Friday, April 25, 2014

Blogging A to Z: Once Upon a Time



               (First time visiting during this year's A to Z Challenge? Start here.  Or, if you don't, know that this is just the beginning of work of fiction.  It is neither complete, nor true.)

        Once, there was a girl.  She was ordinary in many ways, extraordinary in a few.  She was not a princess, secret or otherwise.  If offered the chance at a life of luxury, she might have taken it, but all in all, more or less, she was happy. 
                She lived in a cottage at the edge of a forest, as girls in stories such as this often do.  The cottage was neat and tidy on the outside, with well-tended flower beds and a sweet little kitchen garden where the girl grew tomatoes, sugar-snap peas and turnips.  She hated turnips, but an old woman had once told her that they were the secret to a long life, so she ate them anyway, mashed, with lots of butter.
                The inside of the cottage was another story, although it is still a part of this one.  It was an absolute disaster.  To open a cabinet or closet was to risk death by avalanche.  Trying to find a clear path for walking was a futile effort, so the girl just wore socks to avoid soiling the carpet of clothes, and hoped that nothing too sharp lurked beneath the surface.  Stacks of papers leaned precariously on every raised surface.  Even the girl's bed was barely discernible, as books of every size and shape littered the covers.  She had become accustomed to sleeping a top their multitudes, and to avoid being stabbed in the night, she only bought paperbacks.  If this story were taking place in the present day, the girl would have been a prime candidate for that show about hoarders, but this was a long time ago (and far, far, away), so most days no one had to witness the material mayhem except the girl herself.
                The mess, however, was not the girl's fault, or at least not entirely.  As with many girls of her geographic and temporal location, she had been cursed.  When she was five years old, she was out in the yard of a different cottage, this one belonging to her parents.  It was time for dinner, and her mother had told her to put her dolls away and come inside.  The girl simply did not feel like doing either of these things, and because she was five and not sixteen, rather than simply ignoring her mother's instructions, she decided to throw a temper tantrum.  As the tantrum was reaching its peak, an old woman entered the yard.  (It should be noted that this was not the same woman who advised the girl on the health benefits of turnips, which was a piece of helpful advice and not an actual curse.)
                The old woman saw the girl rolling in the dirt and yelling, "I will never put my dolls away! Never! Never!  NEVER!"   The old woman waited for the girl to stop to catch her breath, which seemed to take a surprisingly long time, particularly to someone who had never before witnessed a five-year-old tantrum.      In the brief silence between howls, the old woman asked the girl, "What on earth is the matter with you, child?  You are dirty and disgusting, and your toys are thrown about you like rags.  You should be ashamed."
                The girl looked up from where she was lying, and, in a moment of true childishness, stuck her tongue out at the old woman.  Well, that was the last straw.  If this old woman had been a camel, her back would have been broken.  Because, as with many old woman in that time and place, she also happened to be a witch, she did what she knew best.  She cursed the girl.
                "Dirty, disgusting child.  You show no appreciation for the gifts you have been given: home, family, nice things to play with.  When the clock strikes midnight on your sixteenth birthday, you will become blind to your own filth.  Your house will be so filled with junk that you will have no friends, or at least none that will come over and visit.  You will be like those people in the show who have so much stuff they can hardly move.  You will be the victim of your own disorganization!" And with that, although it was a clear day, there was a resounding clap of thunder.
                 This so startled the girl that she ran inside.  Unfortunately, this meant that she missed out on the second part of the curse, where the old woman would have told her how to undo it.  When the girl went back outside a few hours later, the only trace of the old woman's visit were some claw marks in the dirt.
               

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