The other side of a Fairy Tale…
The Little Glass Lie
It’s your choice: You could have some invisible know-it-all up in the clouds tell you the story, or you could have it told by plain me– and I don’t much care which.
I had my eye on her my whole life, so I know she wasn’t treated badly as they say. Sure, at times she quarreled with her step-mother, but the arguments were mostly harmless and mostly her fault. She had the temperament of one who became too pretty too early in life, and that’s where most of the contention came from. I used to worship her from my little house on the other side of the old dusty road, and sometimes, in secret, from a little patch of butterfly bushes below her window. She had all the splendor of a delicate rose, but she also embodied the stinging bite of the hidden thorns hiding along its stem. I didn’t loathe her thorny disposition though. She was icy, and to me that made her all the more gorgeous. She was truly, truly gorgeous. That is the one thing they get right when they tell the story.
She always told it that she wasn’t noticed enough by her father and stepsisters. I don’t know that there’s any truth in that. I don’t think that there was a parent, sibling, or soul in the entire world who could have satisfied her thirst for attention– certainly not a poor lad like me. Nevertheless, the time I spent keeping her under my eye was matched only by the time I spent toiling to gain a glance from hers. I made things for her. Fine things. I made her necklaces, bracelets, the most beautiful clothing I could afford. One night, I took to making a very special gift. I crafted for her the finest shoe that I had ever built, a slipper made of the softest squirrel fur.
Clear, cold glass would have been more fitting. It was the biggest project I had ever undertaken. I labored tirelessly over those slippers. Days passed. Weeks and months went by when I never saw more sunlight than could be glimpsed through my dirt-blotched window. My eyes became red and tired, my hands arthritic and blistered, but nothing less than perfection would do for her– my wintry passion, my secret love. I :worked on, night after sleepless night, sewing and stitching with unmatched precision, hammering and needling until my fingers were raw and chafed. The string’s endless looping seemed to lace fabric and time together into one infinite and timeless undertaking. There is no counting the hours that passed. But I finished the slippers just in time for the big ball.
I had never delivered my gifts to her personally; it had always been a note on her doorstep, signed with my best penmanship. This night, I brought myself with the slippers. Her stepmother called for her when I came to the house, and I was weak with anxiety by the time she glided into the doorway. The memory of her beauty is etched forever into my mind. Golden hair. Golden skin. And a silver voice.
I could not find the language to tell her why I was there at her door. I held out my hands.
“T-These are for you.”
She looked at me blankly.
“I made them. I am the boy from the notes on your doorstep.”
She took the shoes. She slowly closed the door, without so much as a thank you.
Somewhere I heard that she married a prince whom she met that night. I had my eye on her my whole life, and she was wisped away in an instant. I harbor no rancor or resentment towards her over her heart; I never presumed to be loved by one so fine as her. But I did make those slippers. Recognition of a man’s labor should never be begrudged him. A man should never be robbed of his accomplishments, especially not by a Fairy Godmother. I made those slippers, and I made them with my own hardened hands.
That invisible voice that told you the lie- she invented it. That’s her silver voice. You can believe it or not. It’s your choice– and I don’t much care which.
© 2012 Garrett Ashe