kapitan is a writer disguised as an architect. He lives in northern Ohio. Much of his short fiction has appeared on the net in cool places like elimae, SmokeLong Quarterly, PANK and Annalemma. Longer pieces have appeared (or are pending) in print at A cappella Zoo, The Cincinnati Review, Midwestern Gothic and Bluestem. He blogs erratically at joekapitan.wordpress.com.

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A Sort of Fairy Tale

Joe Kapitan

Imagine you’re a princess. Imagine no braces, untangled legs. There, much better. Pretend you’re beautiful. Your name is Beautiful. Flowers wilt in shame. Birds go mute with awe. There are no mirrors down here. For your own safety, Beautiful. Something like that.

So why are you locked in this dungeon? Let’s see now. A queen. Of course! Such jealousy. And the king? Preoccupied with kingly affairs. He’s blind in all the crucial ways.

You pace the cold floor. Spiders weave curtains. You piss in a bucket. It takes seven days to fill, thus one bucket equals one week. There is a narrow band of sunlight that appears and creeps and disappears. It tells you when to be hungry. Sometimes food is left for you. Sometimes not. Sometimes the prince brings you something. A bagel, in his greasy palm. His hands are filthy from manual labor. He is not living the life he should be living either. Something is very wrong with this kingdom.

He comes sometimes, always at night. He lets you eat before he touches you. He is hungry too. Your clothes are torn open and it’s cold and it’s greedy and it’s quick. One of you, or both, need to bathe. The prince is working on a plan, he says. Be patient, Beautiful. Touch me like this. Quiet. Soon.

Soon means nothing here.

Now imagine the worst—no imagining. No more fairy tales. The jealous queen and her wizard curse away what remains of your right brain. What then?

You’re called retard, maybe, kept in a basement. Your prince turns to sour-smelling half-brother, his hands filthy from an eight-hour shift at LubeStop. The queen isn’t jealous, but embarrassed. The king is perpetually drunk.

Unimaginable, isn’t it?

The spiders aren’t weaving much lately. It smells like winter. The prince hasn’t returned in three-buckets-full. The furnace keeps cycling on, all night long, drowning out any creak of the hinges.

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