(For every girl who choses herself over the prince and consequently becomes the evil witch in his re-telling of the fairytale.)
I had all the makings of a cinderella.
My hair in the light was as luster-ridden as any. My eye sparkled up at him for years.
But my heart never felt right in the shoes I was told to wear. And I was often wondering if this was as good as it was going to be, despite the glory and guild of it all.
Mostly though, I had a habit of wandering in the woods.
The first time I wandered off, it was just to look around. To see the beauty of the wildness and appreciate it. To get close to danger but not close enough to burn myself fully in the fire of it.
The second time I wandered off, I did it on purpose. Not because I wanted to cause worry, but because something exciting brought me back there.
The third time I wandered off, I never came back.
The girl who stepped gingerly onto the path into the shadow-ridden trees never left.
I returned instead. I looked a little different, but you wouldn’t know it at first.
My hair was still as shiny, my eyes still staring up at him. Just not as sparkly.
Just not as easily believing in the words.
My heart-a once tender garden of hope and plump full of fertile ground for growing; pumping my blood with his name only-hit Autumn like a light switch turning off.
And when Autumn came to the garden, the trees that called to me so gently to take a peek down the path began to haunt my dreams. All the butterscotch leaves trembled amber in a beckoning. Down that road that sloped toward the hill lay everything I could be and more.
Unknowing and unknowable.
Creatures that seemed friendly and turned venomous, places that you think are made for you, but turn out to be only labyrinths sending you deeper into despair. Treachery, lies, loneliness, deep pools of hurt that were stationary and black with mud. But also freedom, power, self discovery, the potential for love.
Was it worth the risk to leave the glass slippers behind and try it barefoot for a while?
I decided, with tiny, small (sometimes good and sometimes bad, sometimes wrong and sometimes right) decisions that it was.
I left the palace. I returned the things I borrowed.
I said thank you, with tiny, small (sometimes good and sometimes bad, sometimes wrong and sometimes right) ways.
I stepped into the woods already cold. Autumn turned swiftly to Winter.
I was unprepared.
And sometimes, all we need is the calling.
I wandered for a while. The wind whipping me about. The rain, the snow and sleet, the tears and the rage, the sorrow and loss. The fog of being born new. The old letting go, the new getting stronger.
I cried out for help and funnily, help came.
I saw things, things I had forgotten and things I knew existed but never experienced.
I remembered the north star. How she steadfastly looked down on me. The owl in the tree with her big eyes constantly marking my journey. The twinkling of heavenly friends, the crickets, the fireflies. The pack watching from the distance.
I wasn’t alone at all. And despite no shoes; I had days of walking just fine.
I had other days too. But those days were worth it, now that they are over.