A Snow White retelling set in 1920s Germany
How Can Two Be the One?
Dagmar brushed her hair slowly, watching her reflection in the mirror. The room – her room – was barely visible behind her, lit by the gas lamp that shone yellow from her bedside table. It was pleasantly warm, though soon the warmth would fade as the embers died out in the grate.
She put down the brush on the vanity where only a few other of her toiletry items stood.
It had been such a long time since last she slept here. Even when she came to check on the manor and take care of anything which needed attention, she never slept here. She had forgotten what it meant to sleep alone.
She stood and, wrapping herself in the nightgown, walked to the window. The window frame breathed in the outside cold. She peered out but the night was pitch black. Was the fog still thick out there? But just as she was wondering, the moon came out and shed a pale, silvery light on the meadow below and on the maze, beyond. Far away. And lonely.
She wrapped her gown tightly around her shoulders as if that loneliness were her own.
She hadn’t expected Grete’s plan. But shocked as she was, Dagmar was not surprised at all that Grete wanted to take down the maze.
People get lost inside that thing.
She had hears it from Grete many times, especially after Julian died. But then, Grete had moved back to Berlin. Dagmar had hoped that the maze had slipped out of her mind.
As if that were possible, she mocked herself.
Dagmar had hoped that Grete would forget the maze and that Ingeborg – she had hoped that Inge…
…would come back and restore it?
She signed. Ingeborg cared, she could see it tonight in the library. But did she care enough?
She went to see the maze today. First thing when she arrived.
Dagmar dared to hope. She needed that hope. If only Julian were there. If Clara were there. They had both gone so soon. Much too soon.
She covered her mouth with trembling fingers and shut her eyes, pushing back warm tears.
Everything happened too soon, too suddenly, in this new world after the war. People wanted to move fast, but toward what? Did they ever wonder? In cities like Berlin, people moved fast with their eyes fixed on a future they didn’t see clearly, and never once look back to remember who they were so to never forget. So to remember their mistakes and never repeat them again. But maybe they did so because they fear. They feared to remember the scars, and the hunger and the cold. She knew that forgetting was a relief, but she couldn’t do it. Forgetting meant being wounded again, in the same way, and live the pain again, and the fear, then trying to forget once more, in a diabolic circle.
She bent her head. Her thoughts were getting darker. They often did lately.
She looked at the maze far beyond.
It was dying. She had long known it. She had tried to take care of it, but it wasn’t her task. She had to surrender to that truth. She still cared, she still visited, she still walked its path. But she was not the one.
Is the one going to be only one of us, Father?
Julian’s voice stabbed inside her unexpected. He was a child back then. They both were children.
What if both of you were the one? Father had said. Then he laughed.
Dagmar pouted. How can two be the one?
Father was holding both his children hands, one on either side of him. They walked in the maze on a sunny summer day, as they often did. The scent of boxwood and grass was pungent and pleasant. There was always some kind of good smell in the maze when they visited.
“Let’s do a game,” Father said. “Let’s see who of you will find the way to the bench first.”
Both Dagmar and Julian looked up, alarmed.
“We have been there so many times, children. I’m sure you’ll find the way.”
“But why can’t we go with you?” Julian asked.
“I’ll wait for you there.” Father was kind but inflexible. “Don’t be afraid. I know the right path is inside you. Just let it come to you.”
Dagmar felt a knot in her throat. “I don’t want to do this alone.”
“You won’t be alone, dear,” Father said and let go of their hands, to put his on his children shoulders. “Whatever you might come to think, remember you won’t be alone.”
Dagmar shook her head hard.
“Now stop it!” Julian snapped. “Stop being a child!”
Dagmar glared at him. Sure, it was easy for him. He was a big boy. He knew so many things that she didn’t. He probably knew the way and wouldn’t share it with her.
“You will leave me behind!”
“I’ll sure will, if you keep acting like a little girl. Stop crying.”The Frozen Maze – Episode 8 – How Can Two Be the One? – Dagmar remembers the first time she walked the maze alone. In truth you can lose yourself amongs its many paths, but you can also find yourself #fairytaleretelling Click To Tweet
She wasn’t crying, but she sure wanted to, now. She imposed herself not to. She hated when her brother treated her as a little girl.
“I can go wherever you can,” she said.
“We’ll see about it,” Julian mocked her.
Then she started.
Julian started too.
They looked around.
Father was gone.
Dagmar started to shiver. “Julian,” she moaned. “What do we do?”
Julian had lost all his big boy’s confidence. “I don’t know.”
“Where do we go?”
