Cautionary Tales for Consumption

Fairy tales
by Zuanna Woodlight * share but do not steal.

The Mortgage

Once upon a time there was a young woman who felt like it was time that she grew up and become an adult. So she bought a suit from the thrift store which fit her pretty well and she went down to the bank to get a loan.

The banker was very impressed with the young woman’s suit and even though her income was very low, it was popular during that time to approve mortgages which were way, way beyond the means of the home owner. So, somewhat to her surprise, the young woman was approved for a very large loan.

The house she bought was not extravagant but it was more than she needed. It had three bedrooms and two bathrooms. It had an upstairs and a cute little lawn. It was in an expensive part of town though, where it was very “in” to own a cute small house.

At first she was happy.

When her first loan payment came due she met the challenge with confidence. She sold her flute from when she was in high school and though it made her a little bit sad she walked around her house feeling happy.

When the second loan payment came due she wasn’t sure what she’d do. She borrowed a bit of money from a friend and worked extra hours.

When her third loan payment came due she was exhausted. She had been working 60 -70 hour weeks. She had enough money but she was never home to  enjoy the reason for her work.

The young woman was interested in solutions. One day when she was at the drug store buying tampons, she saw something that caught her eye. It was a green candle next to the white candles with the Virgin de Guadalupe and Jesus as a child on them. The green candle had stacks of money on it and said “Financial Money Luck.”

The candle was $2.19 and the young woman bought it.

She brought it home and though she hadn’t prayed in years, she felt she ought to do something while lighting the candle. She put her hands together and said inside of her head, “Dear Lorde” and she laughed actually, out loud, thinking of the pop star. She started over, “Dear God, please help me figure this money bullshit out. Amen.”

She lit the candle and went to bed.

The next day she was working a double so she had get up early to catch the bus. She grabbed her apron and her pens, threw her hair into a pony tail, and locked the door on her way out.

When she got home there were police and fire trucks blocking her street. She felt extreme dread and worried that one of her neighbors had died, suffering from some unnamed and sudden disease. But as she approached she saw that it was her house which the authorities were concerned with. In fact, her entire house had been consumed by flames.

The young woman was stricken with grief. It must have been the candle she’d left burning. She confessed this to firemen, to the bank, and to the insurance agents.

Her insurance policy was very good and it covered such accidents. The value of the house had gone up significantly in the four months since she had been living there. She received a check for the full mortgage as well as an additional small fortune.

She decided it was probably ok to rent for a few more years until she made more money and shortly after, the entire housing market crashed.

She felt very grateful.

The End. 

Once upon a time there was a waitress who was good at math. She worked ten hour days seven days a week. Her hourly wages were very low but her tips were decent. When she received her first paycheck she knew exactly how much it ought to be but when she opened it, she saw that they hadn’t given her any overtime.

She finished her opening duties with 10 minutes to spare and went upstairs to talk to the office manager. The office manager reminded the waitress very much of a crocodile. She had yellow gleaming eyes behind cat-eye glasses and lipstick that stretched across her wide, wide mouth.  The waitress voiced her concern that no overtime had been added to her paycheck.

“No.” the office manager said simply, slowly turning in her office chair to face the girl, “overtime gets calculated over two weeks. You’ve been here two weeks but this pay check is only for the first week.”

The girl saw that it was true; she had worked 70 hours in one week and there was no overtime allotted.  She really needed the job so she bit her tongue and walked out of the office.

The job was fast paced and difficult but she was a great waitress and soon she was helping run food even though she had the most tables. She felt a kind of magic pulsing within her when she worked. She never missed the trash can, never spilled a drop. Her gracious smile put customers at ease when they were worried. Food always got to her tables just as the customers started to look for it. Nothing was ever burned or cooked wrong.

Her tips were always over 20% of the tab and the other girls in the restaurant loved her. Whenever she was around their tables also went smoothly.

But on her fourth week, she received her second paycheck. She studied the document carefully. During a two week pay period she had worked 140.21 hours. She had not had a single day off. She received a wage of $2.15 per hour. She had claimed quite a lot in tips and most of her hourly wages had gone to pay taxes. In the column marked “Overtime” there was nothing. She thought about the insignificant amount of money to everyone involved. She thought about the slimy injustice of it. She was about to go talk to the manager but the restaurant was opening. She was very busy and didn’t get a break until close and by that time the office manager had left for the day.

The next day she showed up early to speak with the crocodile woman. She went into the office but no one was there. The lights were off but the safe was wide open. The waitress was a good person, ultimately. But on this day she looked over her shoulder, leaned down, and took the $62 she was owed.

Later that day she turned in her two weeks. 

Once upon a time a young woman simply exploded during a very strenuous business meeting. That is not the end of the story as bits and steaming pieces of her body got everywhere and it was really awful to clean up. The CEO, who happened to get the largest splattering, never recovered and spent a lot of his time after the event staring at blank walls, remembering every detail he could about the girl.


