a fairy story for the nearly grown up

Snow White and Grumpy ran a guest house in the forest. It was a quiet place but had a loyal clientele who came for miles to enjoy the peace of the woods, to dive in the old, flooded quarries, to drink beer and eat Snow White’s pizzas, schnitzels and pan-fried potatoes.

The place looked over-grown and shabby because Grumpy was getting too old to care, but it was clean, comfortable and cluttered with so many knick-knacks like it was your granny’s flat. Had they been chosen by a designer, it would have been kitsch, but seemed rather gemütlich and organic instead.

In the jungly garden there was a wooden cabin, which looked on the point of collapse, for when it was too wet for a barbecue outside. In another corner was a little fishpond, half covered in weed, around which stood, amongst the other random statuettes, five garden gnomes containing the ashes of their former companions, except for Dopey who was still in rehab.

Grumpy had mellowed with age and had learned to be quite sociable with the guests. The years touring with their acrobatic act after the mine was closed had forced him to put on a front and be more amenable. But now the back pain and having to wear a corset turned him once more into his old, misanthropic self. He tended to stay in their rooms and watch TV while his wife looked after the cooking, the bar and the guests.

Snow White was a beauty no more – it was her hair that fitted the name these days, but the sparkle and the cheeriness of her nature were undimmed. She’d also shrunk down almost to Grumpy’s height.

Marriage to the prince hadn’t been such a good idea. Once the initial romance was over she hadn’t fitted into the routine and ritual of court life, while he was basically a self-centred prig. She had given him a son and heir, after which he’d started chasing younger, pretty women. Eventually, she’d quietly put together a few personal belongings and, one night, slipped away to the woods and the mountains. Working as a maid in villages and farms, she’d finally reached the dwarves and their little silver mine.