THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT
Almost everyone buys into the story that our lives are prewritten. Don't think about choice; just follow your destiny. There's even a school called Ever After High that prepares the future legends to live out their parent's stories. But here's the twist...
My mom's Rapunzel, but I wasn't going to Ever After High. My twin sister Holly was born a hair before me
at least we think so, so she's destined to live out the family legacy. I'm wicked cool with that! I always thought outside the tower, and created my own style. That's why I went to Beauty School (there's also a Beast school, but that's another story); to become one of the hottest hair stylists at The Tower Hair Salon in the village of Book End. My life was a cut above the rest.
So why did I almost wig out when Holly went for Ever After High? I was happy she was the next Rapunzel. What's more, I was happy with my life. Still, my twintuition told me that I should go with her. She's not just my sister, she's my best friend forever after. But I was a fairytale without a story. No way Headmaster Grimm would let me into his school. Then, once upon a time...
Everyone in Book End was buzzing. During this year's Legacy Day, before Holly could bind herself to her destiny, Raven Queen declared not to be the next Evil Queen. It was mirror-shattering... literally! Suddenly the script was flipped. People started questioning everything. Headmaster Grimm even cancelled Legacy Day. Nothing like this had happened ever after before!
Then Holly burst into the hair salon; I assumed for her daily haircut. Her hair has to be styled every day or it gets royally out of control. But the hexcitement in her eyes told me something else, "Pack your scissors! You're going to Ever After High!"
I was stunned. Holly had to repeat herself twice before I finally asked, "How?" Milton Grimm isn't known for changing his mind.
"Don't worry about it," my twin said with a wave of her hand. "So you're going, right? You promised."
I smiled, "I'll pack tonight."
"Fableous!" Holly clapped her hands together, "Don't forget your silver scarf. It's my favorite." I also promised she could borrow my scarves for a month.
That night, I cranked up the punk on my MirrorPad and rocked out around the room. I couldn't believe it! I was going to Ever After High! I poured a shrinking potion over everything I owned, and shoved it all into my suitcase.
The next morning I woke up in a cold sweat. Panicked thoughts racing in my head, I'm the only person without a destiny to go to Ever After High. The headmaster doesn't want me there. Does anyone? Probably not. I crossed the troll bridge and stood in front of the school doors for what felt like forever after.
"Are you going in or not?" someone cackled behind me. I nearly jumped out of my boots, as Baba Yaga, the most powerful sorceress ever after, appeared. I met her once before when she was waiting at the Tower Hair Salon to give a student detention. To my surprise, that someone was Apple White, who's famous for not just being the next Snow White, but never getting into trouble.
The doors opened. A majestically tall woman walked out, "Welcome, Ms. O'Hair. I am the advisor of fairytale royalty, the White Queen of Wonderland. You may call me Mrs. Her Majesty the White Queen, or simply, Mrs. Her Majesty. This is Madam Baba Yaga, advisor of... everyone else."
Madam Yaga squinted. "Quite a riddle why Milton allowed you to come here," she tapped her chin, "Still, you're here. There's one problem. What's your destiny? Are you a princess? A sister-villain? Who knows? So, for the first and only time, a student will be allowed to choose their class schedule. These classes will determine your destiny."
The pressure was thicker than extra hold hair gel. Everyone had an opinion on what my story should be. After combing through my options, I choose a mix of classes. After all, it's my destiny, my choice, and my ever after.
At first I thought Muse-ic would be a perfect class, but all they did was sing princess ballads. I mean, seriously, not a single power chord?
General Villainy was cool, until Faybelle Thorn cursed me with a shouting spell for sitting in her seat, and Mr. Badwolf gave me detention. I was all like what-ever-after! Isn't the daughter of the Dark Fairy supposed to not have a seat? That's why she curses Sleeping Beauty, right?
If that wasn't enough, the final hair dropped during the last class of the week, Princessology. Holly waited for me outside of the door, "You've got to meet everybody! There's Apple White. She's the daughter of Snow White."
"I know Apple. She comes by the salon every week," I reminded Holly.
"Oh!" Holly excitedly pointed, "And this is Duchess Swan. She's a fableous dancer, but sadly doesn't have a Happily Ever After."
But Duchess coldly glared, "Holly, dear, since when is your destiny to say every annoying thing that pops into your head?"
