There once was a boy who lived in a hole. There in the warm, musty darkness where roots embraced him, he hid from the bright world outside. He hid from the loud, the violent and crude. He hid from the harm they’d done.
They found him cringing that meekest of creatures, pushed in a corner like old fruit in a shopping bag. He mouldered. It was their duty to save him. Everyone wanted saving, didn’t they?
The men with their silver badges glittering, their colleagues in white all wide smiles and soft words, tore the boy from the roots he clung to; he screamed for them to stop. They carted him away like a stray dog to a pound and placed him in the knowledgable care of strangers. But they had no knowledge of him, this child from deeper regions.
He woke to crimson, some his, most theirs. Its stickiness reminded him of tree sap back when there were trees to weep. And he remembered. And he wept. The memory of those lost forests stung like the syringes thrown in his hole. His nice safe hole. He ran. They ran, too, those who still could.
Out in the savage daylight, he made a decision. The little lost boy with pain in his eyes made a promise. He’d dig deeper. He’d burrow like a mole. No one would find him again. Once upon a time was one once too many, his mother used to say. Before they took her and all that was green and blue, too.
Crystal (A Short Fairytale)
I was no hero, no great warrior built to crush skulls with one hand whilst drinking flagons of ale with the other. I was a nobody, but somebody had to save her and everyone else was dead.
The heroes had entered the castle with flashing swords and raucous battle cries. Not one came out, not whole anyway. The powers that held the princess were formidable, more so in their own domain, a dark and inhospitable tower of polished, black rock. Obsidian, one hero had called it. His tomb had said the next.
When the last of them rolled down the hill head over… well, head because that’s all the evil ones left, I decided to act. I couldn’t bear the sound of Crystal’s tears — that was the princess’ name — as they tinkled through those stalled evenings. Only the dawn chorus silenced her, unless that was her, too?
I climbed the hill during a terrible storm when no one else dared venture out. Good, I preferred a quiet send off, the pause between thunderclaps and jolts of jagged light a balm to my fear. I crept up the vicious incline, slunk around the side of the castle to a wall of sheer, wet stone and found what I’d hoped for: climbing ivy would be my stairs. And so I climbed and climbed and climbed.
By the time I reached the open window of Crystal’s tower room, my fingers bled and head pounded from the storm, but I’d made it. Little old me had done what no other could and not a fly or rat or bat knew. My elation was short-lived.
She sat on a simple chair of carved mahogany caught in profile by the light of a single flickering candle. She gleamed, her secret truth revealed.
I dragged myself inside to the crunching of something underfoot. The stone floor was more shale beach than walkway, a million tiny crystals glistening like two dimensional stars. The princess sat immobile, whether she even knew me there I could not testify, but I hoped. Yes, I hoped.
The devils that imprisoned her would never lose their prize for Crystal was as her name; she sat there a sculpted glistening statue. Not a hair stirred on her head, not an eyelash batted, only the tears that dropped like raining diamonds gave any sign of sentience.
I left her there. I kissed her on the cheek and deserted her for to have moved her would’ve shattered her. I left her with a handful of tears in my pocket and shame in my heart.
When I returned cut, bleeding and tired beyond belief, I took some comfort in the fortunes I’d have to come. Alas, all my pocket held was water, her tears already spent. They didn’t even tinkle when I poured them to the floor.
Once upon a never in a distant land of black, sat a King upon a throne of bones wearing a flat cap. Every citizen that saw him be it Prince, or serf, or mice just couldn’t stop their gawping, but they never did it twice.
Ugly sisters laughed at Cinderella. Once.
The children turned their backs on the screams of anguish. A wailing and caterwauling as of the denizens of Hell itself split the crackling confines of the single room. Overheated candy popped in the lush walls, overcooked gingerbread smouldered in the crossbeams, but Hansel and Gretel refused to leave until they knew her dead.
It took time, too much time, but like everything in life she came to an end. The fire returned to a simmering warmth, as the acrid smell drained from the room. Before long, they were just a normal brother and sister holding hands before a spitting fire. Or so it seemed?
It was the smell of singed carpet that made Gretel sniff, the sizzle of stray sparks that made Hansel tense. But it was that laugh, that cackling unmistakable laugh that made them both turn. Her eyes burned crimson and bright.
She was aflame, but alive. Burning hands supported her weight, as the witch crawled from the inferno. The children ran, of course they did, but the door was locked, the windows boarded: there was no escaping the candy house. Hansel and Gretel were undone. Perhaps, soon, too be overdone.
They threw rose petals before her everywhere she went. It didn’t matter if she meandered through a meadow or walked upon a stage, her servants were always there red petals in hand. Such was the lot of Princess Shalah, the most beautiful girl in the world.
I think it was her graciousness that endeared her to so many. Without fail, Shalah would thank those who attended her. She’d smile and bow, praise and approve all of those whose duty was to pave her way in petals. They would have paved her way into eternity if they could. I suspected Shalah would have dismissed them given the opportunity, but tradition was what it was. There was just something in her eye that gave her away. A sadness one might have said, a yearning to touch the sand or snow just once. Yes, just once.
I often wondered how many flowers died for our princess, and then one day she died for them.
Princess Shalah stepped upon a careless rose thorn, or so we guessed. At first, she seemed fine just a little pale. She was far from so. The thorn had driven deep into her bare foot and infected her. She said nothing right up until her passing. A nation mourned.
When they buried her in the royal tomb, she was covered in the petals of a thousand red roses and sealed away. I could not bear it. I stole in one evening and collected them all. When I laid a white lily there instead, I could have sworn I saw her smile. But I was her brother, so I may have imagined it. I hoped I did not.
Beyond the wood of thorn and briar,
The mountains sharp, the emerald fire;
Lies such a castle dark and grim
It could only belong to Him,
And there atop the highest tower
Sleeps innocence upon a pyre.
A twisted demon lords o’er her,
He coverts all the sweet demure.
He fawns and slurps and rubs his hands
Forever making grandest plans,
But he forgets that pure’s her blood
And evil never comes to good.
Her spell is broken by a knight,
The beauty wakened from dark plight.
And flee they do to ancient isle,
Where they can love and stay a while.
The evildoer dies of grief,
His gnarled and twisted heart a reef
Of darkest coral does become,
Where fishes play beneath the sun.
His castle crumbles, legend lost,
And we all know that it’s because
In this bright world, this fantasy,
The princess lives, the knight is me.
Once upon, the tale began-
Of fading stars a princess sang-
Of dragons slain and villains dread,
A fantasy within your head.
The story lasted many years
And filled a book with diamond tears-
That all did share in solemn grief;
For this poor tale had no relief.
Then just when all seemed lost, not found,
A hero sprang forth from the ground
To crack hard ice, and lava tread-
There was no messing with his head.
And slain the dragon, evil, queen,
He slew them all for he was mean,
And though the kingdom it was saved,
In truth, the end was just as grave.
(Image courtesy of jcbarquet on deviantart.com)
She slipped between the breath of day,
As Danube flowed by, swept away.
Grey mists did rise on waters blue
For this her last most perfect view.
The snowdrops tinkled, chimed her mort
Just like they had for those before,
As she did step with grace and ease
Into the waters, they to please.
No more of life; no more of death,
Exhaled her love and gave her breath.
And all because her prince she’d lost,
Too much for her, yet such a cost.
(Image courtesy of Foxfires on deviantart.com)