The Epic Journey of She


Once upon a time, there was a kind and gracious Queen wandering  the Endless Forest seeking a New Kingdom. She had left a prestigious Kingdom ruled with The Iron Fist of the Order of Black and White by the Mad King.

Now to be fair, he wasn’t mad as in wow what a nut job, he was just an angry guy all the time. His diatribes were legendary in all the land when things were not The Way They Were Supposed To Be. It was very exhausting and disheartening to be Queen in such a Kingdom.

So one day she packed her crown, her Mac and the two royal pups (Lord Murphy and Lady Molly) and crossed the drawbridge into the Endless Forest. They traveled great distances over the next year or so, seeking just the right place to start a New Kingdom and along the way she had somehow ended up with a small group that had each decided to travel with her and see what became of it all.

She had D’Oracle, the wise man, as her advisor of all things weird and incomprehensible. He taught her to see each situation they encountered in eight different ways simultaneously by randomly uttering odd and intriguing thoughts that turned her perceptions of any one thing into an endless loop of possibilities. He was much more helpful than her Magic 8 Ball which she had relied on heavily in the past.

The Duchess of K joined their journey about the same time. She felt it was her duty to instruct the Queen in curse words when appropriate, applicable rap songs for any situation, and how to find a good deal in the villages they passed through along the way. The only drawback was her determination to find the Queen a new King to rule by her side, which caused Her Royal Highness moments of abject dismay.

Then they acquired the Mother Superior; Mother Mac they called her. She gave sage advice whenever they were smart enough to ask, and when the Queen did something foolish like giving all her rubies to the thief she thought was a homeless guy, Mother Mac would get her rubies back and pray for her immortal soul. She never wavered from her endless task.

Lastly she adopted D’Bois the Bear Cub. He was as big as a man, with a heart like a lion. He would growl and flex and stand to a great height and every one would run away but the Queen. She would just smile and walk up to him, laying her head on his shoulder and he would hug her tight. It made her very happy. Hugs were going to be a big thing in her New Kingdom.

So there they were, wandering deeper and deeper into the forest when they came upon a magician holding a skull in one hand, and a jug of ale in the other. They found him fascinating for a time; his story-telling and dream-weaving. D’Bois the bear would sit at his feet as the magician wove one story into the next, his eyes laughing at the entertainment that most bears aren’t privy to.

The Duchess of K was at first mesmerized by the magician’s tales and Kingly potential. This soon gave way to a grave concern that HRH was being led down the garden path. She began chanting curse words and singing applicable rap song verses to distract the Queen from the musings of her overly soft heart. She wanted a Warrior for her Queen, not a trickster.

D’Oracle said only “If there be dragons, this be one”. No one questioned him.

Mother Mac began to pray as if a legion of demons were bringing all of hell upon them.

The Queen heard them not. She was not fooled, but she was foolish. She thought to save him from the smoke and mirrors he used to trick his way through life.

There is nothing more hopeless or horrifying than a woman (much less, a Queen) trying to save someone who does not want to be saved. It is a war with no winner. A battle with no armor, a pointless struggle with no end.

And thus was she defeated where she stood.

As she handed him her last ruby, he began to smoke as if aflame and drank heavily from the jug of ale and mocked them all for their stupidity before disappearing leaving nothing but a smear of sludge and a large gray stone.

D’Bois the bear cub butted against the stone roaring in fury, and the stone moved not at all. Duchess K cursed a blue streak sending sparks skipping all across its surface and damaged it not. Mother Mac crossed herself and threw holy water on it and it steamed and spit, etching letters into the surface that read ASINUS.

The Queen looked to D’Oracle with sorrow in her eyes.

D’Oracle said grimly, “It is the latin word for FOOL”.

They stood silently, fearfully looking to the Queen to see what would come of this.

She stepped forward and easily lifted the heavy stone in her two hands with the strength of her heart alone.

“This is the first stone of wisdom for our New Kingdom. Let us begin.”

Advertisements

The Healer: A Story of She


She was barely breathing. The blow had taken her to her knees and she fell forward, her insides quivering as she tried to clear her vision. She refused to let the whimper escape as she slowly struggled to stand.

