Writers Group Exercise Week 2: Homework – re-write a fairy tale based on the Heroines Journey Model. This is my attempt with the steps integrated because my brain isn’t that clever. Enjoy.
STEP 1: Separation from the Feminine.
I had a sister once. Lips red as blood. Hair black as night. Skin white as snow. Well, not exactly. She tanned nicely in the summer.
We had a lovely life. Uncomplicated. Simple. Though we looked nothing alike, she was my mirror. My twin soul in every way. One did not step without the others hand. One did not give without the other by her side. I loved her and she me. A sisterhood quite like no other.
STEP 2: Identification with the Masculine and Gathering of Allies:
We rarely disagreed until the day of the dwarf. T’was misty and an eeriness filled the icy air. A green tinge stained the sky, like a brew in a cauldron. What a cliché for a pointy hatted demon to present himself upon our doorstep, when the world outside looked fit to end.
I felt his presence before he stepped on our land. My unwanted gift of sight. An intuitive knowledge I found bothersome and useless compared to a blade. Never the less, I saw him, perhaps another, near the brier woods where only the wicked and giant dared pass. The vision was muddled, but the sentiment clear – evil.
“A darkness approaches. Take caution,” I whispered and placed my hand to her temple.
“Oh, a small stranger, from… the woods. At this hour? Rose, are we in danger?” Snow asked like a timid blue jay.
“Only if we are careless.”
“I do not think we should let this stranger in.”
“He is but a little man. What harm could he possibly be?”
“Tis his cunning I fear, not his size. I tell you, take caution.”
“Sister, you are overly cautious with your role as guard. I am sure mother did not mean you to replace the woodsman.” She giggled and fluttered towards me.
“If you had completed your training there would be no need for my protection, nor that of others.”
“Pish, training. We both know I was never going to be a warrior. Besides, I did not wish for silly lessons to distract from the torch you held for him.” Snow laughed louder, sprinkling her fingers across my arm.
“Nothing but a flickering candle. A dim one.”
“And no doubt the origins of your surly demeanor, sweet Red. Unexplored love… or maybe…”
“I neither pine, nor have need for love. Now take cover behind the door.”
STEP 3: Road or Trials and Meeting the Ogres and Dragons:
An abrupt knock. An unnatural echo. A graying of my skin leached of all warmth. Silence, neither party making the first move. A knock again, louder, longer, wretched.
“Who is it?” I asked with a tone reserved for such moments.
“Herr Zwerg. Are your parents’ home?”
“None of your business.”
“Well, my. I…”
“What do you want?” I snapped again.
“A terrible, beastly bear stole my satchel of gold, and all my worldly possessions. I have no food because the greedy wretch ate that too!”
“Did you harm him?”
“I most certainly did not. He was a giant, almighty…”
“How is this my affair?” I interrupted.
“What sort of an insolent girl would not offer charity to a kindly passer-by at the death of the day? Where are your manners? Where are your morals? Where are your…”
Step 4: Experiencing the Boon of Success – the heroine overcomes obstacles:
“For someone standing in the cold, penniless, hungry and with a great heavy door between he and the only help for miles, I would expect less insults.”
The voice scoffed and spluttered. I muffled a snicker. Snow stirred. It would not be long before her impossible conscience would be reprimanding my sport.
“Rose Red. This is not our way…”
“This is not your way, sister. I, however, grow tired of these villains and their advances.”
“Please, show mercy on the stranger. At least allow him a moment by the fire…”
“I hear another? Such sweet words from the lips of a butterfly…” the stranger’s voice called, his words dripped sickly like syrup.
“Holster your tongue and pocket your games. You shall find no distressed damsels to work your manipulations on here.”
“Hush, Snow. Trust. Let me do what I do best.”
“You have nothing to prove here, sister.”
Step 5: Awakening to Feelings of Spiritual Aridity/Death:
I leant my head against the thick metal bar forged into our formidable stone door, recalling the day my father discovered it. The perfect rock, he called like a conquering god upon the mountain. Mother smiled, but something was not right. Snow tugged on her dress, tears falling as she cried Papa fall, Papa fall over and over. And he did. As his axe blade met the rock, the heavens opened and a lightning bolt like no other hit. Papa fell. Everyone mourned. All except Mother, who day after day chipped away at the large slab that had taken her husband.
I run my hands along the intricate markings she lovingly engraved. Her family crest, and sigh.
“Forgive me, Snow. You are right, ’tis not our way. Stand near the hearth. Keep your hand close to the stoker. We shall offer him food and clothes if he needs, then send him on his way.”
“Your path is a difficult one and I a burden who should never have been placed upon you, my dear.”
“You have never been a burden, Snow White.”
“Perhaps. Still, no matter the trial, you always return. Back to our truth. You always heed the calling.”
“The calling is an almighty pain in my rump.”
Snow smiled and made her way to the fire. I slipped a dagger into my boot and checked the pick axe on my belt.
