Saturday, January 9, 2010


At a university in a big city there was a good looking student named Aaron who always had all of the girls following him around wishing they could be his girlfriend. He dated many girls, but never found any that he felt was worthy of his handsomeness. There was also a beautiful girl named Rosalie who went to the same university who had all of the guys falling all over her. She dated some, but never found any who deserved to be with her. Eventually the two dated each other, and since they could not see any flaws in each other, they fell in love and soon were married.

At the wedding, Aaron's brother Lee met Rosalie's sister Sarah, as they were best man and maid of honor. Sarah was plain in appearance, perhaps even a bit ugly, unlike her sister. But she and Lee got along well, and he asked her on a date. They found that they had a lot in common, and they began to fall in love. Soon enough, Lee proposed to Sarah.

Sarah, however, cried and felt that she did not deserve Lee. She was afraid that Lee would soon grow tired of her plain looks and seek a woman who was more beautiful. But Lee insisted that he loved her and promised to always remain faithful to her, no matter how she looked. This satisfied Sarah, who set aside her fears and doubts and accepted his proposal, and they, too, married.

All was well for the first few years. The two couples lived near each other in the city, and were happy. The brothers found good jobs, Aaron as an engineer, and Lee as a writer for a magazine. The two sisters also worked, Rosalie as a model, and Sarah as a florist. But Sarah became more and more restless as each year went by. She felt that age was coming upon her, and that soon Lee would forget his promises to her.

One day an old woman came into the flower shop. She had a large scar running across her face.

When she noticed Sarah staring at it, she said, "I see you are curious about my scar. Many years ago I heard a rumor that one can venture below the city's sub-basements and find a sphinx guarding a potion that will give the drinker beauty beyond words. So I searched long and hard for it, and found the sphinx. But I answered its riddle wrong, and did not get the potion, barely escaping with my life."

On hearing this, a great desire to have this potion awoke in Sarah's heart. She asked the woman to tell her where the sphinx was, and reluctantly the old woman told her. Immediately Sarah closed up the shop and called her sister and told her about the potion.

"Oh Sarah!" said Rosalie after she had been told about the potion, "Now you and I can have matching beauty!"

So Rosalie and Sarah met up and went down into the lowest basement of the building the old woman had indicated. They looked around, but found no sign of a sphinx. Finally, after hours of searching, Sarah found a hidden staircase behind a trick wall, and they descended into a large hall. In the middle of the room was a huge sphinx: a creature with a lion's body and a human face. Sarah and Rosalie cautiously approached the creature.

"Stop," it said as they came closer, "You may not pass by me unless you can answer my riddle. Answer wrongly and I tear your head from your body. Are you sure you wish me to ask the riddle?"

"Yes, yes!" the sisters said quickly.

The sphinx nodded slowly, and then spoke:

"With a touch, I can kill a man,
But with a flick of his finger, man kills me."

The sisters looked at each other confused.

Rosalie stepped forward and said, "Is it a bug? Like something that stings you?" In a flash the sphinx lunged forward onto Rosalie and swiped her face with its claw.

But Sarah quickly shouted, "Wait! You haven't let me make a guess!"

The sphinx paused, and looked at Sarah. "Very well," it said. "If you answer correctly, you may pass, and your sister may live. But answer wrong, and you both die."

So Sarah thought and thought about the riddle. Finally she replied, "Is it electricity?"

The sphinx nodded, and then moved to the side of the hall, gesturing for Sarah to pass. Sarah walked down to the end of the hall. There on a pedestal was a small bottle filled with a blue liquid. She took it and walked back to Rosalie, who was lying on the ground, crying and clutching her bleeding face.

"My face!" she cried out. "Look at my face! I will never be beautiful again." Seeing her in such distress, Sarah had pity on her.

"Don't cry," she said, "Here, take this potion." So Rosalie drank it, and her wound healed. If there was any hint of a scar on her, it only added to her stunning beauty. Sarah looked at her with sadness as she saw what she had given up. They both went back to their homes and told their husbands about their adventures. Aaron looked at Rosalie and was amazed that she could be even more beautiful than she had already been. But in the deepest part of his heart a seed of envy was born, as he realized that she was now more beautiful than he was handsome. Lee listened to Sarah's story and marveled at her unselfish act toward her sister, and loved her even more. And in his heart, he thought that Sarah had become more lovely, even without the potion.

Another year went by. Sarah was content for a while since Lee told her every day that she was beautiful. Aaron, however, refused to acknowledge that he thought Rosalie was even a little bit pretty. Rosalie began to believe that her husband thought she was ugly, and she yearned for more beauty.

One day, while Rosalie was modelling, a photographer began talking with her. "You know," he said, "You remind me of another girl I saw once. Excuse me for being so blunt, but your stunning beauty was only second-best compared to her. And get this--she claimed to have gotten her beauty by wearing a stone that she found in the sewers guarded by goblins. I saw her recently, and she wasn't that pretty, and she told me she'd given the stone back to the goblins!"

As soon as she heard this, she desired to have the stone for herself. But she was afraid to face the goblins herself, so she called up her sister and told her about the stone, saying "Oh Sarah, I feel so bad about you sacrificing beauty for my face, so when we find the stone, it's all yours."

