Summer’s Renovations a Short Story By Nancy Paton
Here is the first one thousand words from a short story that is eight thousand word and was inspired by Neil Gaiman’s graphic book Snow, Glass, Apples. I wrote this for Tell A Fairy Tale Day, and will share the rest with you when I publish my book of short stories very soon.
THE SEVEN – 7 AM
Snuggled and cradled in between a handful of goose-downed silk-covered pillows, Summer takes off her royal blue velvet eye mask, takes out her earplugs, and puts on her long red velvet dressing gown.
She shuffles out of her queen-sized, four-poster bed and over to the pair of large white casement windows touching the mahogany floor.
On cue, THE SEVEN march out silently from the caretaker’s home and toward the Castle’s west wing. No hard hats. No hard boots. With long shaggy scruffy hair and long beards.
It has been days since they slept. It has definitely been days since they washed. But still, they work with a twinkle in their eye. Drilling, hammering, and banging with all their might.
Opening one of the windows to allow the fresh, crisp morning breeze into her stuffy renaissance bedroom, she takes a better look at THE SEVEN with their hammers, buckets, shovels, and spades, who diligently and vibrantly work for her day and night.
Since moving in the day after her picture-perfect mid-May Wedding Day, Summer has enjoyed watching THE SEVEN follow their daily rites. Her life is so controlled, so uneventful. Her life is so mundane.
Observing THE SEVEN in secret for the last seven months has been the only thing that has kept her from running away into the dark winter night.
Summer fantasizes about their own special, unique powers day and night. Sometimes they are her sweet saviors who whisk her away into the light of a happily-forever-after.
Other times, they are his wicked slayers who will be the death of her in the night. Either way, she is grateful for their daily presence whirling around in her head. Their busy lives, stories, talents, and dreams have kept her from jumping out of this window into her grave.
SNOW WHITE – 8 AM
The fog covering the estate lifts, the sun peeks through. Her perfect fancy intense seven-carat pink diamond engagement ring takes in the tiny ray of light, blinding her sleepy eyes with the reality that she is in.
Summer marvels at the fairest land as far as her eyes can see. It’s all hers: perfectly trimmed secret maze gardens, endless rows of grapevines, and at the outskirts of the property, a border to keep all in, formed from the most profound, darkest pine forest she has ever seen.
She does not know what lies in the wood. She has never been allowed to venture as far. Knowing Paris is only a two-hours away, she feels it awaits her return; she remembers the music, the cameras, the runways that once filled her life and delivered Prince charming with all his delight.
After all that she now knows, after all that she has experienced, would she go back to that life that brought her such primitive joys at one point in her life?
Summer heads to her antique gold-coated vanity. Her two best friends await. Two pre-filled syringes lay next to her jewelry box. One with Progesterone, designed to help keep his baby alive. The other, they tell her is a miracle potion to create a superhuman that the Prince desires.
Her nosey handmaiden, who is no older than Summer and forever pleasing His Highness, always places them the same way just before she wakes. She has had so many that she now self-injects them both into the upper thigh muscle.
How happy she should be. The most promising little boy, thanks to him, is growing inside of her. He made it clear from the start that the first two allowed to grow in her womb would be boys.
Until the youngest turned four, there would be no talk or thought of a little girl. Only after two boys, she would be allowed the girl she so desperately wants—a girl to be her friend, a girl to keep her company in this dark den.
She expects him tomorrow. He will take her to her doctor for more probing and checking. He was around to make sure the right egg was implanted inside, but he did not hold her hand or tell her it would be alright. No, that’s not his style.
Since that day, he has hidden in the dark, waiting for his first heir to pop out. Maybe once he sees her being a good Mummy to his boys, he will play the father in this charade. She will love his boys. She will bring them up admirably. Perhaps His Highness will play happy family.
He’ll stay the weekend to ensure she has been an obedient little girl and then back to business engagement abroad on Monday. Two whole days together. How will she cope? They barely have spoken since he made this Castle her home.
The foreman marches in front and controls the pack. Summer believes his round spectacles and long white beard make him the wisest of the bunch. Even though she’s heard him mix up his words a few times when talking in English to her interior designer, she has seen him keep HIS SEVEN in line when speaking in their native tongue.
She has seen how they look up to him. In her eyes, the foreman is the al-wise, the all-knowing one. He is a father to them and now a father to her.
One by one, she watches them waddle inside to start at nine. Now, out of sight but never out of her mind.
THE CASTLE – 9 AM
The tiler runs out with his first broken tile for the day. He is the clumsiest of the lot. On average, he is sneaking out with a few broken tiles several times a day.
Summer has never actually seen him break anything, but she has been lucky enough to see him hide most of his breakages. Summer has never seen or heard him speak either.
She appreciates his silence, his thoughtfulness, his kindness. She should have told her Prince months ago about all the broken tiles and the extra money it has cost him.
All these fractured, expensive tiles might be the reason why their renovations have been taking so long; however, it’s their little secret, and she likes the guessing game it forces her to play. How many tiles will he break and hide today?
Once, a fire in the caretaker’s house was left unsolved. From what she could see from way up here, he was the one who started it all, but his sweet face and shy mannerisms made it easy for her to forgive him, made it easy for her to keep this little secret between them—so many secrets in just six months.
So many secrets fill this house. Dirty little secrets she must hide. Mysteries that keep her alive.
Summer puts on the clothes laid out for her and then takes time wandering the dark corridor haunted by hideous family portraits staring at her.
Such nasty-looking humans, such frightfully deformed creatures, no wonder His Highness was looking for something magical to clean these monstrous genes away.
She cannot wait for HER SEVEN to start working up here. She cannot wait to rip these walls and make these paintings disappear.
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and hopefully this will inspire you to write a spin off story of a fairy tale that you know and love.