The village appeared as if it had been plucked directly from a fairy tale. The pristine cottages, bedecked with flowers of the most wonderful sort, sat in a relatively circular pattern. In the direct center of the town sat a pristine, handcrafted marble obelisk, a loving monument to the town’s founder who had recently died. Surrounding the cottages were deep woods, seemingly impenetrable, which were painted directly onto the landscape. The sun shone down onto this sanctuary, setting alight what was thought to be land cleared by the hand of God itself.
But this is not a fairy tale, as the fairies have all died long ago. This is simply a tale.
With the heavy woods only small vessels were able to traverse the waters and few ever came or went – thus, river traffic was slight to say the least. And so she sits on the edge of a relatively short dock, head bowed toward the water, her piercing eyes seeing straight through it to nothingness. Her hair softly falls around her face, creating a curtain for those that always give her away. Next to her on the dock sits a pile of half-grown carrots, beets, and potatoes – they have left her hands a filthy counterpoint to her austere white dress.
Her fists are clenched tight, like those of a child who has just been scolded and does not know how to let out the anger and frustration they are feeling from the injustice of the entire ordeal. Carefully and deliberately she lessens the tension. With a noticeably deep breath she opens her hands and slowly unfolds the bills contained within. Holding one up to the sun, she methodically inspects it, turning it over and over until she is satisfied. Extending it out before her, she keeps it precariously placed between thumb and ring finger, letting it gently drop to the surface of the water to be carried off. She watches it until it disappears, as the river flows into the woods.
She repeats this same game another seventeen times. With the final bill gone, she reaches down and washes off her hands, again quite deliberately, removing any evidence that such dainty fingers had ever purposely been in contact with the earth.
With the sun rising ever so slightly in the sky, her body remained motionless. She saw no reflection, no proof, no solace. Her entire body began shaking. Violently tearing off her hat, she threw it to the water, followed by an almost silent cathartic cry. In quick succession to the water came her shoes, her dress, and all of her undergarments.
Standing stark naked, the sun was now at its apex. The only remaining unnatural element on her body was the ring on her right hand. She clawed at it, scratching herself up quite well in the process. Finally removing it from her person, she threw it with every ounce of her being, the ring landing somewhere in the wounded river. Pausing for a moment to breathe, she smiled.
And then she began running.
Everyone had gathered on the grass, quite ready to make a day of it. Glee filled the ranks all the way from little Patrick, who had just learned to walk (the clever devil), to Old Lady Glennigan, who was ordinarily ignored for the depth of her eyes, but whom today smiled a genuine smile and laughed a genuine laugh. Today was certainly a day to remember.
It was then that they heard footsteps. Running at an incredible pace she stormed into the village, headed straight for the center of the festivities.
Everyone watched it happen, but no one claims to have seen it.
With a scream that seemed to come from the devil himself, she leapt, impaling herself to the sound of 48 townspeople gasping. She lived long enough to look directly into each of their eyes, vomit blood twice, and die with a genuine laugh, and a genuine smile.
– July 2007