A long time ago, before either you or I were born; before, even, most of us can remember – not our mothers or our grandmothers, or their mothers and their grandmothers – there was a handsome prince. And, like many far-off fabled princes, he was spoilt and mean. He teased his sister, chased his maid, terrorised the kitchen staff, shouted at both of his parents; refused to attend school, whether home or otherwise, and spent most of his spare time (which, considering he rejected investing in anything that wasn’t directly relevant to him, was a lot) catching moths, dissecting butterflies, tormenting little kittens and stealing baby birds.
His family, being good God-fearing people, suffered his behaviour to the best of their ability, attempting to instil their beliefs and values into him in the hope that, eventually, he would change. And for a while, they genuinely believed that he would.
But as the years passed and he grew from a boy into a man, drawing ever closer to the time when he would, traditionally, inherit the kingdom: their concern grew, it’s toes extending into every corner.
Fearing the destruction of everything they held dear: the community they had built, the people they worked hard to protect, the landscape that not only inspired artists but attracted writers from miles around, they called in external help, turning to the one person they knew they could rely on. And while her ways were initially painful, often confusing and unusually harsh, they accepted that they were also always right.
So began a time of mourning, in which the kingdom wept a thousand tears and all who lived there learnt to pray for compassion and forgiveness.
Years passed and nothing much happened: the king turned grey, the queen grew plump, the staff became less vigilant and the townsfolk gradually withdrew, for, although they knew it wasn’t their fault, they couldn’t help feeling responsible for the way that things had turned out.
As for the prince: he grew into a man – bitter, twisted and resentful, all the worse for the feelings his punishment had evoked in him.
Hiding inside the palace walls, he survived the comments, whispers, stares and judgement by keeping to himself.
And then, one day, the king of Mercy arrived with his daughter, Grace, and the prince, who was now a frog, awoke, the beast inside him dissolving in an instant.
Determined to win the hand of the beautiful princess, the not-quite-so-beautiful prince set about improving, first attending to his own (up until now) wicked ways, and then extending his efforts further into every attainable interior of the kingdom.
Slowly, the chill began to melt. Life returned, laughter resumed and, once again, love remembered.
And then a question was asked and a hole was created – inside of which, there existed everything.
by Rebecca L. Atherton
Wings and Webbed Feet
This piece was written to compliment a textile I have just finished working on. Click here to see how it was made and to find out more about it.
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