Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Excerpt from a story from my new collection: LAY ME OUT SOFTLY
WHILE I WAS AWAY
While I was away in fairyland I went blind in one eye.
My left foot turned into a hobbling hoof and remained so.
I grew thin as I had ever been in my adult life, a little hobbling hoofed skeleton with one eye.
The big, old tree in my yard got a frilly white fungus, died and had to be chopped down so as not to fall on and crush the house.
My daughter’s princess hair tangled into elflocks.
My shining, young, green-eyed son, who can spell any word you ask of him, wrote, “I hate myself. I’m stupid and dumb,” on the top of his paper at school.
When I came back from fairyland the world was murky and blurred. I could no longer dance nor hardly walk. The hairdresser cut off all my daughter’s flowing golden tendrils and she wept at the result. My gentle son slapped her arm when she spoke harshly to him. When I chastised him he said, “I hate you, I hate her and I hate myself!” When I said, “My eyes hurt,” he said, “I’ll make mine hurt, too.” I told him that he didn’t have to make his eyes hurt to make me feel better, that I needed him to love himself and feel good. That he and his sister were the most important people in the world to me. He seemed a little skeptical as I had abandoned him for that time in fairyland. I wished I had never gone.
I blame that strange man with the cleft in his chin and the eyes like milky blue marbles. He wooed me with wine made of roses, poppies and cannabis. He wooed me with his strange melodies and artful poetry. He wooed me with the undulations of his pale, tethered body. When I was blind and crippled and my children had suffered, he told me he could not bear to see me suffer so and left me on the hillside in the freezing rain; when I woke I was no longer in the land of the fae.
Why, you may ask, did I go to fairyland at all? My life was lovely. I had a house with a garden protected by the sheltering arms of a fine, old tree. (The tree flowered with red blooms in the spring, had a small wooden house in its branches; its trunk was circled with ivy leaves; it was perfect). I liked my work as head librarian in the big, marble library with its high ceilings and echoing floors. I had a healthy body and two happy children with no tangles in their hair. They loved and respected themselves. I could dance and I could see out of both eyes. But I did not value these things enough. I wept everyday, down on my knees, because I did not have a man. And not just any man—an elf prince, a magician like the dark-haired, yellow-cloaked fellow in the Tarot deck.
I should have remained alone.