The Story Finder

Voices in Fairy Tales

by Michelle Tocher

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The Wooden Wife

Themes: Death | Return | Underworld

I came back to life because my husband would not be comforted after my death. He made a life-sized doll in my image, and every night when he came home, he talked to her. So wood turned to flesh, but I warned him not to touch me until we had returned to our people. If he did, I would die again.

Two years passed and we lived together as we had lived before, in isolation. He wanted to touch me but he couldn’t so he finally decided to return to the tribe. On the way back, we made a camp in the snow, and, after the fire had been made and the food, eaten, we were lying under our skins. He was too stirred to resist me. “We have seen no one yet. It is too soon,” I said. He did not listen. He took me in his arms, and I turned into wood.

Now I am what I was before—a life-sized doll.

The Wooden Wife in The Dead Wife, Yellow Fairy Book