Photography © Jennifer Matthews
Snow White and the Seven Symptoms: A COVID Fairy Tale
Once upon a time, a pretty young woman named Snow White lived in a forest cottage with Seven Symptoms. The symptoms weren’t malicious; they spread the virus. Their names were Fever, Chills, Breathlessness, Fatigue, Achiness, Loss of Taste or Smell, and Congestion.
Snow White loved cooking for the Symptoms, and she would sweep the floor, and the birds would sing around her. Every day, the Symptoms ventured out, but Snow White stayed in the cottage, waiting for them.
Snow White had pale skin, black hair, and she was more beautiful than any other woman the Symptoms had ever seen. They traveled through the forest and the kingdom, and everyone they contacted got sick, and some died.
Snow White never caught the virus from the Symptoms. They thought it was because she was so beautiful, but she had a secret immunity that she wouldn’t reveal.
“Snow, you are a wonderful housekeeper,” Fatigue said to her. “You take such good care of us. I don’t want you to ever leave.”
“Someday I might leave, if my prince comes to take me away,” Snow said, giggling.
“Do you know if a prince is coming?” Chills asked her, as he ate the mushroom bisque Snow had prepared.
“Princes always show up sooner or later,” Snow said. “You can’t expect me to be your maid forever. I am destined to live in a castle.” She giggled.
“I’d be so sad if you left us,” Congestion said, coughing. He didn’t like it when she put too many spices in the soup, but he never complained, since she was so lovely.
An Evil Queen ruled the kingdom, and she thought she was the most beautiful and healthiest being around. She looked into her magic mirror.
“Mirror, mirror, tell me who is the loveliest and healthiest in the land?”
“It’s Snow White,” the mirror said. “She lives with the Seven Symptoms and never falls ill.”
“What is with this girl? Why can’t I be the healthiest? Find out for me!” she screamed through her castle. “Find Snow White’s secret, mirror, I demand it!”
“Snow White is a girl made of chocolate, and therefore, she cannot get sick,” the mirror said.
“How is this possible?” the Queen said. “I must see for myself.”
She concocted a poison apple that would kill someone made of chocolate. She transformed herself into an old woman, and put on her face mask, and made the journey to Snow White and the Seven Symptoms’ cottage.
“I have a pretty apple for a pretty girl,” the old woman said to Snow White. “You’re lovely. Is your skin real?”
“Would you take this apple as a gift?”
“I guess I will. I don’t want to eat it now, I’m not hungry.”
“You have to eat it as soon as possible.”
“I will. Later. Now, you have to go.”
Snow slammed the door in her face. She didn’t want to eat the apple. She knew better than to take food from creepy old ladies. The queen grew angry.
“I’ll melt you!” she screamed at the door. “You little chocolate wench.”
The Seven Symptoms appeared.
“What has happened to Snow?” Achiness asked. “What did you do to her?”
The queen started to cough. “Oh no, I’ll get sick! Darned chocolate girl!”
The queen ran away, coughing. The seven symptoms stood outside the cottage.
“Snow!” Fever cried. “Are you okay?”
“She tried to hurt me, but, I’m fine now. She won’t do this again.”
The queen grew ill, and told everyone about Snow White and the Seven Symptoms, and how she was made of chocolate, and never caught the virus.
Far away, in The Chocolate Land, a prince heard this tale, and became intrigued. He traveled to Snow’s cottage, and observed her singing to birds.
“Fair princess, are you a girl made from chocolate, who is immune to all illness, the most delicious girl in the world?”
“I’m not sure, but it’s possible.”
“Would you like to be my wife and my queen, and move to The Chocolate Land, and live with me happily ever after?”
“Yes, I would! I would love to be the Chocolate Queen!” Snow yelled.
“Come with me to my kingdom!”
Snow White left and married the Prince Chocolate, but the Seven Symptoms did not attend the wedding, because it was feared they would spread the virus. Snow White, and Prince Chocolate lived happily, and ever after.
Shannon O’Connor holds an MFA in Writing and Literature from Bennington College. During COVID, she learned how to play the tin whistle, started COVID baking, and also became an Amelia Earhart impersonator. She lives in the Boston area and works in a hospital.
Poet/Photographer Jennifer Matthews’ poetry has been published in Nepal by Pen Himalaya and locally by the Wilderness Retreat Writers Organization, Midway Journal, The Somerville Times, Ibbetson Street Press and Boston Girl Guide. Jennifer was nominated for a poetry award by the Cambridge Arts Council for her book of Poetry Fairy Tales and Misdemeanors. Her songs have been released nationally and internationally and her photography has been used as covers for a number of Ibbetson Street Press poetry books and has been exhibited at The Middle East Restaurant, 1369 Coffeehouses, Sound Bites Restaurant in Somerville and McLean Hospital.
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