Spirits, wild in the desert. The darkness black as pitch, complete and cold. Above, the stars arc and blanket the sky, a vast net of jewels, but the earth is lost to a maw of shadow.
From the maw, the shriek of spirit. It falls upon deaf ears, but for those who know how to listen. Who have been taught and are alert.
Into the boy, so wide open with pain and rage. Into him the shriek, the howl, the maelstrom.
We turn you about and inside-out. We kill you and resurrect you. We suck at your warmth until you are tatters and rags, a wretched and torn ribbon in a whirling gale, lost boy in a locket, tossed into the churning and mad yearning of distant, dark seas.
Until you are like us, shrieking on the inside. Alone no more and forever more.
The White Queen held Durza, his head upon her lap. The black and crimson of his clothing was stark to her white. His hair was a river of blood, staining her virginal gown.
What have they done to you, she wondered?
Their scent was upon him; wargs, moon hounds. Serpentine, green musk and the fiery musk of blood. Delirium of black, lost to the passions of rage and lust. Wet leather, hot stone and sand of crushed rock and red clay.
The spirits in the desert were once rebel angels, now demons; lost, lost, lost. Wandering. Their eyes were like quartz, black opals and polished garnet. Their hair, their scent was like Durza’s.
The wayward children pushed the heavy, water-logged wooden door open with a slow and dread creak and beheld the witch. She hovered just over her bed, white hair streaming down. She was all lit up.
On the table beside the bed glowed a cup filled with starlight.
At the window was the ghost-face of a barn owl.
At the foot of the bed was a demon with blood red hair.
Standing before the children was another demon. Frozen, they saw its fearsome smile, black mirth sliding from its rictus corners. Its eyes were a snow leopard’s, its skin was dragon hide.
It extended a lace-fringed hand towards them and its fingers opened, a flower. Poof.
It said, “Run.”
They were dogged and chased by its queer and thoughtful giggles as they fled.
There are stories of girls who take to melancholy fevers and levitate, bend over backwards, scream and faint with sudden spells. They stare past the comfort of the fire and into dark chasms. They walk barefoot in snow, dreaming. They straddle fences, rocking their imaginary hobby horses in startling ways, one bare and dirty foot dangling into a realm of death. There, cold hands hold both arch and ankle.
Such drama, such loneliness. They make storms and look out, owlish, from haunted eyes. Manic, they walk the woods and peer into deep wells.
Why so much trouble? Why not be a good girl, whole and sound? Why not grow up and know the love, the security of a husband and family?
Because not all can. Some fall in love with monsters.
Please, Mirana whispered, but did not know to whom she whispered. God? The Gods? Were there such beings as these?
She’d been a girl who looked at dark things and collected the small skulls of birds, denuded by ants. In the hollows of the skull and the emptiness of the eye-sockets, the unseen spoke.
She’d become a woman who knew of Other Worlds. One went through a mirror and lived in reverse; the heart said bud-bul. One tumbled into rabbit holes and never stopped falling. Life sailed by.
Who could say what made it all? And what kept it all working; in what ways were all the worlds linked?
Still. She said, please. Please give it to me. This magic, this bit of creation that will make me less alone in all the worlds. Please give this to me.
A capricious godling, distant and cold, heard. He understood. Instead, he sent three demons.
“She’s mine.” Said Rumplestiltskin. He danced a bit, quite excited. “Look at her; so weird. She talks with her hands in motion, moving all around. She’s just like me. Hands off, dearies.”
“She’s mine.” Said Jareth. “Just look at her outfit. It’s so obvious. She’s clearly a Queen; a Queen of foreign lands, as I am a King. She belongs in my castle, beyond the Goblin City, as my consort. You have thirteen hours to clear out before she becomes all mine…. Forever.”
Durza rolled his eyes. Rumplestiltskin followed suit, but with more pizzazz. Showmanship, dearie.
Durza said, “No. No. She’s mine.”
Rumplestiltskin and Jareth looked at one another, then at Durza. Jareth tapped a glossy riding crop against his thigh with impatience. It caused a mild thrill within his thunderous and fey heart. Rumplestiltskin splayed both hands at Durza, palms up.
“How do you figure?” he asked, clearly baffled.
Durza snarled, though not unkindly. It was his way.
“She is my chessboard mate. We have similar hairdos and look very dramatic together. Oh. And she talks to the dead. And hears them.”
All three looked to the White Queen, who ignored their light squabble. Her bared shoulders, with a dimple when she turned about. Her delicate hands and doe eyes. Her corpse-like skin and black fingernails, glossy and admittedly prettier than both Rumplestiltskin’s and Durza’s. Her scent of peaches, lemons, calla lily and dark ivy.
