#14: Tabitha

| November 14, 2011 | 0 Comments

Once upon a time, there was a girl who didn’t believe in herself. She loved to dance but did not think she was any good at it, if you were able to get past the sham confidence she wore like armour. The only time she believed it was when she got the role she wanted. However, that did not happen a lot, because as good as she was at dancing – and it is worth saying that she was very good at it – there was another girl who was equally good at dancing and believed she was good at it too. There is a lot to be said about making others think you believe in yourself and actually believing it.

It’s not a healthy way to think about oneself, and it showed in the way she treated others and herself. Most people only saw the overly proud, angry girl who moved like a predator: light-footed and quick, stalking until the right moment, taking advantage of weakness. No one ever saw the girl who practiced until long past midnight, dancing alone in the woods because no one could see when she failed. Maybe if they had, they might have pitied her more than they did, because they knew how she compared herself to the other dancer.

It was for the best they didn’t, because she saw pity as a weakness and would have punched them in the face before berating herself even more.

The girl’s life continued like this and would inevitably end how it did. You don’t grow up full of jealousy and hatred and not turn out bad when you’re trapped in another’s story.

And so, two lives came to an end, one during the day and one during the night, and both at the hands of each other. Neither girl could be blamed, not entirely, because one loved as strongly as the other hated. If anything, it’s surprising how long it took to get there.

Then the girl died again, this time at the hands of the other, fingers plucking teeth out of mouths like pulling petals from a flower.

When you embark on a journey of revenge, either dig two graves or climb out of yours and save yourself the trouble.

Now, the story doesn’t end there. That would be boring and unexpected for a tale such as this.

Just as one girl came back, so did this one. It’s so easy to move your lifeless bones when you are filled with hate and little else. Dying was merely a transition in state instead of the grand finale. So this girl was buried in a criminal’s grave, which is to say her body was thrown on the pyre because that was what her town did with their remains. Not to mention that they were scared of their dead now. And rightly so.

As her flesh melts and her bones cracked, the girl woke up. She sat up on her bed of flames, or at least thought she did. Most of her remained lifeless, so she made herself a new body of heat and ash, which suited her better because her old one had been worthless anyway. What use did she have for a body that couldn’t dance even when she had been alive?  This one was beautiful and strong, its light searing the hearts of those who dared to watch her fall. She stood up and dressed herself in orange and yellow, burning brightly. As she walked towards the nearest spectator the cobblestones melted beneath her feet.

What happened after that is merely speculation. Anyone who survived that night – and few did, to be honest – refused to speak of it. Or couldn’t, in the case of one poor person (which was the operative term for someone who no longer had identifying features of any sort). But everyone knows to stay out of the woods when dusk falls.

Don’t go in the woods, parents tell their children, barmen tell travellers, bards tell their audience, not in the hushed tones of a wonderful and bloody story but in the quaking whispers of those who know too much. If you must, turn out your light and stumble in the darkness. Stumbling is best, because anything else makes her jealous, seeing another move with the grace of a night-time predator. She looks like a girl wearing a dress made of sunlight, but she moves like a cat, all smooth movements and inhuman litheness. Then she takes you as her partner and makes you dance. Flames appear with every step of her feet but do not burn the foliage, licking at your feet instead. When it’s done with your feet, it moves up to your legs, your waist, your breast, your arms, yours heads until all of you is consumed by fire and the last thing you see is the bitter toothless smile.

And how do you know that, asks one member of the audience to the bard.

Then the bard smiles what would have been a toothy smile and asks for a dance.

Category: 2011, Drama, Fantasy

About the Author ()

Leave a Reply