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This happened in another time and another place. Or perhaps it never happened at all. Maybe it’s an alternate version of a different story; such is the way of fairy tales. In any case, here is my disclaimer: this is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental, unintentional, and absolutely inexplicable. And besides, I don’t have enough money to make it worth your while to sue me.
I am writing this for my grandchildren so they shall know that they can have whatever they want—but, sadly, there is a price for everything.
The Tale of Mira, the Hag and the Ogre
Part One: The Temptation
Mira walked in Pivka Park
Feeling sad and blue
No one paid her any mind
Not one saw her true
For she was small and homely
Her hair was scant and brown
Eyes that crossed, knees that knocked
Upon her lips: a frown
As she walked she wondered
She wandered and she thought
If only she were pretty
Then things would be as ought
If she were changed, if she could look
Tall and slim and fair
She’d be seen, she’d be loved
By persons everywhere
Alas, she thought, who’ll hear my plea?
I’ve done all that I can do
Thrown coins in every fountain, wished on every star
Blown candles out in just one puff, prayed to gods both near and far.
A tear rolled down her pallid cheek
A sob came from her throat
So overcome with her own plight
She nearly missed the note
Waving in the wind
Attached to a tree
She watched it for a moment
Then the paper fluttered free
She snatched it up
Unsure what it would bid
The missive said: “look up”
She shrugged, but so she did.
What she saw was odd
Weird and strange, if you please
For high in the tree was a wiry old crone
Hanging by her knees
Nimble and quick,
The hag leapt to the ground
She winked her blue eye
And turned round and round
Her hair was whirly-curly red
Her skin a greenish hue
Her puce lips puckered, and then she said:
“Hello darling. I see you”
“Mira, Mira, short of stature
Broad of beam
Hear me now:
You think you want change
You think life would be better
If a bit rearranged?
Be careful, think clearly
Is this what you want?
Life’s full of trade offs
It’s a question, not a taunt
For I can make you pretty
And I can make you tall
I can give you wealth and fame–
What would you trade for it all?
All this and more I promise you
I have but one request
Pay attention to me now
And you’ll be triple-blessed
What you ask for comes with a price
And won’t be paid by me
The attention that you think you want
Will not come for free
For someday you might be a mother
Someday you might be a queen
Someday you might wish that you could hide
And nevermore be seen
What would you give
For fame, wealth and beauty?
Would you marry a demon
Would you do your duty?
Would you bear him a son?
I promise you this
You won’t feel much
Not marital bliss”
Mira who had listened
With her weak jaw slack
Now summoned her voice
And said, “Stop, what’s the drawback?
You say you’ll give me
Fame, wealth and beauty
And I’ll be a queen
That sounds pretty snooty.”
“Listen my dear
All this is true
But the ogre you’ll marry
Is of orangish hue
He’s paunchy and old with improbable hair
And trust me, It’s not too pessimistic
To say he’s pompous and prickly
And at best, narcissistic
But that is really a minor part
So mind me now, and know this fully:
The beast is small of mind and heart
Mean of spirit and a consummate bully
He will brag and bray that he’s the best
But a caution if you get the notion
To believe his lies, know this:
His one true talent is self-promotion
So what do you say?
Early on you’ll have fun! There will be no strife
For a decade or two your work will be play
Then you’ll meet the demon and become his wife
Let me sweeten the deal
I’ll make you a muse, well-endowed, not too thin
With bony cheeks and slanted eyes
Sculpted jaw and perfect chin”
Mira was sorely tempted
Her future did not look bright
Her family was poor, her village a bore
Her chance for advancement slight
But despite her current condition
Mira had pluck and wit
She wondered if she could trick the hag
And make a deal to her benefit
“Who are you? What is your power?
That you can promise me any of this?
It’s true I want all you can do
But your claims I might dismiss
I want some proof, a test, a sign
That you can produce, that you can provide
Show me unless you’re a fraud with a line–
I’m ugly and needy, but not starry-eyed”
The old crone blinked her violet eye
Cocked her head and gave a smirk
And after a moment she did reply:
“Aren’t you a piece of work?
“You’re in no position to negotiate
And all I want is your soul
It’s small enough what I ask of you
You’re at the bottom of a hole
There are plenty of girls that would take this bait
Plenty would do it for less
You can go now and I shall move on
I’ll find another girl in a sec, I guess”
The hag turned to leave and Mira said, “Stop,
Consider an amendment, a clause with a date
I’m asking for only a parole in the end
Not a life sentence with a heartless reprobate
What if I serve time for a score of years?
After all, I know of demon and beast
They like them comely, they like them young
But they tend to discard them after the feast
So how about this? (I’ve read The Art of the Deal)
You give me beauty and fame and wealth
I’ll marry the demon, bear him a son
A dozen years later: I’ll leave with some stealth”
The hag smiled and sighed
“I’m bound by certain ties
As I’m only an agent and not authorized
To bargain beyond what the contract specifies
I might have some leeway, some, not much
But I get your drift, I hear you speak
It’s possible you could get a reprieve
If you are quiet, compliant and, most of all, meek
I doubt he’ll let you go, unless he wants you gone
But it’s possible, it’s plausible, (though not within my power)
That he’ll agree to dismiss you early
If you vow to live in a tower”
(Note the hag’s left eye was violet and the right one blue
Both thickly lashed, but on her face, askew
Making it easy for her to say without blinking
Bald lies, cunning fictions and conjectures untrue.)
Do you want to know how this all ended?
I’ve gone on for quite some time
And perhaps you’re getting weary
Of imperfect meter and rhyme?
For what became of Mira
Did she sell her soul? Did she take the deal?
Or did she pass on the chance? And if she did
How did she fare? How did she feel?
NEXT TIME: PART TWO