Twilight and the Dragon – a fairy tale of becoming
Long ago, in a time that never was, and never will come, but is tomorrow, there lived a young girl named Twilight. So fair was Twilight that her entire family was jealous. As Twilight grew, so did her beauty, and so did her family’s ill feeling until they seethed in poison. They boasted of her great beauty to neighbours but in their home they used her grievously. So profound was the harm inflicted that Twilight became like a zombie. She acted as her family demanded, did as they commanded, and lived as they bade. And so the years passed.
Then came the time for Twilight to go out into the world as all young women do. Her parents feared that away from their influence Twilight would tell people of their abuses. They didn’t want their good name sullied. So they decided to cut out her tongue. Then her siblings plotted to make her life as miserable as possible. With their parent’s permission, they gave into their spite. They plucked out her eyes so Twilight would be blind to the world. They poured wax into her ears so she couldn’t hear any kind words. They cut off her hands so that she could do no work save being a pack animal. Thus maimed they sent Twilight from the only home she knew.
Twilight fell prey to many hazards in her travels. She was ill-used by many because she couldn’t defend herself. Many shards and rocks cut and scarred her feet. She fell into many holes in the roads and into ditches where roads turned. Sometimes companions joined Twilight in her travels but they were as maimed and blind as she. And so she wandered, gathering more scars and more pains until she formed many thick calluses.
Finally, one day at a turn in the road, Twilight stumbled into a ditch. She’d fallen into so many over the years. This was the final straw and she couldn’t stir herself to face more suffering. Twilight gave up on the world and wailed out her pain.
A young farmer named Jack heard Twilight’s desperate sobbing and left his plough to investigate. He found her at the bottom of the muddy ditch. Her hair was thickly matted. Her clothes were so filthy that Jack couldn’t tell where the fresh mud began or ended. It was difficult to identify that she was even human. The young farmer was overcome by compassion for the filthy creature before him.
Twilight was so exhausted and careworn that she barely responded when Jack picked her up and carried her to his home. Jack carefully prepared a hot, fragrant bath and gently put Twilight into the tub. As she soaked the mud and filth, accumulated over her years of wandering, dropped from her body. Her clothes gradually unstuck from her skin and Jack was able to remove them. He combed out the many thick mats that tangled her hair and dressed her in a simple shift.
Jack led her to a stool by the warm hearth. Despite the grotesque maiming he saw her great beauty. He prepared the evening meal as though in a dream. Jack couldn’t believe his good fortune at finding such a treasure. He vowed that as long as Twilight remained in his home she would want for nothing. He would take care of her and tend to her every need.
Jack heard of people like Twilight (though he called her Rose), people who were more animal than human. When he placed food before her, she ate as would a wolf after a long, hard winter. After the meal Twilight fell into a deep slumber at the table. Jack gently wiped her face clean and carried her to the bed he made for her.
With time, Jack became used to Twilight’s silence and she became used to his constant presence. She stopped cowering at his touch. He made tools to help make her life easier. As he vowed on the first day he saw he, Jack cared for he in every way.
As time went by, the wax plugging her ears shrank and cracked. bit by bit the old wax fell away. Twilight began to hear. At first the sounds were muted gradually growing louder and clearer. Finally the last of the wax fell away and she heard all sounds, especially Jack’s declarations of love.
However, the words were totally foreign. Never before had words of such gentleness and love been spoken to her. But just as Twilight became accustomed to ill-uses, little by little she accepted the caring Jack offered. Twilight also adopted the name Jack gave her. It symbolized her new life in a new place. In the end, she ceased thinking of herself as Twilight.
One night Rose had a strange dream. A radiant Dragon appeared before her. The Dragon was iridescent, like the most beautiful hummingbird. It looked very fierce, but curiously, Rose was unafraid.
The Dragon said, “We of the Dragon World have watched you for a long time. We felt what you felt, heard what you heard, saw what you saw and we grieved.”
Rose asked, “If you felt all i felt, heard all I heard and saw all I saw, why didn’t you come to me sooner?”
“You weren’t ready to see me. If I came to you before now you would have thought me an illusion of your tortured mind.” A golden tear fell from the Dragon’s red eye. “Would you have accepted help from what you thought a mirage?”
Rose thought about what the Dragon asked. She realized the Dragon was right, she wouldn’t have accepted help when all she knew was ugliness and hatred.
The Dragon knew Rose’s thoughts and smiled at her growing wisdom. Then it said, “I can now give you what you lack. But remember this, with these gifts there can come a curse. With the gifts you will be as you once were, but much more. Take care in your choice.”
“The world has been nothing but a curse to me for as long as I have memory. Any gift you give couldn’t possibly be worse.” Rose quietly replied.
The Dragon nodded gravely and presented rose with a pair of golden eyes. “With these new eyes you will see as never before.” Then it disappeared in a cloud of smoke.
In the morning with her new Dragon eyes she was able to see again. Rose marveled in the vibrant colours of flowers and the fragile delicacy of a butterfly’s wings. She saw the love in Jack’s heart. But with that love she also saw the jealousy and pettiness of the family who so harmed her.
As the Dragon foretold the new golden eyes enabled Rose to see both beauties and ugliness, love and hate, life and death. And Rose accepted it all.
Weeks later the beautiful Dragon revisited Rose in her dreams. She greeted it joyously and thanked it for the wondrous gift of sight. She told the Dragon of the many wonders and horrors she saw with her new eyes.
“Why are you not angry at beholding the ugliness of life?” asked the Dragon.
Rose replied, “For so long I was blind to all, the good and the bad. Now I can see both and make the good mine.”
The Dragon smiled and said, “I have another gift for you.” It held out a beautiful pair of finely crafted silver hands. “With these hands you shall create as never before. Remember though, with this gift can also come a curse.” After the hands were fused onto her arms the Dragon disappeared in a cloud of smoke.
When Rose woke the next day, she found the two Dragon hands attached as firmly as the ones she’d been born with. True to the Dragon’s word, everything Rose fashioned was extraordinarily fine. Meals became gourmet feasts, clothes became fine raiments, and clay pots became delicate china. She reveled in the softness and warmth of a cat’s fur and the coarseness of a newly hewn wooden plank.
However, the Dragon hands were difficult to control. If Rose didn’t take care the things she fashioned were useless. If she allowed the hands free rein an entire winter store of food would be cooked for one meal. Pottery wheeled would be too fragile for daily use, and clothes sewn too fine for the rough work of farming.
After many weeks the Dragon visited Rose in her dreams. Rose greeted the Dragon jubilantly. She told the Dragon of the many fine things the gifted hands helped her create.
“Why are you not angry that the hands are so difficult to control?” the Dragon asked.
Rose answered, “For years I lacked hands and created nothing but bitterness and fears. Now I craft beauty and love. I make the coarsest pot or embroider the finest cloak. This is far more than I ever dreamed of.”
The Dragon smiled and said, “I have one final gift for you.” It held out an ivory tongue.
In the morning Rose woke and she was finally able to speak. Now, having all the senses her family stole from her, Rose was able to see her deep losses. She grieved the years she spent deaf to words of love, blind to things of great beauty, still to her creative heart, and mute to the injustices heaped on her. She sang out in beautiful voice her tale of woe at the hands of her family and the world. The song was so lamenting that all the animals for miles around hung their heads and grieved with her. Rose’s tears flowed like a river and washed over the Dragon’s gifts.
Rose’s tears changed the gifts from the Dragon magick to flesh until she once again looked as she did before her family sent her from their home. Weeks passed and slowly her river of tears waned then stopped.
Finally after a lifetime of tribulation Rose was able to live her life fully. At last Rose soared.