A Fairy Tale (Hold the Fairies, Please), part 4.

The prince was practically begging. “This is a stupid idea,” he said. “Stupid. Who cares if we can find our way back if we’ve been turned into toads? We’ll like it here! This will be home!” But she kept stopping to cut marks in trees. “You’re hurting me,” he told her. “You’re hurting the trees! Greenpeace would be horrified.”

“They’re busy chaining themselves to the smithy,” she replied primly, even as the sound of breaking foliage and snapping sticks grew nearer.

They ran for a bit more, breaking into a clearing, where Mackenzie decided to make another mark in yet another tree.

“Don’t put a mark in that tree,” came a voice from behind them. They whirled to see an aged man sitting in a rocking chair, rocking back and forth. “I’m a certified member of Greenpeace, and I’m afraid I can’t allow you to do that.”

Mackenzie began, “Are you…”

“… the wizard that talks to trees?” the wizard who talks to trees finished. “Yeah, sorta. I mean, they do most of the talking, and I kinda just sit by and translate for the flowers and such.”

At that moment the prince’s evil stepmother broke through into the clearing and waved her wand at them menacingly. It was a fresh wand, too, and a very nice model recently featured on the Shopping Channel.

Nothing happened. “Sorry,” the old man said, rocking in his chair. “Your magic won’t work here.”

“Well, I can still kill him with my bare hands!” the queen shouted, scowling at her son. “Open this book for me, prince, or die knowing that you could have opened this book for me!” She realized as soon as she said it how stupid it sounded, but she scowled extra-convincingly to make up for it.

“Can’t you help us?” cried the prince to the wizard who translated the words of trees. “She’s going to kill me!”

“Nope,” the old man said, pulling a soother from his vest pocked. “I’m a pacifist.” He jammed it in his mouth, as if to make his point.

The queen’s frown morphed into a picture-perfect evil smile. The grandmother of all evil smiles. She took the book from her evil napsack pushed it toward him, and said, “Open it, fool!”

Looking down at the cover, the prince was taken aback. Where it had once said “Imagination”, it now said “Sheep”.

“Why did that book just say sheep?” the queen asked, stepping back. But not fast enough: the prince opened the book in a lightning, or at very least a 1969 Ford Mustang, movement, tossing the dust contained inside over her.

There was a small flash, and in the middle of the clearing stood a sheep. A black sheep. “Did you do that?” asked the prince of the wizard who listened to the words of trees.

The little man in the chair shrugged. “I needed a sweater.”

* * *

Book of imagination in hand, the prince and Mackenzie followed the trail she had made back to her Aunt’s house. They argued the entire way about whether or not his natural male sense of direction would have been enough had they had no markings. He almost instantly regretted sprinkling the imagination dust on her, as some of her comebacks were remarkably witty.

Eventually, they got married, so as to carry on the arguing more conveniently, but not before the prince had spread the dust of imagination throughout the land. Strangely, it never seemed to run out; no matter how much he gave out, there was always more to be had. Which, conveniently, is the moral of this story:

You can never get rid of dust.

Oh, and they all lived happily ever after. Until they died.

THE END.

PS: Okay, I lied. The moral of this story is that imagination isn’t a static quantity that you can somehow exaust. There’s always a bit more beyond the next bit of writers block. Or, for you people that enjoy carving, carving block. You may all groan at that pun. I should know this. I began this story, got half of it done in about an hour, and then finished the rest up six months later with fresh ideas, and much too much diet ginger ale.