[Editor’s note: We constantly receive email from people who have found much to love here at Cabinet des FÃ©es. Last year we were contacted by Kevin Tseng, who suggested we share one of his own fairy tales on the site. Normally, we keep all of our fiction confined to our two magazines (Scheherezade’s Bequest and Demeter’s Spicebox), but when Kevin told us why fairy tales mean so much to him, we decided to make an exception. The fairy tale that follows Kevin’s own story has been copied, with his permission, word for word from his website. We recommend paying him a visit when you’re done here.)
Kevin Austin Tseng used to weigh 220 pounds in the 6th grade. This may sound crazy, but he lost that weight because of a fairy tale, one his father told to him at night. Now, he believes that fairy tales can change lives.
His father told the adventures of a hero named Mudboy who was stuck in a mountain. And Mudboy would try to escape only to be transported back into the mountain someway or another at the end of the night. After three years of telling of Mudboyâ€™s failures, the series ended. Mudboy never escaped. But Kevin did.
Onyx and Opal Boil the Sea
by Kevin Tseng
Once upon a time, all the humans of the world lived submerged in the ocean, and all alone a little man lived even deeper down, in the area beneath the ocean floor, in a vast, vast cavern. There was no one else living there but him. His name was Onyx, and the dark world beneath the lithosphere lay in his hands to explore. If any of us were to see Onyx, weâ€™d probably take note of his wide, calloused feet which he used for 18 years to walk around, or maybe his pointy ears used for listening to the drip-drop of the oceanâ€™s moisture seeping downwards, but most conspicuously, weâ€™d notice his big, black, dilated eyes which have not seen light but only darkness for his entire life.
One day, a young diver made her way finally to the bottom of the ocean and found a hidden door which she entered quickly and then closed, before the water came in. In that place, she could see nothing, so she found some small plants, those of the hardiest and bristly sort that could grow without light, and set a fire for the first time in this cavernous space beneath the ocean. Gleams of light touched the walls and ground for the first time since the earth was made, and in this vast space, the diver named Opal now stood gasping at the infinity, but more so surprised at a little dot in the distance — a little boy with pointy ears and large eyes covering his face and yelling, â€˜Turn off the light! Turn off the light!â€
â€œYouâ€™ll get used to it with time,â€ replied the girl. She walked up to him. In a few minutes time, Onyx opened his eyes and saw a little glowing fire, like a rip in the dimension exposing a brighter world beyond the black, and then it fainted. Having seen the light, Onyxâ€™s eyes thirsted to see more, so he and the girl began to gather up all the little plants they could find until they amassed a rather large bonfire and lit it. Onyx and Opal fell in love in that dark place with a little bit of light (the situation in which I think most of us fall in love). However, within a day, the fire was gone.
In the world above water, people found that the water around them felt a bit warmer than usual. Back under the ocean, Opal told Onyx about a celebration called marriage in which two souls become one forever, and suggested that they have one, but it had to be special, and under much light. But the small weeds sparsely strewn could only glow for so long. They needed more fire, more light, and more firewood. Opal once heard a story that in a world of dry land that existed long ago, the rocks of the earth were broken into trillions of pieces that it looked like little brown bits of dust, and that in this soil, as the storybooks said, the plants for firewood could grow. So with rocks in hand, Onyx and Opal, smashed and toiled and broke all the rocks beneath them into a trillion pieces and made soil. Then they replanted the small weeds and created wonderfully planted fields that spanned the underground world. Then they waited.
They waited for years until they grew old. They waited while the sea dripped purified down through the rocks and watered their garden underneath the sea. And then they stood up and walked around in the fruits of their labor, their home now grown with the hardiest of plants, now larger and fuller. They sat together on a hill, and Onyx, having fashioned a ring of stone and diamond, put it on Opalâ€™s ring finger as she set that world beneath the sea on fire. In a world of light, Onyx and Opal lived happily ever after for fifteen years, and when the darkness came again with that world beautifully destroyed, they passed on side by side, lying on a monument of stone.
Meanwhile, the watery world above boiled away and splotches of land breathed air and saw light for the first time in ages, and on these pieces of land, more boys and girls saw light and married under the perpetual fire that was the sun. And when young divers dug again beneath the ocean once more, they never found the world we saw of plants and fire and soil, but only black and white stones we now call Onyx and Opal.