Rewriting Fairy Tales – The Tin Soldier

Some stories are well known, from beginning to end, and their words play over in our minds.

But sometimes these stories that we know so well, did not happen they were written at all.

Take for instance, the love story of the Tin Soldier and the Ballerina.

What we all remember was an act of love, where you find the smelted soldier and the ballerina burning together, is not how it happened. No, no, my dear friends!

The little tin soldier had been wounded in a battle with the mouseking. Thankfully, the nutcracker and his dear girl had vanquished the foul beast, and ran away unscathed. But not so for our particular soldier. This little soldier of tin had lost a leg in the battle.

When he was found, his friends placed him on the mantle shelf. There he stood in a place of honor above the fireplace.

He was happy and content to watch the household affairs, knowing that he had been brave and true during the battles. Every time the nutcracker and his lady danced, a smile would warm the tin soldiers heart. His sacrifice was worth the effort as long as they lived without fear of the mouseking.

One day, the shelf was being rearranged by a maid as she dusted and cleaned. Gazing softly at the one-legged tin soldier, she happened to notice that he looked quite sad. Of course he must be, to stand there all day with no one to keep him company.

As she cleaned, she looked for something who would make a good companion.

She dusted over faeries, and dolls, dainty animals and beautiful butterflies. It wasn’t until her eyes lighted on a beautiful little ballerina that she smiled brightly, and took the figurine over to the mantle to join the tin soldier.

The maid smiled happily, satisfied with how fine the pair looked together.

When the ballerina glanced at the soldier she was to keep company, the girl grunted.

“And who are you?” She asked bitterly, “And why do you stand as the centerpiece, when you only have one ugly leg?”

Knitting his brow, the soldier was taken by surprise, “I helped save the nutcracker and his lady during the battle with the mouseking. I alone was injured this severely, and they wanted to honor me by placing me here where I could be remembered.”

A laugh bust forth from the ballerina that made the tin soldier angry. Who was she to mock him?

In the following days, the ballerina continued to jab and jeer. She was incapable of kindness. Her words tore his heart to shreds, and the tin soldier became less and less proud of his place on the mantle.

As winter started to make the days colder, fires became a more common occurrence, warming up the mantle above.

The tin soldier would watch the flames, mesmerized by their dance. They comforted him in his growing place of bitter sadness.

One night, the nutcracker and his lady threw a party, and all of the toys were invited. That is, all but the tin soldier and the ballerina, who seemed to have been quite forgotten by the others as time passed by.

“Look at them dance! Look at them laugh! They all have fun, while I am stuck here with you. You, the legless wonder his friends have forgotten.” She sighed, sitting down to dangle her legs over the edge, “You only hobble and would make me do all the work, so of course I can’t dance with you.”

Her words stung, and the toy soldier began to fume with rage.

As she continued to make her fun, she did not notice the darkness crossing his little eyes. She did not notice him begin to hop slowly, deliberately in her direction. She did not see the fire reflect in his eyes as he crept closer to her. She never knew how angry he had become, until she felt him shove her off of the mantle.

With a scream, the ballerina fell down, down, down, into the fire below.

Everyone gasped, looking up at the soldier who was losing his balance, until he wobbled off the edge.

By the time everyone had raced to the fire, it was too late. They couldn’t save either of them.

In the morning, the servants came to rebuild the fire. They found the tin soldier, smelted down into the shape of a broken heart. The ballerina’s plastic body was all mangled and cold. Her expression forever stilled in surprise and regret.

The maid was informed of the findings, and she, my friends, is the one who assumed it was love. For her efforts had put them together. But it was her good intentions, that had lost them both.

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