Thursday, October 25, 2012
The Tale of Princess Faith
Once upon a time, long, long ago, in a kingdom far, far away (somewhere in the neighborhood of Barstow, California, which is the same as saying Nowhere Really) there lived a princess. Her name was Princess Faith.
Faith was not a princess by inheritance. She was a princess in her own mind. When she was seven, a tiara made of flesh sprouted above her ears and she herself painted it gold and bedecked it with cheapish jewels. Far from being royalty, her mother was a fish-seller and her father was one of the two swindlers who sold the emperor of another kingdom some fabric that wasn't really there. He was in prison during most of Faith's growing up. Faith had one sister who was not a princess, but instead made apple pies and sold them in the market square.
Faith's most favorite thing in the whole world was to write. To get ideas for her writing, she sat at the pond in the enchanted forest and looked. And this pond into which she looked was the very same pond in which Narcissus lost himself, my dear reader. It was a magical pond, all set about with narcissus plants and satyrs and sorcery and spells. Faith's writing went like this: when she had looked and looked and looked, she would pull out her reflection and turn it into ink. Dipping her pen into it, she spread it on a page. Very happily, Princess Faith did this for many years.
Until, one day, gentle reader, an evil witch came upon her at the pond (that pond of Narcissus). And this was the same witch who is always stirring up trouble. This was the witch who makes gold into straw, turns princes into frogs and is the creator of Jersey Shore. She saw Faith and what she was doing and this witch, she thought to herself, Too much self is never a good thing.
Do you know what she did? She took that image straight out of that pond. (And I suspect she sold it to a Hollywood producer, probably with movie rights, as well.)
Poor Faith! She, who was so sure of the worthiness of her own self to have actually made a crown right out of flesh, to be without her own image! She looked and looked, but there was nothing in the pond she knew how to write! Nothing from which she could make ink. She sobbed great tears that rolled into the pond, making it larger, but still no reflection was there. None but the trees about the pond.
"I am not a landscape artist," sobbed Faith.
"Go to see the Wise Woman of the Woods" advised her sister. "She will be able to tell you what to do. Have a slice of pie."
Faith had not known there was such a woman. She spent most of her time at the pond, unaware of the other features of the magical woods.
"Of course," she told her sister. "I was already thinking of that."
She took a pie of pie and left.
The Wise Woman of the Woods sat on a stump. She looked like a stump herself, wrinkled and tangled and hard as bark. Her hair was like lichen, and with a hand like a gnarled branch, she waved Faith toward her and, with effort, formed her lips into a twisting smile.
"What can I do ya for, my dear?" she croaked.
"My reflection is gone. It has been stolen by a witch!" Faith told her story. She added dramatic elements, and showed rather than told. She spun a tragedy and laid the weaving down.
The Wise Woman blinked and yawned.
"Perhaps it is for the best," she said. "How many tales can one tell all featuring the story of one self-made princess, the daughter of a prisoner, whose hands still smell of fish? I'll tell you what. You go and sit back in that same spot in the forest, but turn your attention away from the pond. Look at what's in the woods around you. Write about the satyrs and the demons and the fae. Write about the dryads and the hamadryads. If you do this for one month, I expect you will begin to be able to see yourself again."
"One month!" gasped Faith. "Hamadryads...Thank you, Wise Woman."
And off she ran.
Back at the pond, she sat and looked at the forest. She watched the stirrings of the creatures in the sylvan deep. And she turned their stories into ink. Without speaking a word to anyone, she spun their images into tales, making up what they were saying and doing and thinking out of the whisperings of the leaves. And she waited for the end of October, the magical month of October. She hoped that either the Wise Woman's words were true and her reflection would appear again or that she could learn to love the stories of the wood people.
She never noticed as the crown began to melt back into her skull.
Note: I hate this story, but I have started three things and not been able to finish any of them, so I am going to go ahead and publish this anyway.
Faith in Ambiguity by Tara Adams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License