Tangled In Tales
Tangled In Tales
Copyright © 2003 Sujata Garimélla
All rights reserved
Mik and Vee
“I am bored,” announced Mik. “Hmm,” replied his twin sister, Vee, completely engrossed in her book of fairy tales. “We actually have the whole day to ourselves and you are being boring,” he accused giving her a dirty look.
It was early in the morning and Mikash had spent an action-packed hour. First he had fed a puppy a loaf of bread that was meant for breakfast. Then he had sneaked three kittens into the kitchen and dropped a pitcher of milk on them while trying to give it to them to drink. Now he had nothing to do.
Tvisha was his twin sister. She was usually as naughty as her twin. But for the past two days she had buried herself in a huge book of fairy tales. Mik was very annoyed at this. They were at Gram’s for their holidays. The house was huge and mysterious. There was a lake and a forest close by. But, Mik thought angrily, Vee was being a spoilt sport.
Mik was a thin boy who put away such quantities of food that Ma regularly hunted his room to see whether the animal-loving boy had hidden pets in there. Vee was a pretty little girl. She looked so angelic that Da felt that there should be a halo around her head. Both had sparkling, inquisitive, intelligent brown eyes and their heads were topped with a riot of brown curls that no amount of brushing would settle down.
“Ok, lets go,” said Vee, shutting her book. Though she shut the book, her mind was still in fairyland. “Let’s explore the house,” suggested Mik. “No, the forest,” proposed Vee, joining her brother at the window overlooking the woods. “The forest will have elves, fairies, talking animals and birds, queens, kings, wizards — magic,” whispered Vee dreamily into the wind blowing towards the tall trees.
These were compelling reasons, so the forest it was.
Sunlight dappled through the leaves in the forest. Shy rabbits and squirrels romped. The twins walked in, careful not to make any noise or sudden moves that would scare the animals. The twins were dressed almost identically in denim shorts and white tops. Mik’s shorts were dark blue and he wore a cut-off round-necked t-shirt with short sleeves. Vee’s shorts were of a lighter blue and she wore a short sleeveless white t-shirt with a V-neck.
“Look,” whispered Mik, pointing to a beautiful animal. It looked like a squirrel but was much longer. It had a shiny coat of glinting rich brown. Around its neck and paws, the coat was white. It sat on a branch a few feet away from Vee looking like a host waiting for his guests to speak.
Mik slipped towards the creature, and looking into the animal’s clever amber eyes, softly spoke to it. The animal seemed to understand the boy’s soft chatter. Mik took a piece of bread from his pocket (left over from the puppy’s breakfast), and offered it to the animal, who took it…slowing and willingly climbing onto Mik’s shoulder.
When Mik turned, he was in for a surprise. Sitting on Vee’s shoulder was a bright yellow bird, with dancing black eyes. “Twooo whoo?” asked the bird politely. “He is Mik, my brother,” replied Vee, quite bursting with excitement. “Meet Canto,” said Vee quietly. “This is Racy,” introduced Mik.
A shining string around Vee’s neck caught Racy’s eye. It was Ma’s gold chain that Vee was wearing. Reaching out, Racy touched it. Vee quickly removed it and reached out to hand it over. As Racy caught hold of the other end of the chain, two squirrels came chattering angrily at each other on an overhanging branch. One fell off the branch, into the chain and got tangled in it. Scared, it leapt away — taking the chain along! “No, wait,” cried Vee in dismay.
Racy immediately took off after it, looking back at Mik. Mik understood that Racy wanted him to go along and ran behind Racy into the depths of the forest. “Oh no!” Vee said. “Twoo hooo,” assured Canto, flying away from the girl’s shoulder. Before Vee could wonder where Canto was, she was back. “Twoo, twoo,” she said urgently, sounding like she was saying “come, come.”
Vee followed Canto into the forest which seemed to have suddenly turned dark and menacing. She felt a chill as she wondered where Mik was, and whether she would get back her mother’s chain.
Led by Racy, Mik reached a clearing in the woods. At the same time, from another side, Vee rushed in, following Canto. They stopped, stunned. In front of them was the most amazing sight that they had ever seen. There was a dying fire. Beside it, a strangely dressed boy held the squirrel with the chain tangled around its little body.
