A Snow White retelling set in 1920s Germany
In Every Corner and Shadow
Grete took off her earrings last and placed them on the bedside table, next to the gas lamp. She moved to the bad, lifted a corner of the quilt, so to slip under it. And she paused.
She stood still, watching the bed, her hand still grabbing the quilt cover.
She hadn’t slept in this bed for over eight years. And before that, she had slept alone for one year, like she was going to do tonight.
Her heart remembered. Her skin remembered. A warmth, a touch.
Before her mind remembered too, she let the quilt fall. She stepped away and walked to the window. Her naked shoulders shivered, her bare feet made such a soft sound on the cold tiles.
This may have not been as good an idea as she had thought. So many years had passed, she had thought she could manage. It should be all in the past. It should not affect her anymore. It wasn’t that bad in Berlin.
But here, he was everywhere. She could see him wherever she looked. If now she turned, she would see his clothes draped on the chair by the bed, the book he was reading on the bedside table on his part of the bed. She would smell his cologne in the sheets.
She quickly brushed away the moisture from her eyes with cold fingers. She had thought to be stronger than this. But this house remembered him so clearly. And Dagmar spoke about him as if he might enter the room any moment.
Her heart beat painfully with longing. Of course, this was why she left. Otherwise, she would live in this big house alone, even if he was here, in every corner, in every shadow, in every whisper.
She closed her eyes tight, trapping in the tears.
When she opened them, her gaze spontaneously moved to the far end of the meadow.
And of course, there was it.
The moon had come out and the meadow shimmered in the pearly light.
Her face hardened.
She had expected Dagmar to be against her project, of course. But Inge? Why should she waver? She was only a girl when they left Schneezwerg for Berlin. Naturally, she remembered her father, but what about all the rest? Her life was shaped in Berlin. What there could possibly be here for her?
Dagmar’s voice rang in her ears as clear as if she was hearing it now.
Dagmar’s face was pale, he eyes bigger.
“You’re running away?”
“I’m not running away,” Grete snapped. “I’ve just thought this over very carefully and I know I don’t have a future here. Nor does Inge.”
Dagmar became alarmed. “You’re taking Inge with you?” Her voice trembled.
“Of course. Do you think I’d leave my daughter here?”
Dagmar’s lower lip trembled. She was taking this far too badly. How had she not expected it? Ingeborg was growing, she would need education, and they were likely not going to have the means to hire a personal tutor. Grete knew she had to get to the city. She had plans for a business to start with what money they had. That was the thing to do. They couldn’t just rely on Schneezwerg anymore.
“I thought we could run Schneezwerg together,” Dagmar said. Her eyes were sad, but still, there was no reason for Grete to feel this guilty.
“But don’t you understand, sister? I’m doing this for all of us. Schneezwerg was becoming too expensive for us even before the war. Who knows what the world will be when this war is over… if it ever.” She snapped a harsh laugh. “A matter of months, they said. It’s been years. And many men will never–” She stopped her words because she didn’t want Dagmar to hear that quiver in her voice. She breathed deep. “Many men will never come back. We have to fend for ourselves. I need to give Ingeborg all the tools to weather whatever world we’ll have to face.”
Dagmar had to accept it, in the end. She didn’t like it, but she had to accept it. Besides, Grete had no other choice. This was not her place. She had known as soon as she had become a widow.
This was not her place.THE FROZEN MAZE by Sarah Zama – Episode 9 – In Every Corner and Shadow – This may not be as good an idea as Grete had thought. She thought she would manage it. But now she saw him in every corner and every shadow #fairytaleretelling… Click To Tweet
The night before she left for Berlin, she walked to the maze as the sun went down. How many time she had walked it with her husband. Hands in hands, whispering to each other.
She closed her eyes and send those thoughts away. It was over. She would never walk the maze with him again. She might as well come to terms with it.
She stared into the arch leading inside the maze.
Not her place. Never her place. Now that she was alone, she would never have a chance to cross it.
She breathed fast.
Well, she was going to see about that. Her husband’s first wife had loved this maze, she had known every turn and path. Everybody told in awe how she crossed it with no help the first time she ever entered it. While Grete…
She balled her hands into fists. She had never crossed it once, not even with her husband at her site.
“You hate me, I know this,” she hissed at the entrance. Then she stepped inside.
She should know the way. She had come here so many times in her three years of marriage. She strode down the first path, the only thing she could do, then turned at the first bend and soon she was presented with tow possibilities. She tried to remember. She tried hard. But the more she tried, the foggiest the memory became. Knowing she was going to get lost, she took one path randomly.
She was expecting another fork. She found three ways in front of her. Already she didn’t have the faintest idea where she was. She wasn’t going to do this.
She turned. There were two paths behind her.
That was not the way she had come from.
Don’t be silly, of course it is.
She took one way, again randomly, and never found the three-path junction. She kept walking, while her heart started to pound and she tried with all her strength to keep it calm and to force her mind to remember. Remember the elusive map of the maze.
She started when she heard the voice. It must have been a voice.
Turning to listen, all she heard was her quick breath and the whispers of the breeze in the boxwoods.
“Who’s there?” she called. “Dagmar?”
Might it be her? Dagmar knew the maze.
“Dagmar, is that you?”
No answer but the furious hammering of her heart.
She turned in the direction she had been walking – and now there was a fork.
Grete grounded her teeth, hissing from her nostrils. She was going to get lost. She was already lost. Night would found her here and she would never get out.
Stop! Stop! What do you think you’ll achieve by scaring yourself?
She had to remember. She needed to remember. She closed her eyes and tried to visualise the way. Instead, that voice came to her again. Or rather it was a sensation. The remembrance of a voice, like a vibration, a ghost that stood there in the maze with her.
She snapped her eyes open. Whatever it was, she tried to block it out and walked on.
She wanted out. She so desperately wanted out.
The light was fading so fast, especially there, inside the paths.
She stumbled upon the dwarf because she didn’t see it in the gathering dusk. It was the first dwarf, the smallest one. The one near the entrance. How come she didn’t find it before? Was she going into the maze or out? She should have found this dwarf long ago.
She leaned to it. It was cold. Shouldn’t it be warm after a day in the sun? She looked around. The dwarf should stand at a bend. She was quite sure it had always stood at a bend, but now she saw three ways.
It was having its way with her. She knew. It wanted to get her lost.
Grete rose her gaze to the sky, and not knowing who she was talking to she shouted, “I know you hate me! You have never wanted me here. So be it, I don’t want you either. Let me out! Let me out and I’ll go away.”
You’re going crazy. What the hell are you doing?
She knew better than to believe to the old fairy tales, wasn’t she? She had to use her mind.
When that voice came to her again, she brushed it away. She pushed away from the dwarf, as if getting him off herself, and took the path in front of her. She was not going to let night find her here. She needed out. Out. Out, out!
And she was.
Suddenly, she saw the arch in front of her, and she stopped, shocked.
How had that happened? Mere chance?
She didn’t believe in chances, but she didn’t care in that moment. Panting, she ran out, into the meadow and to the manor.
Now she pursed her lips together. She was never going to enter that evil place again. And she didn’t have to. Nobody had to. It had been beautiful in the past, deceivingly beautiful, but now it showed itself for what it was. An ugly, rotten, confusing wrangle of pathways leading nowhere.
The only way to handle it was to take it down. Ingeborg would see it in the end.
Grete turned. She walked to the bed, willing her mind to believe and not hunt her with pointless memories. She rose a corner of the quilt and slipped inside the cold bed.
In the photo Château de Chenonceau photographer unknown (from Instagram @francefr)