Morgan Freeman: Once upon a time, there was a king with twelve daughters – twins were common in the family. The queen had died giving birth to the three youngest, leaving the king to raise the girls himself. Being a single parent is always a challenge, but especially with twelve daughters. So the king hired a nanny.
Nanny: Oh, what beautiful girls! They have faces like angels!
Morgan Freeman: However, unknown to the king, the nanny was actually a young noblewoman he had overlooked at the ball where he met the queen.
Flashback: The prince meets a beautiful young woman in a line of introductions, and, enchanted, immediately asks her to dance, snubbing the next girl in line.
Girl: Curses! I’ll get my revenge!
Morgan Freeman: And get her revenge she would. The young noblewoman made a pact with the devil to become a witch. And when the king advertised for a nanny, she knew her chance had come. As the girls’ nanny, she spent all day, every day with them, watching for the king’s weakness. Finally, after several years of watching, she realized what the weakness was. His daughters.
Nanny: Of course! Why didn’t I see it before! I’ll put a curse on the brats, and then he’ll be sorry!
Morgan Freeman: Now, the nanny wasn’t all that bright, so it didn’t occur to her to make the girls hate their father, run away, go into an enchanted sleep, or any of the other usual curses. Instead, she cursed the daughters to fell an irresistible urge to dance all night long. You might say every teenager has that curse.
One Princess: Oh, I just feel like dancing tonight!
Another Princess: Yes, me too!
All Together: Oh yes, let’s dance!
Morgan Freeman: One princess had heard of a ball taking place that evening , so they snuck out together and danced all night long. This went on for quite a while, until one morning when the king decided to greet his daughters before beginning his day. When he went to their room, the king found all of their beds empty. As any reasonable father would, he searched under their beds and in their closet to find any clue as to where they may have gone. He did not find what he was looking for, but on opening their closet, out fell hundreds of pairs of dancing shoes, all worn thin.
King: Oh my, this just won’t do. Why do my girls have so many shoes?
Morgan Freeman: The king called in the nanny and demanded she tell him where his daughters were and why they had so many pairs of old shoes. The nanny denied any knowledge of it.
Nanny: I just don’t know, your highness. They have to be somewhere.
Morgan Freeman: So the king fired her. He waited for his daughters to return, but his prime minister came with urgent business, and the king did not want to admit that his daughters were missing. The morning passed, and the king went to lunch to find all of his daughters filing into the dining room, bleary eyed and cranky.
Princess 1: I’m so tired.
Princess 2: Mee too! I feel as though I didn’t sleep at all.
King: Hello girls. Where were you this morning?
Princess 3: We were sleeping in our beds, daddy! What a silly question.
Morgan Freeman: Realizing that his daughters would never tell him where theyh ad been, and unaware that this is all normal teenage behavior, the king announced a reward to whomever could tell him where his daughters were going at night. It so happened that there was a stable hand who was in love with the eldest daughter and wanted an opportunity to see her at night. The stable hand volunteered to spy on the girls for the king.
Stable Hand: I’d be happy to help, your highness.
King: Oh what a helpful boy you are!
Morgan Freeman: That night, the stable hand watched from the princesses’ now empty closet as they changed –
Stable Hand: Oh my goodness!
Morgan Freeman: – and went to bed. Soon, however, one of the girls got up again and announced to the room –
Princess: I can’t take this anymore! I need to dance!
Morgan Freeman: All of the princesses immediately leapt out of their beds and began to change to go out. It wasn’t until they were heading to the door that the stable hand realized he should intercede. He threw himself out of the closed and shouted –
Stable Hand: No, don’t go!
Princess 1: Oh, a boy!
All Together: A boy!
Morgan Freeman: The princesses were so excited that a boy was in their room that they forgot all about dancing and the curse was broken.
This is a story I first wrote as a writing warmup based on a prompt from The 4 AM Breakthrough, a book of exercises by Brian Kiteley, and eventually submitted to a fairy tale contest with my writing group, but otherwise have never quite known what to do with. The prompt was to write a story in the style of the Fractured Fairy Tales from Rocky & Bullwinkle. I wanted to use a narrator that like the one from Fractured Fairy Tales had a very distinctive voice and one that readers could easily imagine, so naturally I chose Morgan Freeman. I decided to retell The Twelve Dancing Princesses because as a kid I had loved the illustrations by K. Y. Craft but even then certain parts of the tale bothered me. This is my attempt to rectify those problems.