Elle and the Ribbon

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Once upon a time there was a young girl who was admired throughout the land for her beauty and wealth. All of the eligible bachelors from far and wide came to compete for Elle’s hand. Only after tough competition, did she choose the richest of them all. They entered into what would be a short but fruitful marriage, as after the birth of two daughters her husband died of mysterious and uncertain circumstances. Now that she was a widow, without husband, the suitors of the land returned to try their luck again. Amongst them was one who did not come before, because he was married at the time. He also had a daughter from this previous marriage, and she quickly chose him as her next target. He succumbed to her temptations and invited Elle and her daughters into his home. When they moved in she met his daughter, Sylva, a quiet and meek girl. Elle and her daughters took over the house, relegating Sylva to stay with the servants in their quarters. Meanwhile, she began dosing her new husband with the same small amounts of arsenic that she had found so effective before. A few months later he succumbed in the same fashion as the first, once again with no evidence of the sinister plot. This left Sylva and the servants alone with her new mother and sisters, and she was only able to enjoy the company of the servants for a short time before her new step-mother replaced them with her.
This was only the first step in her campaign of dehumanization which Sylva was reminded of every time she was addressed by the women she lived with whom refused to call her by her name, saying only “girl” when demanding tasks be completed or berating her for anything and everything. One day Elle walked into the room that Sylva used to sleep in before being relegated to the servant’s quarters and found her standing in front of a chest of drawers. She sees her clutching something in her hands behind her back and demanded her to bring it forth, but was presented with a frayed and faded ribbon. She could only laugh and celebrate; as her crusade against her stepdaughter was so successful she was frightened to have even an old ribbon to herself. When eating that night the story was divulged to her daughters who were aghast that their mother had allowed this cretin to keep this remnant from her old room, a point their mother acquiesced which resulted in Sylva being presented with a cruel choice- return the ribbon or sleep outside in the snow.
When there was a knock on the door the next day they were surprised at her presence, as she was not only alive and well but also cleaner than when she had left. They demanded she tell them where she had been and who had been helping her, stripping her of her clothes when she refused to reply to their queries. In her pockets they discovered a magnificent jewel that only made them want to know where she had been that night even more. Elle confiscated the jewel and kicked Sylva back outside in a fit of rage at her refusal to answer questions, and when after she had recovered her senses she looked outside for Sylva but she was nowhere to be found. Hoping that this night the elements would prove more deadly than the night before she went to bed, but was tormented by visions of Sylva plotting with an unknown figure to return with her and kill her stepmother. After a sleepless night she was stirred from her bed by a knock on the door that shook the house. Elle opened the door to a silver eyed and haired version of her stepdaughter holding two more jewels in her hands. She snatched them away and called her daughters to come hold Sylva, as this time she was not going to let her escape until she discovered the secret behind who was helping her. When her daughters grab her arms to restrain her Sylva gave to resistance, saying only “I want to let you see the magnificent place I have been going to.” These were exactly the words her stepmother had been waiting to hear, but the next step was more of a surprise. Sylva placed the ribbon on the floor and asked them to stand on it. There was only room for three on the ribbon, and when Elle looked up to ask Sylva how she would be coming with them she found her words could not carry across the space and that rather than replying to her silent question she was chanting with her eyes rolled back so far only her whites were visible. The room around them started to shake as the ribbon grew underneath their feet, stretching out in front of them as the room dissolved into darkness. Her daughters cowering behind her, Elle stepped forwards, following the silver path down into the dark.

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