messygorgeous (messygorgeous) wrote,

LJ Idol Week 24 - Canard

She was so beautiful, all dark hair and wide eyes, standing there in the kitchen of the senior home. With her big smile and lilting voice the nurses called the new cook a Disney princess.

The orderlies just called her hot.

When they walked past the kitchen and saw her with her hoodie off, pounding out some dough for yeast rolls in a black tank top, their eyes went wide.
Up to her elbows in flour, she worked the dough hard before letting it rise and raised those big eyes to find three young men staring at her like they were starving.

"You guys looking for lunch?" she asked.

"I see something I want to eat," one of the boys said, cocking an eyebrow.

"You want some rolls, you gonna have to wait for them to rise."

"You getting a rise outta sumthin, girl," Jerome crowed to the other guys. "Why don't you let me be your Prince Charming, mami?" The guys laughed and knocked him into the door frame before they walked on down the hallway, jostling for position like a pack of young wolves.

Nieve shook her head. 'Prince Charming,' she thought and went back to her baking.

Pulling open the door to the oven, Neive slid the pan of rolls inside. It was quiet here. She liked the quiet.

She'd taken the job at the assisted living center just a few days before and didn't want want to make a bad impression with her new employers. She needed this job. Her bitch of a stepmom had kicked her out like five minutes after her dad left for Afghanistan and Nieve didn't have any family in New York. That puta had always wanted to get rid of her, she was so damn jealous.

That night, when the bruja said get out, Nieve zipped up her ratty hoodie, grabbed her backpack and ran to Javier's place.

Javi had been her best friend since seventh grade when he dumped his milk down the back of Angela Adams' shirt. At lunch, Angie'd said Nieve's Puerto Rican ass was starting to look like two bowling balls wrestling to get out of her jeans and Javi told her to keep her milky-white opinion to her damn self.

Javi was sweet and all, but he stayed with a bunch of his brothers and they were pigs.

"Dirty pigs!" she thought affectionately. They were funny and they made her feel safe but she was sick of coming home to a sinkful of crusty dishes, piss on the bathroom floor and their damn workboots all over the hallway! She figured if she saved up, made her own enchiladas and didn't go drinking, she'd have the deposit for her own little corner of Barrio heaven in about four months.

Waiting in the kitchen for the rolls to bake, she suddenly smelled apple pie, the scent washing over her like a warm hug. She looked up to see an old woman standing in the door, wisps of white hair standing out around her head in a cotton candy cloud.

The old woman's eyes widened with recognition. Nieve had never seen the lady before in her life.

"Good morning, dear!" the old woman said cheerfully. "Or is it afternoon? It might be afternoon...I get so many things mixed up these days," she said regretfully, and pushed her walker toward the counter.

"That's okay, I mix things up myself sometimes," Nieve said, smiling sweetly. The wrinkled old woman reminded her of her abuela, God rest her soul.

"You look as lovely as always." the old woman said, and patted Nieve's hand. "I've been waiting for you for so long! I'm glad you finally came!"

'Poor lady,' Nieve thought. 'She must think I'm like her grandaughter or something.'

Out loud she said, "Thank you, ma'am! I'm so glad to be here. Now, are you hungry? I've been working on some delicious yeast rolls and they should be ready in just a few minutes."

The old woman was about to reply when Jerome rushed back into the kitchen. His face was tight with worry. When he saw her standing at the counter beside Nieve, his look softened.

"Queenie! I been looking all over for you. You aren't supposed to be out of your room during naptime," he scolded gently and took her elbow, steering her toward the door. "Why don't we head back so you can get some rest before lunch?"

Behind Queenie's back, Jerome mouthed "She runs away," using his fingers to demonstrate running out the door. Nieve nodded knowingly.

Queenie looked defiant. "But this sweet young lady was just about to give me a yeast roll! I do so love them when they are hot!"

"If you go back to your room, I promise I will bring you a roll with butter just as soon as they come out of the oven, ok? Then we can sit and talk for a while," Nieve bargained. Jerome smiled gratefully.

"That sounds delightful, dear," Queenie said and turned to go. Neither of the kids saw her hand snake out and snatch one red apple from a basket on the counter as she left. She slipped the fruit into the pocket of her house dress and smiled beningly at Jerome as he led her away down the yellowed linoleum hallway.

