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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Love (04/27/06)

TITLE: Ever After, Upside Down
By Jan Ackerson


Our love story is an unusual one. You may even think you know parts of it already, but you’ve heard a version that only resembles the truth, as a lamp resembles sunlight. I’d like to tell you the real story.


I’ll start with the absurd name my mother gave me. Not Emmaline, nor Gertrude, nor Isabel—but simply Bo. An explosive syllable, made even sillier when uttered in combination with our ridiculous surname. Bo Peep. Didn’t she realize she was dooming me to constant teasing?

Peek-a-Bo, they called me, and Bee Poop. Those names were bad enough, but the worst was Little Bo Beep. I was not little at all (I am large-boned), and the taunting was sufficient to cause me, several times a week, to tussle in the dirt with a schoolmate. Our teacher, spinsterish Miss Guse, was much dismayed at my scrappiness.

One morning, a few short weeks before my torturous schooldays would be forever behind me, one of my classmates had the audacity to bring a lamb to school. Mary had always been a favorite, with her bouncing ringlets and milky skin. She dressed her silly pet in a bonnet, and they pranced into the classroom as if it were an everyday thing—a lamb in school!

The other girls oohed and aahed—but after the animal bleated in my ear for the fiftieth time, I implored Mary to take the horrible creature home. Miss Guce was attending to some younger students, and did not see the vicious way that Mary pulled my hair in response to my suggestion. She heard my retort, however (and saw the imprint of my hand on that milk-white cheek), and pointed me toward the door.

Yes, yes, you say, but where is the love story? Be patient; it’s coming.

My father, exasperated that I had been sent home for the third time in as many weeks, meted out an appropriate punishment. He summoned the sheep-girl and gave her three pence with which to buy some sweets. “Bo will watch the sheep,” he told her. “Give her your crook.”

So I trudged to the field, following that infernal baa-ing. Sheep are detestable creatures, but docile enough. A day among sheep was better than a day in the schoolroom. I sat down beneath an oak and promptly fell asleep.

I was awakened by silence. The sheep had apparently wandered off in search of sweeter clover. In a panic, I ran in no particular direction, and happened to pass Mary and her horrid lamb strolling home from school. “I’ve lost my sheep!” I cried. “I don’t know where to find them!”

Mary smirked unprettily. “Leave them alone. They’ll come home.”

This seemed like sound advice; I slowed to a walk and turned toward home. Mary’s derisive laughter followed me. “And they’ll bring their tails behind them!”

Thank you, Mistress Mary Quite Contrary. I headed for the pasture, and noticed a figure kneeling in the distance. As I drew nearer, I recognized him—a boy who’d left school a few years before. There had been a scandal, I remembered: something about wolves.

The boy was examining a whitish shape in the grass. (I have to say, he was no more a boy than I was little). Suddenly shy, I drew near. He glanced at me, sheepishly. “It was wolves. Honest, it was.”

I gazed at the poor lamb, now destined for Father’s dinner plate. “Ewww.” I shuddered. “I hate sheep.”

“So do I.” The boy’s eyes were an amazing shade of blue. “The stupid animals are forever getting eaten by wolves…and no one will ever believe me!”

Did I mention his coal-black, curly hair?

He stood and offered his hand. “I’m Jack.”

“I’m Bo.” I tossed the crook to the ground. “Let’s get out of here.”

We walked ten miles hand-in-hand to a neighboring village. By the time we arrived, the sky was orange and purple, and we knew everything important there was to know about each other. The parson married us that very evening.

Hold on, you say, that evening? Wasn’t that awfully quick? Well, yes. But it was fifty years ago, and Jack has been my true love, my everything, my Prince Charming. We opened up a little inn in the village, called “Spratt’s Happily Ever After.” Jack and I do all the cooking—he makes the lean, vegetable-y dishes, and I prepare the heartier fare.

If you want a meal of lamb or mutton, look elsewhere. They’re not on the menu.

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This article has been read 1794 times
Member Comments
Member Date
sharron pete05/04/06
Interesting take! I would have never approached the subject of love quite like this. I admit, you had me up until the end trying to figure out how it would all be tied in together
Amy Michelle Wiley 05/04/06
ROFL!!!! I love it. hehehehe
Rita Garcia05/04/06
Creative way you wove a path that emerge right smack into love. Great entry!
Blessings, Rita
david grant05/04/06
Cute and funny.
Caitlynn Lowe05/04/06
LOL! What a cute, charming little tale. Very well done! ^_^
Christopher Randolph05/04/06
Now that was good! Do you have kids?
Cyndi Brandon05/04/06
Thank you so much for this lighthearted look at love! Very well written.
dub W05/04/06
Top notch, creative humor. Thanks.
Pat Guy 05/04/06
Way too creative, way too entertaining, way too talented! Wow!
Anita Neuman05/04/06
Well no wonder you're earning such high praise on the boards. That was hilarious, creative, tightly-woven and just an absolute delight to read. FABULOUS job!!!
Debbie OConnor05/05/06
Very funny! :-)
Suzanne R05/07/06
Very cute! And very clever. Well done.
Jan Kamp05/07/06
Absutely delightful. What ingenuity!
Lynda Schultz 05/08/06
How absolutely clever of you! Wonderful job.
Pat Guy 05/08/06
I know I already left a comment, but I wanted to say, 'Jan, this is pure genious!"
Debbie Sickler05/08/06
I love mixed up fairytales! You did a great job with this, but I did catch that you used two spellings for the teacher's name. I loved how you worked in about Jack Sprat who could eat no fat. It was a perfect touch.
Linda Watson Owen05/08/06
What fun!! You're such a master at weaving stories that equally delight and amaze me!! I love the description 'Bo. An explosive syllable...', and the use of 'Miss Guce' too. Those are just a couple of the many things to like about this creative fairy tale. Great writing, Jan, as always!!
Maxx .05/08/06
Liked it liked it liked it. Great fun. Maybe not quite as love with it as some others, but I think it's a winner, for sure. I thoguht that the ending was a bit weaker than the rest of it ... but I think that speaks more to the rest of the piece than to any faults at the end. So take a bow and enjoy your success with this baby! :-)
Lynda Lee Schab 05/09/06
HA! HA! Loved every word, beginning with the title. Extremely creative and clever writing. The judges sure have their work cut out for them this week but I think this one deserves to be recognized. Awesome work, as always!
Ann Grover05/09/06
Adorable, entertaining, and very witty! Loved it!
Dr. Sharon Schuetz05/09/06
Very, very clever. I loved the way you included so many familiar characters. Great job.
Purity Snowe05/09/06
Winner winner HA HA HA! Done very well!
Carla Feagans05/09/06
Great job, so creative! I really liked the way you tied it all together. And I really laughed at "Bee Poop"! :)
Helen Paynter05/10/06
Love it
dub W05/10/06
Charmingly humorous. Good stuff.
Rachel Rudd 05/13/06
This is a very wonderful, very cute story! I didn't expect from the first paragraph the take of the story, but I think it's great.
Mitzi Busby07/24/06
I love it! I wrote one called Mary's Little Lamb a while back as a spoof of sorts. Great job and I love the humor.