Yearning for Wonderland
There once was a zebra named Zed. He was a zebra of the ordinary sort… white with black stripes. He looked and acted just like the other zebras of his herd. He grazed on the sweet grass. He drank at the nearby water hole. He flicked his tail at flies.
Zed had become bored with his life and longed for something different.
“Why?” asked Zoë, another young zebra. “We have the perfect life!”
“It’s not enough,” replied Zed. “I want to stand out from the crowd and be different.”
Zed had an idea and convinced two monkeys to help. They met behind the shrubs near the water hole. One monkey gathered white dust from the dry lake and mixed it with water. This made a slimy white paste, which he smeared all over Zed’s body until the stripes disappeared!
The second monkey gathered black stones and ground them into a fine powder. He mixed this powder with water and used his fingers to paint black polka dots all over Zed’s body. NOW, Zed felt different and special!
When Zed returned to the herd, the other zebras “oooohed” and “aaaahed” at his beautiful polka dots.
Everyone except Zoë. She rolled her eyes and shook her head.
Zed had another brilliant idea.
“Attention everybody,” he shouted. “Come forward and meet your new king… ME! From this moment forward, you will serve ME. Bring me some sweet grass from the meadow, NOW!”
To Zoë’s amazement, the others obeyed their new spotted ruler.
Early that evening, reports zipped among the zebras that cheetahs were approaching their herd.
Everyone was on high alert, except Zed. He was busy giving meal orders, having a polka dot touch-up, and demanding a hoof massage. As the cheetahs came nearer, the herd ran back and forth, attempting to confuse them with their shifting patterns of stripes.
This time, Zoë had the brilliant idea. She maneuvered closer to Zed and whinnied, “Zed, run!!!”
At last Zed noticed the cheetahs and bolted. Of course, the cheetahs spotted Zed’s polka dots immediately. And they didn’t mind the taste of the paint.
by Christine Anderton
In that instant, the sheer force of power emanating from the mirror knocked the gathered crowd off their feet, and my hands went up to shield my eyes from the flash of blinding light. I blinked hard to clear my vision. Around me, people were beginning to stand. I stared into the mirror, horrified and disgusted by what I saw. At the sight of glistening teeth, the townspeople screamed, in fear for their lives. She was quick to correct them. “Kind and gentle,” she said. I leaned in to get a closer look.
I recognized the mirror. I had seen it once before, the night we fled. I stared at the image before me, familiar dishonest eyes glaring back at me in a challenge.
And suddenly I knew. Memories flooded back, pounding me, one after another. Years of being second best. He had always been the favorite, never mind how he had tormented me when they weren’t around.
That night years ago, he had behaved as usual, without thinking about how his actions would affect anyone else. Because of him, my life had been taken away from me. He had selfishly ruined everything, and I felt no pity for him. He deserved such a curse. Since then, I had worked hard to become an expert huntsman and had actually made a name for myself.
I pulled my eyes away from the mirror and studied her. Her feelings were obvious. The way she looked at him, the way she cradled the mirror, the way her voice changed when she spoke about him. Kind and gentle? I knew what she didn’t. I knew what he was really like. And now he had my girl.
She would marry me. I had asked nicely, but she refused. I wouldn’t give up that easily. She just needed a little persuading. I had come here tonight prepared to take either her hand or her father – the decision was hers. Now I realized that something more stood in my way. I would have Belle for my wife yet, even if it meant killing my brother.
ON OR OFF COURSE? By Molly Carr
Being President of the Company was what he enjoyed since decision-making was meat and drink to him. And, of course, he lived like a Prince on his vast income.
Now he was on his way to see the widow of one of his business rivals. It was important to wake her up to the necessity of keeping the firm viable – at least until he could organise an advantageous takeover bid.
Half-way to the house he changed his mind. Neither the business nor the woman would be any use to him. All that it needed was to ask his secretary to send a large basket of expensive flowers, along with a printed message of condolence.
Without wavering – true to himself – he turned the Masarati and made for the nearest golf course.
This entry is by J. Tsuruoka (@jtsuruoka on Twitter)
She Shall go to the Ball
My sister had glided into the crammed sitting room. It was her Debs. She had looked radiant, no different to every other day; an array of faces was lit up by her conventionally stunning magnificence.
I suppose my inquisitive adventure had started soon after. My seventeen year old self had tried to discover if I held any worth. Everyone admired her, but could I get anyone to notice me? As it turned out everyone noticed me.
My expectant tummy got the attention of all around me and beyond. The catalyst was the waist band of my school kilt as it struggled to wrap itself around the two of us. It was the result of a month of hazy love and the incessant attentiveness of a first boyfriend.
The bright spotlight I had always craved just wasn’t the type I had dreamt of. Afterwards I tried to retrieve the anonymity of the years I had spent in the sisterly shadows.
Lilly was ten months old when my Auntie finally persuaded me that I still deserved to go to my Debs. She had lovingly cradled her second goddaughter, my baby, as she fixed a wisp of my hair that had escaped; her favourite perfume clasped ready to drench me.
My confidence had never really recovered from the vitriolic attention of my peers and their parents. Yet that night I caught a glimpse of a captivating nineteen year old in a purple satin dress. No crowds admired the scene as I opened the door to the boy awkward in his tux. Our eyes met and he looked amazed. Maybe he would be the one.
Today a hundred eyes bore into the flesh exposed by my ivory dress. Their warmth penetrates my every pore and I know it is real. The hateful absence of my parents is drowned out by the approval of my family, old and new. Lilly giggles as I hand the cluster of roses to her and my Aunt steadies my hand. His eyes meet mine once more, we sparkle.
I am a princess.