Her mouth, the color of dark plum, full-lipped and lush.
Turning to all three, she smiled. There was a small explosion in three demonic chests. Jareth resented it, deeply.
She held up a serpentine dagger, mesmerized by its power.
“What’s this?” she asked.
On a dare, a lark, a game of heroism, there are those who persist in undertaking quests. Thrill seekers, naughty children. With the smothered guilt of one purchasing a ticket for admission to a freakshow, off they go, surely with purpose. Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered. Beset with fruit-peddling goblins or the spooks and haints of the Deadlands. Gorgon howls and rude stares from the Black Castle, where owls and bats swoop in the courtyard and the master of the house steeples his fingers, listening to voices.
Harried by dragons as they scale sheer rockface and whistle through the ossuaries of mountain caves, in which voices murmur and make unsettling suggestions.
One or another of these well-meaning or otherwise bored individuals will inevitably come to the door of the witch.
The crows, the leaves, the little birds and the scurry of rabbits. (I am Darkness, says a black rabbit named Luna, never mind its wee fluff of tail. Three demons smother smiles of indulgence. Look at the little scrap of evil.)
The cats in windows and stalking the periphery. The mushrooms and branches, the moss upon rocks. The rush of cold water and the multi-chambered, brain-like cells of tadpoles.
Cups with stars inside.
Tea with owls.
The watchful eyes of a demon.
A witch is a non-woman. A witch is a font of fertility and is all that is woman. A witch is all alone, but for her broom and her cat. A witch is an enchantress, a seductress, and she has all manner of suitors. A witch has teeth of iron, blazing eyes, straggle-hair and lives in a shack in the swamp. A witch is a plump granny who looks after her neighbors.
A witch knows everything.
A witch is completely ignorant of herself. Her shadow walks the land, independent of herself.
She is a river bed, and light rushes into her. Through her core and into her limbs; canals, inlets, tributaries. She is lit from the inside.
The adventurer, the seeker opens her door. Signs marked the path to her house. “Honey.” “Rabbits.” “Fortunes told under duress.”
Where a barn owl once sat in the window, now perches and sprawls a man of long and elegant countenance. Straw colored hair spikes and drifts down his shoulders. He idly blows bubbles that become polished crystals and dreams. His eyes are mismatched and see across lonely, windswept vistas where old gods fornicated and created all. His eyebrows recall his bird-self. His trousers are a second skin, sparing no detail. It pleases him. He smells of crushed violets and leather; violence and sex.
Another figure spins at a spinning wheel, a soft and steady creaking. He rocks with the spinning. He feeds the wheel straw and it wraps around the bobbin as liquid gold. It melts upon the tongue but is strong to the touch.
He once split himself into two pieces, for heartbreak, betrayal and anger. Now he lives with the pieces and his eyes show the madness of it.
Thing; some say. Imp. Goblin, though Jareth knows better. Dark One. Oh, demon; yes. Oddly, he smells of honey’d rose. Of yew and of the witch’s herbs and flowers, long steeped in spells. Of butterfly wings and spider webs.
There she is, the witch they came to see, unaware of the eldritch and rather fabulous company she kept; they are surely worth the price of admission. Mirana, say her companions. Once she was The White Queen, in a far-away place. To the visitor, lurker on a dare, her dress seems less queenly and more of an antique bridal gown. She is lovely, in her cadaverous way. But… oh, the darkness of her eyes, the shadows pooled beneath, like bruises.
Was she what they were expecting?
Her hair is a veil. She is all lit up.
Laying on her bed, head in her lap, is a demon of pitch-black, snow white and deepest red. He is a faerie tale, a vampire. A ghost, riven with scars.
The black and crimson of his clothing is stark to her white. His hair is a river of blood, staining her virginal gown.
The scent is upon him. Gabriel’s hounds, scenting hallowed blood and gobbling up Shades. Funeral incense and the cold of a desert at night. The moon, seen in his eyes. Embalming fluid, a light and green scent, riding his veins. Aloe, resin.
What have they done to you, she wonders, petting his long hair. It is a liability, this neverending sympathy for the devil. This seeing of light in darkness. This dream of flight.
At a glance from the moonstone irises of Durza’s eyes, the snow leopard wildness of Rumplestiltskin’s eyes and the cold, alien and righteously Fae eyes of Jareth, the intruder backs away.
Guilt. Morbid curiosity, and then more guilt as the intruder gets the hell away.
For; whatever will they do to her?