Thursday, August 30

Ordinary Disasters

When the moon disappeared, we were flung headlong into a story. Not one of the good ones, though. The world, wobbling drunkenly across the sky, has a new set of tales to tell.

This is the story in which the Beast tears Beauty into bloody strips and devours her whole; the story in which the Blue Fairy plays cruel jokes on innocent puppets. The one where Sleeping Beauty sleeps, forever, because without true love's kiss we are left with the thorns. They slice like knives and put out eyes and clutch in closer every year.

It wasn't a hundred years before we began to break. It wasn't even one.

Here is the story in which the crane maiden lies bleeding in the forest and no one binds up the wound in her breast. The carven wife never comes alive, the nine-tailed fox is killed, savaged by hunting dogs. Here is the part where Inanna, descending, is stripped bare to the bones and never returns. The sun sets on Hansel and Gretel in the forest, or in the oven, or in the witch's belly, breadcrumbs still stashed in the pockets of the pants that were carefully cut off and discarded in the corner before the grisly feast.

Godfather Death eats and eats and never stops to admire himself in the glass at the foot of the bed. Ella falls to blood poisoning, ashes and lye and glass shards embedded in her battered feet. There are no Seven Sisters, no Penelope, and Oz becomes a dream in the poisoned desert, the fevered ravings of an absinthe drinker.

The moving finger writes, and having written, points directly at its audience in condemnation. We cover our faces with blood-red veils. We tattoo the old inscriptions with ash and mud from the bottom of the lake. We patch up our wounds with paper, the ink mixing with our blood and tears until we are smudged the color of the hole in the sky, black and moonless and bereft. The end is not coming.

The end is already here, crouching beside us in the dark.

For the Scriptic prompt exchange this week, Christine gave me this prompt: "Take a familiar book, story, or fairy tale, and rewrite the ending. Feel free to change the setting, time period, characters, etc., as long as the original story is recognizable." Of course, since that is kind of what I usually do, this became rather more of a challenge.

I gave SAM this prompt: "'You're nothing but a deck of cards!'"