The week before Valentine’s Day, I initiated the “Traditional Fairytale Takedown Challenge,” asking readers to eschew standard romantic narratives and write some alternative fairy tales, real-world love stories that reflect the rich and varied ways we fall and stay in love. You answered the call with tales that capture the beautiful, complex, occasionally frustrating, perfectly imperfect ways we love one another, and ourselves. Thank you, readers!
This collection gives me more hope than any Cinderella story that love does indeed win.
There are the romantic realists, those whose stories show us that humans are fragile and imperfect, that loving someone deeply requires vulnerability and negotiating differences.
Once upon a time there was a broken fair lady. Her heart was shattered beyond repair. One fateful night, in a night full of despair, a not so shining knight stepped forth. He bravely picked up a fragile shard and began to help the fair lady try to piece together what once had been broken. Though the process was not without pain and anger, the outcome healed the fair lady. She was blessed with a most beautiful son and a not so shining knight who, to this day, remains by her side protecting her fragile heart. –Lora Jarrett
“A Short Fairy Tale of My Own,” Oui Depuis‘s honest fairy tale about day-to-day love.
There are surprise entrances. Love does seem to show up when and where you least expect to find it.
Once upon a time a divorced mother of 2 went to her high school reunion and met a friend she hadn’t seen in years. Although they had never dated before there was an instant spark now. He fell in love with her kids as well. A year later they were married and have been for 14 years, adding another prince along the way. — Michelle P.T.
A surprise that reminds us to focus on the fun from Twenty7zero3:
Once upon a time a girl asked if her bum looked big,
Her friend told her indeed it did,
but there was no time to change
As the taxi had been arranged,
for a night on the tiles,
So they left with smiles,
And that’s the night she met her prince!
There is love borne of friendship and shared conversations. Friendship creates a strong foundation, and it’s as much in his communication as in his kiss. (Hers, too!)
Once upon a time there was a woman who fantasized about a man who was precise with words.
For years, they worked together, and slowly became good friends.
Little did he know that she would sneak glances of him and her heart would pound,
and she smiled each night as she went to sleep thinking of his blue eyes and perfect hands.
One day, at last, she told him her secret, and guess what?
He was starving for love and attention and affection, and he’d been thinking about her, too.
And she fed him, and he fed her, and at long last her dreams came true. –Michelle Matthews
Listening matters, too.
Once upon a time a girl thought she wanted
hard adventures in foreign parts but she was scared to go
until a friend listened to her wonder and worry –
not just one day but lots of days –
until she saw any old adventures would be OK shared with him
and he asked her, “Will you marry me?” and she said yes
and ever after, sometimes happy, sometimes not, they’re Living. –Liz
There are those willing to try again, whose stories show us love takes courage: opening your heart is a risk worth taking, marriage is work worth doing.
Once upon a time, a boy asked a girl to marry him.
She said yes, but wasn’t really sure. The marriage didn’t last.
So years later the boy asked another girl. She said absolutely.
But stuff happened, and that one didn’t last either.
The boy spent time getting comfortable with himself.
Then a girl came into his life. She’d had her own “not-so-happily-ever-after” before him.
They clicked. He asked her to marry him. She said yes, and meant it, and knew it.
So did he. They work on the happily ever after part every single day. –Dan Radmacher
There will be dragons!
Once upon a time a guy said, “I tried it twice before; I want to try again once more.” And a girl said, “I did too; now I’ll try again with you.” Dragons came between them in the form of day to day but they booed them and they shooed them until finally they wooed them: guy and gal and dragons living happily in their kingdom. –Lucie
Those who understand the value of loving yourself first. In my head, I also think of these tales as those of the “sassy singles.” Why settle? There’s much to embrace in being single, and no shortage of love or adventure.
Once upon a time
A woman thought something was missing in her life,
and stayed with a man who wouldn’t commit
She waited patiently for the man to place a diamond on her finger.
Until one morning she woke up and saw the sun shine on her hand
realized she didn’t need a man to fulfill her dreams
and left the commitment-phobe man.
She had friends and family who loved and cherished her,
so her life was complete. –Melissa B.
Some of those crazy dates make for good stories…
Check out this fairy tale about RESPECT! by ladyleemanila.
…and cats are awesome.
Once upon a time in magical land called “The Deep South,”
There lived a fair and petite lady with a sassy mouth.
She thought she’d meet her prince by the ripe old age of twenty-three,
Because being rescued was the way it was supposed to be.
Fast forward nine years and here I am,
A single mom of a cat who no longer gives a damn. –Carrie K.
So is claiming your own power.
Celebrate the single life in “Once Upon a Time,” a “You go, girl!” fairy tale by Being Maarthaa.
There are those who’ve discovered love isn’t only for humans. I confess, these two were some of my favorites. The love we feel for (and from) our animals and the wider world feeds our souls.
Here’s a charming Valentine fairy tale my favorite online canine Albert the Dog penned for his People.
And it reminds us we’re not alone on this big blue planet.
Once upon a time, she stumbled upon an unrequited love.
She gazed upon her Love with tenderness- it surprised her, made her fall and tore at her skin.
She devoted hours and energy to her Love- it tugged roughly at her hair, pushed her around and made her cry with exhaustion.
Her friends understood, although if it had been Love with anyone else they would have tried to talk her out of it.
They knew because they felt it too.
And so, all together, climbing higher, braving wind, snow and ice they loved the wild outdoors without being loved, and together were not lonely.
In fact, they were jubilantly happy. –Lisa at Sunshine Travels
And there are the practical. Forget the fancy trappings and the mooshy-gooshy feelings. Love is a practice, an action you choose.
Once upon a time, two people no one was sure were actually dating sat in a parked car in front of a pizza shack in WV. The guy said, “Let’s do this.” –Amy Jo
Yeah, baby. Let’s do this! ~ 193 days and counting!
Another thanks to all who took the time to contribute a fairy tale! Once upon a time, you made a FsFTB very happy!