Tag Archives: fables

The Fable of the Perfect Garden

She lay open as the flowers that tumbled down the walls, insouciant and haughty in the infinite knowing of sun and bucolic perfection. Here she was a breath of diving, the joy of having left yet not yet arrived, mid-air with the taste of sweet macaroons from Paris in her mouth, only an afternoon of kisses scribbled as her one ‘to-do’. In this place, no one could falter for there was nothing to fail at. She would love them no matter. Adoration billowed like tufts of cumuli, and love poems were like opiates she gave for afternoon tea. She was as pliant as a doting grandmother but just wicked enough to recognize the nuances of their desire. She only wanted a moment. It was a kind of craving she was aware of but sang over top, ditties and show tunes from the war, drowning out any sounds at all of the outside world. In her mind she watched her imagination sedulously; she was in love with love.

One day a gentlemen came to the small wooden door at the rear of the garden, below the Magnolia tree. He was very neat and trim, with a navy suit and gray tie with tiny squares within which she saw a spark of orange. He wasn’t entirely without colour then, she thought. His face was expressionless, but his eyes were dark and full of information that he held back, asking instead, could we sit down?

Since she loved everyone, and everyone loved her, she smiled, and gave a small laugh, as if to say, don’t be ridiculous, of course we shall sit down! She glided over to a perfect bench, below hanging honeysuckle that was just now coming into bloom. She leaned towards it, inhaling. When she opened her eyes, he was staring very seriously at her. Something in her felt suddenly different. A painful tightening in her chest she did not recognize. What was wrong?

“I have some news I have to tell you. ” His eyes were like bullets, black and determined to hit their mark.

She burst into tears.

“I know this will come as a shock. It is not my favourite job, but one, nonetheless I am paid for so there it is, the real reason I am here.” His breath smelled faintly of cloves and she wondered if she kissed him could she make him stop?

She leaned into him but he took her by the shoulders, his hard purposeful fingers digging into her soft skin. She cried out but he did not waver, staring calmly, purposefully, into her face, searching for a moment to tell her.

“This is not real.”

She felt then an upside down sensation, like when you are at the very top of the swing and your head is back and then you snap it forward suddenly and look into the sky.

You are not real. Now get out of my garden!” Her voice shook, not used to being raised.

But he held on and kept at her, hurtling his bullets, shooting her over and over with those dark, hard, sniper eyes until she went limp and he let go of her shoulders.

“Now. You will have to grow a hide. I can help. Do you have birds?” he asked, more gently now, and she looked up, hopeful.

“Yes, I have lots and lots of birds, why I have the most darling little Juncos, and Robins, and of course those clever crows and…”

He interrupted her, “Start with crow feathers. When you are covered, then add a layer of your darkest, richest soil. After that, take those rose bushes and cut off the buds…”

She gasped, “No! Not the roses!”

“…cut off every last bud, you will need to in order to survive. Listen carefully to me!” he bellowed and snatched her wrist like a handcuff. She felt a hot, sick feeling come up through her eyes, pour down her cheeks, and slip down past her jaw as she stared into his face. It was like stone his face. It couldn’t be changed. It couldn’t be loved.

“Take those good, strong, thorny branches and tie them around you, head to toe–this is important! Every inch, leaving only your eyes, nose and mouth.”

“But why?” she wailed. “I don’t want to leave! This is my home.”

“Don’t you see? Your home has left you.” His voice had lowered and he looked down then, and for a moment, she thought he would let her go, but no, his eyes met hers and he whispered, so quietly she nearly missed it, begin now. Then he stood and left, as abruptly as he’d entered.

When he was gone, she saw that the Magnolia tree had cast a shadow she’d never noticed before. She couldn’t bear it. He was right. Something was happening. And so she prepared. She diligently began her hide.