She felt her heartbeat in the throbbing of her cheekbone that was already bruising, but that pain was nothing compared to the feeling of being gutted when she saw the face of her attacker.

She stood and faced him, raising shaking hands to her face and felt the pain in her cheek ease as she healed.

The sorrow inside her would not be diminished.

He had come upon her in his journey home after battle some time ago and the whispers he’d heard of her healing abilities intrigued him. He sought her out in her small stone cottage and asked her for aid.

She had taken him in with a smile and cleaned every wound he presented to her and to his astonishment, her touch alone leached the pain from every injury.

His amazement changed to horror as he noticed that whatever injury she touched, she took upon herself momentarily before it faded and healed before his eyes. Every time she took his pain upon herself-his misery eased.

He’d stayed with her then, fascinated by this woman of no status with so great a power, and began to test her. Who knew what good he might gain by having a woman like this in his possession?

Wealth? Fame? Power?

So he began to entertain these fantasies while she found joy in feeding him and listening to his stories of epic battle. She looked at him in wonder and adoration at his bravery and loyalty to his cause. She gave her heart over to him, not as a lover or a mother, but that in between place very few find that is stronger and just as irreversible.

She simply claimed him, and he belonged to her.

Then his testing began. He had to know the strength of her abilities and commitment to him. It only made sense.

He would go out and bring her the sick, the injured, the dying. He watched her heal them all and recover. He would question her and mock her answers, watching carefully for the light in her eyes to dim before he would beg her pardon.

And she always forgave him, giving even more each time he asked.  His satisfaction grew.

The only chink in his armor was that the longer he stayed, the more she touched him and with even the lightest touch as she passed by to bring him ale or a book or something else she thought would please him, he felt his heart ease and his mind settle just a little bit. He began to resent her for making him think of foolish things like love, compassion and gratitude.

By all the gods, he was a warrior! Was she trying to weaken him enough to gain power over him?

So now she stands before him face to face. Bruises healed, but hope damaged, and she knew of only one way to save him.

As he looked away to polish a smudge on his shield, she reached out a small hand and touched his heart. He froze, turning his head slowly to look into her eyes and see her for the first time.

Unable to move he watched her lift her other hand to her own smaller heart and as hers shredded inside her, he felt his own become whole.

Unable to sustain the damage, she dropped once again to the forest floor struggling for just enough breath to tell him what he needed to do.

He knelt beside her and he watched as the heart she’d taken for him killed her.

She had failed the last test.

But he carried her last whisper with him from that moment on.

“Love.”

 

The Confession of She


She looks out from her porch across the quiet water and lifts her face to the wind and silence of the world she’s creating for herself. She’s afraid, who wouldn’t be? She is, at the same time, filled with an uncontainable joy, and why should she try to contain it?

Like most things in life, there is a balance that must be maintained for things to grow ever forward; to deter the stagnation of the soul that comes with too much. Too much sameness, too much resentment, too much blame. The blame is the most damaging as it can be directed inward to the self or outward to another, both being a total waste of life and time.

She smiles for a moment at her joy, and then her eyes fill with tears as she begins her confession. It’s a hard, but necessary thing she’s doing. If she holds onto her pride, and confesses nothing, then everything she’s doing is pointless. She has to say her part in it all, claim her mistakes and wrong-thinking. There are penalties for the mistakes she has made, and she has paid for most of them already by living with them every day.

Now it’s time to confess and forgive and move on. 

It starts as a whisper, as she names the dreams she put on the shoulders of another that were hers alone to pursue. Her voice trembles just a little as she speaks every wish she had for them that seems to now be nothing but a silly fairytale remembered from bedtime stories. Her heart quivers and cracks as she admits freely that what she asked of him was beyond his capability to give. Beyond even his desire to give.

They are both the result of hearts unevenly yoked, each causing the other to falter.

He is a realist, and she is a seeker. He believes in what is right now, and she believes in what could be. He’s right. So is She. She confesses that she did not have the power to blend those into a thriving life, and knows he has no desire to blend at all. She wants love. He wants respect.

Neither of them got what they wanted.

That is her greatest confession; her greatest sorrow. They matched themselves together, and both of them starved to death from the inside out. He left more, did more, worked more. She turned into herself, pounding out her frustration and loss on the keyboard. What he did hurt her heart, what she did hurt his pride.

