A/N: Another of the 100 Theme Challenges. So, this was going to be a one-shot and then...I got really into it. A modern retelling of a fairy tale, personally I think it's clear which one, right from the start. I tried to keep up a kind of fairy tale style of narration through this; let me know if you think it works. As always, I return all reviews.
There was no doubt about it; Snowe was beautiful. Her heritage showed a long line of amazingly stunning woman, and she had inherited her looks from her mother. Like her, Snowe had straight black hair that was cut into a fashionable bob around her chin and at the top of her neck. Emerald green eyes shone out from a pale white heart-shaped face. Her lips were full and cherry red, and to top it all off, she was one of the most lovely, sweet girls you could ever happen upon.
It is no surprise then that she would one day be taken advantage of.
When she was six years old, Snowe's mother died. It was a quick death, getting hit by a car on her way to pick up Snowe from school. The poor girl didn't get to say goodbye to her mother and in the year that followed her father struggled to look after the child properly.
He tried his best, bless his heart, but he couldn't cook or clean or wash, and soon Snowe was doing those chores rather than face her father's burnt sausages or dusty shelves and clothes that would sit on the floor for weeks.
So she took over the responsibilities in the house. But if you had asked if she was happy, she would have responded with a firm 'yes'. She loved her father, and he loved her. Despite the state the house was in, they'd sit up watching television together, laughing over the same programmes, before he'd take her to bed and read from her stacks of books.
Then, when she was eight, her father brought a woman home.
Like Snowe's mother, the woman was beautiful. Her long blonde hair trailed down her back, and she wore so much make up that you could not see an inch of her real skin on her face. When she met Snowe, she fussed over the girl. Over the next few weeks, she helped the girl with cooking and cleaning, brought her presents, and made herself a very welcome presence in the household.
Snowe loved her. So, when her father asked if Snowe would be OK with this woman moving in with them, becoming Snowe's step-mother, the girl was eager for it to happen.
She didn't think anything could go wrong. The woman was too lovely for that.
* * *
Then, when Snowe was just ten years old, her father fell asleep in his dinner. The woman let out a sigh, before looking at Snowe. "It looks like daddy has been drinking, doesn't it?"
Snowe sent a glance towards the glass of milk that had been at her father's side. She knew that, with the emphasis her step-mother had placed on 'drinking' that she meant alcohol. "But daddy doesn't drink," She replied, looking at her father's still form.
She didn't see her step-mother roll her eyes before the older woman tried to wake the man up.
"Darling, darling come on now..." She let out a loud gasp, her eyes too wide and her mouth open too much to be genuine. Now, Snowe started to panic, looking from her step-mother to her father.
"What's wrong?" She piped up, holding tightly onto her fork.
The woman roughly grabbed her husband's wrist, glanced at her watch before nodding. "Oh dear," She shook her head. "It would seem...Snowe; I think you should go to your room."
It was the next morning when Snowe appeared in the kitchen to get ready for school that she was informed of a number of things. Firstly, that her father was dead. Secondly, that her step-mother was her sole carer and guardian. Thirdly, that her father had had a lot of money for Snowe, for her education and general well-being. Lastly, (and this last one was delivered with a strange gleam in her step-mother's eyes) as her sole-carer and guardian, her step-mother would be the one to watch over this money until Snowe was eighteen years old.
* * *
Her step-mother over the years brought many men to the house. She started making Snowe do all the chores she had helped out with previously, and the young girl would find herself cooking in the kitchen for the woman and her date. She'd enter the room and watch as the man would stare at her step-mother, gushing over her beauty and trying to impress her.
"I have never seen a woman more beautiful."
"Surely it must be difficult to walk down the street! You must get stopped for your looks."
"You are the more gorgeous woman I have ever seen."
Snowe was used to hearing these sorts of comments made to her step-mother, and despite everything she still remained rather kind to those she knew. She once hid a hurt sparrow from the woman, caring for it until it was well enough to fly on its own. She was happiest when she was school; reading books, learning about the world, and more importantly, spending time with her best friend, Charlie Prince.
However, much to their surprise, Charlie's parents decided, when he was twelve and the pair were settled and happy in secondary school, to send their child to boarding school. Off he went, and Snowe was left once more.
Yet she made other friends, and grew up, and grew into herself. She became what her mother once was; beautiful. She began to get male attention at school, which she more often than not politely declined. She was having too much fun just being a girl; hanging out at her friend's houses when her step-mother did not demand her home, sometimes going to sleepovers.
But her step-mother was a constant presence in her life, and she unlike her friends she was never given pocket money. Therefore, when they were shopping, or to the cinema, or ice skating, she would have to remain at home, scrubbing the tiles in the bathroom until they shone, or cooking food for her step-mother and her dates.
The turning point came when Snowe was sixteen years old.
One evening, she carried a tray in for her step-mother and her current man, whose eyes turned to her and, for once, did not stare straight through. "My God," He gasped. "Where have you been keeping her locked up?"
It seemed to open up a flood gate. Soon, Snowe became uncomfortable with the stares she was getting from her step-mother's men, and the comments made her squirm.
"My, my, she is beautiful."
"What a girl!"
"And you've got her in the kitchen?"
Her step-mother, rather than being indifferent towards the girl, grew to hate and despise her. The attention was being taken away from herself and focused instead on someone she felt had been forced into her care. So, she called up an old friend, Adam Wood, who owed her a favour.
"I need you to do something for me," She hissed over the phone. "I need you to get rid of Snowe."
"Easy," He replied, coughing over the phone, the result of years of smoking. "I'll put her on a plane and watch her fly away."
"No," She cried, "that's not good enough Adam! Listen to me..."
* * *
And so, the evil step-mother's plan was hatched. She had planned to get rid of the girl at some point anyway; it would mean that the money saved up for Snowe would go straight to her. Well, she thought, better sooner than later. It would give her more time to 'mourn', anyway.
Adam was to take the girl to the other side of the large town they lived in, to the forest that sat there. It was a nice place, where many families spent sunny days. However, in the night it was creepy, deserted and no one stepped a foot in there for fear of wolves or bears and other scary animals.
(Of course, the woman did not know about the sparrow. The animal had flown off to the forest, discussing the wonderful girl who had helped him back to full health with his friends there.)
Added to this was the simple fact that it was the middle of January; the weather was so cold at night that she thought no one could survive it. Still, she had instructed Adam to 'rip the girl to shreds' and make it look like an animal attack.
No one would be going into that forest for days at least, not until she raised the alarm that the girl was missing.
It was a well thought out plan, or so she assumed. The step-mother had even instructed Adam to bring back the girl's precious necklace. The chain and heart shaped pendant had been given to her by her parents when she was barely three years old, and she never took it off.
"Blood-stained!" She had cried. "I want to see her blood on it, Adam."
So he obliged the woman, who he thought may have gone a bit mental regarding the fact that, whilst her step-daughter grew more beautiful, she was getting older. Still, she had done him a huge favour in the past, and he could not say no.
So, one day when Snowe was walking home from school, he pulled his car in alongside her.
"Snowe!" He wound the window down, smiling out at her.
"Mr Wood!" She seemed surprised at his appearance as she turned to look at him. "What are you doing here?"
"Your step-mother asked me to pick you up today. I must have just missed you at the gate." He hated lying. In truth, there had been too many people around, and he could not be the last person seen with the teenager. So, he'd waited until she was on a quiet street. "Jump in kiddo."
Smiling warmly, she skipped over to the passenger's side and slid in, leaning back in the seat and looking more than pleased to have a lift home for once.