“Well.” Julian squared his shoulders. “To the bench, were Father waits for us.”
“But where is it?”
They both wavered.
“This way,” Julian said, pointing ahead. Or at least, Dagmar thought it was ahead. Suddenly, she was not sure what direction they had come from.
She eyed the path Julian was pointing to, then she eyed Julian.
He nodded quizzically.
Well, they needed to move, anyway.
They walked to the end of the path and found themselves at a fork. There were going to be lots of forks, that much Dagmar knew, and she had no idea which direction they should go already.
“Do you think we should go this way?” Julian asked.
“I don’t know.”
Julian lost his patience. “Dagmar, that won’t do. Do you want us to be still in the maze when night falls?”
Certainly not. That would be horrible. She didn’t know whether the direction Julian chose was right, but she had to try. They navigated the maze this way for some time. Finally, they stopped. They might have come back at the same spot, for all Dagmar knew.
She looked around. There were three paths in front of them. Any could be the right one. They could all be wrong.
“Where do we go, Julian?” she asked.
He didn’t answer.
She turned. He was not there.
No answer. Her heart burst.
“Julian. Don’t do this. I’m afraid. Julian!”
No answer. No answer at all.
She was panting even before she started to run, calling her brother. Calling Father and Mother. She just ran, never looking where she went. And soon she didn’t even see where she was going because tears blinded her. Then, her shoulder hit against something, and she fell and crouched on the ground and cried. The night was falling. It was dark and she was alone and she would die.
No, no, she shouldn’t be afraid. She was not lost. The thought insinuated itself in her conscience as if her ear had caught a whisper while her mind was busy panicking.
She opened her eyes and it wasn’t dark. It was still the sunny summer day of before.
She sat. She was in the shadow of the first dwarf, the one near the entrance. That was what she had hit.
She had gone back, after all.
I’m so stupid! she thought, banging a little fist on the ground.
But no, she wasn’t stupid. She was just afraid.
Was someone speaking to her? How did those thoughts enter her mind?
But there was no one there. No one but her. And the dwarf.
She regarded him closely. It was only a statue. She was not so small to think he could speak.
A chuckle crossed her mind. It sounded a bit like Father.
She eyed the dwarf. Then, she crawled closer and looked up at his stone face.
“You are just a statue,” she said, watching him hard. “You can’t speak.” And she looked closely to make sure he didn’t.
Noting happened. Everything was just the same as before. Except for a vibration in the air.
“Can you speak?” Dagmar asked.
Of course, he didn’t.
“But if you could,” she went on, “would you tell me the way? You’ve been here a long time, you must know.”
The dwarf did not speak or move. He did nothing but what stones and statues do. Stood still.
Dagmar let her shoulders droop. She wasn’t a stupid little girl, yet she had hoped that, somehow, the dwarf would connect with her, help her.
Are you sure you don’t know the way?
She cast a look around.
Still kneeling in the dwarf’s shade, she sighed. She relaxed her shoulders and closed her eyes. No voice came. But slowly, an image formed in her mind, that of a glittering serpent unwinding in the night. No, no, it wasn’t a serpent. It was a path.
When she opened her eyes, the path still burned in her mind.
She stood and started to walk, tracing the serpent with her steps inside the maze.
She walked the maze without fear until she came to a bend where another dwarf stood. And past him, she found Julian.
Her brother started as he saw her, then he smiled.
“You really came,” he said and chuckled.
“That was mean!” Dagmar stormed. “Why did you leave me like that. I was scared.”
Julian stared at her. “You left me alone!”
What? That was the most—
“But it doesn’t matter,” Julian said, smiling again. “She was right. I’ve found the way, and I found you.”
Dagmar studied him. “Who was right?”
Julian looked sheepish all of a sudden.
He was hiding something. And that was mean. He was again treating her as a little girl, and she was about to get angry at him again.
But he smiled. “It doesn’t matter. Let’s go.”
Without any agreement, they both started in the same direction, and after only a few turns, they reached the bench.
Mother sat on it with her back rod-straight, clutching her parasol. Her face lit as she saw them.
Father was smoking his pipe and smiled too when they appeared.
“Ah! Here they are. Didn’t I tell you?”
Dagmar saw her own smiling face reflected in the window, now. She had been crossed with Father and Julian for many days, that summer. It hadn’t been a nice joke. Though as the days and the weeks and then the months passed, she came to realise it hadn’t been a joke at all. It had been a gift, now she knew it. Something important happened in the maze that day.
Grete was right, after all. People could get lost inside it. But they could also find themselves.