Once upon a time, because such stories should always begin like this, a strange woman roamed the Earth alone. She was quite content with her solitude but, if you knew how to listen properly, you could hear the way her laughter hid the scars of past battles fought and lost, and past battles fought and won. Our heroine was no ‘damsel in distress’. Oh no. She was strong, and sure, and damaged, but whole. She had no interest in love or intimate companionship. Such things did not exist in her world and our heroine liked it that way.
Meanwhile, elsewhere on the planet, a lone man trod the Earth in solitude; damaged, battle-scarred, and broken. Living had made him hard and cruel. Cynicism was his only friend. It was the only thing that had never betrayed him. Love and intimate companionship did not exist in his world. He liked it that way. He lived in a fortress soul-deep with defences. Such an abode was necessary, for he was only half a man.
One day, while our heroine was out walking, she happened upon the man’s fortress in the distance. She could not get near it physically, for it was too far away, but the man had called out for assistance and our heroine was the helpful type. She responded to his call and offered to do what she could. Our heroine was a woman of action and did not waste time with hollow speech. The man accepted her help, although his cynicism left his expectations low. And so, the man and the woman began to talk.
The distance between them was no impediment. They would call out to each other and their voices would carry across the expanse of Earth between them with ease. Their brief discussions with one another grew longer. A sense of kinship formed as they relaxed enough to laugh together. Before long, they found themselves sharing stories of their respective lives as their friendship took hold and deepened. They learned of each other’s damage as readily as they learned of each other’s strengths. And the half-man and the scarred woman were content.
Over time, something changed. They could not see each other physically, but their minds and personalities had been enough to intrigue the other and form a fondness for the time they spent ‘together’. It was the man who declared his altered intentions first. It would be easy to say that this was simply because he was a man, and men have pursued women since the beginnings of time. Maybe it was that simple? But the “why’s” matter little in this tale.
The safety of their solitary lives was now torn away. How could thoughts of “love” and “intimate companionship” dare to beg for entrance to their existences? But, it was what it was, no matter how hard the man and the woman fought. They fought those intrusive feelings like a warrior fights an enemy; determined for victory, even as certain defeat arrives.
Defeat did arrive, eventually. There was no escape. The unthinkable had happened. The man and the woman felt love for one another: a love unlike any either had known before. The man declared it. The woman declared it, in turn. Suddenly, the physical distance between them was impossible to bear. They yearned for the moment they could hold each other; to feel each other’s lips on theirs at last. But they were so far away from one another that achieving that goal seemed like an impossible fantasy. They cried and lamented. They called out for help, for they could not close the distance alone. They planned and they declared that the distance would be overcome; somehow, some way!
And the man grew despondent, for he was only half a man, while the woman grew determined and never lost sight of what she needed to do. And she cried out one last time, one final time…
And a Fairy Godmother heard her plea! Such a story needs such a character, and our heroine will be forever grateful that such Beings exist. The Fairy Godmother’s wand did its work; transporting our heroine straight to the half-man’s side. They felt each other’s embrace as she entered his fortress at last. The relief and the joy were thorough. She had reached her half-man’s side! Ahhh, yes. Such happiness so infused our heroine that she could not stop her smiles…Until she noticed that the half-man did not share her joy. She was in his fortress when he opened the trap-door, slamming her once steady feet out from underneath her until she fell into the prison beneath the floor. Trapped, silenced, unwanted, and something to be endured, her sobs wracked the air around her until her tears dried on skin she had come to believe was loathsome to look upon.
How could this have happened to our hapless heroine? Her self-recriminations were brutal. She despised herself more than the half-man did. And she was trapped. Her bitter thoughts turned to escape. She had no wish to stay in the fortress. She had no desire to see the scowls or face the cruelty of such a thorough and instantaneous rejection. Her predicament was impossible to believe were she not in it, herself. And she cried out once more, through wretched sobs that clawed at the breath in an attempt to steal it completely away. And the Fairy Godmother heard her once more…
And whisked her away to her own fortress full of magic and love, and silent companions who watched from the shadows, unnoticed by our heroine; ignored.
Our heroine knew what ailed the half-man and, even though her agony was complete, she wished him whole once more. And it was done. Her love wrought a miracle. The half-man was whole again. And our heroine was content for she had done the right thing, irrespective of her pain. It was all that mattered now. Her heart’s destruction appeared complete. Never again would she know love and intimate companionship. Such things held even less interest for her than they had before she knew the man existed.
And our heroine returned to her own home; in a far distant land, to sob, and lament, and heal what she could, for she had always been able to walk the Earth alone.
And the story should end right here, but such things never do…
And the now whole man reached out to her from the distance. She did not welcome his calling for, where his words had brought such joy, they brought nothing but memories of how disgusting she appeared to be to him, now. But she answered his call for our heroine was a helpful type.
He searched for his first love. She was all he felt he had ever wanted; the only thing this damaged man could love. She was all that he wanted but our discarded heroine knew she embodied all that he feared. How she knew matters not in this tale. The “how’s” are not as important as the story, itself, and the depth of that knowledge will remain unrevealed.
And so the man sought his love out, while our heroine recovered. The man could have no idea what unusual events were unfolding for his discarded ‘trash’. He crowed to the Universe when he found his first love again. His words reached our heroine across the distance, and she learned just how little she had ever meant to him. She learned that he took his love to a place sacred to our heroine; somewhere special she had asked him to go with her, left unvisited once the trapdoor had shut. The man made sure that she heard about it, along with the rest. She learned that the man held no regrets for the trap-door and cruelty he had subjected our heroine to. She learned that he was so in love. She learned a lot more than that, but such things matter little in this particular tale.
And our heroine laughed from the very core of her soul. You see, our heroine, who has always walked this Earth alone, does so no more. I doubt, dear reader, that you were expecting that to happen. For, just when our heroine thought to burn ‘love’ and ‘intimate companionship’ out of her life forever, he that had been ignored made himself known, after watching and waiting for such a long time. And now? Now, while our heroine has returned to the Fairy Godmother’s fortress, nothing is the same at all. And she wonders how she could have ignored such beauty and such soul-deep love, as rings glitter on her fingers while our heroine is engulfed in a love so true and complete every second of every day that the only fitting ending to this tale of love is:
And our heroine; utterly loved, completely cherished, and full of equal love and adoration in turn, now lives with love unlike any she ever thought to know. So much so that she went on to live with her love…
“happily ever after”.