"Fairest!" cried the Queen. She was affronted and astonished by the picture her Mirror returned to her: a distant and insignificant planet, green and blue.
How had a planet grown fairer than she?
"A flood!" she decided, and, as she lifted her fingers, her curse passed through them.
Rain, rain, rain.
"Who is the fairest now?" she asked as the green portion of the planet was utterly submerged.
"And now?" she smiled, as the stinking, misshapen bodies began to rise to the surface, bloated and bobbing.
"It is you, O, Queen," returned the Mirror on the 40th day.
The weather was getting bad.
So, to preserve the dwarfs, Snow White loaded them onto a great boat.
Up the gangplank she led them, two by two, representatives of all seven dwarf-kinds.
"Come on now, Bashfuls," she urged them, after the sea journey had continued some weeks. "You can mate, too!"
With a little smile, she pointed to what the Happys were doing with one another, right there on the deck. And to what, lying spent on one another, the Grumpys had just finished doing.
The Bashfuls, a female and a male, looked uncertainly at Snow White.
They looked at the Happys. And the Grumpys. Then briefly, blushingly, they looked at one another.
Then they looked away.
Snow White fled into the forest.
"I have sinned!" she cried, pounding at the first door she came to. "In His eyes, I am one of the wicked!"
"God will not find you here," promised the first of the strange little men, when he appeared at the cottage entrance. (His name, he said, was Pride.)
"Never!" echoed the second brother, Wrath, purple-faced in his confidence.
Four additional brothers appeared in turn on the doorstep. Each added his own assurances.
("What?" slurred the seventh brother, Sloth, indistinctly from inside the cottage.)
Snow White gave them each a grateful--if tentative--smile.
But then it began to rain.
Her Prince, the Prince of Heaven, had said that she was the only woman for Him.
All the rest were disgusting whores.
So Snow White endured the 40 days and nights of genocidal rain.
When everyone else was dead, He descended to her on a carpet of rainbow.
After the terror of her time in that little boat--after the weeks of awful loneliness--her lips met His, hungry,
"Easy," He said--a laugh.
"Easy!" He repeated. But His tone had shifted.
Now it was a growl.
"How?!" He said, pushing her disgustedly away.
"My Lord...?" she managed.
"Tell me, Miss Snow White," He said--and now His tone was perfectly ghastly. "How is it that you have learned to kiss so well?"
Then He threw her into the sea.
Two of every kind, He had commanded them.
"Heigh-ho," the erstwhile miners murmured resignedly, as they exchanged their pick axes for cages and collecting nets.
"I miss the diamonds," said Doc, as a crocodile chewed determinedly at his ankle.
"I miss the emeralds," said Dopey, staring woozily at the green-tinged fang bites on his arm.
Rubies," whispered another dwarf, so severely mauled that no one--not even his brothers--could any longer identify who it was.
The world was sinful, they decided. But they could not agree on what to do about it.
"A flood!" said the King of Heaven.
"Poisoned fruit!" said the Queen of Heaven, just so emphatically.
"Your method would be far too slow!" cried the King.
"Your method would be far too soggy!" cried the Queen.
Finally, the Queen smiled, and proposed a reconciliatory picnic.
"Would you like an apple?" She asked.
"He is dead," the hunting doves reported. They staggered beneath the weight of His immense Heart, which they had brought back as proof.
Then--Thump!--they let It fall.
"You have done well," said Snow White.
She looked down at the Heart, vast and bloody in the grass. Then she looked away towards the Mirror, which was mounted in the center of the grove.
The Mirror returned to her her own reflection.
She--not God--was now "The Cruelest of them All."
When Snow White beckoned, the doves hopped onto her fingers, and she sponged their fierce beaks and lovely feathers clean.
So much blood.
"I had to issue that order," she said. "I had to stop-"
Her voice broke.
She looked past the Heart, past the grove and its trees, to everything beyond.
To the dwarfs' cottage, just over the rise. To the palace in the distance, where she'd been born, and to the great city that surrounded it, with its tens of thousands of inhabitants.
To all the world that existed beyond that, both the wild spaces and the civilized ones, which were filled with living creatures that He had been determined to drown.
What would this new world be like?
What could a world BE like, without God?
"Look!" cried one of the hunting doves, one wing pointing up.
Snow White looked...and gasped.
From the sky, concordant bands of color had erupted to create a new structure: glittery and rare; diaphanous and exquisite.
From the grove, all of the doves fluttered up to meet it--clean feathers against a blue sky.
Snow White smiled.
Though it felt like a sign, she knew that it could not be. Now that God was dead, there could no longer be signs from Anyone.
This was simply something beautiful.