Governess and the Three Bears

Submitted into Contest #59 in response to: Write about a character arriving in a place unlike anywhere they’ve ever been.... view prompt

21 comments

Fantasy Kids

Lottie pulled a brush through her red-gold curls in an effort to tame them enough to be tied back. After several attempts to braid her hair, she gave up, shoving on a headband and turning to inspect her reflection in the mirror.

Do I look mature enough for this?

Lottie was starting a new job that very morning. She had responded to an advertisement in the local paper, and in just a few hours, she would be a governess to a delightful child named Belinda. She hadn't actually met the family yet, but she had corresponded by mail with Belinda's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Gristle, and they seemed like very nice people.

It was getting late for still preening. Lottie scolded herself and ran downstairs.

"Oh!" Lottie's mother pressed a hand to her heart. "My baby girl is all grown up!"

"Mother! I haven't been a baby in almost fifteen years!"

After a quick breakfast of porridge drizzled in honey, Lottie ran out the door with her bag. As soon as she was far enough from her mother's worrying eyes, Lottie pulled the hand-drawn map from her pocket and studied it. It made sense to her that the family lived on the very edge of town, practically in the woods. They were probably overprotective parents who didn't want to risk the chance of their little girl going all the way to the village schoolhouse.

It took a while to find the place, and when she stood at the front door, Lottie wasn't sure that it was the right place. The house stood very tall, about 4 stories by Lottie's assumptions, and was made of redbrick. The door itself was almost ten feet tall, and the windows were big enough that Lottie would be worried about falling out of them if she ever came to be standing by one while it was open.

Lottie straightened her shoulders. It's the only house over here. If it isn't the right house, they might be able to point me in the right direction. She walked up to the front door and knocked.

The door swung inward. For such a large door, Lottie would have assumed it would be heavy. She stepped inside.

"Hello?" She took another two steps forward and looked around. The inside of the house was painted a cheery yellow, which made sense to her. A lot of people painted their houses bright colors. But after that, nothing made sense. The stairs that rose up from the wood floor looked like they would be extremely difficult to climb. Each step was almost two feet up from the one before it. The doorways on either side were also over-sized, and lead into rooms that made Lottie, who stood at five foot ten inches, feel very small.

"It's Lottie," She tried again, "I'm the new governess."

She got no answer, and so decided to try to find her new charge and bosses. She walked into the room on the right. It was a dining room. The seats of the chairs came to her waist, and the table reached Lottie's shoulders. Both table and chairs were made from a dark brown wood, including the one that had a mini ladder at it's foot.

Why does this place make me feel like a toddler? She glanced around, trying to figure out what she was missing. Maybe they left me a note on the table.

Lottie pulled the ladder over to the chair at the front of the table. She climbed up and sat on the chair, turning to face the table. The chair was much too big. Lottie looked at the table, but there was no note there. She looked over towards the other side of the table, where she could see the back of the other large chair. There was a piece of paper there, but out of her reach. She got down, moved the ladder, and climbed onto the other chair. This chair was much too something, although Lottie couldn't tell what. I'm not here to try out chairs. Where's that paper...

Milk

Eggs

Oats

Lottie sighed and got down again. A shopping list wasn't going to help her. She climbed up on the smallest chair, which actually was comfortable, but then she got down.

No time for sitting down. The Gristles might be in trouble.

So Lottie checked the room on the other side of the stairs. There were a few couches and a large beanbag chair, but no people. She called out as she headed up the stairs, but still received no answer. At the top of the stairs, she saw that there were two doors. She walked over to the first one, which was painted green in contrast to the bright yellow of every other painted surface she'd seen before.

"Hello?" She called out again. At this point, she was scared, both for herself and for her employers. Perhaps this is why she walked into the first bedroom without pausing to think.

It was clearly the master bedroom, and just as over-sized as the rest of the house. Lottie closed the door instantly. As scared as she was, Lottie did not want to snoop in there. It wasn't her place. So Lottie turned and knocked on the other door, and then pushed it open.

Aside from the door, this was the one room where everything seemed normal. There was an open closet full of dresses. True they were too big for Lottie, but not by much. The blankets on the bed were baby blue, but the bed was a normal size. There was an odd scratch on the floor, which made Lottie wonder if the Gristles had been kidnapped.

Suddenly, sixteen seemed very young. The fear finally caught up to Lottie and she sank down on the bed and cried.

She had no idea how she fell asleep, but the next thing Lottie knew, she heard someone shouting.

"Someone's been sleeping in my bed! And she's still there! Do you think this is my governess?"

Lottie shot upright. "Belinda? I'm so sorry. I couldn't find you and then-" Lottie stopped short when she saw who she was speaking to. Belinda was indeed standing in front of her, and Mr. and Mrs. Gristle were hurrying into the room. But they were nothing like Lottie had assumed. Though they were dressed as was proper, they weren't humans at all. They were bears!

September 18, 2020 01:20

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21 comments

Cb Pinky
00:05 Sep 26, 2020

I absolutely loved the twist at the very end of the piece. It made me laugh out loud. I foolishly didn't get the "Governess and the Three Bears" was referencing Goldilocks until like halfway through the story. I went all the way back to the beginning and loved all the cool details you included! Loved it!

