Once upon a time there was a young peasant girl who never had a chance.
She grew up in a small village. She loved to spend hours in the woods behind her quaint cottage. There was a place of refuse not far from the woods where villagers would abandon unwanted pets. The girl would spend hours of her day playing and feeding the castaway animals. At nightfall, she knew it was time to return.
It wasn’t a happy home in the small village. There were never I love you’s or hugs. But the young girl didn’t know anything else. It always felt as if something was missing, but how can one know what they are missing if they have never had it before? She just knew that she felt lonely.
Mother screamed a lot. Father hid away a lot. Then one day there was a baby sister who would be loved and adored by the girl. Love. Love was missing. She would spend her days affectionately cuddling her new baby sister.
The years went by and the girl did very well in her studies. So well, that she received a scholarship to attend University. Always the do-gooder. Image was very important in her quaint cottage.
Along came a young man who was handsome and charming. He liked the same minstrels as the girl and they would spend their nights dancing and laughing. Oh, what fun they had together. Then one fateful night, their dancing would lead to a magical kiss.
A baby bloomed from that magical kiss!
The girl was quite surprised that only one magical kiss brought forth such a cherished and precious child. In those days, it took others many magical kisses to bloom babies. Though she wasn’t expecting one so soon, she was very excited to affectionately cuddle this new baby as well. Like she had cuddled her baby sister so many years before.
The handsome and charming man was not so eager. In fact, he ran to Far Far Away and was never heard from again. The girl was terribly saddened by this news and on her way back to her cottage, a reckless caravan plowed right into the girls ramshackle wagon and destroyed it. She was stuck in her cottage indefinitely. No more University.
Then one night, the mother and father, sat down with the young girl and told her that if she chose to keep this baby from the magical kiss, that she would not have any cottage in the village to live in. The mother was an evil woman. A narcissist. A witch! But the poor young girl had no idea. She had no defenses to fight. She felt powerless by this news.
The witch spent every waking hour planting seeds of doubt into the young girl’s head. The girl had no where to go to get away from such mean-spirited talk. Her wagon was a total loss. The lonely girl would spend months of isolation in the cottage. She would not be invited to any balls or dinners. Her little dog, Jock, would be her only friend.
The witch paraded strangers into the cottage that would also plant seeds of doubt in the young girl’s head. She even brought in the vicar who offered to purchase the baby for his brother in a distant village. The girl was horrified! She couldn’t even turn to God. So many of her friends were still at University. She was too shamed to reach out to others for help. She didn’t have anyone in the world to turn to.
One night she was awakened by a terrible nightmare. She dreamed that she was drowning and as she began to stretch her arms to swim, she looked down and saw that she had a baby clutched tightly to her chest. Her beautiful baby! She held the baby close with one arm and struggled to tread water with her other. A bright light appeared above the water and 2 hands reached in. But the girl was so far descended into the abyss. She felt she could only save the baby and she would accept her fate in the nothingness below. With all her might, she lifted the baby above her head and pushed her into the reaching hands.
The nightmare was the effects of a spell placed on the girl by the evil witch. From that moment on, the girl was forever changed. She began to believe the cruel things the witch said in order to separate her from the baby. She began to believe that she was drowning this baby in selfishness and poverty. She came to a belief that she would in fact be the worse thing for the baby in the entire world.
The witch found a family that she said could take better care of the baby than the girl. The girl relented, understanding that she had no where to go. There were no cottages. There was no fortune. And the witch would make sure to sabotage any attempts to flee.
The family promised letters and holidays with the child. But many years would pass before she and the child would be reunited. (I wish this were the happy ending to this tale) It was a wonderful visit and gave hope to the young girl. The child seemed to be equally pleased. The young girl would offer reciprocating stays and visits for the next few years only to be rebuffed. She believed the child had lost interest and the family was too kind to tell her. So she quit asking to visit.
The young girl tried to move on with her life. This new life, not her normal life, was like carrying a burden around every where she went. It was hard to walk. It was hard to talk. It was hard to dance anymore. University had lost its meaning to her and she ceased attendance. She found herself doing things she had never done before. She found work as a bar maid in a public house. She met a rowdy man and they would enjoy mead together into the late hours of the night. Occasionally, he would toss her around their own cottage. She believed this was the life meant for her. The life she deserved.
Then one day, the rowdy man left.
The young girl began to find small confidence in herself. She bought a cottage and wagon of her own. She met an older knight who showered her with gifts and praises. But the girl was suspicious. She had been hurt so many times before. The knight had to prove his affections for her through a trial of challenges. He passed them with flying colors and the two were married. (This too I wish was the happy ending to this tale)
They would have children. Beautiful children. The young girl loved being a mother. In fact, she was no longer a young girl, but a woman. The child from years before began to write letters of her own to the woman. The woman had never been so happy in all her life!
But in these letters between the woman and the child, it became clear that both were dealing with many angers and traumas from the past. At one point, the child no longer spoke to the woman. The woman fell into a great depression. Greater than any since the time she first lost the child. The knight did all he could to bring her happiness. She appreciated his efforts, but was never the same again.
The woman was very angry with the witch. She began to see all the ways that the witch had manipulated her as a young girl. The woman refused to ever speak to the witch again. She realized that she, in fact, would have been enough for the child. It was now clear to her that the witch had only cared about her own image in the village. So much so that she destroyed her own family by sending the child to strangers and obliterating the young girl’s confidence.
The child would come in and out of the woman’s life for the years to come. The child would fill her time traveling and dancing in order not to see the life she missed with the woman. The woman would fill her time taking care of the younger children and get to see every day what she missed with the child. It became too much for both to bear and they only spoke on special occasions from then on.
Then one day the woman died. Her younger children and the knight would speak kindly of her. For her affections and dedication to keeping her small family comfortable. For her unconditional love and support to them that she had never received as a young girl. The child, now a woman herself, would send a card of condolence to the family. She would offer kind words to the knight and a promise to write on occasion.
There was only an ending. And life would go on. In another cottage. In another village.