19. Thumpelina

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Once upon a time, there lived a humble woodcutter and his wife who would have been the happiest couple in all of Fairyland if only they'd had a child. "Oh, if only we had a child!" they said to each other every day after they'd had lots of sex, but none ever arrived.

"Why don't we order one from Storks Are Us®?" the wife asked, hopefully. "Here, I've got their catalogue, and they have such beautiful babies in their summer collection."

The woodcutter sighed. "Don't you remember, wife? They do not deliver to this area."

The wife hung her head, sadly—then suddenly snapped her fingers. "I've got it!"

"Yes? What?"

"We can get a child from a fairy! She'll help us, I'm sure!"

And before her husband could say so much as a word, she was out the door and on her way to the fairy, who lived only fifty trees away. Ringing the doorbell of the magical castle, she was conducted into the fairy's presence, and bowed deeply.

"Oh great and powerful fairy of the woods, I have a boon to beg of you. Ever since I was wed to my loving husband, I have wished for nothing so much as for a child to love and call my own. Yet, in spite of fervent prayers and lots of sex, our marriage has not been blessed with children. Please, I beg of you, grant me my heart's desire and give me a child."

"Hm..." The fairy scratched her chin with her wand. "Are you sure? Those brats can be a nuisance. They always get turned into frogs or swans or cockroaches, and you never get them out of bed in the morning without calling a prince to kiss them awake. It's enough to drive you crazy, I tell you."

"Yes, oh gracious and mighty fairy. I am sure."

"Hm...okay. What kind of brat do you want?"

The mother's eyes gleamed. "A girl! The fairest girl in all the lands, with skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood, and hair as black as ebony."

"Hm...all right." The fairy pulled out a calculator from between her wings and started pushing buttons. "Fairest maiden in the land basic package, that would be $2,999,999.99. Skin as white as snow, that's an additional $499,999.99. Lips as red as blood are on sale, they're not as popular as they used to be ever since that frog prince made green lips the new fashion. So you'll get those for a measly $299,999.99. Hair as black as ebony doesn't come cheap, though. It's $799,999,99. Are you sure you wouldn't rather opt for shining golden hair long enough for a prince to climb up a tower with? It's a special offer this week, and comes with a magical mirror and an enchanted hairbrush."

The poor woodcutter's wife listened to this with mounting dismay. She had always hated math in school.

"Err...I have three cents, a turnip and a lump of wood. Would that be enough?"

The fairy gave her a look. The same look her old math teacher used to give her. The poor wife's shoulders sagged.

"Please, have pity, oh great fairy!" she begged. "I am not a queen with a happy ending scheduled and a huge vault full of treasure. I am only a poor woodcutter's wife and can't afford these prices."

The fairy huffed. "Well, perhaps you should have visited a different establishment, then. I heard the CrunchyBrats® thirty trees down the path is offering children at quite reasonable prices. Of course, they come in steak or burger form, but you'll just have to use a little bit of glue. Not everyone can afford custom designs."

"Please!" The woodcutter's wife sank to her knees. "Please, oh gracious and powerful fairy. It doesn't have to be the fairest maiden in the land. It doesn't even have to have skin as white as snow. I just want a little girl. One little child to hold and love."

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