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Tessa Takzikab
01:13 Sep 27, 2020

Thank you!

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Clara D Berry
14:42 Sep 18, 2020

I love this story! It sticks to the plot of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" just enough to be recognizable, but not enough to be boring. I love how you made the table empty except for a shopping list. Can't have porridge without milk, eggs, and oats. I also like how you made the parents sleep in a different room, which makes more sense than the original. The description about the size of the house was on point. I never thought about how big it was before (except of course when I read "Goldilocks and the Three Elephants," by Jon Scieszka, bu...

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Tessa Takzikab
20:26 Sep 18, 2020

Thank you!

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Tessa Takzikab
14:16 Sep 18, 2020

Thank you Regina for the idea.

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Regina Perry
16:38 Sep 27, 2020

You're welcome. You did a really good job with it.

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Love the descriptions, as always.

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Tessa Takzikab
01:03 Dec 06, 2020

Thank you!

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Philip Clayberg
20:43 Nov 27, 2020

Thank you for writing this fun story. Initially, it sounded like "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" (especially the title), but you managed to make it feel different for the most part. Until that twist at the end, and I realized that it wasn't that Lottie would encounter three bears in the woods or maybe at a zoological park ... she was going to be the governess of three bears. And then I wondered, "What would life be like for her, living with three bears?" If you decide to write a sequel (please do!), I would love to read what happens...

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Tessa Takzikab
23:14 Nov 28, 2020

Thanks! This one I might write a sequel for, although it would require world building or explaining what happened that made the bears seem normal. Maybe if a prompt fits another fairy tale I'll put Lottie through something else, although that would probably take her away from the bears. I guess we'll have to wait and see. Thank you for your interest in my stories, and I will think about a potential sequel for any of mine.

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Philip Clayberg
00:37 Nov 29, 2020

You're welcome. I sure hope you will. After all, if Narnia could have Talking Bears, why couldn't the world of your story also have them? Maybe it's a world where all the fairy tales are true (even the dark, unpleasant ones)? And maybe, in some cases, the hero or heroine and the villain or villainess exchange roles. Red Riding Hood turns out to be the bad girl and the Wolf is the good guy. The Three Little Pigs aren't nice at all and seem to enjoy abusing/torturing the poor Wolf. And so on. You'll probably have little trouble comin...

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Tessa Takzikab
01:27 Nov 29, 2020

I've read a version of Red Riding Hood where the wolf was good and the grandmother was evil, but Red herself was good too. You're definitely right though, I could spend so much time on fractured fairy tales, and I would definitely enjoy doing that. Thanks!

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Philip Clayberg
01:50 Nov 29, 2020

You might be interested in two books (by two different authors) which turn familiar fairy tales into something different: Tanith Lee, "Red as Blood" (it might not be in print anymore), and Neil Gaiman, "Smoke and Mirrors" (especially the story "Snow. Glass. Apple."). There are other authors who have done something similar, but these are the two I can remember right now. I used to watch the "Rocky and Bullwinkle Show" back in the 1970s (probably reruns by then, because I think they originally aired in the 1960s) and used to love watchin...

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Tessa Takzikab
04:44 Nov 29, 2020

Ooh, I love Neil Gaiman! I will definitely check that out! I watched some Rocky and Bullwinkle a while back, (which for me can only be tops 15 years if I remember it as clearly as I do) I think that's where I got the term Fractured Fairy Tales from, although I didn't know that was theirs. I love those! I still have the Rapunzel one play in my head sometimes. Especially the ending :)

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Regina Perry
05:46 Nov 29, 2020

I saw this and couldn't resist jumping in. I've always loved faerie tales and have re-imagined several of them in many ways. I've never thought of Red Riding Hood as potentially evil, but I'm telling you the huntsman is evil. I've actually got a version of Red Riding Hood here on Reedsy.

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Philip Clayberg
23:14 Nov 29, 2020

Not a problem. The "door" is always open. I think the definition of "evil" in a fairy tale is in the "eye" of the beholder. It depends on how dark, how violent, etc. you want a character to be (even if the previous version of them painted them as nice, friendly, and helpful). That's the great thing about fiction: you don't have to have always from one point of view. You can change that point of view, if you want to. Change the character's gender, change their personality, etc. I haven't read "Red Riding Hood" (the fairy tale) in ...

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Regina Perry
23:53 Nov 29, 2020

That's very true. I've actually written the entire first draft of a novel in which a handful of fairy tale characters chase the big-bad-wolf in and out of various fairy tales, some of them featuring him and some of them not. Unfortunately, I haven't got close to publishing it yet because I have too much editing to do first and I've got other stories I'd rather focus on. I noticed long ago and it's bugged me ever since that if a female character in a fairy tale has a personality or a strong opinion, she's usually evil. Not all of them are, t...

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The Cold Ice
07:50 Sep 23, 2020

I like the tittle of the story.”Governess and the three bars .I liked the story.Great job keep it up.Good story.Keep writing ✍️. Would you mind to read my story “The dragon warrior part 2?”

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Tessa Takzikab
13:28 Sep 23, 2020

Thanks! Sure, I'll go check it out.

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