Both are apparently unforgivable offenses.

So here She stands. Confessing to the world her greatest failure. The failure to successfully love and respect the one she chose to build a life with. What his part is in this is of no concern to her now. That will be for him to see or not, to confess or not. Her confession is what matters, or she will never go any farther than where she stands right now.

Remaining the same is unacceptable to her. There are dreams to be had, a life to live.

So she stepped away from her keyboard, and into an unwritten future. She walked away from apparent safety into the uncertainty that comes from wearing courage cleverly disguised as foolishness and rash thinking.

No one understands how brave she is being in the face of fear. No one knows how her blood runs cold to consider that she may be wrong, and have nothing to offer the world. It crosses no one’s mind that she wants her legacy to be one of living without apology, loving without restraint, and laughing over mistakes that are only tools for learning. None of this clear to anyone but her, and she confesses that it scares her that she might be wrong.

But what if She’s right?

 

The Point Of No Return


point of no return

 

I watched her take that last step of indecision into the space in time that is the most paralyzing. The place where she was perfectly balanced between the person she’d been and the mystery of who she would become. She’d changed enough on her journey that stepping back into the old life would drive her to insanity,  but not enough to step forward the six inches that would put her in a world she wouldn’t recognize.

The expressions on her face were fascinating to see as they changed from sorrow, to anger, then terror and at last a fierce joy. I was certain she would take the step then, but still she remained frozen. I wondered how many times I would see this cycle before she made her choice. It disturbed me to not know the answer to that, to not be certain.

I saw friends and family around her, some urging her forward, others calling her back to them. There were one or two on the other side waiting patiently for her to decide between the certain and the unknown. They said very little, seeming to understand that she had become deaf to all but the whispering of everything inside her that mattered.

I decided to sit with the quiet ones at The Point of No Return, to see her face if she actually took that last step. For some reason, it was critical to me that I see her face in that moment. I wondered what I would write about her when all was said and done. Would it be a mysterious adventure or a tragedy that would cause me to weep long after I quit writing?

The general consensus among crowd on the far side was that she had lost her mind, possibly a breakdown that could be treated with drugs or therapy. Maybe she was sick in some way and hadn’t told anyone, or maybe she was just a fool. All they could see was that she would be leaving comfort and social acceptance. Some just thought her selfish to destroy so much for some flighty need to feed the fire in her that was barely flickering.

I could almost see the same questions running through her mind as she stood there, her eyes not blinking as she stared out at something only she could see. Regret, indecision and guilt warred with a ferocity of purpose that made me look over my shoulder to see what she saw ahead of her. There was nothing I could see, but I knew she saw it clearly, whatever it was.

I know now in retrospect that she was staring at her Second Chance. The last and final opportunity to leave behind all that was dead and meaningless, including those who had regarded her, and all she longed for as meaningless. I understand now, the desperation that she felt to have come that far and been so close and not know if she had the courage to move even one step more.

At the time, I didn’t know these things. All I saw was a woman frozen between two worlds, afraid to make a decision. I saw someone lost, angry, rebellious and afraid. She was a wild card to me at that moment. I had no idea what she would do next, and I was caught up in the moment. I  wanted to jump up and shout something that would make her take the step.

Whatever she decided was going to affect all of us in a big way. I knew that for sure. I think maybe that’s what held her frozen at that point. Knowing clearly all the lives that would change if she changed hers. Wondering if she were strong enough, smart enough or brave enough to begin again.

When she closed her eyes and lowered her head, my heart began to pound in a mixture of dread and anticipation. I found myself whispering for her to please take the step, please don’t look back, please. I watched her bowed head and sent her every bit of strength I could find whether it mattered or not. We all leaned forward sensing that she was about to make her move one way or the other. There was a lead ball in my gut, and my breathing matched the pounding of my heart as we waited.

All of us froze as she lifted her head and tears filled her eyes as she turned to look at the life behind her. Then, without a word, she spun around and took the last step, not looking back or flinching at the roar of the bridges burning behind her. There was no going back.

I will never forget the look on her face when she smiled at me.