Back at her room, Jerome opened the door and gestured her inside. She always kept her little space dark, had asked for candles because she said the flourescent lights were too harsh, but of course had been denied because senile old ladies and candles were not a good match, heh, he smiled at his pun.

As Queenie shuffled in and flicked on a lamp, Jerome caught sight of the huge old mirror that hung on her wall. The ornate frame, carved with writhing bodies and topped by a large unblinking eye took up much of one side of the room. It completely creeped him out.

Queenie had been forced into the state-run assisted living facility earlier that year. The court had decided the ancient old woman was a danger to herself after neighbors complained of a strange smell coming from her apartment and police arrived to find her cooking stew over an open fire she'd made on her fire escape that included parts of frogs and rats and pigeons. When they came to take her to the old folks home, she had hissed and clawed like a cat until they promised her they'd bring her spice rack along and that huge old mirror.

She'd tried to escape a few times, and that was why he panicked when he looked in on her nap and found her missing.
Keeping track of the senile old folks was one of his chores around here.

"Now, why don't you lay down? When you get up there will be rolls and butter!" he urged her.

She sat on the bed obligingly and waved him goodbye like a good girl.

When the door shut she turned angrily toward the mirror.

"Jesus, they talk to me like a child here," she growled. "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?"

At her summons, the large wooden eye atop the mirror opened groggily and blinked a few times.

"Woman, are you really waking me at," the mirror glanced toward the clock "11:30 in the morning?! You know damn well this is nap time. Let an old demon rest! And, seriously, have you seen yourself lately? You haven't been the fairest in more than 200 years!"

"Oh, shut up, Maurice," Queenie's brow furrowed at his disrespect. "I wouldn't have woken you if it wasn't important. After all these years, I think she's here! Working in the kitchen, that sneaky wench."

"She? Surely you don't mean her? Snow White?"

"Yes, that is exactly who I mean! I snuck out earlier for a little walk and there she was, baking bread right down the hall! Some things never change," she cackled.

The Queen didn't see the look of sadness in Maurice's eye as she haltingly went to her spice rack.

"Are you sure?" he asked her. "You know that therapist back in the 70's told you to let all this Snow White drivel go, honey. You've wasted too much of your life on a useless vendetta. That little girl let you go back in the Dark Ages. Why can't you just move on?"

The Queen wasn't listening. She had pulled her spice rack down from the wall and was fiddling with a tiny clasp hidden in the back. With a pop, a small door sprung open and she removed a vial from inside. When she came to the home, they made her dump out her spices, but let her keep the rack for sentimental reasons. Sentimental reasons, hah! The spices didn't matter. It was her potions secreted in the false back of the cabinet that she wanted anyway!

If the mirror had owned a head to shake, he would have been shaking it now. Queenie had removed the pilfered apple from her pocket and was pouring a purple potion over the shiny surface. He noted there wasn't much of the poison left any longer. The mirror figured she would never have the chance to make more, the way they watched her here.

"Double, double, toil and trouble," she giggled gleefully. "I always did like that Shakespeare chap!"

In the dim light he could almost make out the beautiful woman his mistress had once been. Beautiful and cruel but then, he'd always loved a snarky witch. They'd made a good pair back in the day.

There was a knock at the door and the queen slipped the apple back in her pocket.
"Just a moment," she called in a singsong voice and hobbled across the room on blue-veined feet.

When his mistress opened the door a lovely young woman stood there, holding a small plate.
Hmm, she really might be the fairest of them all around here, but she was no Snow White, the mirror decreed.

"Queenie? The rolls are finished. I brought you one just like I promised." the girl told her.

The Queen's eyes lit up. "Why, that was so kind of you my dear! Here. I have something for you as well!"
She reached into her pocket and offered Nieve the poisoned apple.

Nieve was reaching to take the proferred fruit when another hand swooped down and snatched it away. She glanced back in surprise.

Jerome stood behind her, shaking his head with disapproval.

"Now, Queenie, you know you aren't allowed to keep food in your room. Where did you get this?" he asked her.
Queenie's face was darkening with fury.

He looked back to Nieve. "It's probably two weeks old! Do you know this is the third time this year I've caught her trying to give fruit to one of the girls here? You're a repeat offender aren't you, ma'am?" he said, and patted her arm affectionately.

Inside Queenie's room, no one saw the mirror roll its eye heavenward. One of these days the queen was really going to hurt someone but for now, all the princesses in New York were safe.

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