Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A night's tale

The candle light flickered against the mirror and caused her carroty hair to glow, fire-like. She smiled, indulgently, brushing the ends of it for the enth time-- And why not? It was a lonely tower, and her maid had runaway with the gardener last sunday.

At least she had left her a note of apology and a basket of fresh cucumbers. Father always knew quality in his servants, and martha was quality. And the cucumbers had added flavour to the cheese sandwiches she had been assigned daily, so all in all, martha abandoning her did not particularly put her in a miff.

The room did though. The four-poster bed took up most of the space, and the piano the remaining five feet. Who wanted a piano? She hated stereotypes. Not all princesses played instruments, you know. She even knew one who mud-wrestled wild hogs for sport-- In secret, of course.

She sighed at the golden flicker on her bare shoulder. Such was the kingly glow that filled the sky that first day she saw....

A sudden horse neigh below made her jump and rush to the window. She expected it was martha with more cucumbers, for who else would dare come upto this tower, especially when he was expected to return any moment?

A reedy, just-cracking voice rose up on the night air-

"princess, I have come to rescue you!!"

She sighed.

A thunderous roar accompanied by a flash of red lightening saved her the trouble of replying. She sighed softly, unconciously holding her breath as she peeped through the grill.

The walls shuddered gently with the thud of his footsteps. The horse squealed and tried to hide behind the reedy-voiced suit of armour. Metal sounds of fumbling, and impolite mumbles followed, by the clank of steel drawn tremblish on steel.

"Who ARE you?"

She sighed again, and leaned her forehead on the cool stone of the window pane.

Reedy-voice launched into a speech he had obviously rehearsed for. Only the noise of what sounded suspiciously like chattering teeth marred its effect.

He waited patiently, and then thudded up to her window. She gasped-- He didnt speak to her often. At attention like she was back in school, she tried looking directly back into his beautiful, smouldering eyes, and almost succeeded... till in a gentled, gruff tone, he asked her if the chattering suit of armour was family.


[She couldn't help it. That deep gravelly tone made her knees and the leaves shake at the same time]

"you know... a brother, perhaps a cousin?"

"Erm... no, not that I know of"

"Right then"

He swivelled around, and she almost swooned with that warm aroma of musk, dried flowers and mauritian sunsets that he always smelt of. Holding onto the bedpost, sitting on the piano, she heard him ask--

"Well, me lad- what do you want?"

To his credit, Reedy Voice stopped shaking and drew himself together with a clank and said-- "the freedom and safety of the princess from your rapacious ways".

Brave. But stupid. The skies darkened, and the low growl that left his majestic belly made a caterpillar's hair rise 3 hills away. He growled and then spat out,

"so that's it, is it? Come poking about my house and my doings simply because you think Im like all the others. I'll have you know I pay my taxes, you shrimpy little man- Im a full citizen!! Just because I look different doesn't mean Im any worse than any of you two legged smelly little people down in the city!"

Then a funny thing happened, that made her choke and her eyes fill: she could swear that she heard a tiny sniff exit those lordly nostrils... a plume of smoke rose on the night air.

"why... why must you always think I have evil intentions? Why cant you leave me alone?"

"I've had enough". He sniffed and determinedly turned towards her window again, his tail knocking down four 200 year old pine trees making the horse squeal again.

"princess..." [oh, his voice was low and gravelly again] "... if you really want to go, you can... I just... well... I didn't know and... was flying over the castle garden that day and... ummm... you were playing cricket with that fat maid and I... well... I..."

Her heart surged. How she wanted to caress that gentle crimson flush that rose to his bony cheeks. She stretched out her hands through the grating, and hesitantly ran her palms over his emerald skin... A sudden hot gust shot through her window, against her face, heating her entire room. His face had a look of happy shock, his lips still frozen in the "whew" that had just escaped his throat.

Her eyes met his, smouldering coals in both. She smiled, and asked him if she could be let out now.

One hurried hasty claw tore the wall of the tower down... the other gently carressed her face, then lifted her onto his shoulder.

She buried her face just under his jaw, caressing his scales gently... a deep gentle rumble rose out of his gold-flecked neck, and he swung her down with a happy grin and held her as she wrapped her arms around his neck.

He took her to the pool for a drink so he could cool his lips, afraid as he was of burning her. The horse and suit of armour stood aghast, and truth be told, havent moved till this day.

Sitting on top of the tower later that evening, wrapped in his leathery wings, she, stroking his scaly chin, asked him if her human blood would make dragon babies look ugly.

He chuckled, and the trees danced with the glee of it. No he said, breathing a warm glow into her carrotty hair.... not at all, and he laughed and she laughed and they laughed and held each other and burned with life, his snout to her neck, her arms, her side...

And the moon rose, their flying and tumbling love a shadow against it, as the warm purple night closed in around them.

Of love and other demons- Prologue

Oh, she could tell you of love.

People came from all over to hear her, wrapping the shadows around themselves and nursing their drinks while the spotlight blinked over her voice, husky and calm with the telling of...


Children, men, women, priests, bikers, salesgirls, hookers, mothers, presidents, chefs and zoo managers came to hear her. And she had stories for each one of them. Each one heard every story differently, and went away with tears or smiles in the purse of their hearts depending on what clothes they were wearing, unpacked from whose luggage.

No one asked her for a name or a number. Many bought her drinks though, which she would awknowledge only with a little nod, nothing more for that would interrupt the telling.

Bar men have cried, as they will tell you. Grown men have walked out singing. One played a guitar and then drove himself off a cliff, but the coroner blamed an overdose of caffeine. No one asked any questions. To hear her speak meant putting your soul on the line, which was a tacit agreement among those who came to listen.

For she told everyone's story, every hope and dream and despair and pain and wove it into the night of her hair that like warm clouds breezed around her head as she spoke, moved my the pedestal fan kept backstage.

No one has ever written her stories down before. Till now.