I was born into a fairy tale, but there was a problem. I’m a guy and I should have been born a female because in the classic tale of this type there is a grandmother living on the edge of the forest with her granddaughter. The girl’s mother usually runs off with a traveling salesman. The grandmother teaches the granddaughter women’s magic. My Grannie couldn’t teach a boy women’s magic. I picked up some things like phases of the moon. I watched and knew which herbs she picked, but I did not know their uses. Grannie kept her secrets from me. I felt left out.
When it came time for me. I married, we had a daughter and my wife ran off with a traveling sales man. So far the story was back on track. Grannie was gone. I taught my daughter what I knew, but felt bad that I couldn’t give her the full package including the magic. She seemed a happy child not knowing what she was missing.
It was coming time for Solstice, the darkest, shortest night of the year. It is believed that the veils between the worlds are thinnest and strange things could happen. Gifts are exchanged. Poor people like us gave each other new clothes or shoes. I was surprised when my daughter asked for a box of crayons, just the small box of eight colors. She had been drawing in the dirt with a stick for a long time. We lived up in the hills and seldom went to town. I didn’t know how I would get the crayons. I really wanted to please her. On Solstice Eve I started down the mountain to see if I could find a way to grant her wish. It was cold, but I had an old jacket and a scarf.
To my surprise on my way down the road I found a mouse just lying there, kind of stiff. I picked it up and felt a weak heartbeat. So I put her in my inside jacket pocket over my heart. As she began to warm up I felt her move enough to get comfortable. I talked to the mouse explaining my dilemma.
A little further down the road, in the middle of the road, I found a mother rabbit trying to keep her 3 young warm by covering them with her body. Strange that two such animals (mouse and rabbits) would be in the middle of the road instead of hiding in the bushes. I took my scarf off and tied it around my waist. Thus made a pouch in my jacket to contain the rabbits. They were keeping me warm as I kept them warm.
Further down the road I heard an animal cry in anguish. Following the sound off the road, I found a fox caught in a hunter’s trap. She was frantic. I talked to her in a soothing voice and she began to calm down. I guess she understood that I would help. After I freed her from the trap, she let me rip off a bit of my scarf to bandage her leg with the scarf. I thought I heard a faint “thank you” on the wind as she ran off.
In taking care of the animals, time had passed. It got darker, colder, and windier. On my way back to the road, I stepped into an ice covered rut. I broke through the ice and got my legs wet. Boy was I in trouble. The water would reduce my body heat quicker and I would freeze. I worried about my little girl. I shook with intense shivers, then I felt warmth and extreme tiredness. I was falling asleep. I knew this was the end. Wakening, I felt a bright light and opened my eyes. The old ones surrounded me. Those Gods of long ago. They were dressed in their ceremonial robes, some animal, some human or half human. I knew I was gone. This must be heaven. A voice said, “Anyone with a heart as good as yours deserves a second chance.”
To my surprise, I woke the next morning in my bed. The cabin was warm. There was a fire and a pile of wood. I was covered by a new, warm blanket. There was a new coat draped over the chair. My daughter had a new blanket and a coat as well. I smelled a pot of stew simmering on the stove. The big surprise was the box of 64 crayons on the table. The old ones even left a pad of drawing paper.
The animals had become my daughter’s playmates and I suspected they were teaching her magic.
Sandy Vrooman,has been writing for a long time. Her first published work was in the National Anthology of High School Poetry. Then she won a hair dryer in the Woman's Day Beautiful Words Contest. After a hiatus including college, marriage(s) and a child, she found her voice again. She has short stories and poems published in Doorknobs and Bodypaint, riverbabble, Canadian Zen Haiku, Juice, Autumn Leaves, Dances with words, 40 Plus, Poets Against the War, Moonset, World Haiku Review, and Atlas Poetica. She is currently teaching art to kids through a city funded enrichment program and working on her book (isn't everyone?) She also writes as Kitsune Miko, a heian period Japanese courtesan, and Krystall Knobbs a wanna be Las Vegas show girl.