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Arthur A. Dixon

Sagacia tore along the dotted line on the end of the cat food box, signaling Murzik that dinner would be served momentarily. He prissed into the kitchen of the Fairy Tale Lobby.

Sagacia shook the box over the cat dish, but nothing poured out.

She shook again.

Nothing.

She looked into the opening.

Inside was a pale yellow envelope. That was all. It was addressed to Vasilisa.

“Simplia,” she called. “It’s arrived! This month’s letter to Vasilisa from someone from somewhere about something about fairy tales.

“It was in the cat food box,” she said, as the other Simpleton danced into the room. “Here. Will you read it? My hands are full.”

“We should have known! It is the magical third day of the month, after all,” said Simplia.

She tore along the fold of the envelope, pulled out a sheet of crisp yellow stationery with a long stem of iris painted in watercolor along the left edge. She unfolded it and read the neat handwriting:

Dear Vasilisa the Wise,

Sometimes the ending of a fairy tale just isn’t right, you know? For example, we try to teach our children how risky it is to rush into marriage, and then the kids hear about some youth who marries a beautiful girl he just met in the last paragraph and ends up living happily ever after. That may have been an affirming ending in the day of arranged marriages, but today it just won’t fly. It is sheer fantasy, and one that won’t help this generation a bit!

Or what about when the king offers his daughter’s hand in marriage in exchange for some trivial favor. What does that say to our daughters today?

Or, try this: a character gets punished vindictively at the end, like Snow White’s mother having to dance herself to death in red-hot shoes. Such cruel and unusual punishment is unacceptable in this day and time!

Can’t we all just get together and agree that it’s part of the natural evolutionary process of  oral storytelling to change the ending of a story, either subtly or drastically, if the old ending is no longer appropriate? So, why not simply change them? I do! And I’m just wondering: what fairy tale endings have you or your readers have wrestled with. What enters into the decision to either keep an ending or modify it?

Evolving in Evanston

“Oh, dear! I’ll just pin this to the door, and maybe some of our magical friends will come along and help out,” said Simplia.

Sagacia shook the cat food box again. Not a sound. Not a single snap, crackle or pop. Or clunk. Or thud.

Murzik was not pleased.

“Meow,” he objected. This was one ending he’d change in a New York minute!

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