Happily Ever After, Without Parole
It was the biggest scandal the Kingdom had ever seen. The press had been following the trial for weeks, waiting for the Princess to testify. Everyone else had already been called to the stand.
“She was always a naughty girl,” the stepmother said.
“Terrible, jealous, nasty,” one stepsister echoed.
“Weird, a loner, talking to birds and mice,” the other added before her hand even left the face of the Bible she’d sworn on.
The fairy godmother shook her graying head, cloaked in a shimmering veil of pixie dust. “I only wanted her to be happy. I don’t know where she went so wrong.”
Finally, the Princess took the stand, wringing the folds of her tattered dress, fingers stained black with ash. “I loved him.”
“Ella, please,” the Judge said, “speak up.”
She sat up straighter, with apparent effort. “I loved him.” She trembled as she spoke. “I did. We used to dance until midnight under the stars, until my gowns turned to dust around me. He always found me — the glass slipper fit no one else. And after the wedding, he…he started to grow…distant.”
“What do you mean, ‘distant?’ ” The prosecutor pressed.
“He would disappear for days on what he called ‘hunting’ trips.” Silent tears began to form at the edges of her eyes, catching on her lashes. “At first, we only danced until nine, then not at all.”
“And that’s when you hired a private investigator, is that correct?”
“Yes. He must have been on Charming’s payroll. He told me he didn’t find a thing, I was imagining everything.”
“You thought he was lying?”
“I know he was lying!” Ella clutched her temples in her sooty hands. “I followed him — one of those nights. There was a tower in the woods, and he called out, ‘Rapunzel, let down your hair!’ Down it came, a ladder of flaxen tresses, and he climbed right up. Didn’t come out until morning.”
“And you followed him again, didn’t you? Did you find anything else?”
“The next time it was a cottage in the woods. Seven dwarves came out the door, whistling on their way to work at the mines. He snuck inside and I could hear…I could hear him making love. I didn’t follow him again, after that.”
“And is that when you started to plan? Is that when you bought the dagger from the witch?”
“I didn’t!” She began to shake, violently. “I would never — I couldn’t! I loved him! I didn’t kill my husband!”
“But you had the motive,” the prosecutor pressed. “The murder weapon is covered in your fingerprints.”
Ella collapsed to the ground in a fit of hysterics, wailing, tearing at her dress and ragged hair. “I didn’t kill him! I didn’t!”
The judge called a recess until the Princess could compose herself. They led the weeping widow out in shackles.
Court reporters rushed to the payphones outside, breaking headlines across the kingdom.