Once upon a time there was an American NSA agent named Matt who woke up, drank a cup of black coffee, took a hot shower, got dressed in business casual, climbed into his reliable car, became stuck in accident-induced-traffic and got to work just in time.

He found his station, said hi to Ralph, and looked over the reports from the previous night.

“No bangin?” he asked incredulously looking over the five page document.

“Man, they went to Indian food and were too full. They just watched an episode of that TV show. Rachel’s going to be pissed that I’ve already seen it. She’s been waiting to watch it together.”

“Oh man. Is it a good show at least?”

“Yeah, it’s pretty good.”

“Anything else?”

“She responded exactly as predicted to the suggestive images.”

“Yeah I see that here. Well, we’re getting better I guess.”

“I guess,” Ralph sighed. He organized the papers on the desk and left with a final, informal salute.

Matt sat down in the warm seat. He put his hand on the warm mouse and leaned in to examine the screen closer. He could see the terrorist named Vanessa’s face in the dark room. She rolled from one side to another and put her hand on her fiances arm.

“I love you,” Matt heard her whisper. The unconscious man next to her didn’t hear. 

A few minutes later the alarm went off. She jumped up. She wasn’t wearing a shirt and her hair covered half her face. He switched cameras to follow her throughout the house. She was smiling in the corners of her mouth. She turned the heat down, let her dog outside, and went pee. She let the dog in and went back to bed. 

Maybe they’ll bang Matt idly hoped

They didn’t. Matt watched them make their own coffee, take their own hot shower, get dressed in their own business casual, and climb into their separate cars.

The camera in the car was pretty low quality. The audio was poor too. Matt made sure the terrorist’s GPS was syncing properly and checked his own phone for social media updates. 

The terrorist went to work, said hi to her coworkers, did her work. Matt found himself nearly falling asleep during it all.
Finally his relief came.

"Hey Barbara." he sounded a little too happy to see her. 
She laughed. “Hi Matt. Long shift?”

He nodded.

"The shifts where they’re at work are the worst."

"You don’t have to tell me about it. Have fun."

"Thanks. I’ll see you tomorrow."
On another floor in the same building an American NSA agent named Greg watched the terrorist named Matt leave the building and get into his car. He watched Matt singing in the car while stuck in traffic and texting while driving. Greg watched Matt arrive home, in accordance with the GPS data, eat dinner with his wife, and after they shared a bottle of wine, Greg watched them make love from their desktop webcam.

Sweet Talker

One year on the day after halloween a mother was examining her child’s candy stash when she saw a wrapper she didn’t recognize.

It was called “Tongue Twister.” It had a golden yellow wrapper with red and brown lines twisted around it like a barber’s pole. The paper was waxy instead of plastic. She rolled it between her fingers, trying to squish whatever ancient sweet lay inside. It was probably very stale. 

Frowning, she opened the package. It looked like a carmel. She tried to bite a little corner off but it was too hard. She could taste the sugar on her lips. She peeled the waxy wrapper completely off and popped the candy into her mouth.

It tasted pretty good. Better than a lot of the other candies. She wondered where they sold it. Maybe at the natural grocery store. She could check there. She looked at the label as she chewed but there was no other information; no nutritional values or ingredients.

She shrugged and began putting the rest of the candy back into the plastic pumpkin basket. But, boy, was this candy sticky! She reached into her mouth and tried to pried it off of her back teeth. A rush of sugar-saturated saliva gushed onto her tongue. She paused to appreciate it.

She tried to chew the candy on the other side of her mouth but it just stuck onto whatever touched it. She tried sucking and swirling her tongue. She tried clamping and unclamping her jaw. She tried moving her teeth back and forth. After a while, her whole mouth was exhausted and she decided she’d had enough. She wasn’t even supposed to be eating candy. What had she been thinking?

She reached into the back of her mouth and yanked on the candy. A chunk of it came off, wet and sticky between her fingers. She threw it into the plastic trash bag. She hadn’t gotten all of the candy though. Big stringing pieces still clung to her teeth and roof of her mouth. She tried picking at it but it was impossible. She would just have to tongue at it for a while and let her saliva work its magic.

She vaccummed the whole upstairs and then started scrubbing the tub. She realized the candy was still stuck to her teeth. She finished with the tub in a hurry, washed her hands, and then put toothpaste onto her toothbrush. She gave herself a self-satisfied look in the mirror and began, in vain, to brush the candy off of her teeth.

Brushing at the candy didn’t remove it. In fact, it just seemed to spread into a very viscous film across the roof of her mouth, her teeth, gums, tongue - her mouth was completely coated.