 

 

 

 

The Storm of She


She stood before him in chains, bowed as if to protect herself from the words that struck like stones. She heard him dismiss the words she spoke, as easily as she had allowed herself to be brushed aside repeatedly over the years. Her heart shuddered as it fractured one last time before letting go.

As she stared at the floor, her eyes burned with fury at herself for the foolishness of all her decisions leading to this moment, and then she let that go too. She had permitted disrespect and neglect for so long that it felt odd and empowering to raise her head and smile into his eyes.

He was rendered mute by whatever it was he saw in her expression.

She straightened to her full height, topping him by two inches. She would never make herself smaller for anyone again. She stared directly at him, and he winced at the sorrow he finally saw there. She lifted her hands slowly and let everything that chained her to him fall away. He began to sweat, and shift away from her.

“I don’t belong here anymore,” she said. “Everything I needed to learn here is complete. There is nothing to forgive either of us for, we call to ourselves the lessons we need to learn, no matter how long and painful the teachings.”

He began to rage at her, afraid and helpless in the face of the woman he no longer recognized. He tried to sway her with guilt, with grief, with sympathy and with logic. He painted a dark and ugly picture, and the black clouds rolled in and lightning began to strike all around them. The earth shifted beneath their feet and he lost his balance, trying vainly to find something solid to stand upon.

But She remained still as the earth settled beneath her, and she lifted her face to the power of the storm coming.

Every move she made then, changed the landscape around her. The rain began to fall as the sky wept tears of joy for her. The thunder moved in her heart and shattered years of silence. The lightning continued to flash and illuminate everything she had always been too afraid to see. As he ran for shelter to the only life he had known, she threw her arms wide and laughed at the first real joy she had allowed herself in ages.

For the first time in forever, light began to show through the dry cracks in a heart that had atrophied. Hope, desire and dreams began to grow in profusion where there had long been nothing but dust. She finally looked at herself through her own eyes, instead of the eyes of another, and she no longer hated who she saw.

The darkness swirled with the light and the rain washed every bit of regret away, exposing the glitter of truth to reflect the lightning flashes. She looked out at all the possibilities she had hidden from herself, and they were more beautiful than any rainbow she had ever seen. She welcomed the fury of it all, the disruption, the remaking of the landscape around her.

She reveled in the storm that came from the very heart of her. She was the storm, and she destroyed all that was. 

And she had never been happier.

A Kingdom Falling: The Flight of She


She walked through her Kingdom smiling, and doing, and caring for others, and making life run smoothly. Everyone thought she was strong, competent, brilliant, funny and kind.

Inside she was just one long silent scream of despair.

She did and said all the right things. She went where she was supposed to, did what everyone else did, and built an entire world with stones of commitment, mortar of guilt, turrets of shame, and surrounded it with a moat guarded by the dragons of WhatEveryBodyElseDoes.

Her burning eyes constantly scanned the horizon for something she could not name.

She had grown tired of the performance and longed for something real, something of value that would give her a reason to wake up in the morning and rise to face the challenges of another day. She didn’t need anyone to come and save her, for God’s sake, she had a King in the castle, and what good had that done her?

She was perfectly capable of saving herself, if she could only believe she was worth the collateral damage.

She knew she could walk across the moat of regret at any time. She could catapult herself over the wall of bullshit. She could tame one of the Dragons and fly him into the sunset. The power was all in her hands.

But she first had to find the belief that she was worth every dream she held closely in her heart.

The hardest thing of all for her to bear, was the knowledge that she herself helped build every wall, reinforced every rule, diminished herself to fit the mold, voluntarily, so that no one would notice she didn’t belong.

She became her own judge, jury, executioner and now held the keys to the dungeon.

After many years of sitting on the ramparts, thinking her thoughts and dreaming her dreams, finally the largest dragon spoke:

“What do you want?”

“Freedom.”

“What do you want?”

“The space and respect to be myself.”

“What do you want?”

“Passion.”

“Even if it’s only your own?”

“Yes. Even then.”

The questions continued long into the night. The questions the dragon asked were horribly hard to hear and painful to answer. He wanted to know why she had stayed so long in a Kingdom that had no room for all that she was. He wanted to know what she was doing to fix her circumstances. He wanted to know why a Queen was behaving like a little mouse skittering out of the way of the brashness, the selfishness, the arrogant anger. He wanted to know why she allowed herself to be manipulated into being a spark when she was in fact a fire of such power she could reduce the entire kingdom to ash if she let herself go.

