Etude House Fairytale of the Baker Girl & Magic Macarons
In a remote village on the outskirts of Etude Kingdom, there lived a little girl. She lives with her father, the baker. The tiny bakery he works in is also their house. Made up of coconut leaves and driftwood, the rickety structure long needed some improvements done but the baker’s age was fast catching up and his health was ailing with each day that passes. Even baking these days has been taking a big toll on him lately.
It didn’t used to be like that.
Chapter 1: The Baker in Etude Kingdom
Their bakery was a thriving and flourishing business that was one of the more famous and sought after in Etude Kingdom but since the passing of his wife, the baker has lost all interest. These days, father and daughter are barely making enough to even put food on the table much less new clothes on their backs.
He had lost his wife to the dark woods. It is rumored that deep in the woods lies a special plant with magical ingredients that could make any food taste exceptionally good! So when Etude Kingdom announced a baking competition to find the best bakery in the country, the baker’s wife decided to head out into the woods to find the magical plant, hoping to create the best baked goodies and win the contest.
One day when her husband and their young daughter were taking their afternoon nap, she set out. She never came back. There were no rescue parties as no one dared to venture out into the woods and the baker couldn’t leave his daughter behind to look for his wife.
Till this day, he blames himself for sleeping and not preventing his wife from venturing out.
Sometimes late at night, after the bakery is closed and he is resting on the front porch, he could hear his wife’s voice coming from the woods. “사랑해 (Saranghae)” – which means I love you in Korean – the voice would echo and tears would roll down his sunken cheeks accompanying him in his sleep.
Now while the other children in the village went about their daily lives as normal children would; going to school, play time with friends and more, his daughter did not have any of that. Instead, she would be in the kitchen helping her father. His ailing health has been a cause of great concern lately and there was no one else around to help him.
Life was hard for both father and child. The years of baking had taken a toll on him and his back had become hunched from the pain and discomfort. He was nicknamed “The Tortoise” by the cruel villagers. The little girl wasn’t spared as well.
Everywhere she went, she received sneers and snide remarks from the other children in the village and adults alike as well. Her trips to the village market to get medicine for her father or staple food like rice, salt and sugar were an ordeal each time. The villagers would mock her tattered clothing and turn their noses away in disgust.
Many of the village shopkeepers and store owners even refuse to serve her as they were afraid her stench which reeked of fermented yeast and sour dough, would turn away other customers. The smell was likened to dirty socks and that’s what the villagers call her, “Dirty Socks.”
Both father and daughter have had to go to sleep hungry many a time as no one would sell them the basic necessities. Life was truly unkind to them.
To make matters worse, the children would splash water and throw stones at her each time while making fun of her disheveled appearance and her hunchback father, “Hey Dirty Socks, where’s The Tortoise?”…
Chapter 2: That Red-eyed Monster
Back at the bakery, it was no different. The villagers would rather travel miles away to other villages and towns instead of buying bread and cookies from their bakery. The bakeries in those towns are equipped with modern conveniences such as electric ovens and refrigerators. These together with fresher ingredients and beautiful shop decorations have made them successful and prosperous.
But for the girl and her father, they could not afford any of the new luxuries. They continue to struggle against the competition with their slow wood-burning ovens and wooden ice boxes in poorly ventilated conditions. Most of the time, they would be torn between baking and spending the time chasing fruit flies and other bugs away from their ingredients.
One morning, the village was greeted by an overcast grey sky. The winds were picking up and over yonder, a storm was brewing. On days like this, no one would dare venture out of the village. Instead, everyone would be stocking up their supplies from the shops to weather the impending storm, which can last for days. The baker and his daughter saw this as an opportunity but yet no one seems to be buying anything from the bakery.
Disappointed but not broken, the baker decided to close his shop and head into the woods to find the magical plant.
It was his only option.
Though hesitant, the baker was adamant. He strapped on 2 water bottles to his waist with a makeshift belt, carried his daughter on his back in a woven basket that was also filled with some bread in the event they get hungry and set out. The wind is now slowly turning into a gale as they made their way to the edge of the dark woods. It was going to be a long day.