Just then, she heard the garage door open. Her husband had been away on a business trip and she’d missed him very much. She rinsed her mouth - though the candy was still in it, and ran down to meet him.

"Hello Darling!" he swept her up and covered her cheek with kisses.

She giggled and opened her mouth to say hello but instead she said, “Hello. I’ve been thinking deeply about the economics of candy distribution. There is the initial trade between the public, which is the children, and the distributors, that is, the houses.”

Her husband looked very surprised and amused. She put her hand up to her mouth in shock. What was she talking about?

"Go on," her husband encouraged, amused.

Hesitant but also curious, the woman opened her mouth again. “After the initial collection of candy - which children believe they have earned through the work of trick-or-treating, a bartering system takes place, where kids ascribe their own subjective sense of what’s valuable. They’re heavily influenced by one another’s opinions in ascribing value. I watched them last night and I found it fascinating.”

While it was true, she had watched this process take place, she hadn’t thought a single thing other than “that’s cute” and “I could use a glass of wine.” She had no idea what her mouth was talking about.

Her husband seemed impressed. “Wow, I didn’t know you thought about things like that. I don’t know too much about economics but it seems like a pretty accurate analysis. Did the package I was waiting for come?”


In this way, the woman never again spoke a single word that was her own. Instead, all of her ideas were replaced with extremely observant and sometimes pithy comments. Her husband respected her more and enjoyed talking to her. Their relationship grew very deep. She rose to the head of the PTA and eventually ran for Mayor of her small town. She won and was pretty happy, overall.

The End.


The Lonely Witch

Once upon a time there was an introverted witch who lived in the forest. Even though she didn’t particularly enjoy talking to other people she had an insatiable sexual appetite that she simply couldn’t satisfy herself. She tried to charm many inanimate objects into lovers but none were quite right.

One day she was out in the forest gathering berries when a tree branch brushed her cheek. The whole of her body became aroused. She turned around and immediately knew there was something unusual about the tree.

The tree and the witch observed each other for a moment. Then, the tree’s branch bent down, creaking, and pulled the witch close. She was surrounded by branches; one held her face, another snaked up her dress, and third carried her berry basket away and set it down gently.

She pressed herself against the tree grasping at what she could. Though the tree had no face to kiss, she pressed her lips against the rough bark. She felt a smooth, bark-less knob growing between her thighs.

In this way, the tree and the witch became lovers. They became close and the witch came to understand that the tree had once been a young man. He was lewd and deflowered many young women in the town where he lived. The town rallied together and decided his sentence – that he be made a tree and cast to the deepest part of the wood where no humans dared to go.

Secretly, the witch knew how to break the spell. It was an easy enchantment. But selfishly, she knew that he would leave her if he were a young man again. And so, she feigned ignorance at his cure and visited him whenever she felt particularly alone.

The End.

Once there was a girl who wondered why she shaved her legs. She thought long and hard about it. She realized she couldn’t come up with a single reason why she should have to shave them at all. And so, she stopped.

After two weeks people looked at her with shock and horror. They looked down at her legs, then up at her face with gasping open mouths. She overheard them talking shit. She saw their disgusted faces.

After one month her leg hair was pretty long.

After one year her legs looked like she was wearing pants of hair.

After two years the hair trailed behind her like the train of a dress.

After ten years the town had been lost in a flood of hair. The streets were impassable. The buildings were completely surrounded. The hair continued to grow. No one could escape and they were strangled and suffocated by the girl’s exceptional leg hair.

The girl sat atop it all, laughing, very comfortable despite herself.

The End.

—Fairy Tales by Zuanna Woodlight

(Source: )

Prince Harming

Once upon a time there was a prince who was very well taken care of. When he got old enough his parents said, “Son, it is time for you to make your way in the world. We are still young and won’t be dead for a long time yet. It would be valuable for you to go and learn some skills or a trade.”

They gave him a considerable sum of money. Then, his mother packed three apples, a sandwich, and two Capri Suns into a backpack and sent him on his way.

The prince walked until he felt he could walk no more. He turned back to look at the castle. It still seemed very close. Cursing, he continued on.

After several hours of walking the prince came upon a town. He was very grateful to not have to walk another step. He asked around and he found the nicest inn. He asked, “Who will be waiting on me?”

The attendant, startled by his demanding demeanor said that she was sorry but she didn’t understand.

“Who will undress me and bring me my meals?”

The attendant laughed at first, thinking it was a joke but sobered at the prince’s sharp scowl. “I’m sure we can arrange something… but there will be a cost.”

The prince waved her off. “Cost is nothing. I must be cared for by someone competent. My meals must be cooked by the best chef and my clothes must be cut of the finest cloth,” the prince seemed very self-satisfied. He then added, “Oh, and I cannot sleep unless someone plays some soothing instrument.”

