Greedenvee and the Sorcerer
On the table, in a sagging cottage with rats in the hearth and dust like a cloth of time on every surface, she finds it.
The tumbler is crudely crafted from bubbled clay. With spirals of steam, dark hot liquid, and a string hanging from its lip – at the end of the string a square of paper on which the words Earl Grey curl a friendly invitation – it promises what potions ought to promise. It promises a solution with minimal effort on her part and the wisdom of another in its brewing.
What is her name, and what does she seek in this dark hovel of rotting walls and bulging thatch?
Those who care not for her favours, her threats, call her The Filching Wench. Others, less free to think their thoughts, those in need of her moody benevolence, are wise to call her by her given name – Greedenvee.
Greedenvee has stolen from fairy tales.
Snow White’s dwarves serve her every need. Scrubbing, rubbing, stirring pots. They’re small, quiet, humble. And scared.
Cinderella’s prince comes twice a week, after dinner, while his wife sorts her shoes, weeping into the glass slipper. Greedenvee stroked his breeches and ego after Cinderella bore a fierce baby and battled colic in a cold-stone castle nursery.
Rapunzel’s hair is braided into her own, sawed from the newlywed’s head while Rapunzel dainty-snored through a drug-induced sleep. It was a first in this land and was henceforth referred to as ‘the slumber snip’. All who noted Greedenvee’s overabundance, twisted at the temples and held in service by a garnet encrusted clip, turned their heads away from the weight of the ribbon ringlets and suppressed the urge to stamp on the coils when Greedenvee sat on her divan, dining on sensational dwarf cuisine. Rapunzel fled to the tower, locking in her depression and brutal bob, until her husband assured her he loved her nonetheless.
Yet, Greedenvee cannot steal what she desires most – charm and popularity.
The dwarves serve her because she kicks them if they don’t.
The prince cancels three carnal trysts as Cinderella perks up and dances him round their monstrous bed.
Rapunzel is loved despite hair loss.
Thus we find Greedenvee dropping several gold coins and a note detailing her desires into a scarlet drawstring pouch. Bending over the sleeping, chorus-snoring dwarves, she locates Happy’s bald crown and jabs him awake with her slippered foot.
‘Come, you lazy dolt, you’re to run an errand for me this night.’
Before ejecting Happy into the moonless, hushed night Greedenvee whispers her instructions.
‘Make your way to the sorcerer in the crooked house at the far end of Steeping Lane. Knock three times on the door and pull the bell rope once. Give my pouch to whoever opens the door. Then wait. You will, in due course, be given a sealed envelope which you’re to bring to me at once. Therein I will find the sorcerer’s suggestions and intend following his direction on the morrow. Mess up and I’ll have your happy guts for garters, understood?’
Happy is mid-nod when Greedenvee boots him through the portal as if he were a stray cat.
Thinking you can summon fine qualities like one summons a servant is why we find Greedenvee far from home, cloaked and gloating, lifting a tumbler to her longing lips. As arranged, she is alone, transformations of such magnitude requiring solitude and haste. She holds the tumbler with both hands, feels the steam travel its warmth up her forehead, into her hairline. She trusts this potion. She will leave this listing cottage packaged for happiness.
The physical response is unexpected, but not at all unpleasant. Greedenvee feels pulled into the centre of her being, a contracting of all her extremities.
Happy was sent by the sorcerer to check on his mistress.
He found the peasant cottage in a clearing, a two-and-a-half days walk on short legs, from the village. He stepped into the cool darkness, tipping his head back to note the decay settling into the abandoned home – his home, their home. The seven dwarves’ home. There, on the dust-packed floor, in front of the table, was a teakettle.
A teakettle with a fine, garnet encrusted knob on the lid.
Happy bent his bandy legs, lifted the kettle, and with outstretched arms, admired his red-apple cheeks in the gleaming curve of metal.
And with the return of the dwarves, Greedenvee found herself in the middle of their table, in the heart of their simple lives.
A charming, popular, hot piece of work.
Footnote: Many thanks to the sorcerer, Earl Grey.