A girl mad as birds | Dollhouse, general, ~500 words
I asked for a fairytale
In my defense,
I'd never read any
(a softer world)
There once was a girl with brown eyes who could be anyone but herself. She lived in a beautiful secret underground place with all the others like her. The people above did not believe this place existed, for theirs was a world of real things, where wanting and having were fathoms apart, and wishes were granted in vaguer ways. Down down down in the secret place, the girls and boys slept in coffins that (when put together) made the shape of a star. They moved slowly, and ate strawberries, and did not know what it meant to rush or fret. They only had one place to go, and were always taken there by someone-elses in dark suits: the chair. It was a magic chair. You needed only sit in it, and it would turn you into someone else, turn you so wholly and surely that even you forgot it was not true. The chair had a master -- a smiling madman with hair like straw and talkative hands, who knew the chair was his willing slave and delighted in the knowing. He was bright and happy and dangerous as a flame. He answered to no one but the queen. The queen kept to her tower, granting wishes. She was tall, all ivory and lace and dark corners; she had impeccable manners and never neglected tea time. They said her heart was a stone, but no one ever cracked open her chest to check. It would have been very poor etiquette. The queen kept a huntsman at her side; he had a frowning mouth and eyes like winter and did not flinch at broken glass. He was loyal in all the ways that mattered, and would not hesitate to fill boxes with hearts and deliver them to her.
The queen loved all of her subjects equally, but she kept a special eye out for the girl with brown eyes. Back when the girl had been only herself and no one else -- before she sat in the chair -- she'd set out to topple the empire. The queen had not taken kindly to it. The queen could not help throwing long glances toward the girl with brown eyes. (For the queen was not as wise as she seemed, and her heart was as bloody and beating as anyone's.) The huntsman's fingers itched for a blade when he saw those brown eyes.
Far away, a prince caught a glimpse of the girl's face. A flicker, like a thing from a dream. He could not see anything else, after that. He called the girl by her old name, and fought through great forests of thorns. He resisted even love when it came to him kind-voiced, sweet-eyed and smiling. Good princes do not allow distractions.
The girl with the brown eyes did not hear him coming. How could she, so deep underground? So she did not wait for his kiss. She woke herself up. And then she woke up others. Girls with honey-hued hair and hungry goblins at their ankles, sneaking their fingers up her kicking legs until she kicked them dead. Boys with hell in their heartbeats, death and thunder in their veins. (And those girls and boys loved to the bone, loved harder than forgetting and deeper than names. Braver than always. True as souls.) Doctors with steady fingers, old men's white coats, pretty chopped up faces and hate-love for madmen who played with chairs, and love-love for liars who made themselves dear.
The liar watched and waited, and hid behind goodness (that most effective of all cloaks). He watched everyone and thing, but most of all, he watched the brown-eyed girl. She climbed out of her coffin. Defied the stars. He brushed her hair back with a father's fingers. And she made him proud.