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            You came to me in your cloak made of tatters, with the dog made of bone at your side.
            You came to me and demanded to know why—why hadn’t I been there? Why her, and not you?
What had she done to earn fairy gifts to smooth her way? What did she do to earn the golden dresses and the silver shoes, the care of old women and the kindness of princes?
           Why did she get to dance, when you had to carve your path of thorns, and bleed for every inch?
            I told you that fairy godmothers are a little less than angels. We are given only enough power to hold in our two hands. There is not enough to go around.
           I told you that we spend it very grudgingly, and only on those who cannot succeed without our help.
           The dancing princess would have died. She would have withered at the first harsh word. She could never have woven the rope from nettles, or built her own dog out of bones.
           So I helped her and not you.
            I told you that even in the cradle, I knew that you were strong.
            You swallowed that, even though the taste was bitter. You were already proud of your strength. (And why wouldn’t you be? You have done amazing things. I wish I had the right to be proud of what you’ve done.)
            You walked away, with your tattered cloak swinging, with the bone dog clattering at your side. You walked away, and all you left was the handprint on the doorframe, with your left hand stained with the prince’s blood.
            I watched you go, and picked the bits of lie out of my teeth with the tip of a worrying tongue.
            Truth is, there are too many broken people in the world.
            We bet on the ones we think will make it, like birds who feed the strongest chick. We pour love out on those who are already loved and magic on those who only need a little, since a little is all we have to give.
            There was nothing much to recommend you as a child. You squalled and whined and cried. You were timid and afraid of strangers.
            (And I have to tell you that your breathing was annoying, you made little “uhn! uhn!” noises in your throat at every breath, and certainly this is petty but also it is true.)
           Mostly, though, you were easy to forget, so I forgot you.
            I did not expect you to survive. You should have died a dozen times and yet you lived, for all you went a darker way.
            Well. Good for you. We don’t always get it right.
            I waited too long to clean the handprint off the doorframe. I left it there for days as a reminder. My eyes dragged over it every time I went out.
            I think I hoped that I would learn something.
            In the end I washed it off, or tried.
           The white paint underneath is stained. In sunlight I hardly notice.
          But sometimes now,
          before I light the candles,
          I see the shadow of your hand against the door.

(Permanently housed over at TKingfisher.com for easy future reference)

That reminds me of Gaiman's "Nicholas Was..."

Obviously that's an intense compliment -- those are both disturbing stories despite their short length.

Not a word wasted.

Is that girl (woman) from an existing story? Not that she need be: the dog she built from bones is a stunning concept.

Not to my knowledge. I was literally sitting in the Food Lion parking lot and got the first sentence wandering through my head.

I'd like to know more about the dog made of bone myself...

Wow...that is breathtaking! No, really, it is.

You have much to be proud of.

Even when you creep me out a little, I love your stuff.

P.S. The link on your site to "Elegant and Fine" is missing a : after the http and thus doesn't work.

One hopes that all your readers would be smart enough to figure it out, but just in case...

Whoops! Fixed, thank you!

Ooh. Wow.

My first thought was that I would like to have a vocal version of that. My second was that I'm not sure I'm brave enough to listen to that.

I would have been Queen.

I was told every girl who is kind and brave and true would have a fairy godmother. Especially if she was merchant born . Princesses only got fairy godmothers if they needed protection from a evil fairy.

I was kind. I was brave. I was true. I took on every challenge thrown at me, the worst being ordinary. Ordinary girls have to work twice as hard to get noticed. They have to work four times as hard once they're noticed to prove themselves.

Strong? Damn right I'm strong. I met those stupid challenges. I wove rope out of nettles. Do you have any idea what that does to your hands? It took me months to make my cloak and it still fell apart. I had to go through swamps and visit graveyards at midnight for my dog of bones. And then, when I've met my challenges and proved my kindness, bravery and true devotion, I have to fight for my life.

So a Wilting Violet gets fairy godmother help and she lands a prince who's actually a decent sort. I work my fingers to the bones, trudge through swamps, rummage in graves and all I get is blood. My blood, his blood, their blood. Only my dog of bones is free of blood.

I would have been Queen. I would have done right by the people. I would have built schools and organized literacy programs and negotiated better trade relations.

You only have a little to give? Couldn't be bothered to help me out? Fine. Be that way. I don't know why I expected a different answer. No one has rewarded ME for being brave and kind and true. I'll find my own place. I'm strong. No thanks to you.

(I hope this doesn't offend. My Muse insisted on answering.)

Re: I would have been Queen.

No offense at all! Thank you!

Whoosh! (This is approximately the sound I make when something is awesome and I don't even have words for how and I just wave my arms trying to trace patterns of thoughts and make whooshing noises).