The baker was getting exhausted but the thought of his ailing business and daughter having to go hungry again, gave him strength and he trudged on. His back hurts like never before. It got darker as they went deeper into the woods. The trees were so tall, they blocked out the sun’s rays and all they could hear was the eerie whistling of the wind as it slithered amongst the tree trunks and rustled in the leaves.
Then, the little girl heard strange footsteps as if there was someone or something following them.
She peeked from her basket and saw a pair of fiery red eyes staring at her from amongst the trees! She tried to turn around to warn her dad but was stuck amongst the bread loaves in the basket. Though they were in the dense wood surrounded by trees, the wind was still very strong! She stared up at the canopy of leaves and saw that the tree branches were swaying violently.
The pair of red eyes soon revealed an animal-like figure but it was too dark to see what it was exactly. All she knows, it was catching up with them and very quickly too! The baker must have felt something was wrong as he picked up his pace to running speed. In his haste, the basket on his back was dislodged and the little girl fell to the ground. Not realizing it, as he was struggling against a very strong headwind, the baker continued running!
The little girl called out for her father but he couldn’t hear her. All she could do was watching his figure getting further away and eventually disappearing into the dense darkness. Suddenly, she remembered the menacing pair of red eyes and turned around. It was getting closer! She struggled to free herself from the basket and managed to free her hands.
The animal figure was really close that she could hear its growl. She reached, picked up a stick and started to swing it around, hoping to ward off the creature. With one deep breath, she mustered a powerful swing but she started feeling light headed and dizzy. She fell backwards and the last thing she saw was a menacing dark figure of a beast towering over her weakened body.
She closed her eyes and then there was quiet…
Chapter 3: Is this a dream within a dream?
Her mother was holding her tiny hands as she woke up from her sleep. It was a good sleep and it’s been awhile since the little girl slept that long. Her mother leaned over, gave her a kiss on the forehead.
“사랑해 (Saranghae),” she said. The little girl rubbed her bleary eyes and saw her mother walking away towards the woods. She got up and ran after her, calling out… but her mother continued walking, oblivious to her daughter’s cries. The little girl tried to quicken her pace but her legs began to feel heavier and heavier. Her feet were stuck in the sinking mud around her.
The girl called out for help fighting desperately against the pull of the mud but it was apparent that she wasn’t going to win this fight. She wrestled and fought harder but exhaustion was creeping over her. She took a deep breath and screamed for help.
And then, there was silence.
The little girl opens her eyes in a daze.
It was a dream.
But surely what she’s seeing now must be a dream too. There were magnificent and beautiful animals standing all around her. She pinched herself just to be sure.
This is no dream. She looked around her and realized that she’s lying inside a magical flower bed!
Soon more animals arrived. There were a family of hedgehogs, a group of mousedeers, a pack of majestic looking wolves and even a grumpy looking old bear! Except for the bear, the other animals gave her a gentle and welcoming smile. “Don’t worry about the bear, he’s just old and cranky,” a voice said. The girl spun around but couldn’t find who was talking to her.
“It’s me, the honey bee. Don’t worry, you’re safe here,” said the reassuring voice. Seeing that the girl was still afraid, the bee began telling her magical and wondrous stories of the woods as the flower bed kept her warm and safe.
Chapter 4: The Angel & The Beast
“But what about the menacing beast that was running after me?!” the girl asked, still feeling jittery.
The bee roared with laughter so much that the little girl was a little irritated with the buzzing sound it made.
“Oh dear me, sorry child!” the bee said apologetically.
“There is no evil creature. You see child, Man’s fallacy is that they are greater than all other creatures and their downfall is their excessive pride and ingratitude, hubris if you like”, explained the bee.
“They would come out here, chop the trees and take more than what they’ve been given and as a result, most of the trees and even the animals have become endangered species. One day, all of us decided that something must be done and the idea of the menacing red-eyed beast was born”.
“So there is a beast! Or is there?” the little girl scratched her head feeling confused.
The bee said, “Well yes and no. You see my dear child…”
“It was me”, a voice interrupted. The girl turned around and before her was the most beautiful creature she had ever seen.
“Mama!” she cried. It was indeed her mother. She could never forget that beautiful smile and lustrous hair although just from a dream, but something was different.
“You’re a …”
“Yes my baby, I’m an angel,” whispered her mother.
