A Fairy Tale
Once upon a time, there was a girl. Well, not really a girl. She was a woman and had even had a baby, but she felt like a girl; as if she were on the cusp of growing-up, but never quite there. She was able to evade the Grown-up World all thanks to her imagination which had been fattened and fed by so many books. She paid the bills and cooked and cleaned and did all the Cinderella chores expected of her, but when she was at work, or washing the dishes, or cleaning the litter box, she was merely going through the motions. On the inside she is still quite silly and shy. For a long while she had an old king as her beau. He was nice, but distant, and would pat the girl on the head and send her off to read while he went about court business and engaged in secret dalliances with the scarlet women of the village. Although the king was nice to the girl and her daughter, he thought the girl very odd. She would sometimes talk out loud, as if to an imaginary person, about a picture she saw, or a bad dream, or a lovely story, or how much liked to make forts out of quilts on rainy days and write poems in the dark. The king couldn’t understand such nonsense and so the girl was very lonely.
She spent those years with the king buried in books and playing with her daughter and spending her alone time in village cafes flicking scone crumbs onto the floor and lapping up latte after latte. One day when the girl was petulantly staring out the café window, watching the clouds skim over the horizon, and absently cradling Jane Eyre on her lap she saw a boy sitting in a corner and drawing. (By boy I mean a grown man, but since our heroine still feels like a girl, this man must be content with being referred to as a boy). This boy had been in the girl’s peripheral vision for years. She had seen him in cafes and libraries and walking up sidewalks and standing outside taverns. She did not know his name, but she had always wondered about what sort of person he was. For some reason, that day, of all days, the boy suddenly came into focus and the girl realized “that is who I want.” Maybe it is the fact that he was drawing and therefore must know what it is like to be plagued with imagination, or maybe it was because he had dark eyes and she liked dark eyes, or maybe it is because that every time she saw him he smiled at her in a friendly way and so he must be a nice fellow.
When the girl came home to the old king that day she realized that the castle was too quiet. Her daughter was playing with dolls and the old king lazed about. She sat upstairs in her room alone and began to think about the curiously wonderful boy.
Six months later. The kingdom is in peril. The old king hasn’t been working at all about the castle and left it all to the girl. He is distracted, she is lonely, and there is tension and sadness that pervades the once calm household.
Although the king and the girl were so many oceans apart and so very different, the girl is sad that the king has left because sometimes if she was very still and mouse-like the king would let her sit next to him and it was a comfort to have a warm body next to her and a hand to hold, even if she could not illuminate all the different stories and images dancing in her brain.
During the time when the king and the girl grew apart and took separate paths, the girl had finally found her courage and talked to the boy. A few times he came to see her and once he gave her a beautiful bird hued in red and blue and gold. Most of the time the girl and the boy would see each other only in passing and they would talk about books and family and art and all manner of things.
The girl was very hopeful, because she realized that she cared deeply for the boy and even though she was very happy being his friend, she would often image that he was more than a friend to her. This thought made her very happy indeed.
It also made her very nervous. The boy was so wonderful and so smart and so good that he overwhelmed the girl. She worried that she wasn’t pretty enough or that he would think her strange.
Around this time the girl found out from a friend that the boy already had a lady. A lady he had never mentioned. The girl was distraught and gave up hoping for the boy’s heart.
One night the girl suddenly awoke from a rather pleasant dream about the boy to a deep reverberating thud, thud, thud, echoing around her bedroom. She sat up, gathered her blankets around her and looked about her bedroom. The thudding noise was slightly muffled, but still there and seemed quite close to her. She cautiously moved the coverlet off of her body and saw the bodice of her nightgown rise and fall with breath. And then she screamed.
Her heart had wretched out of the cages of bone and muscle and thumped outside her body. Her gown was wet with blood and as she watched the grotesque dance of the heart palpitating, she could hear the valves sucking in blood and thrusting it out again. Most horrifying to the girl was the way her heart grew and grew until it resembled a fantastic yet infinitely fragile organ of some terrific beast. The heart looked as if it would burst from pressure and the veins and the pericardium burst from the pulsation and sheened the room with viscosity. She thought she would surely die.
Taking both hands she pressed, painfully, on her exposed heart and pushed it back down into her chest. Next the clumsy girl, weeping with fear and unknowing, bound her heart down with long strips of cotton gauze. She fell on her bed and wept until morning.
In the morning she cleaned up the mess as best she could so that her daughter would not be frightened by all the blood and muck splattered on the bed things and the walls. She donned a bulky sweater to hide the now barely noticeable throb on her chest.
She learned to live with her ailment, changing the bandages daily and let her heart rage at night when she was alone and her daughter was sleeping soundly. Each night she would unwrap the oppression of bandages and her heart would beat and flail with a loud violence outside her chest. She would close her eyes and sometimes cry because it hurt so much to have that angry fist of muscle and tissue pound out of her and often it would take all of her strength to plunge it back into its wrappings. During the day, however, she was the only one aware of the slightly perceptible thump of her heart. As long as she was calm and numb and shut off her feelings she could go about her day and the beast would stay caged.
The girl was worried, today the sun was bright in the sky and the breeze was fresh and there was an undeniable happiness in the air. She couldn’t let her emotions go anymore and revel in happiness for it awoke the stirrings of the heart and she was afraid of its strength. She went to the café to glumly sip a tepid coffee to counter the happiness she felt fluttering up inside her. She stopped at the door of the café; someone had called her name. Cautiously, the girl turned to look behind her and there he was – the boy. He was full of cheerful smiles and his eyes gleamed with merriment. The terrified girl tried to run, but it was too late.
At that moment a great tearing sound accompanied with the most frightful roar ripped through that sundrenched day. The bandages had ripped and her enraged heart thundered and roared. It grew bigger, and bigger, and bigger, until it was the size of small child. Everyone inside and outside the café stood in horror gazing at the bloody, deafening spectacle. The girl sobbed with pain and embarrassment and her slick, red hands tried desperately to push the heart back into its cage. But the heart fought back and she saw two claws emerge from the strained flesh and reach towards her neck and a large jaw with many rows of small razor-sharp teeth appeared on the surface of her heart.
It was going to kill her.
The boy rushed forth and with his strong and gentle hands he grasped her heart. Now a common, unimaginative boy would have ripped the beast out and stomped to shreds, but that would definitely have killed the girl. But the boy was wise and knew how these phantasmagorical horrors worked. He took her angry heart and pressed it back into her, firmly. The heart slowed to a normal beat, calmed, steadied and her chest swallowed up the prodigal heart and began to mend the open wound. The girl looked at the boy and……
Now poppet, do you really think this tale would end with life and love? This is the Brothers Grimm, duckie, and not for the faint of HEART. Pussies can be appeased with the above ending, but know that it is false. Braver (and sensible) souls can look below to see how the gruesome mess ended….
And kill her it did. With both claws hooked around the girl’s throat the terrible jaw widened – yawning with death – and chomped the girl’s head off in one bite. The heart began to feed on the rest of her body in the throes of her death quivers. Devouring tissue, organ, and bone it chomped with relish and brutality. Blood plashed on street and brick wall and the boy, stained with her blood turned, dazed, and walked away to his lady who lived just at the next kingdom.