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Snow White and the Seven Cats
“Once upon a time in the middle of winter, when the flakes of snow were falling like feathers from the sky, a queen sat at a window sewing, and the frame of the window was made of black ebony. And whilst she was sewing and looking out of the window at the snow, she pricked her finger with the needle, and three drops of blood fell upon the snow. And the red looked pretty upon the white snow, and she thought to herself, would that I had a child as white as snow, as red as blood, and as black as the wood of the window-frame,” my mother read to my little sister out of a large leather-bound book. I stood in the doorway, looking into the room covered in Disney Princesses.
“Why would you want a red kid? That’s weird,” I said, crossing my arms. “Also, how can a kid be white and red? They might as well just say that she wanted a pink baby.” My mother looked at me and rolled her eyes.
“Sarah,” she said, closing the book, “Please don’t ruin the story.” I walked out into the hallway and fixed my hair in the mirror.
Snow White had always been my favorite fairy tale. When the kids at my school would make fun of me for my paler-than-death skin and shiny black hair, I would say, “Well, I look like Snow White and she’s a princess.” I got made fun of a lot, and people started getting really annoyed.
I started down the hallway toward the kitchen. As usual, my sister’s toys lined the hall, making it almost impossible to walk. I maneuvered my way around the dolls and teddy bears, careful as to where I placed each foot. When I finally got to the stairs, I stepped one final stride onto a Barbie car. I tumbled down the stairs, but didn’t hit the floor. Instead, I fell into a chair in a waiting room. I looked around. Lots of people were there with me, waiting for something.
“Sarah White!” someone yelled. It was the receptionist. “The doctor’s ready to see â€˜ya now.” She said in a thick southern accent, pointing to the door.
“Wait,” I said. “Where am I?”
“Well, honey, y’all are dead.” She laughed and snorted like a pig. I walked slowly to the door, my mouth open, amazed. A man was standing in the room wearing a white lab coat, reading a chart. As he put it down on the counter, I realized who he was.
“Oh my God! You’re Sigmund Freud!” I exclaimed. “But wait, you’re a psychiatrist. Why are you in a doctor’s office? And also, is Morgan Freeman really God?”
“Hey!” he said, anger in his eyes. “I went to ze medical school, too.” He picked up a folder, scanning it through. “Sarah, iz it? Yez. You fell down ze stairs â€˜und broke your neck. You can zank your seester for zat.”
“Great,” I said, thinking of the Barbie car placed perfectly for my demise. “So what now?”
“Vell,” he closed the manila folder and placed it on the counter. “Now, you go shrough zat door â€˜und live your…ah…death.” He walked to a large file cabinet and pulled out another folder. “Next!” he yelled, pushing me through another unexplored doorway.
I was suddenly in a very busy street, like Times Square with dead people. The sky was gray, yet still beautiful, no sun, but still bright. As people passed one another, they greeted each other, smiling. Everyone seemed to know everyone else. Death was like the opposite of life. Absolutely everyone was happy.
That was when I saw her, the only one not smiling. The skinny, brown-haired woman that haunted my childhood until she was killed when a perfume stand collapsed in Macy’s. My step mother walked down the sidewalk, adorned in pearls and a tight purple dress. She carried a ton of shopping bags, a look on her face that said Well, yes I do have impressions of grandeur. Thank you for noticing.
“Regina!” I yelled, reaching out and touching her shoulder.
“Oh…Sarah,” she replied wearing a fake smile. “You’re dead? I’m so…sorry.”
“Uhh, yeah. Hey, I really don’t know exactly what I’m supposed to do down here. Can you help me?” I pleaded with her. All my grandparents were still alive and I didn’t know any other dead people. She was my only hope.
“…Yes,” she said, pain in her voice. “Come along, dear. You can live at my house until you find…proper lodging.” She grabbed my arm and pulled me to the side of the road. Regina called a taxi and we drove away.
After about a half hour, we finally arrived at her “house.” It was a giant, purple-stone castle. Dark, spooky, it faced a forest full of dead trees (I found out later that everything is dead here). We pulled up into the cobblestone driveway. A man was standing in the doorway, yelling in an Italian accent at a maid for using the wrong window cleaner. He was dressed in a Roman tunic, leather sandals on his feet, and gold clasps holding the fabric together.
“Oh, Marc, darling,” Regina said to him. “Tell her to use Windex. I will not have generic cleaner in my home.” She walked up to the man and kissed him on the cheek. “Sarah, this is Marc. Marc, this is my…ex-step daughter, Sarah.”
“Well, hello me puella bella,” he took my hand and kissed it. Uhm…ew? “Ego sum Marcus Antonius, I mean, I am Marc Antony. Nice to meet you.” I followed Regina into the castle, taking in the over-luxurious architecture of the castle. Old, expensive paintings and tapestries covered the walls, antique furniture could be found in every corner and plush rugs covered the floors. She led me up the stairs and through the cold hallway. At the end, was a small wooden door.
