by Sara Cleto
Once upon a time, you broke me into pieces. You took my voice, you cut my hair. You cast a spell, and I fell asleep.
I let you do these things.
I don’t know why. You were beautiful, yes, but not more beautiful than my song. My hair was brighter than yours, and my magic was stronger. I had a book of spells, thicker than a tree trunk, brimming with words that were so true, a human voice could never shape them. I had a wand of oak and maple, tipped with pure silver, crafted long ago by a grandmother’s grandmother and imbued with all the wisdom of a crone who had once been a maiden.
But my magic was white, white and unforgivably innocent, and I dropped my book and my wand when I fell into your arms.
Your touch was something hot that flared against my skin, shedding sparks and leaving tiny star-burns in its wake. Caught in your briar-arms, pinned by wolf-eyes, you were every tale ever told, conspiring against this most naÃ¯ve of princesses.
I knew, even if I did not quite believe, what would happen if I lay down with the wolf. Even the prince of the wolves. But when you bared your fangs at me, I was overcome by a certain tender sentimentality, and I went to you.
You gobbled me up.
Bones, strewn in the dirt. Leaves, disintegrating under the acidity of spilled blood. You ran into the woods to lick your muzzle clean, to pick the fleshy fragments from your briar-arms.
I lay there for too long, watching sky bleed into darkness and grow anemic with light more times that I can count.
A goose-girl found me there. She swept my bones into a heap and sang to them. When they finally sang back, she seemed unsurprised. Joint by joint, piece by broken piece, my body knit itself to the rhythm of the music.
Skin grew across the bones like ivy, and midnight hair poured from my skull.
When I was whole once more, we rose and walked into the woods. We sang to the bones of the princesses. And to the bones of the wolves.
Sara Cleto graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with aÂ BA in English Literature and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Folklore and Literature at George Mason University. Among her interests are reading obsessively, plotting foreign travels, and drinking large amounts of coffee. Her work has appeared previously in Mirror Dance and Moon Drenched Fables.