Short Stories 366:311 — “A Sorta Fairytale,” by Suleikha Snyder

Y’all know I love me a fairytale retelling, and today’s short story, found in Prem Numbers, is exactly that, retelling “Bearskin” in “A Sorta Fairytale” with what is, frankly, a much better message and twist and reveal and… Okay, if you don’t know “Bearskin,” the basic plot is of a deal-with-the-Devil where a former soldier who has nowhere to go is given a magical coat that will always be full of money, and seven years where he’s not allowed to shave or bathe or pray, and at the end of those seven years, he will be rewarded. The soldier has no other options, so he takes the deal. Long story short he ends up with a bride and the bride is the only woman to treat him remotely like a human during the midst of the worst of his seven years, and the Devil gets a couple of other souls as part of the bargain because of shallowness and actions of two of her sisters.

Anyway. In “A Sorta Fairytale,” we have a woman running a small bakery in a borderline part of town, where a trio of men are harassing her, and a hitman who has agreed to serve someone he refers to as “the Devil” for seven years in exchange for… something. He’s well-paid, the people he kills all deserve it (he always asks), and when he shows up at the right time to defend her from the trio of men they have a scorching moment despite his unkept state (or, in a way, because of it).

That sets the stage, albeit without souls at stake, but Snyder gives it a tonne of steam and the heroine’s determination to make something of her bakery, and “Bear”‘s realization he has something to aim for when his years are done, and fast-forwards both their lives to the turning point with a lovely little denouement. It’s a solid little scorcher of a retelling, and I left the tale with a smile on my face.

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