500 Word Fairytales: The Paper Bag Princess

Once upon a time…

There was a princess named Elizabeth. She is the kind of girl who would spend her days reading or horseback riding in between tea parties and ballroom dancing. Balance, you know?

Elizabeth has a fiancé. Prince Ronald. It must have been one of those ‘marriages for the good of the kingdom’ situations, because this guy is a real dud. He cares about his looks and his tennis and nothing else. Yawn.

The third character in this story is The Dragon. He shows up and things get interesting…well, things get burnt, actually. After turning the castle into a stone oven, The Dragon enjoys a huge dinner of broiled servants. He carries off Prince Ronald for a midnight snack.

In the ashes, Elizabeth is unscathed but unclothed. The only thing she can find to wear is a humble paper bag that was probably blowing around on the street, because you KNOW a paper bag would have been the first thing to incinerate. She dons her paper bag gown and goes forth to save her prince.

Elizabeth follows the macabre trail of picked bones and smoldering trees to The Dragon. In an act that is equal parts courageous and stupid -perhaps a side effect of shock- the paper bag princess marches right up to The Dragon.

He greets her lazily, and politely explains that he would love to eat her, but it’s already been a very busy day of destroying a castle and eating staff. Please come back tomorrow.

Princess Elizabeth persists.

“Is it true you can burn down a whole forest in one breath?”

He burns down 50 forests.

“Cool beans,” says Elizabeth.

With his next exhale, The Dragon burns down 100 forests.

“Remind me not to sit in front of you in yoga,” Elizabeth remarks.

The dragon fills his lungs one more time, but only a wisp of barbecue-scented smoke emerges.

“Oh,” shrugged Elizabeth.

“Wait! Watch this,” says The Dragon, and he flies around the world in 10 seconds.

“Wow,” says the princess. “Betcha can’t do that again.”

He manages it in 20 seconds, then promptly takes a nap.

Princess Elizabeth tries to rouse him, eventually shouting, “HEY DRAGON,” directly in his ear.

The Dragon snores.

Satisfied, the princess finds Ronald. He takes one look at her sooty face, singed hair, and paper bag.

“Come back when you look like a real princess,” commands the ungrateful jerk.

Princess Elizabeth realizes marrying him would be a massive mistake. Instead, she skips off into the sunset and lives happily ever after.

The end.

Or is it?

You know The Dragon is going to wake up eventually. Princess Elizabeth didn’t hurt him or even steal his snack, so I like to think he would be impressed by her ingenuity.

New ending: Elizabeth and The Dragon become a princess-liberation duo, saving princesses from boring castle lives. They also start a line of bespoke paper gowns, and spend the rest of their days collecting fame and fortune.

The end.

Graphic captioned "500 word fairytale: the paper bag princess" and an image of a smokey forest on the left hand side.
500 Word Fairytale: The Paper Bag Princess

This story was written and edited by Caitlin Elizabeth, based on the book “The Paper Bag Princess” by Robert Munsch.

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