It was dark when she was done, standing in a cage of thorns below a violet sky, the edge of night no longer a warm blanket to her but a harbinger of danger, of something more real that she did not yet know, had never known. Against this new world, she was glad to have this hide, happy for its thorny protection and suddenly she smiled for within it she could still taste the sweet macaroons from Paris, deliciously melting on her tongue.

She went to the door and lifted the latch.What was outside? No matter. She had a hide. She would find out.


Filed under Fiction

If you love it enough, it will become real

If you are not familiar with the story of the Velveteen Rabbit, watch this video first:


Sadly, Meryl Streep only tells the first part of the tale in her lilting, masterful story voice. But this is the part of the story I wanted to talk about anyway.

What is real? the Rabbit asks.

I love how being ‘real’ is equated with the necessary passing of time, and more importantly, with love. And that weathered by life, one actually becomes more lovable.

The rest of the story is really beautiful so if you haven’t read it, seek it out–easy enough to do online these days.

The moral of the story is so simple: if you love it enough, it will become real.

“Once you are real, you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”


Filed under Non-fiction

Cinderella Revisited

When I was finishing my directing degree at the Phoenix Theatre, I was short a few electives and had to take some basket weaving courses during the summer. It was great. Here I was, preparing for a Fringe show, drinking wine on the beach, having BBQ’s, running around on the back of my friend’s Moped and being 23 years old with only a few courses left in my degree.

The problem was, there weren’t any basket weaving available. So, I took a women’s study course and a classical music appreciation course. I guessed they’d be pretty easy after doing a 4th year directing project.

What I didn’t bargain for in the women’s study course was how it would change my life. I’d grown up with ten men in a traditional, partriarchal model and as I studied women’s feminist writings and listened to my instructor talk about Virginia Woolf and the importance of having a ‘room of one’s own’ I began to see a different perspective. It was like I woke up from a long sleep. Where in god’s name had I been all this time? This was serious $%#@!

I jettisoned girly girl fables, stories, dreams. I said, fuck Cinderella, fuck Snow White, fuck being a wife! I burned my bra, my future white dress, my rehearsal dinner, my cake….my husband.

That was 20 years ago.

A lot has happened. A lot has changed. Do I want all that fluffy bouffant girly stuff? Not really. But I do realize that not allowing anyone in so I could be someone Gloria Steinem would be proud of is maybe not serving me anymore. When I read that Gloria married at the age of 66 I was kind of blown away. But I loved what she said in an interview, when asked about this ‘change of heart’:

It was something about me. I think. First of all, I was 66 years old. I was who I was. I no longer felt that I would have to give myself up in any way.

I love this.

I no longer felt I would have to give myself up in any way. 

Ah. That is it really. That was what I think I was always afraid of, fought for, held onto in my life–that desire to not have to give myself up, my writing, my art, my essential voice.

I know finally, and really understand, what Gloria is talking about. It’s softened me up a little, taken down those unwieldy walls I’d constructed around me to keep out those fables, bows, and glass slippers.

And when I did, lo and behold, it wasn’t so bad! They’re sweet, some of those stories, and they’re not evil, and they have some adorable moments. It doesn’t mean I believe in the idea that women need ‘saving’ or carriages that turn into pumpkins at midnight. But I kind of like the Cinderella story, and you know, I would re-write it to be a girl that didn’t have much money but worked her ass off, was able to support herself, and then met a really great guy and she no longer felt she would have to give herself up in any way. 

Maybe they met in a bar instead of a ball. The point is, Gloria was ready for an equal partnership, and maybe Cindrella in my story would be too, and wouldn’t have to be saved, but rather ‘discovered’ for all of her power, and all of her weakness, faults, and foibles and still loved. That is no fable–it’s partnership.

When asked, why, after 50 years of being single and dating and all of that, would she get married? She said it was because her and David Bale ‘both felt that we wanted to be responsible for each other’.

Isn’t that lovely? So maybe Cinderella and her Prince would be responsible for each other. Lucky Prince I say.


Filed under Memoir, Non-fiction