In his arrogance the prince forgot to mention that he was a prince. He assumed everyone knew. But since they didn’t, everyone thought he was just a rich asshole.

No one enjoyed waiting on the prince. The attendant had a hard time finding anyone to do it. As word spread, everyone came to realize that the money wasn’t worth it. Several months went by in this way. The town was not very big and almost everyone who was willing to do the job had already done it and quit.

Just as the last willing applicant quit the prince’s money ran out. Angry at this inconvenience, he demanded a horse be saddled for him. The attendant, quite sick of the prince’s shit said that she was sorry but he was a week behind in his payments and she could not let him take a horse. Furious as he was, he could not convince her. So, he dressed himself for the first time in his life and began the two and a half hour walk home.

As the gates opened to let him in he met the messenger who seemed to be in a great hurry.

“Marshal!” the prince yelled out, “You nearly trampled me to death with your horse!”

The messenger looked shocked to see the prince, “Oh, yes, your highness. I apologize. Please forgive me. I was on my way to deliver this message to you. It is very strange that you have come here.”

With a shaking hand he lowered the scroll. The prince opened it and read that his parents had both died earlier that morning.  Purportedly they had been playing a complex game with swords and had accidentally run one another through.

The prince was pretty shocked. He was also a little bit sad. But mostly he was still angry at his now-dead parents for casting him out of the castle.

He strutted up the drive, confident, as now he was king.

The people in his kingdom were sorry to hear that the sweet king and queen had died. When they realized that the awful young man who had ruined their lives was the prince who was now king they revolted.

The prince was stripped of his titles and banished from the land.

He wandered into the forest, his heart broken. He felt the great injustice of the world bearing down on him. Very soon he was lost and since there was no one to wait on him he starved to death.

The kingdom was very happy without him and no one ever wondered where he had gone.

The End.

Work It

Once upon a time there was a baby who was born and the first thing the parents told that baby was, “Hello welcome to the world! If you work hard then all of your dreams will come true!”

The baby grew into a kid and the parents repeated the sentiment many times.

The kid grew into a teenager and, valuing work, the teenager got a job working fast food. The job was gross and hard and the teenager worked every day after school. The teenager was always tired but he knew that if he worked hard then all of his dreams would come true.

His senior year of high school he was promoted to manager. When he graduated he doubled his hours from 30 a week to 60 a week.

He moved out of his parents’ house but found he couldn’t afford to pay all of his expenses even working 60 hours a week. So he picked up another job in a restaurant and worked 15 hours a week there. He was always tired but he knew that he had to work hard.

After about a year of this he forgot what his dreams had even been. It didn’t matter because all that mattered was that he work hard. So he worked really, really hard all the time except for when he was commuting or sleeping.

Many years went by this way. He had gained a lot of weight from eating only fast food. He always had dark circles under his eyes. All his extra money went to car repairs and hospital bills. He would have liked to go to school but he didn’t see where he’d find the time or money.

When he was 27 he had a baby and the mom abandoned it with him. The first thing he said to the baby was, “Work smart, not hard and all of your dreams will come true.”

The baby grew into a kid and he repeated the sentiment many times.

The kid grew into a teenager and she thought long and hard about her dreams. When she was a senior in high school she seduced the richest man in town. They were married and their baby never had to work a day in its life.

The End.

Unauthorized Scientific Experimentation

One day two science graduate students were fooling around in the lab when they stumbled upon something amazing.  They both realized it at the same time and looked up wide-eyed at one another.

“Do you think it’s right?” Nancy asked Simon.

“I don’t see why not.”

They double checked their figures.

Simon turned to Nancy. “Do you want to try it?”

“With each other?”

Simon looked around as if to say, who else?

“Are we sure we can reverse it?”

They checked some more figures.

“There is some room for error.”

“It’s pretty small though.”

They looked at each other again.




Nancy untangled some wires while Simon tapped away at the lab computer. They helped each other stick electrodes onto various parts of their bodies.

They sat breathing heavily for a few seconds before Simon said, “Ready?”

Nancy nodded.

Simon pressed <- Enter. There were some beeps and some fizzing sounds and then it was over.

Now, Simon was Nancy and Nancy was Simon.

Simon looked at Nancy in his body. He leaned over and threw up.

Nancy stared in disbelief. “Oh,” she managed to say.

They got up from their chairs.

“I feel weird.” Simon remarked.

Nancy noticed that the pain in her back was gone. Simon noticed how his ribs felt. They both examined their genitalia when the other’s back was turned.

“My teeth feel different.”

Simon laughed, “They are.”

“Everything feels different.”

Simon agreed.

“I don’t like it. Let’s reverse it.”

But when they tried the computer said, “ERROR 146: NO RETURN”

They tried again and again. The computer responded with the same error message.


So they lived the rest of their days in one another’s bodies until they died.

The End.