“We can always call the woodsman if…”
“You know he no longer comes… now hush.” I tightened my grip around the leather holster. Mothers pick tool designed by the smithy as a commiseration gift. I think he was secretly impressed by her rock work. His blade is equally impressive and I run my finger along the sculpted handle, perfectly suited for splitting the skulls of cantankerous dwarves. If necessary. “You there,” I called gruffly. “I am opening the door. I am armed. We offer you broth and a warm fire, but then you be on your way.”
“But night comes, and I as ashen as a dragon feast. I shall surely die…”
“Those are my terms.”
“Well, girl, you leave me no choice. I accept your conditions, but I will not soon forget.”
“Do what you will, dwarf. I care not.”
“How do you know I am…”
I cranked the lever until a familiar click shuddered throughout the castle walls. Herr Zwerg stood in the entrance, his skin a paler shade than expected. I glared at his vile, bitter face as he barged into our home. My grip tightened and for a moment I considered killing him just for his indifference.
“Ah. The butterfly warms her wings by the fire. You look precisely how you sound my dear. May I enquire of your name?” Herr Zwerg extended his hand to Snow, who stumbled near the stoker.
“You may not. Our names are none of your concern. While you are a temporary guest in our home, you shall speak only to me. Now, tell me why you are wandering the dark wood where only fools would roam?”
He scowled at me then turned to the fire. He reminded me of an old cat who used to roam into our gardens come Spring. Prickly and suspicious he would soon scratch at your hand even if it held an offering of cream. For years he haunted our flower beds until one season he was gone. Snow mourned for the creature as only she would and created a shrine with the pebbles she had collected over the years. She offered me a slate coloured stone, but I refused to waste such a handsome object on such a loathsome creature. I set it on the mantle above the fire where the stranger now stood as unwelcoming and unlikable as that horrible cat.
“I was told of a great warrior who dwells near here. A warrior who has more riches than he knows what to do with and a penchant for investing in the intriguing.”
“Intriguing? Intriguing what?”
“I dabble in the practice of the mind and have made leaps and bounds in my research. Alas, a slight financial snag has accosted my enthusiasms of late and well… here I am, to present my work.”
“Sounds like sorcery and the only wealthy warriors we know of have either died or… moved on,” I replied, motioning to Snow who shifted lightly to the kitchen.
“I see. Well, I have it from a most reputable source. Perhaps you would like a demonstration,” he lurched towards me far quicker than I had thought him capable and I pulled the dagger from my boot.
“Take another step and I shall slash the curl from your boot.”
“Indeed,” he said, calmly, as Snow returned with a tray of steaming mugs.
“Is everything alright?” she asked in her darling tone. Before I could answer she handed the stranger the broth who was suddenly before her. He placed his pale, bony hand upon her fingers and they immediately closed their eyes. As I launched the dagger towards his chest Snow turned, blocking my path. The whites of her eyes were all I saw. Vacant. Ghostly. Dead.
Step 6: Initiation and Descent to the Goddess:
The dagger plunged through her heart with ease. The blood as scarlet as her lips spread across her dress. So intricate. So immediate. So final. She dropped limply into my arms and I released a foreign sound. Pain. Heartbreak.
“Who is the warrior? Tell me or I shall use my “sorcery” as you say – on you.”
Step 7: Heroine Urgently Yearns to Reconnect with the Feminine:
I no longer heard him. I saw the red roses that wound themselves around the window sill of her room. I heard her song within the snow that softly fell beyond the castle walls. I felt her forgiveness, her softness, her love. I felt my half leaving. She was gone, but was not. I felt some transparent version of her, hovering near my soul.
Step 8 Heroine Heals the Mother/Daughter Split:
I closed my eyes and saw it all. Herr Zwerg, the woodsman, father, mother, Rose, me. The truth of my gift. The dagger fell from fingers as I kicked aside the axe. The ground shook once more, but not from my father’s door. He heard. I knew. I think I always knew. He was coming.
“Why do you smile witch? What evil doth bound in the darkness?”
“T’was you who cursed my woodsman.”
“What nonsense do natter?”
“You lured him with a cart of weaponry. Disguised as a peddler. Twas you who stole the gold and food and cursed my love. My friend.”
“Lies! You lying wench! Who comes forth? Is it the warrior I seek?”
“You have already met the warrior.”
Step 9: Heroine Heals the Wounded Masculine Within:
“Me,” I said calmly. Herr Zwerg’s wrinkled mouth gaped as the bear entered, thrashing violently towards the pointy head that he swiftly removed from its murderous neck. The bear collapsed, shedding his beastly form and my woodsman lay before me.
Step 10: Heroine Integrates the Masculine and Feminine:
We buried my sister next to Mother and Papa, amongst the wild heather. I carve both family crests into their stones, forever bound, forever balanced on both plains. I talk to them every day, but spend most of my hours beside Rose. Even in death she still listens patiently, and guides me, as always with her grace. She is within. They all are. It brings me peace.