“This,” she said, stopping at the door, “is your room. You will find most everything you need in here. You may stay until you find a home of your own.” She walked away and I opened the door. It was nice enough inside. The room was small, but warm and had a large window that let in abundant sunlight. A small bed next to a nightstand sat against one wall and a little wooden armoire against another. I sat down on the bed and looked out the window.
Despite the gray skies and dead trees, The Underworld was nice. It was very calm. I still didn’t know what I should have been doing, but so far death seemed pretty close to life. Maybe even a little better. I got up and walked down the hall, ready to explore the castle. Hearing the sound of Regina’s voice from one of the rooms, I stopped to listen.
“So, mirror,” she said with a condescending tone, “Who is the fairest of all The Underworld?”
“Well,” whoever she was talking to replied with a raspy voice. “’Used â€˜ta be you, sweet lips, but now it’s that little girl stayin’ down the hall.” I peered in the door, seeing a mirror with George Carlin’s face inside it, talking to Regina.
“What?” she asked, disgusted. “You’re joking.”
“Nope, sorry,” George replied.
“Oh my God.” Regina paced the room, a look of horror on her face. “What do I do now?” She bit her perfectly manicured thumb.
“You could always get ridda’ her.”
“How? We’re already dead.”
“Well,” he replied, smiling, “you could always get someone to chase her out.” At this point, I stopped listening. They couldn’t mean me, could they? There must be someone else living here, too. Another ex step daughter, maybe…hopefully. I walked back to my room and heard the door open where Regina was conversing open and then shut again. After I was sure she was out of sight, I went back into the hallway and entered the room.
“Hello, Sarah,” George said as I gingerly closed the door. “How are you? Oh wait…you’re dead!” He started cracking up laughing inside the mirror.
“Yeah,” I replied, “and so are you. Listen, what’s the deal? Who were you and Regina talking about?”
“Can’t really say. It would be a breech of my confidentiality contract.”
“What? What do you mean?”
“Well, when I died, God gave me two options: I could either spend the rest of my afterlife as a cat, or I could work off my punishment with community service. I chose to work it off.”
“Why did you get a punishment?” I asked.
“For using too much foul language in my comedy routines. I used to frequent HBO. Plus that whole thing about religion being crap Now every time I try to swear, something stupid comes out of my mouth like â€˜frazzling’ or â€˜shirt’!”
“Oh, sorry about that. Is she going to try to kill me?”
“Sweetheart, you’re already dead. But I couldn’t say anyway.” I gave him my best “pretty please?” look. “Okay, fine,” he replied, “she’s going to get her little boyfriend there to chase you out of the castle and throw you in a ditch.”
“What?!?” I cried. “Can’t she just ask me to leave?”
“Not good enough. She had to make sure you’d never come back, just cause she’s not the fairy-talein’ best-lookin’ bacon anymore.” I immediately ran out of the room, down the stairs and out the door of the castle. I began to hear something behind me. It was Marc Antony, mounted on a giant horse. Luckily, after only a few moments, Marilyn Monroe was walking down the road, wiggling her hips. Marc stopped the horse and began following the bombshell, completely forgetting about me. I ran into the forest until I couldn’t run any longer.
I walked for hours just to get farther away. Eventually, I came to an opening in the trees. A cottage stood in the clearing. It was small but quaint and very pretty. I went up and knocked on the door.
“Hello?” I yelled, hoping to hear a voice. I shouted again and again, but no one answered. After a few minutes, I decided the house was abandoned, so I went inside. I stepped carefully through the dark house, looking in every room. There were no beds, just a couch, a scratching post, and a few litter boxes.
As soon as I sat down, I heard someone talking. I jumped up and hid behind the couch. The voices got closer and closer until the door began to open and people came inside.
“Why is the light on?” a man asked. I hoped they would leave before anyone saw me. A cat ambled up to me behind the couch.
“Who are you?” it asked. I screamed and jumped to my feet. After realizing that despite the fact that it could talk, it was still only a cat, I gathered the courage to answer it.
“I…I’m S-Sarah. Sarah White,” I replied, pulling on my hair nervously.
“What are you doing here?” a voice asked from the other side of the room. I looked to see who it was. Six more cats stood staring at me.
“I’m really sorry, I was just chased out of my house and saw this cottage and came in. My ex-step mother’s boyfriend tried to throw me in a ditch, so I had to go somewhere. I’m so sorry. I should leave.” I began to walk out the door.
“No wait!” one of the cats said. “You should stay. My name is Brutus. You’ve probably heard of me. I helped kill my best friend.”
“That’s nothing,” said another. “I killed my own brother.” He turned to me. “Hey. I’m Cain. Nice to meet you.”