The boy, who was as tall as the twins, wore a long red cap, topped with a fluff of white. He was dressed in a loose dirty, jacket which was brown on one side and maroon on the other. Under the jacket, he wore a shirt that was half ochre and half Prussian blue. There was a white belt tied around his waist. He wore pants — with one leg dark green and the other one black. The pants were loose over the thighs, skin-tight from under his knees, and ended at his calves. His socks went all the way up to his calves — one sock was striped pink and orange and the other was striped lavender and magenta. His wore one white shoe and one grey one. The shoes protruded at least a foot in the front and curved at the tips.
He was actually dressed like two people!
His head was bent as he held the struggling squirrel in his hand and fingered the chain. Hearing the twins’ gasp he looked up. And the twins realised that it wasn’t a boy, but a man — and an old man at that! He had the longest, whitest beard that the twins had ever seen. In fact, the belt around his waist wasn’t a belt at all — he had wrapped his beard around his waist! He didn’t have a moustache, though, making his long beard even odder. He had a long nose and large, pointed ears. His eyes were beady and of all impossible colours, they were shining red, like a pigeon’s!
Instinctively, the twins moved towards each other, nonplussed by this strange creature.
“Hmm, what have we here?” questioned the man. His voice was like a high-pitched crow’s croak. “Weird things abound this land today, first an animal that grows gold and now two little people about whom I never was told,” he intoned, and the twins huddled together hearing his voice.
Gathering his courage together, Mik said, “That squirrel isn’t growing gold. It is my mother’s gold chain and we are here to get it. Please return it to us.”
“Give gold back, you expect me to? On expectations flying high you two. Who, in any case, are you?” the dwarf demanded.
“Who are you?” countered Mik.
“Little people, you are not, instead, two little kids is what I have got!” said the dwarf, “And children with a mission to flaunt, the gold it is that they want,” he sniggered. The sound send shivers down the twins’ spine.
“On one condition will I give you the chain,” he stood in front of Mik, “one of you will never be seen again.” Seeing the twins’ pale faces, he burst into high cruel laughter.
“I know who you are!” exclaimed Vee.
“You do, indeed, who am I, tell me, I plead?” queried the fearsome dwarf.
“You are Rumplestiltskin!” Vee stated.
The dwarf looked taken aback. He turned towards Vee slowly. “How know you about the keeper of the woods, the hoarder of goods. I, whose name no king does know, and queens bequeath their thrones just that I go?” he said angrily.
“I read about you in the book, but in that it said that you tore yourself into two,” said Vee nervously. “Oh! That was true, that is why you are dressed like two people,” she said with sudden enlightenment.
“Vee, you are imagining things. You wanted magic, so you think that you’ve got it! The things you read in the book are fairy tales. We are real people. Fairy tales don’t come into real world. He is not Rumplestiltskin and he is not real!” scolded Mik nervously.
“Don’t they?” roared the dwarf. “And just who do think you, boy, are? Real we are as anyone else.” The dwarf drew himself to his full height and glowered. “Hmm, believe you not in tales you read?” he said. “So fables, fairies are, you say,” he repeated, “banished to fairytale-land you will be and their life for yourself you’ll see. Till I decide come back you may, you will in that world stay!” Rumplestiltskin declared.
“What do you mean?” asked Vee.
“Believe not in fairy tales, does he?” said Rumplestiltskin, “So send him to fairyland, I will, you see. Into the world of tales that the whole world knows, shall he go and mix with those, he believes not are beings real — they will be with him and they will be clear. Stay there, he will, till he travels around — but careful, as no story should go wrong. All the tales should end as in books they do, or he will become a story too!” he said evilly.
Turning to Mik, he added, “Tell no one who you are or whence you came, for, if you do, the story will change.”
“No, you can’t do that — he doesn’t even know the stories, much less the endings!” pleaded Vee.
“Ah! Then you will have to get him back, won’t you? Write his story, now get to work — travel he will, through stories six, help him through them or there forever he’ll be afix,” he said softly, menacingly. “You have a day, no more, to get back your misbegotten brother. As you write, the story will shape, any change in the end and for him there will be no escape.
