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The Mirror

Lindsey Hale

It was the King who asked me who the fairest one of all was. It was a drunken joke, an attempt to impress his new wife. Look at all this magic at my disposal, it was meant to say. A magic mirror that can reveal all the world’s secrets. His ancestors had trapped me in the mirror to protect their kingdom, and yet here he was, using me to show off to his wife. They both regretted the question when my answer wasn’t the Queen’s name. “Hi!” a small voice says from somewhere beneath me. A toddler stumbles back until I can see her, fidgeting with a flower crown on her head. The King’s daughter smiles up at me, apparently unconcerned by the gaunt, deformed face floating in my mirror’s surface. “I’m Snow White. What’s your name?” For the first time in my existence I’m completely dumbfounded as I stare down at this small child. I don’t want to, but the magic that binds me to the mirror demands that I answer her. “I have no name, for I am not mortal.” I say. Awkwardly, I add, “err, but you can call me Mirror.” Snow’s eyes gleam. “Hi, Mirror! Do you like my flower crown? My nursemaid made it for me. She used buttercups. They’re my favorite. Do you have a favorite flower?” I have no favorite flower. I am a powerful demon from the Otherworld. Demons do not like flowers. That would be absurd— “I do like your crown. My favorite flower is the chrysanthemum, they smell delightful.” Snow beams. “Do you want to be my friend?” she asks. “Yes,” I admit, grudgingly. “Yes, I suppose I would.” The Queen paces back and forth, red faced, her hands clenched into fists. “How dare he?” she snarls. “After everything I’ve done for him, for this kingdom, he thinks he can just cast me aside like one of his daughter’s toys?” “He loves another woman,” I answer grimly. “He wishes to marry her.” The Queen scoffs. “This can’t be happening. Not now. Not after everything I’ve worked so hard to build. Oh, what to do?” she mutters. “What to do, what to do?” The pacing stops. “Mirror?” “Yes, my Queen?” “How do I kill my husband without getting caught?” All I can think about is Snow from earlier this morning, her eager grin as her paint-stained hands held up a drawing for me to see. “Do you like it, Mirror?” she’d asked. “This is me and Father, and my new mother. And look! I drew you too!” The Queen waits impatiently. I fight it as long as I can, but I have no choice but to answer. “Mirror, does my mother love me?” Snow suddenly blurts one day. She flinches after asking, but waits for the answer, face puffy with tears. Dread fills me. “Do not ask me such things!” I snap. “Don’t you know better than to ask me such terrible questions?” I ask. “Don’t you know that if you ask, I have no choice but to tell you the truth?” I might not have addressed it with a direct answer, but my reaction is enough. Tears well up in her eyes. Snow spins away from the room, fleeing. “I’ve brought the kingdom back from the brink of ruin.” The Queen speaks more to herself than to me. “With your advice, I’ve improved the economy, saved my people from famine, stopped wars before they could even happen. And yet the people hate me. Why?” “They fear you,” I answer softly. “They suspect what you did to your husband.” “But that was years ago! Why turn on me now?” No. I plead, though to who or what I couldn’t say. No, please. Don’t make me say it. Please. “Snow White is of age. You should have handed over the throne by now. The people suspect you of wanting the crown for yourself.” A low, guttural laugh escapes the Queen’s lips. “Snow? You can’t be serious, she’s only eighteen.” “The throne was to be hers at seventeen.” “She’s a child, and a naïve one at that. The kingdom can’t possibly want her as their queen. They’re better off with me. They must see that. They need me.” “You can advise her. With your guidance, she can continue to rebuild the kingdom.” “I see how it is. I spend years trying to save my people, and now that I’m finally close to success she gets to rip it out of my hands and receive all the praise for my hard work, while I’m cast aside as a monster. The Evil Queen who stole the crown from the beautiful princess Snow White. Is that it?” “Yes.” “Well, then.” The Queen clenches her teeth. “I suppose something will have to be done about that.” The doors fling open, and the Queen marches inside. “Is she dead?” she demands angrily. A huntsman follows quickly at her heels, face covered in sweat as he nervously sputters, “I showed you her heart, I don’t know what else you want from me—” “Not you, idiot.” the Queen snaps, turning to me. “Well? Is. She. Dead?” The princess is somewhere in the forest, running for her life. The doe whose heart the huntsman uses as a decoy can only fool the Queen for so long, I already know. But that I would have to be the one to reveal that Snow survived? It’s too cruel. But she. The Queen had said she. Hope fills me for the first time in centuries. “Yes,” I say, looking at the bag the huntsman still holds which contains a doe’s heart. “Yes, my Queen. She is dead.”
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