As Holly shrunk in embarrassment, my face went red hot, "Don't talk to my sister like that!"
Duchess's upper lip curled, "Don't tell me what I can't say. You don't even have a destiny!"
My fingernails dug into my palms and my teeth grinded, "Who do you think you are?"
"Me? Hah!" Duchess honked, "Check your mirror, Poppy. You don't belong at Ever After High!"
"Like I really want to belong any place that lets in close-minded royals like you!" I fumed, "I'm outta here!"
There were a million reasons why I was better off not being at that school. Yet I felt sad... for the first time in my life, I doubted myself. Brushing those thoughts to the side, I headed to one place I knew I belonged — the Tower Hair Salon.
Hair has always been my canvas to create masterpieces. Leave easels and brushes to the painters. Scissors and combs are where it's at! It's all about creating a spellbinding look that reflects the inner beauty. That's wicked easy because of my favorite part of the job — hearing people's stories.
Like when Ashlynn Ella opened up about the problems with being the daughter of Cinderella, but dating Hunter, the son of the Huntsman, "He's royally romantic, but it's like we're from two different stories sometimes."
"You are," I pointed out, "Isn't that why you like him?" When I finished, Ashlynn's natural beauty shined through.
It seemed like everyone came in that week... Apple White, Briar Beauty, Raven Queen, Madeline Hatter... everyone, that is, but Holly. I started to worry.
The door swung open with a DING! It was my last appointment of the week, Blondie Lockes. Nobody believes that Blondie and her mom Goldilocks are fairytale royalty. But the truth is in the hair. Only a true Royal can have such perfectly luxurious golden curls.
Blondie's also famous for knowing all the juicy stories around Ever After High. Cerise Hood became the first girl in school history to join the track team, and broke all of Mr. Gingerbreadman's school records. Briar wants to install ziplines around the school to get to class faster, "But we all know she just wants to cross 'Zipline around school' off her bucket list," Blondie smiled.
"What about Holly?" I tried to sound casual.
Blondie sadly shrugged. "After you left, she locked herself in her room. If she doesn't come out soon, they may have no choice but to close the book on Rapunzel. We all want to help her, but none of us know how."
I patted Blondie on the shoulder, "Don't worry, I got this." By the time I was finished, Blondie's curls looked more hopeful than ever after before.
That night, I snuck over to Ever After High, below Holly's dorm — the highest tower in the school. "Holly, it's Poppy," I called, "Let down your hair!" After a few seconds, the tail-end of a strawberry-colored braid dropped in front of my feet.
After a long climb, I lifted myself through the window with aching arms, expecting to see Holly. Instead, there was an overgrown forest of her hair. "HOLLY!" I shouted, "Where are you?" I pulled my comb and scissors from my styling bag, and cut my way through the room. Hours later, I finally found Holly sitting behind a tower of papers, fanatically writing.
"Holly, what are you doing?" Concerned, I took her hand, now red from nonstop writing, "You haven't been to class all week."
Holly dropped her pen and started crying, "What does it matter?"
I handed her my scarf, "You're the next Rapunzel. It's your destiny to have a Happily Ever After."
"What about your destiny?" Tears fell from her eyes.
"We talked about this," I sighed, "I don't have a story."
"You do now," she handed me the first page from her stack of papers. It read, 'The Second Twin by H. O'Hair'. Once there were twin sisters, who shared a bond deeper than friendship. Until one day, a witch cursed the second twin into thinking nobody loved her, so she ran away. The first twin shouted for her to come back, but it was too late. Her sister was gone. The first twin went to her tower, the door magically locked behind her. Heroes from all over tried to rescue her, but it was no use. Word finally reached the second twin. She travelled to the tower, climbed through the window, and fought her way to her sister...
On hairpins and needles, I turned the page over, "There's no more. What happens next?"
Holly handed me the pen, "You tell me."
That's when I realized I set myself up to fail at Ever After High. I expected to be rejected, so I never opened myself up to the experience. So I wrote, 'The second twin broke the magic lock. The two sisters were united again, and nothing could ever split them apart ever again.' Putting the pen down, I hugged Holly. "Let's get some sleep. We both have a lot of thronework to catch up." So what if I didn't have a destiny. I was finally ready to
write rewrite my own Once Upon a Time.