“Two fairies, can you for help send, but to each no more than two qualities lend. The qualities two, are those that will help him through. Magic you can give, or knowledge too; but helping qualities they can have just two! Careful as you hand out the power, for too much will blind and too little ruin your endeavour.
“I shall put him in a lore, to bring him out is your chore. Every tale into which he moves, unseen will I be there too. In every tale, one change will I make that could change the hue and change the story for you. Set them right is what you will do,” he paused, smirking, “Mind you, the endings remain the same, else you will never see him again!”
Rumplestiltskin snapped his fingers and to Vee’s horror, Mik disappeared into a puff of silvery white smoke, his protesting “NO!” echoed in the still woods.
“He goes into tales that I do send; move out he can when the story does end. But until the story has its end right, he will be glued in the story with might. No change to the end – you better take care.
“A favour I grant you one more, if you go in, he’ll come out of the lore. But one of you the stories will live, though the fairies only you can give,” Rumplestiltskin grinned. “If you work your way around, and run all the stories to the ground, and if you both by night here are again, I’ll let you both go — with the chain,” he promised, disappearing into a puff of brown smoke.
A pile of papers and a clutch of pencils appeared before Vee. “How will I know where he is?” Vee despaired. “What do I do?” she wondered, picking up a pencil.
“Send him a fairy who can keep coming back here and tell you where he is,” suggested a soft, musical voice.
Vee looked around in panic. “Who spoke?” she asked.
“That would be me,” said Canto.
“You talk?” Vee squeaked.
“Yes, and Racy too. Remember we are in fairyland now, so all sorts of magic is possible here.”
Snow White, the Seven Dwarves and Gee
Mik rolled on the ground like a wheel. He tucked himself into a tight little ball. Speeding along he saw glimpses of the mud road sprinkled with stones that should have hurt him, but strangely, he felt no pain. From a distance he could hear voices coming towards him. From the noise, it sounded like rather a large crowd was coming straight at him. Desperately Mik wondered how he could stop rolling at such speed that he felt quite dizzy. He realised that there was nothing that he could do. “Silver and gold, silver and gold,” chanted the voices coming closer. “Silver and gAAAAH!” Mik was in the middle of a confusion of arms and legs.
“Get that dirty foot out of my face”.
“Stop kicking me”.
“Gimme back my cap, I tell you!”
Irritated voices created an uproar as men dressed in the most brilliant colours — bright blues, screaming reds, parrot greens, canary yellows —slowly untangled themselves. Men, no taller than Mik’s waist stood up, while Mik, still lying flat on his back, blinked up at them.
“Aachoo, a giant,” sneezed one with a large, red nose.
“Curses on you, you spat all over me,” grumbled another who was dressed in a red vest, embroidered with green parrots.
“That is alright, but hey, hey, looks like we have a visitor from Snow White’s land,” said the one wearing bright orange in a chirpy voice.
“Can’t we just take him home, and then I can sleep while you all talk to him,” yawned the one dressed in the startling combination of peacock blue, orange, gold and silver.
One little man held out his hand to help Mik up. Mik realised that he was with Snow White’s seven dwarves.
The dwarves were all rosy cheeked. All except one (who was clean shaven) had beards without mustaches, like Rumplestiltskin. But their beards were trimmed shorter and they looked friendly. Their colourful clothes made them look like little toys. They gathered around Mik with curiosity. “What do you think you were doing, eh? Rolling around instead of walking! And just where did you roll in from?” the grumpy one asked.
Mik opened his mouth, and remembered Rumplestiltskin’s warning that he could tell no one who he was or where he came from. “Ummm,” he hesitated, “I am hurt,” he said clutching his head. Immediately the dwarves were all concern — and broke into an argument.
“Let him lie here, well get a bandage,” suggested one who hadn’t spoken so far. He was wearing all shades of green.
“No, lets take him home,” said the one in yellow.
“He needs to eat,” said the one with the chirpy voice.
“But just how do you propose we carry him back?” snapped the bad-tempered one.
“Some of us can drag him by his hair, and the rest can push,” said the one without a beard in a lazy voice.
“I can walk,” Mik said quickly, thankful that they no longer were interested in who he was or where he came from.
