my own fairy tale. SWEET.
It is said in the place where I live the soil is made of our people. People who toiled, sweat, cried, and screamed all bled into the ground and made us who we are today.
My father warned me never to enter the woods alone.
I gave him my satchel and shoes as he asked me, then I shed my clothes as he advised me to do. "Wear this," he said, and he shed his own skin. It fell off in a pile on the soil floor looking like a tablecloth used in my home. When I clothed myself in his skin I no longer smelled like my home or the valley. Instead I became like the men on the mountain. I smelled distinctly foreign. I thanked the man and watched as he dressed himself in my own clothes. He said he would wear them until new skin grew on his back.
Without my father I stood on two rotten feet inundated with fear.
I told myself not to look back, don’t look back. I looked down at my feet and watched them as they carried me away, slowly, slowly, farther and farther away from my home. They trudged onward like the two front paws of a sad, whimpering puppy who’s been left in the cold for a night. I did not turn back once, I kept my head forward, my eyes down, knowing my journey away from home had begun.
I pulled the needle out of where it would cause harm, and happy that I did so.
Then the bird came down beside me, and thanked me graciously for my good work. In return, she left two feathers attached to my heels to replace the leather-bottomed shoes I lost. "They will take you where you want to go, and you no longer will fear the people the live in the ground."
When the people of the soil touched my feet they fell back into the ground with shrieks and cries. Now I could reach the top of the mountain without fear of falling down.
The man who killed my father stood on the open ground with an army of people waiting to rise from the earth. He brandished a blade in his hand and struck it towards the sun.
Through the blind frenzy of earth and shadows I plunged my dagger into the creature's heart and watched as it melted into rain.
After all this time away, it seemed a mirage in a desert of hopelessness. My disbelief vanished when I saw my mother appear at the door of our small, cramped home of decaying wood. Home, I was finally home.
My feet, wearing their newfound bottomed shoes, pressed gently across the soils as not to wake the men clamoring upwards. But I still felt a shadow trail at my footsteps that did not feel like my own. As I walked faster the shadow moved behind me as well, sometimes touching my bare skin with sodden ground.
In an attempt to lose my pursuer I took hold of the tall silver needle in my pocket and threw it to the ground, watching it form a wall of iron thread and knots.
Before I entered my home my brothers came out, and, thinking I was a peddler, asked how much the jade I carried was worth.
"And who are you boy?" Mother asked me. Her weak eyes did not recognize my much-changed face and form. I told her I was her son but she did not believe me. "If you are the son that left so many days ago, and if you are the one who brought back this jade figure of father, then you are the one who will be able to restore him to his normal shape." She flicked her wrist and flung the jade piece at me.
Without hesitance I lifted my pant legs began to dance in father's leather bottomed shoes. The soles breezed across the floor, cutting the mist with rhythmic motions. I then turned the ring on my finger and watched my father rise, soil shedding from his skin. His shaved face and clean hands stood against the paling crowd. This impressed the people who stood before me, as did the fact that my tongue did not bleed from the needle it held.
I was offered a place in the palace, but I could not accept. I wanted to be with the mountain; I felt it move under my skin as I knew part of me was in the mountain too.