At first Sarah was reluctant to go with her sister, but soon desire awoke once again inside her, and she agreed to go with Rosalie to find this stone. Sarah took two knives from her kitchen, then met up with Rosalie. In the dark of night, Rosalie and Sarah opened a manhole, and went down into the sewer, and began to search for the goblins. They walked miles and miles in the labyrinth of the sewers, and just as they were about to give up, Sarah saw a small figure running down a passageway to the side.

Quickly they ran after it, hoping it would lead them to the stone. They trailed it down a maze of tunnels until they turned a corner, and there facing them was not one, but several dozen goblins. Sarah pulled out her knives, and turned to hand one to Rosalie, but Rosalie had run away at the sight of the goblins. So steeling herself, Sarah took one knife in each hand and fought the goblins as they came at her. Rosalie had not run far, though, and when she thought the goblins were too busy to notice her, she sneaked past the goblins to where the stone was lying on a table. She picked it up and ran past her sister, who was beginning to tire of the fight.

Rosalie held up the stone and shouted, "Sarah, come on, I found the stone!" Sarah looked over at her sister and turned to run. With goblins hot on their trail, the sisters sprinted as fast as they could until they saw a ladder leading up to the surface. They opened the manhole, and none of the goblins dared climb after them with the morning sun shining through the hole.

Once they had caught their breath, Sarah asked Rosalie, "Where is the stone?"

Rosalie feigned surprise and pretended to look all through her pockets. "It's not here! I must have dropped it in the sewers."

Sarah suspected Rosalie was lying, but she decided not to say anything. Instead, she went home and told Lee of Rosalie's conversation with the photographer, of their journey in the sewers and of the fight with the goblins, and their escape through the manhole.

"So do you have the stone?" Lee asked her.

"No," she answered, heavy in her heart. "Rosalie told me she dropped it, though I think that she was lying. I think she kept it for herself. I decided to let her have it. I don't think beauty is worth fighting with my own sister."

Lee smiled. "What a pure heart you have, Sarah. You don't need the stone, for you are already exceedingly beautiful."

Sarah smiled at Lee, and finally believed that she was beautiful.

Rosalie, however, took a string and tied the stone around her neck. She went home, and when Aaron saw her, he couldn't help but stare at her at a loss for thoughts. Rosalie was pleased at this at first, but as time went by, Aaron started to avert his eyes from her whenever he saw her so that he could think straight. Once again, the desire to be even more beautiful rose in Rosalie's heart, and she began to listen for rumors of other magical ways to make herself beautiful.

Finally she heard that drinking a drop of dragon's blood would make a person beautiful. And she also heard that there was a dragon that made its abode at the top of the tallest skyscraper. Rosalie smiled at the thought, and called Sarah to tell her about it.

"What?" said Sarah, "You must be crazy! I don't need beauty, and you are already the most beautiful person in the world. Why would you want to fight a dragon?"

No words could convince Rosalie, though, and Sarah knew that she would die trying to get a drop of dragon blood. So Sarah agreed to come with her to protect her. So they drove to the tallest skyscraper, and rode the elevator to the very top. They found a door to the roof of the building and walked out into the open air. There was the dragon, lying in a nest made of human bones and gold coins.

"Welcome to my home, most delicious flesh. Are you here to make my next meal?" the dragon asked them. His voice was so beautiful that the sisters felt an urge to do whatever he wanted them to do. Rosalie began to walk up to him, but Sarah fought the urge, and stopped Rosalie with a hand.

She mustered up her will and began to flatter him saying, "Oh great one, we have heard much about your strength and prowess. We have not come to feed you, for we felt that would be an insult to your stealth and cunning in the hunt. But, magnificent one, we have friends (who are not friends anymore) who scoffed at you and thought you were not as strong as we know you are. If you would but give us one of your scales, so that they could feel your impenetrable shield, and pour some of your blood into it, so that they could see the fire that runs through you, perhaps the entire world would know how terrible and awesome you truly are!"

At this speech the dragon was pleased, and gave Sarah what she asked. They left, and Sarah handed the scale to Rosalie and told her to take a drop and drink it. But Rosalie was greedy, and drank all of it. Immediately her beauty grew so much that any man who saw her instantly froze in place and could never move or speak again, for he thought only of her beauty till he wasted away, standing or sitting wherever he had seen her. Rosalie went home to Aaron, and as soon as he saw her, he too froze and would not move or speak. Rosalie wept and ran away to a nearby forest, where she lived the rest of her life in a state of delirium.

But Sarah took the scale, and saw that there was one drop left. She went home to Lee, showed him the drop, and told him all that had happened.

"And now," she asked, "Do you want me to drink this blood and become beautiful for you?"

Lee just stared at her and smiled. "No. Sarah, I cannot imagine you any more beautiful than you are right now. But if you want to drink it, then do so."

So they took the scale with the blood and put it on the mantle, and then then took it and put it in a box in their attic, and then one day they accidentally threw it in the trash.


  1. Love the ending. Its very long and in some ways tiresome because she keeps trying to find an unnecessary amount of beauty, but I know that's the whole point, so good job! Thanks for another fun story!

  2. OMG! Dan, this is REALLY good! it has a really good moral to it. agreed, the ening was kinda drawn out, but i think it just added to it. =]

  3. fairy tales almost always have three attempts... I love the way you set the story in the modern day, with all of the main characters being normal humans. it makes identifying with them easier. and then having the fantasy elements in the challenges makes it imaginative and intriguing. well done.

  4. A very enjoyable read. Somewhat predictable but still fascinating.