This is my entry this week for therealljidol. I invite you to read and vote for the many fine entries. This week's topic is "Pick a current Idol contestant and use them as the inspiration for your entry." I've chosen mstrobel.
This is a fairytale that begins with an ogre and ends with a riddle.
Our protagonist was once a little blonde girl who didn't especially want to be a girl but didn't want to be a boy, a fairy, or a princess either. She wore her hair short and tore holes in her pants exploring the woods behind her house. She'd never go into those woods at night, because that's when the faeries came out, and though they were beautiful, they were also capricious. Plus, she was certain she'd once seen the Big Bad Wolf at the forest edge, although her brother insisted it was a bear.
When the little girl grew old enough to understand such things, she realized the woods were just wild fencerows growing between the cornfields. She also realized there had never been any fish in the tiny creek where she and her brother tried to catch one by dangling corn from a handmade fishing pole. And she also realized -- not because anyone told her but because that was how the world worked -- that no handsome prince would come to court her.
And so, in her sophomore year of college, she let herself be courted by an ogre. At first, he didn't seem to be an ogre (they seldom do), but he was clearly no prince. She knew this the night he forbid her to listen to her favorite radio program after the DJ promised to play her work.
If he had simply gnashed his terrible teeth or struck her with a club, she might have seen his true nature sooner. But she was still accustomed to looking for magical things where none existed, and she mistook his strong opinions -- on everything from poetry to the environment -- to indicate not obstinance, but that he was a deep thinker. Perhaps he was a prince in disguise, she thought, and if she could only do enough to please him, she could be his princess.
Nothing could please him: not giving up her friends, or cutting her hair (which she had grown into long, golden locks). Not restricting her clutter to a small corner "office" next to the bathroom, or paying all the bills so that he could focus on his personal projects. Not watching his favorite shows or following his strict rules about how books should be shelved and how beds should be made. She did not become a princess; and furthermore, she realized this ogre would never become a prince.
One night, he asked, "What would I ever do without you?"
She said, "You're going to have to find out." That week, she boxed up all her chaos and left.
Though he pursued her in her nightmares, she escaped into a world of music and color, where she whirled for a while. She married a confused wizard, divorcing him when he insisted on pursuing his imaginary worlds instead of living in the real one with her. For a short while, she dated a vampire (who sucked her dry: emotionally and financially), and then she met a dark knight who, it turned out, was invisible.
Then one day, when she had given up looking, she met a fantastic creature, unlike any she had met before. It was like someone had taken her favorite things and put them together. He was part majestic lion, part perceptive eagle, and he told the most wonderful stories. The girl fell in love with The Gryphon, and he fell in love with her (which is not always the way). Though she was still just a girl, not a princess, and he was a magical creature, not a prince, he took her to the Happiest Place on Earth for their honeymoon, where they saw a castle and were treated like royalty.
Many fairytales end here, but this fairytale goes a little further. Two years after they married, the girl (who was really a woman by now) discovered she was pregnant. She was delighted -- and surprised -- to give birth to a handsome, bouncy baby panda. He was at the same time both everything and nothing she had expected, and he brought to her life a joy she never realized was lacking.
The little baby panda turned into a boy who loved to play with trains, read books and practice words. He was a perfect blend of herself and The Gryphon, having somehow chosen the best parts of both. She called him "Little Bear" and read to him as much as she could (though it was never as much as he wanted).
One morning, as her little boy of golden curls and huge brown eyes sat next to her, she wondered how it was possible that she had traveled so far to find something that was inside of her all along.
Happiness cannot be pursued, but it can be found.
The video of "Riddle" by Five for Fighting, which features a man
playing a piano in a desert, filling the world
around him with animated drawings that he creates.
You can read the lyrics here.
I took my inspiration from mstrobel, who I first met through LJ Idol season 6, when I competed in an alt journal. That season, each of her entries told a fictionalized version of her efforts to break away from -- and then to make sense of -- a controlling relationship. I identified immediately with her story, and I loved the way she sometimes turned to fairy tales or myths in order to re-imagine what had happened. Like her, I have spent a lifetime telling and retelling my stories. Telling stories, I believe, is how we learn from the things we experience; and turning them into fairy tales is how we teach others what we have learned.