Sometimes when my father tucked me in he told me older stories. There was an apple made of gold, and a man threw it, and she had to chase it, or maybe she caught it, but her sisters didn't. But there was one side of the apple she shouldn't eat. One side of the mirror I didn't want to look into.
She was too small to run away, and much too small to live on her own outside, so she had to marry the toad. Unless she could talk a bird into flying off with her. In one story a man got a bird to carry him off by hiding inside a dead sheep, so he could steal from the bird's nest. A sheep was too big, but there were dead things underground she might fit inside. No one was going to take care of her forever.
A horse with wings would come to a fountain and drink. Not like the fountain in the park, where drinking the water was not allowed. The man hid with a golden bridle, even though it was a white horse with white wings, not a gold horse with golden wings. And then he was able to ride the horse and fly. For months I begged for a golden bridle of my own. I knew exactly what to do with it.
A woman fell in love with a bull, which was like a cow. And the bull swam away in the ocean with her to another country. And she had a baby, but it looked like a cow. And they hid it inside a place where no one could find it. Or maybe they put it back in the water, in a little boat like a basket, and the princess found it and loved it even though it had a cow's head. Until a man who didn't love it took a sword and killed it.
She was half fish, half girl, so she could swim really well. She could sing, too. But she wanted to stop singing and be all girl (this story was the silliest). The fish part covered up her feet and her legs and her butt. I imagined her pooping in the water like my goldfish, that long ribbon trailing behind her.
A man had two beautiful horses, and one could talk, but all they did was pull his chariot. All he did was kill other men. And one woman. He wasn't interested in the horses, even though they were the best part. I knew they would have told him wonderful stories, better than any of the human stories. Of course they were beautiful; they were horses.
After we were dead, we would take a fairy to the other side, he said. The fairy had to be paid, or you couldn't cross. When you died they would put a coin on each eyelid, and that's what you gave the fairy. After I lost the first tooth, I woke up in the middle of the night and put my hand under my pillow. There were the two coins. I put them on my eyes and lay awake in the dark, waiting for the fairy to come and get me.