* Jingle *
An Original Fairy Tale
“Take her, quickly, before Dama wakes.”
“Take her? Take her where?”
“Below, Bella. Underground. Hurry now! Hurry! Dama will wake and wonder about the infant if she is still here to wonder about.”
“But? But nothing! Go, I say! Take the child. Dama must never know it was born. She will never have to know such sorrow.”
“Sorrow? What can you mean, Tilde! Such a pretty, sweet thing cannot possibly—”
“Fool! You know nothing of such evils. I know everything. Take the child to the forest. Carry her into the earth and there keep her until I decide what to do with her.”
Bella wrapped the swaddling more closely about the newborn. She was quiet. So curious. But evil? It couldn’t be, and yet—
It is always best not to question Tilde.
Turning away from her bustling sister and slumbering Dama, Bella started from the room. She held the baby close, cooing softly. The baby only stared.
Poor Dama. Poor, poor, Dama.
“She will think it was a dream.” Tilde’s weary voice halted Bella in the doorway. “Dama will wake from this childbirth dream and wish to make it real. There will be another, Bella. Try not to be too distressed.”
“But what is to become of this little one?”
Tilde ceased bustling to turn on her sister. Bella pressed the baby to her sagging, ancient breast, protecting and protected.
“When you have fled from this cottage, as fly you will, put your ear to her, and listen. Listen well. Even you will understand. Even you must agree.”
Bella indeed fled then, for Tilde had said it; it must be so. Out of the birthing room, out of the cottage, into the forest surrounding. Stickish legs could only carry her so far before, breathless and stumbling, she stuttered to a halt. The crone looked down at the tiny infant who had yet to wail her first wails. She was perfect, from rosebud lips to downy-dark curls to placid fingers with their seashell nails. Bella loosened the swaddling. She pressed her ear to the baby’s breast.
“Oh,” she said, the sound like heartbreak. “Oh.”
Slower now, she pressed onward through the forest until she reached the tree that marked the entrance—never an exit—into the earth. Through soil and root and rock. Into fae. Looking once over her shoulder, for she thought she heard the sound of cracking brush, Bella took a deep breath of worldly air, the last she would get until Tilde came, before ducking inside.
Little catkin, curious thing, watch your whiskers well. Doors close and crones turn and little boys hide rocks in their pockets.