So the dwarves turned back to the way they came from and led him homewards. A lovely cottage soon came in view. There was a garden around it, which contained within it every flower in the world, scenting the whole area. As they drew closer to the house, they saw a figure in rags hurrying away. “Was that the Wicked Queen? Is Snow White alright?” panicked the red-nosed dwarf, breaking into a run, and tumbling over a huge sneeze that overtook him.
The door opened and the prettiest girl that Mik had ever seen stood in the doorway smiling at the dwarves. Her skin was a glowing snow white and she looked delicate as porcelain. She was wearing a high collared white frock with a pink vest. Her long, ebony black hair was caught in a ponytail with a satiny ribbon of baby pink. She wore pale pink socks and pretty white shoes with pink bows. And her lips were as red as blood. “Back so soon — you mustn’t even have reached the mines today!” she mock-scolded, smiling fondly at the dwarves.
“Look, look, we found you a visitor from your own land.” “He came looking for you and rolled into us.” “I want to sleep.” “He is hurt.” “He is hungry.” “Aachoo.” “We couldn’t go to the mines because we had to get him home.” “We all fell down when he rolled into us and had a perfectly massive tangle.” “I want to sleep.” “Aachoo.” All the dwarves answered Snow White at the same time.
“Come on in,” she invited Mik, not bothering to make any sense of the noise. “Who just left from here?” asked the quiet one.
“After that lady who laced you so tight that you lost your breath…” began the sleepy one,
“…and one who gave you a poisoned comb…” continued the one in green,
“…we hope that you haven’t been allowing more people in!” ended the bad-tempered dwarf.
“This was a nice old lady who came selling apples. She had the finest apples, but I didn’t let her in. So she gave me an apple from the window. When I didn’t take it she said we would share the same apple so that I know that it is not poisoned. She cut it into half and — the sweet thing that she was — she took the white half and gave me the red half!” Snow White narrated. “She was insisting I eat it, but ran away as soon as she heard you coming — I wonder why?” she said looking questioningly at the dwarves.
Apples…that seemed to ring a bell in Mik’s confused mind. But he was too entranced to pay any attention. They entered into a large room. There was a kitchen at the extreme end and a door leading out from it into the vegetable patch. There were rocking chairs, an abundance of large chairs — big enough to sleep in — all with cushions that promised to hug the person sitting in them (but they were all the right size only for the dwarves), a piano (also cut down to the dwarves’ size), and a staircase (with ridiculously short steps) going up to the landing that ran all around obviously leading to the bedrooms. The house was so spic ’n’ span that it shone with cleanliness. Brass vessels hung in the kitchen. Brass lamps of all sizes dotted the room, and a huge one hung down from the roof. There were windows all around inviting the sunlight in. A large dining table dominated the room, but that too was the right the size only for the little men. And half of a large half red apple — bigger than the normal size — sat on the table.
The sight of the apple suddenly made Mik feel very, very hungry. “You can eat it,” said Snow White, catching him looking at the apple longingly. Just as Mik reached for the apple, there was a bang of bright light and a handsome young man appeared beside the apple, right on the table! He was wearing black knee-length shorts, a multi-coloured singlet, and a thoroughly disreputable pair of sandals. His hair, a ridiculous mixture of red and green, was caught in a shoulder-length ponytail. His eyes were purple and he had the friendliest expression on his face. His arms were strongly muscled and he was very tall. He wore a small gold stud in one ear and had a tattoo of a barbed wire around his right bicep. He wore five coins with a hole through their centre tied tight around his throat with a black thread. He carried a knobby staff that was almost as long as he was tall and was as thick as Mik’s arm.
“Hello,” he said, blinking around. As soon as the light had appeared, the seven dwarves had scrambled to hide under the chairs, under the table, and one was actually hanging from the ceiling lamp! “Who are you?” demanded Snow White, no trace of the earlier friendliness in her tone. “Well, I be, like, you know his fairy, Gee,” said the young man. “Huh,” Mik squeaked, “but how can you be a fairy? Firstly you are a guy. And secondly…well, fairies aren’t supposed to look like this!”
“I be written in as a cool, hip young man of about 18. And this, pal, be, like, really hip,” he replied good-naturedly.
The dwarves slowly came out of hiding and gathered around Snow White’s. “Hips are a body part! What are you trying to say?&