A week after her divorce—she kept the title of Princess, the Jag, the loft in Manhattan and ten tubes of SPF-100 sunscreen—Snow White sat on a plane next to a large woman with the skin of a lizard, a scimitar for a nose and a chin full of warts. The reason Snow White flew economy was another grim tale of reservations gone awry and a shortage of liquid assets.
The woman, a witch, really, kept overflowing into Snow White’s seat with the force of the tidal wave. Snow White, a fit woman in her early twenties, tried to push the witch back, but even a Princess can’t fight the force of nature. Snow White pressed the button to call the flight attendant, but no one came. Giving up on her rights, she tried to catch a nap, which proved to be impossible.
She considered batting her lashes at a young and athletic-looking man across the aisle, but remembered her ex-Prince, the former apple of her eye, his insatiable sexual appetite for anything orifices, breathing or not, and decided to abstain.
The witch kept pressing on her side, and an urge for revenge grew inside Snow White’s heart like a poisonous fruit.
When the witch left for the bathroom or wherever witches go on a plane, Snow White took a hairpin and planted it in the witch’s seat. Her screams would be music to Snow White’s ears. She preferred classical music, especially Brahms, but raw screams would do just fine.
It was even better than Snow White had hoped for. The scream was a rare contralto, reaching E below middle C.
The witch removed the pin from her oversize derriere, glared first at the man on her right—who, being a shorty, a dwarf even, slept comfortably in his seat, next to another just like him, a whole bunch of them—and then, realizing that the hairpin would more likely come from a female, glared at Snow White.
“Why did you do this?” she asked, her voice oozing with venom and her claws spread.
“Do what?” Snow White replied calmly. She knew how to handle rage.
“Wait a minute,” the witch said. “Are you Princess Snow White? They had an article about you in People magazine. Why are you flying commercial? Don’t you have a private jet, Your Highness?”
Snow White nodded royally. “No need to call me Your Highness. You can call me ma’am. As in spam.”
“Your Prince is an asshole, ma’am,” the witch said. “They should’ve flogged him in the public square.”
Snow White nodded. “They should.”
She could have shared the details with the witch. Like about the Prince torturing a toothless vampire with crucifixes and prayer beads, and a chained ogress with a mirror and a collection of Vogue magazines. But why bother?
Snow White took an apple out of her bag and bit into it. It was a red delicious—which as a variety was over-bred and so not delicious—but they didn’t sell any other apples at the airport, and Snow White was a firm believer in an apple a day.
The witch stared at her and licked her thin lips. Snow White produced another apple and offered it. “No razors blades inside. You have my word.”
The witch nodded, took the apple into her bony hand and bit into its mealy body. At that precise moment—Snow White had very little to do with, honestly—the plane shook and the witch choked.
She coughed, she gargled, she wheezed, but couldn’t dislodge the apple. Snow White was eyeing her with a grim smile on her lips, the dwarf was fast asleep, and only the man across the aisle was rising up, either to kiss Snow White or to offer a Heimlich maneuver to the witch, and the angels in heaven who like fairy tales with happy endings, and the devils below who like grim endings, were holding their collective breath, which they can do for far longer than it takes a human, even a witch, to suffocate.
Mark Budman is the author of “My Life at First Try” and is the editor of the Vestal Review.