“At least none of you guys allowed Jesus to die,” said a third cat. The other cats all nodded. “Hi, my name’s Judas.”
“Gutentag,” another cat said. This one had a moustache. “I am Adolf Hitler.”
“Napoleon,” said another.
“Al Capone. How are ya?” said the last.
“Wait a second, why are all you guys cats?” I asked.
“We were pretty bad in life,” replied Brutus. “See, in The Underworld, there is no such thing as â€˜Hell.’”
“Oh okay,” I said. These guys didn’t seem so bad. Maybe they were at one time, but not now. They seemed really nice.
And they were. Over the next few weeks, I really got to know the cats. When they would go out, I stayed at the cottage for fear of being discovered by my step mother. I’d help clean out their litter boxes and knit things out of their balls of yarn. They’d keep me company and provide me with books and music people wrote after they died. For instance, singers from two of my favorite bandsâ€”Jim Morrison and Jerry Garciaâ€”wrote an album called “The Afterlife” and were touring together.
Then one day an old woman came to the cottage, selling knick-knacks. She had a lot of interesting things: the original American flag, the Mona Lisa, John Lennon’s sunglasses. But what really caught my attention was the apple that Aphrodite won at the marriage of Thetis and Peleus that read “For the Fairest.” I didn’t know why, but I felt like I had to have it.
“I’ll take the apple please,” I said to the old woman, coveting the treasure.
“Of course, dearie,” she replied, her voice crackling. She handed me the apple and as soon as I held it in my hand, I began to feel something very strange. Something I hadn’t felt in a long time: I was tired. As I fell to the ground, I saw the crone take off her mask to reveal the face of my step mother.
As it turns out, I wasn’t really “asleep.” I was totally conscious, I just couldn’t move; but I could hear everything. My step mother left the cottage, laughing loudly as she departed. The cats weren’t home for hours. I just had to sit and wait (or lay and wait, I guess).
When they finally arrived, all I could do was lie there. They discovered me, thinking I was dead or asleep and began to freak out.
“Oh my God! What are we going do?” asked Brutus.
“Alright, who did it? Come on, speak up. Was it you, Cain?” Judas asked, accusing his friend.
“Wait a second,” said Brutus, “What’s this?”
“It looks like the Apple of Discord.” Nero said. You see, in Greek mythology, the goddess, Eris, wasn’t invited toâ€”“
“Yeah, yeah. Whatever,” Brutus interjected. “The point is that none of us did this. Whoever it was had to have hated Sarah. Who is the only person we know that hates her?” There was a pause as the cats considered this.
“Oh, I know!” Napoleon exclaimed. “It was mademoiselle Regina. Her step mother.”
“Of course!” replied Brutus. “We must tell God about this! But what do we do with the body while we’re gone?”
“We could hide it in da’ trunk of da’ car,” said Al Capone.
“Uhm…no thanks, buddy,” replied Brutus.
“How about putting her in a kind of glass case…like, giant Tupperware?” asked Cain. “That way, no one could take her but she would also stay fresh for up to a week longer.”
“Great idea,” said Brutus. “Let’s do it, men!” I felt myself being lifted up and put down again. After some conversation between the cats, they left, and once again, I was alone.
A few hours later, I began to hear faint music. The sound got louder and louder, and the ground began to shake as if a tractor trailer or a bus approached. I eventually heard the music stop and the vehicle came to a halt. The doors opened and two people came near me.
“Hey Jerry, check this girl out!” one man yelled, knocking on the plastic case that contained me. “Wow…I’ve never seen someone so beautiful.” I felt myself blush, wondering who he was. “But I think she’s dead.”
“Uhh, Jim?” the other man said. “We’re already dead.”
“Oh yeah,” he replied. “But why is she in this plastic container? It’s pretty repressive, man.”
“Why don’t you get her out then?”
“Good plan.” The man opened the case and held me in his arms. He wiped the hair from my face and pressed his lips against mine. The kiss was electric. I could feel it in my toes, in my chest, in my head. Immediately, I began to stir. “Hey! Hey! She’s wakin’ up!”
“Hello,” I said as I opened my eyes. “JIM MORRISON!?!?” I was so excited that I screamed right in his face. I looked at the other man. It was Jerry Garcia from the Grateful Dead.
“Well you know my name. What’s yours, beautiful?” He smiled a crinkly smile that made my stomach drop.
“Sarah,” I replied. “Sarah White.”
“Well, Sarah…Will you marry me?”
Later on that day, we had the wedding. It was beautiful. All the old rock legends came to celebrate: Jimmy Hendrix, John Bonham, Johnny Cash. Even God came. As soon as he found out about my step mother, he turned her into a cat, and turned all seven of my cat friends back into humans.
Jim and I stayed together in love for the rest of our afterlives and lived happily ever after.