By Lizzie Meddler
(Based on the song “What If” by Emilie Autumn)
This story was inspired by two things: Emilie Autumn's song "What If" - about a girl whom people are trying to force her to be someone she isn't, when she's all these things that are impossible or contrary, and she's challenging them, asking them what they'd do if she was, say, a snowstorm burning. Something that doesn't fit the traditional view of what is perfect. It was also inspired by a specific character in my serialized story series "The Freelance Chronicles." A girl born of an immortal and a mortal, who is raised in the mortal world, and then is taken to the immortal kingdom, where she's expected to forget her mortal heart and become like all of the other immortals. But she can't, no matter how hard she tries to fit their vision. It's a concept that, I think, a lot of us can relate to, and I know I really, really do. I don't fit into anyone's picture frame and the lyric - "A snowstorm burning" - really stuck out in my mind, because it's how I so often feel. So enjoy this short story, dedicated to all of us impossible girls - us burning snowstorms - who simply won't ever fit into someone's "perfect vision."
How is it fairy tales begin? Oh yes. . . .
Once upon a time, there was a girl whose imaginings became reality. They leapt from her mind and into existence before her very eyes. This was nothing strange to the girl or to those who saw it, for she lived in an enchanted world, where the impossible was quite possible indeed.
However, the girl’s particular sort of imaginings were not liked in the enchanted kingdom. For the girl much enjoyed imagining the contradictory. Sirens who sang lost sailors to sleep, so that they might forget their woes just for a time. Demons with warm, kind hearts, who offered weeping maidens flowers rather than tempted them into destruction.
These things the girl loved imagining most, for they reflected her own heart. For the girl was not like the others in the enchanted kingdom. She came from somewhere quite different, somewhere less magical. But long ago, those from the enchanted kingdom came and took her from her loving, warm family and told her that she was one of them. And yet, she was a girl with a contrary heart - immortal, raised by mortals.
Horrified by her contrary creations, those charged with the girl’s education sought to change her. They told her that her imaginings were quite impossible, even in a land where the impossible was possible. They told her that they knew her best, even though they could not see into her heart. They did all that they could think of to turn the girl into someone she was not. Finally, they forbade her from imagining anything else impossible.
The girl tried to please them. She wanted to belong. But she could not understand why her mortal heart in an immortal body was so wrong. She felt as if she were being torn in two, the more she tried to comply to what her keepers demanded. And when she was forbidden from imagining shallow oceans and deep rain puddles, she thought she might break entirely.
It was under a weeping willow that the boy found her. The girl knew instantly that, like her, he was something impossible. He was dressed in fine clothing, but bore an expression no one who has everything in the world ought to have.
But the boy’s sorrowful eyes brightened with curiosity when he saw the girl under the weeping willow, curled in on herself, quite despondent. She held before her eyes a small corked bottle, which held something glittering with bright white fire.
“What is that?” the boy asked, captivated.
The girl startled and tucked the bottle away. Quietly, he sat down across from her and silence stretched before them - uneasy at first, then slowly, strangely, comfortable. The girl removed the bottle again and handed it to the boy.
“It’s me,” she said.
It held a snowstorm, its glittering crystalline flakes burning with white cold fire. It was impossible. And beautiful. Impossibly beautiful.
“Why have you bottled yourself up?” he asked, returning it to the girl’s small hands. She hugged it close to her chest.
“Because,” she whispered, “I mustn’t be something that cannot exist. I don’t understand why the impossible cannot be possible,” she continued. “Why can there not be angels without wings, or shepherds who keep something other than sheep? Why can there not be a mortal heart in an immortal body?”
The boy’s gaze turned hauntingly sorrowful again. But rather than voice any sympathy, he said instead, “What would happen if you let your burning snowstorm out?”
“They would not listen,” she replied, sad.
“They couldn’t deny the reality of your possible impossibilities forever,” he replied. He tilted his head back to look up at the weeping willow. “And does it matter if they don’t agree with who you are? So long as you are content with yourself.”
The girl dared not believe his words. But he echoed what she knew, deep in her contrary heart, that he was right. Did she dare? Did she dare take flight and let her snowstorm burn bright and without restraint?
Smiling, she uncorked the bottle. The snowstorm, released from its prison, swirled out of the bottle and disappeared high into the sky. Joining the thick clouds above, it rained down burning snowflakes, pricking their skin with cold heat.
The girl laughed. What impossible thing would she make reality next? She jumped to her feet and ran to the weeping willow’s trunk.
“Why must willows weep out of sorrow?” she wondered. “Why can they not be weeping from laughter?” And the willow’s drooping branches shivered and began to wave in the breeze, throwing shining droplets of water through the burning snowstorm, rainbows dancing from its sparkling surface.
The boy smiled and the sorrow lifted from his dark eyes. The girl made the impossible possible, and he saw the impossible. What he saw now was a gilded picture frame trapping the girl, and now its frame shattered. And the girl was growing wings, brilliant golden ones, to fly far away from those who would trap her into someone that she wasn’t.
A snowstorm burning. Something entirely impossible. A mortal heart in an immortal body. She could not be contained. And though her tutors covered their ears and would not see what she was, the girl soared ever higher above them. And her heart was lightened for it.
Copyright 2016 by Lizzie Meddler