the beginning

Years ago in a college class learning family dynamics, we were tasked to go home and write a story. I was 23 and painfully shy, yet when it came time for someone to read their story out loud I was the first to raise my hand. Almost 30 years later I’m beginning to understand why.

I. Once upon a time, in a land far away, there lived a little princess. When she was born there was a great rejoicing in the land for she was to the last in the line of princes and princesses. Her mother gave her time and her father loved her. One day the princess disappeared. No one knew where she was. After a while the villagers stopped looking for her. Her mother went on weaving and her father went away on a quest.

II. The villagers had given up their search. They did not know that deep in the woods near the castle the little princess sat at the roots of an enormous oak tree. She had heard the shouts of the villagers but did not recognize the name they were calling. She had not heard her own name for a very long time, and she had forgotten it. Sitting by the big tree the little princess felt safe. Beside her was the bag she had brought with all her special things. When she looked down the bag was gone. On the ground lay two things; a mirror and a book. The mirror was cloudy, and the book was empty.

III. Near the town there lived a wizard. She was as old as time and as deep as the well behind the castle. When the moon rose and it was light enough to see, the girl left the tree and made her way to the wizard’s house. When she arrived at the house all the other houses were dark with sleep. She raised her hand, and before she could knock, the door opened. ‘I knew you would come,’ said the wise old wizard. ‘I had nowhere else to go,’ replied the young one, ‘how do you know me?’ ‘I have known you before you were you,’ said the wizard, ‘and I have loved you even longer.’ ‘Do you know my name?’ ‘Yes, I would never forget it.’ The little one sat next to the fire and laid the mirror and the empty book beside her. ‘I am lost yet I know my way home. I have a mirror that does not work and a book full of empty pages. Can you help me?’ ‘The book is not to be written for you, it is to be written by you.’ said the wizard. ‘The mirror will show you what you need to write about.’ ‘I can only see myself. What more is there?’ replied the girl. ‘Nothing. You have lost yourself waiting for others to find you.’ ‘I can go now’, said the girl, ‘thank you. Can I come and visit you again?’ ‘My child’ replied the wise wizard, ‘I have been with you always, look into the mirror and you will find me there.’ It was late when the young one returned home. The queen was at her loom weaving. She glanced up and resumed her work. She had not even noticed that she had been gone.