The Sometimes Invisible Girl
Once Upon A Time… a long time ago, but not so very, a little baby girl was born in a little cottage at the edge of the woods. But unlike most babies that come out of this world perfect and beautiful, this baby looks odd and ugly. She has a misshapen head, very so, with the lower part of the head very long and the upper very bulbous. Her eyes were not aligned, one was about a half inch lower than the other and also slightly bigger. She also had huge ears, shaped like that of a cat’s but with no tufts. In fact, those ears are so pale and translucent they appear to glow in sunlight. Understandably enough the father was vocally disgusted. Surely, a creature that horrible- looking can not be their child. The mother, who was silent in her disgust wept quietly in one corner and refused to hold the baby. The baby began to cry and it sounded like a thousand rabid dog howling.
“Oh, you most unlucky thing!” Cried the midwife who was forced to pick the baby up and rock it gently on her arms.”What should we do to you?” “What is there to be done?!”The father asked furiously. He won’t even look at his daughter. The midwife had no answer. The wife remained weeping weakly.
“Except nothing.” The father said sadly, he had just made a decision. The ugly baby can’t stay. He couldn’t bear it. And anything that look that bad must also bring bad luck, a very, very bad kind of luck. The baby will ruin them. What he wanted, the only thing he wanted, was a normal, happy, and beautiful family. A family of him, his lovely wife(for the wife was very lovely, soft brown eyes, reddish hair, and beautifully-shaped head), and at least a dozen beautiful children. If he must have this he must let go of the ugly baby. She must go and then they could start over. The father heard the wife gasp and the midwife protested loudly. He had not realized he had spoken his thoughts loudly. Nevertheless, he’d made up his mind. And there was no changing it. He told the midwife to take the baby away. And to do with it whatever she wished. He paid her with his wife’s golden comb and the midwife agreed. She wrapped the baby in a clean, coarse cloth and took it out the door. The wife, the mother who delivered the baby only an hour ago didn’t make any sound. Years passed, and many other babies were born on that little cottage on the edge of the woods, perfect and beautiful babies so unlike the first one. There were 11 girls and a boy. The girls took after their mother, with soft brown eyes, long reddish hair, and perfectly shapen heads. The boy took after the father, strong, and robust, and firm in his decisions.
Meanwhile, the ugly baby who was already forgotten stayed in the heart of the woods, where the midwife left her, nestled between the warm, protruding roots of an old oak. The forest took good care of her. During the day, the trees left her laying on the soft ground and furtively offered her nourishment through a over-ripe fruits or sweet water from their barks, and soothe her with the whispers of their leaves. In the evening, when it’s finally safe for them to show their real faces, the trees shake out their green,tangled heads, and laugh openly with their mouths open. They toss the girl back and forth in their sturdy branches, very careful to keep her from falling, until she’s laughed herself to sleep.
The girl grew plump and happy and less ugly, because love can do that to even the ugliest thing. Its warmth smooths the rough edges, its laughter can drown out a horrible voice, its smile sweetens a misshapen face. The girl didn’t knew where she came from, didn’t know the family living, and laughing, and growing just on the edge of her world. The trees didn’t tell her, although they already know, for they know everything. Nevertheless, the girl was contented with her family. There were grandma and granpa willow with their endless hairs and beards and their forever weeping for the world. There was Papa Maple, always spoiling her with sweet syrup. And of course, Mama Oak, who gifted her with the ability of being invisible on daylight so she would be safe from the scary woodcutters, the ruthless hunters, and their dogs.
The woods was a perfect home for a girl to grow up in, ugly or otherwise. Just imagine the strong branches protecting her from rain, and the birds singing sweetly from them when the weather was fine. Imagine the mossy banks of brooks, the sweetness of the wild berries waiting for her plump hand, the soft, warm ground under her bare foot, the comfortable shades, the secret nooks. It was paradise.
There were only three things to fear in the woods:
The curious campers,
There were only few. But the foolishness of those few was to be reckoned with. And everybody knows how foolishness could harm one’s self and also others. These campers stay overnight. They build fires with Mama Oak’s discarded skin and the dried twigs of many others. Once, one of them forgot to douse the fire and the whole forest was put in terrible danger that was thankfully prevented by the girl.