Her mother did not survive that day but she now lives in the wind. As an angel, she can take on shapes, colours and forms. She also explained how she would appear as a menacing beast to men with evil and greedy hearts to instill fear and respect towards the woods.
Reunited, mother and child spent some time talking, crying and finding comfort in each other. Overhead, the storm had passed and it was time for the little girl to go home.
“I don’t want to go home, Mama. The people are cruel and they mock my appearance,” sulked the little girl.
“Awww my poor baby. But who’s going to take care of your father? He will be devastated,” said her mother.
The little girl heaved a sigh. “Don’t worry, we’re going to give you a good scrub before your mother takes you home!” the bee said. With that, the bee instructed the other animals to bring the little girl to the nearby lake to be cleaned.
As her mother was cleaning her, the little girl told her why she was in the woods with her father. Upon listening, her mother gave a big and seemingly knowing smile. The scrub and bath was so therapeutic that the little girl was soon falling asleep. “사랑해 (Saranghae),” was the last thing she heard as she went deep into sleep.
Last Chapter: 사랑해
Upon awakening, the little girl found herself lying on the front porch of her house. She got up hastily looking for her mother but she was nowhere to be found. Her heart sank.
“It must have been a dream,” she thought to herself. Just then, a voice spoke to her.
“Hello, my baby. It’s me again”. It was her mother’s voice but everywhere she looked, the girl couldn’t find her.
“Don’t worry, baby. I’m here with you in the wind”, she said.
The girl felt a gentle and comforting enveloping breeze like that of a mother holding her child.
“We are of different world now, my baby. You belong to the one that your father resides,” her mother said.
Tears began to well up in the little girl’s eyes. As they roll down her cheeks disappearing into the sand, she said, “But I miss you, Mama. Papa misses you too. Come and stay here with us. Please don’t leave us again.” “I’m not leaving you, my beautiful child. Each time the both of you feels sad I promise, I will be there waiting to wipe away your tears. A beautiful girl shouldn’t cry,” her mother said.
“Beautiful?” thought the girl. Puzzled, she ran into the house looking for a mirror and upon seeing her reflection, she was amazed! Her tattered clothes were gone and replaced by clothes made of the most beautiful thread. Her disheveled appearance was gone as well! Her face and skin exuded a radiance that rivaled the most brightly lit stars and they were gentle to the touch. “How is this possible?” she asked.
“That’s not all, my beautiful girl,” her mother said.
“Next to you are 3 magic macaroons. They contain the Precious Mineral Magic Any Cushions. These magical items will help you look beautiful throughout the day and night. And in turn, it will make you feel good about yourself,” she explained.
Her mother explained that the Precious Mineral Magic Any Cushions work by toning and brightening the skin. The cushion is able to highlight areas on the face for a more radiant and beautiful appearance!
Indeed, lying on the table were 3 macaroons labeled Magic Pink, Magic Mint and Magic Peach. The little girl was stumped in silent amazement.
“Next to them is a pot containing magical flowers”, her mother continued. “Use the plants as baking ingredients and your will have the best macaroons in the entire kingdom.”
The girl took the flowers and smiled. “But what if we’ve used them all? Where can we get some more, Mama?” the girl asked.
“You’ll never have to, my dear child. They’ll never stop growing as long as you take good care of them.” With that, her mother’s voice whiffed away in the breeze.
Just then, the baker returned from the village market and upon seeing his daughter, was very relieved and happy. She sat him down and began telling him of her adventure.
Soon, word of her newfound beauty spread across the village and throughout the land. She was hailed as a beautiful princess of her village.
Their bakery business turned out for the better too! Now they have an abundance of customers from far and wide even, who loved their macaroons. With the healthy profits, they could afford luxuries that had previously evaded them and they could bake even tastier macaroons.
One orange sunset, as she was sitting with her father on the porch of their newly spruced up house, her father turned to her. “You’re so beautiful, just like your mother. I miss her,” said her despondent father. She gave him a hug. As she turned to the woods, she saw her mother waving to her from amongst the trees. She wiped away her tears of happiness and whispered, “사랑해 (Saranghae)…”
Written for Etude House for Magic Any Cushion