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Three Questions

Amy Aderman is a librarian living in upstate New York who is overly fond of fairy tales, folklore, and tea. Her first novel, The Way to Winter, is a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale, "The Snow Queen."

The bean nighe is never wrong. She sits by a stream, washing the clothes of those soon to die. The water runs red with blood but the stains never fade. If you are bold, she will answer three questions but she will ask three in return; only true words must fall from your lips.
I went walking the night before my wedding and saw her green-clad figure crouched by the stream. "Will I have a happy wedding?" I called out, approaching.
She didn't look up from her work. "Yes. Why did you choose this man?"
"I wish to leave my father's house." I paused, thinking. "My youngest brother has been ill. Are you taking him away?"
"The boy will recover before your wedding night." The fabric she held slapped against the water's surface. "Why did you not weep when your first husband-to-be died?"
"He took my sister to his bed the night after we agreed to wed. Will this one betray me?"
"He will be true to you for as long as you are married."
The clouds passed from the moon and I could see my wedding dress swirling in the red water.
The bean nighe looked at me for the first time. "Do you regret anything you have ever done?"
She returned her attention to her work and I walked away.
Tomorrow I shall do everything I can to be happy, for joy does not always last. Have I not said that she is never wrong?
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, April 16th, 2015

Author Comments

This story was inspired while browsing through one of my favorite non-fiction books, "An Encyclopedia of Fairies" by Katharine Briggs. Knowing that you can have any question you want answered sounds like a wonderful thing until you realize that the answers may turn out to be something you didn't expect.

- Amy Aderman
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