The hunters and their dogs,
They were the most frequent visitors, coming just before the frost, frightfully chasing and capturing the birds and the deer. Their dogs were as eager as they. And they scare the girl even more. They were animals, just like the bears and the wolves, and the beautiful antelopes, and all the forest animals the girl consider her cousins. But she felt no connection towards these snarling and barking dogs, no connection, no known way for communication. Therefore she hides, burrowing under Mama Oak’s roots until they disappear and peace returns.
The most horrible of all. Occasionally he pays the woods a visit, each visit a tragedy, each visit leaving more pain than the last. The first time the girl saw him, she knew in her heart that he is an enemy. A cruel, merciless enemy. He carried this huge, scary looking thing in his shoulder, its handle undoubtly made of a branch, it’s tip glinting ominously with sunlight filtering through the leaves. He used it to cut through the first tree he seemed to take fancy of. It was one of the most vivid memories she had. Sometimes, she dream of it, and fall off Mama Oak’s loving branch.
Mama Oak sat her down by the brook and talked to her- about the woodcutter, the girl’s greatest fear. Mama Oak said not to fear the woodcutter, that he was neither thoughtless nor vicious in nature. He was simply a tool of nature for it to accomplish its certain cycles. The woodcutter must cut down trees, so that new saplings could be born on the earth’s belly. And he wood come, one day or another for each tree, when it was time. He would come for the lovely Cherry. He would come for Papa Maple. For Mama Oak. For every pine and mahogany and birch. It was inevitable. There was nothing the girl nor the woodcutter could do. He was chosen to do a certain duty. He must accept this.She must accept this, learn to live normally with this knowledge, and stop living in fear.
But for the first time, Mama Oak was no help. The girl did not understand. If the woodcutter was not bad, how could he strike down trees without feeling the slightest remorse? How could he not see their queit tears, the stain of their blood? Besides, she was told nature was the gentle, caring mother of all. What mother could allow something like this to happen? And who needs new saplings if there were already mature trees on its place? And how could the girl be not afraid of this? How could she ignore the horrible feeling towards the woodcutter that is taking root in her heart?
On the fifty hundredth moon since the girl was found on Mama Oak’s roots, the trees prepared a treat.
All of the girl’s favorite fruit and more besides. She danced with Papa Maple, played with the little bunnies, and had flowers on her hair from the most magnificent cherry tree. And she learned where she came from.
They told her, how one day a woman came and left a child under Mama Oak’s shade, told her how the woman whispered and cried to Mama Oak’s child about feeling sorry for the poor child whose family didn’t want.
“But why wouldn’t they want me?”the girl asked.
“Because…you look different.”
Of all the things they said, this was what the girl finds so hard to believe. She had always known she was different. She was not a tree, her hair was not green and did not turn red on fall, and she only had two roots which were just sufficient for keeping her upright but not for digging down the forest floor. She was neither an animal or a hunter. She was like all three combined. But Mama Oak explained to her that it was okay to be different, because different was special, and special was beautiful.
“Are you okay?” Papa Oak asked her just before the sun rose.
“Aren’t you sad though? Even for a bit?”
“I am perfectly happy.” That was her first lie.
The next morning, the woodcutter came.
He came for Mama Oak.
The girl wanted to help, needed to-in fact she never needed to do something this much all her life. But one of the strongest, oldest tree held her captive in his roots. She fought and struggled and cried, or tried to, all the while the woodcutter hurts the one tree she was most afraid to lose. The woodcutter used his ax mercilessly. Mama Oak remained quiet. She was dignified even in her pain. There was a very loud crash when she fell, a sound the the girl felt reverberating through her soul. This sound was followed with something even more unbearable, the sound of Mama Oak being dragged away. Then there was silence, not the beautiful silence of the forest, but an ugly silence of all the trees weeping as silently as they always did.
On the forest floor were a trail of Mama Oak’s blood and leaves. The girl curled into herself and cried as quietly as the trees.
On a little cottage on the edge of the woods, a man was proudly showing his father the magnificent oak he’d cut from the woods.