Something new for a change. Experts advised me that no self-respecting depression website is complete without its own fairy tale.
Forget those dreary tips and opinions! Didn’t I know that this is what depressed people look for online? Fairy tales!
So grudgingly, I’ll oblige. Starting today I’ll give you, in monthly installments, The Fairy Tale of The Blue Shoe. Here are the first two chapters.
Once upon a time, long ago, far from here, in the lush green meadows between Spattering Brook and the Grimm Forest, there was a small wooden farmhouse with a bright red roof. An old father lived there with his two little children, Anton and Bella. Yes, father had a gray beard since the beginning of times, but Anton and Bella were young. They had a fierce black cat who called himself Tss, and a sleepy dog, Rowlins, who rowled the porch.
Every morning, when they woke up, Tss rushed out to roam along the hedge, Rowlins just rowled, father chopped wood for the fire, while Bella went to the chickens to collect a few eggs and Anton walked with a jug to the cow to get fresh milk. He knew how to do it; father had taught him. Squeeze and pull at the same time.
But wait! I hear you asking. What about mother? Yes, there was one very sad little thing in the house. Mother’s left shoe. A small, gleaming, pointed, bright Blue Shoe. It stood on top of the cupboard, and every morning they looked at it and had to cry a little. Just a few tears, you know. Because that Blue Shoe was all that was left of mother.
Anton and Bella were too young to remember exactly what had happened, but father had told them.
Late one summer afternoon, when the sun was already melting away, mother had danced to the edge of the Forest where the buzzing-bees lived in a basket that hung in a tree. Mother always danced, for her Blue Shoes were magical shoes that she had got as a wedding present from the Good Witch. They made her light as a feather. Mother often danced to the bees-basket with a spoon, and then she came dancing back with honey all over the spoon, so when she stirred the porridge it changed into a sweet and delicious treat.
But that afternoon, father had heard a shrill, terrible scream from the Forest. This scream took so long that the flames in the cooking stove shivered and froze, motionless, and a blackbird dropped from the air right in front of the door opening. This scream did never end and had father frozen, too. He could not move until, finally, the scream stopped and suddenly the entire world became silent. Dead silent. Eerily silent.
Strangely, Anton and Bella could never remember that terrible scream, but they did remember this silence. And how they had wanted to break it by screaming themselves, but an invisible hand had clamped over their mouth. Finally father slowly reached out for the kitchen knife, the same he always used to chop off chickens’ heads. He stepped outside, shook Rowlins (the dog had also been frozen) and ran to the bees-basket at the edge of the Forest. He ran so fast that the entire world began to croak and turn under his feet.
The basket still hung in the tree. No one was there. The bees had stopped buzzing: they slowly drifted in mid-air without a sound, floating around like brownish flakes of snow. But Rowlins with his sniffer-nose picked up a scent and they followed the trail into the bushes, into the green twilight under the trees of the Grimm Forest.
They did not need to go far. Soon, they came at a small clearing. Here, the grass was ruffled and smeared with something red. Blood? Mother’s blood?
Rowlins ran around nervously, in circles, and then picked up a Blue Shoe. He dropped it at father’s feet, and started whining. Father felt a great, horrible chill. He now knew what had happened. Mother had been eaten. She had been devoured by Melancholix, the terrible Black Dragon that lived in the Towers Of Ness Depry, deep in the Forest. It was too late now. She would never come back. Father began to whine just like the dog.
When at last he came shuffling home, forlorn, Anton and Bella froze for the second time that day. And Rowlins? It took weeks before he rowled again.
All this had happened a thousand summers ago, but Anton and Bella still thought about their mother every day. They missed her so much, her dancing and laughing, her gentle caresses, her softly-sung lullabies, her good-night-kiss. And they missed her honey-spoon, too.
Sometimes they stood still holding each other, and they couldn’t help looking up at the cupboard. There it was. The Blue Shoe.
Now one night, the Good Witch came over from the village to have dinner with them. Rowlins had rowled a rabbit the other day, and father had invited the Witch to share it with them. He had cooked the rabbit in wine from the Never-Empty bottle. The green magic bottle that long ago the Witch had given him as his own wedding present. The room filled with a wonderful smell, a smell from yesteryear, rich and warm.
They all sat down. “So, little darlings,” said the Good Witch, “how are you doing?” Bella looked at Anton. “A little sad,” she said. “Yes, a little sad,” said Anton.
The Witch nodded slowly, like she understood. Bella said: “We want mother back.” Anton said, “Yes, we want mother back. Don’t you know a way to get mother back, Witch?” The Witch nodded again, and frowned.
Finally she sighed, and said: “Little sweethearts, that’s impossible. Do you have any idea what you would have to do get your mother back?” Anton began “No but…” but the Witch went on.
“You would have to take that Blue Shoe over there, and take it with you into the Forest. Then first you would need to find the other Blue Shoe. And then you would have to look straight into the burning eyes of Melancholix, this evil Dragon, and slay him. And then you would have to wander through the Vaults Of Horror deep down below the Towers Of Ness Depry, to search for the stone statue of your mother. And then when you found that statue, you… ” The Witch hesitated, sighed again, and shook her head. “I’m so sorry,” she said. “I cannot do that.”
“Come on children,” father said quickly, “Let’s eat now. This rabbit here doesn’t like to get cold!” And eat they did. The Witch kept very silent, and not just because she was eating. Anton and Bella said little, too.
It was Father who did all the talking. He told the Witch how adept Anton had become in milking the cow, and how often Bella impressed him with her cleverness. The Witch nodded, but her thoughts seemed far away.
Later on, while father was washing the plates and the Witch was leaving, Bella and Anton came with her out on the porch. They always liked to see how the Good Witch went home. But this time, she turned around and whispered: “Children, maybe you can do what I can’t. But don’t tell your father. He’ll be worried. He’ll forbid you to go. Here,” and she slipped them a small black leather pouch, “take this with you when you go into the Forest. Open it when you get into trouble.”
Bella looked at Anton. They knew right away they would try.
“If you get lost,” said the Witch, “ask the squirrels to bring you to the Dwarf’s place. He’s the only one down there you can trust. He may be able to help you. All this will very dangerous, but don’t be afraid. When you’ve found Melancholix the Dragon and have been brave enough to look into his eyes,” she reached into her robe again, “then show him this little mirror. And don’t forget to take the Blue Shoe with you!”
She sighed again. “Good luck,” she said and tapped them on their shoulders.
Then she snapped with her fingers, and poof! she was gone. This was how the Witch always went home.
Anton and Bella could not sleep that night. The next morning came with a rain-filled sky, so Father went out in a hurry to bring in the hay. The two …
Author: Henk van Setten