But the most painful thing he made her see, and admit out loud, was that it all happened with her permission. The hardest thing he made her realize was that she had the power to change her entire life at any time she chose. She had only to make it so.

It made her ashamed…and afraid…and hopeful…and strong.

So she gave it much thought, and pondered it deeply in her heart, and finally stood. She turned to the King, who could not see her, and bid him goodbye. She turned her back on the people who were not hers, and the home she didn’t have, and the dreams that lay in rotted piles.

She turned to the dragon and asked him his name. He bowed his head, slightly, and growled out “Rogue”. She laughed at the appropriateness of that and stroked his face in love and gratitude for the pain he’d caused.

Because she wouldn’t have freed herself without the pain and the harshness of his questions. She would have trudged along in an unutterably defeated life. So she owed him for the pain that set her free.

“How can I repay you?”, she whispered.

“Just ask me.” he answered.

“Ask you what?” she whispered again.

“Ask me to fly you away from the life that is killing you.” He answered, his golden eyes burning.

So she looked him in the eye, and bid him do as she commanded. She hiked her skirts up, and climbed on his back, holding tightly as she leaned over and whispered in his ear…

“Take me where the broken can be beautiful”

And he did.

the tale of She-awaken the sleeping heart


She had been asleep a lifetime. Waiting to be awakened, her Pandora’s box of dreams locked up tight in the dark corner. She didn’t remember now what little poisonous prick had caused her unnatural sleep, and just as forgotten was the prince that was supposed to kiss her awake for her life to begin. She remembered asking “mirror, mirror…” and couldn’t remember why that had been so important to her since she knew, deep down, that she was the mirror.

She realized slowly over eons, that we were all sleeping beauties waiting to rise and fulfill our fairy tales, but we had all been taught to wait, to endure, to accept. She grew tired of lying there, all chaste and lovely, while the world of possibilities danced around her ivory tower. Some were waiting patiently to be loved, she knew, but in her opinion, she thought she should just get up and love herself. She was aware of how everyone looked endlessly for it, and she was fed up with that when love should be searching for her. “Love will save us” everyone whispered. But she shook her fist to the sky and shouted…

“I will save myself!”

She heaved an exasperated (yet delicate, and socially acceptable) sigh of frustration, and rolled out of the fancy bed. Her joints were stiff from lack of use, and she stretched herself as she looked around the tower room that had no door. She noticed a tarnished mirror, a sword, and a pile of armor. Her long hair trailed behind her on the floor as she crossed to the only window to look out and get the lay of the land. Far below she saw piles of rusted suits of armor, and assorted weapons obviously left there when the Knights of Old got sick of trying to figure out a way up to save her. She rolled her eyes and turned towards the room once again.

She stalked to the mirror and inquired of it in a soft yet determined voice.

“Mirror, Mirror on the wall

that is just too steep a fall

so pray tell share what I must give

to free myself and let me live?

The mirror shimmered and hummed as it reflected her image and her words into the room. Moments passed before its surface cleared to give her the answer she sought. It finally came to her in symphonic tones that brought relief and beauty to a heart still fighting desperately to remain closed up tight in the tower.

“Child of magic, child of light

you’ve been hidden, now you fight.

You have all you need to free

the person you were meant to be”

She looked down at her gown, and over her shoulder at the length of hair trailing behind her. She carefully braided her hair, knelt to pick up her sword, and sliced her braid free, coiling it carefully by the window. She sorted out the pile of copper armor that reminded her of the taste of blood in her mouth from biting back her words in the past. After careful deliberation she left it there, preferring to be brave enough to let life pierce her straight through the heart if need be, if that’s what it took to be truly free.

She was willing to expose her damage and her fury in honor of her regenerating heart. She would not turn her back on herself again. She would not wait for advice or permission or prince charming. Hell no.

She tossed her braid over the ledge, secured it to the bed, and threw her leg over the window sill. She looked over her shoulder one last time and smiled at herself in the mirror on the wall, where she’d learned to love herself, and honor her heart.

She was fierce, she was bad-ass, and she was jumping.

Are you coming?