Last weeks sneak preview of Jennifer's upcoming novel Fairy Godmothers of The Four Directions was the blog's highest one week of visitors in the past year. We offer another free chapter to wet your appetite. Don't forget her other novels and poem at www.redemptionswarrior.com
Falling soundly asleep in the Prince’s arms, when Cinderella opened her eyes, she found she was in the palace. The blue velvet bedspread and crisp white sheets so carefully fitted Cinderella felt like she was resting in an envelope.
She found Blackie sleeping on the floor next to her bed. Attuned to Cinderella’s movements he woke instantly. His brown eyes, warm and shining, made her smile. Stretching, Cinderella slipped her feet into slippers set next the bed. Feeling welcome she sighed with pleasure.
The walls were a pale version of sky on a summer’s day. Bookshelves and a writing desk were nestled in the alcove. French doors led to a terrace. Lemon trees, in ceramic pots the size a comfortable chair, stood sentinels at either side of the doorway. Their star shaped, white flowers, blooming. Cinderella inhaled their sweet, potent, fragrance drifting in through open windows. Hazily she remembered being carried up the stairs. The Prince kissed her. Yes, he kissed her! Calling her by her given name, Charlotte, it was the first time in years she’d heard her name. Remembering made her smile again.
Blackie jumped up, his paws on her lap. His face filled with life and joy. Cinderella laughed and for a moment they wrestled on the carpet until Cinderella snaked her head under his shoulder and kissed the white star at the center of his chest. With a last hug she extracted herself and stood taking in the bright spring day.
Around her wrist she found a piece of ribbon and used it to tie her hair up in a ponytail. She wanted to see everything clearly not frazzled with hair in her eyes.
The door opened and a young woman, followed by a butler, pushed in a cart. A dish of blackberries, a large pot of steaming tea, buttermilk pancakes with warm syrup. “Yum!” Charlotte smiled her thanks. The pancakes were light and fluffy. Tea was hot. Charlotte ate the breakfast. The first food she had not prepared by herself in years.
Pancake breakfast was weeks past. Now she was trapped in a dark cave, high in the hills, far from the palace, in the company of a ‘strange woman,’ for who knew how long? A Fairy Godmother who called forth the terrible losses she wanted to put behind her.
Yes, something had happened in their conversation. She felt free. Free from the fear threading her muscles in anticipation of the next blow, the next dangerous moment. What more was there in the West?
As if reading her mind the Fairy Godmother said, “When you become a woman of power then people will think you’re charmingly ‘strange.’ A hazard of wisdom I’m afraid. More importantly Cinderella, whatever you push into the shadows will grow and sabotage your happiness.”
Adding wood to the fire they both watched the sparks fly. The Fairy Godmother said, “The West is a place of transformation. It is the liminal space between one life and another. For example you are transforming from a young woman to a Princess. You know the skills of a woman who brings beauty to her home but what do you know about the skills of a Princess?”
“My name is Charlotte!” Cinderella snapped. Blackie lifted his head, watching over her, alerted by her frustrations. Pressing her lips together to avoid anymore unplanned outbursts she hung her head. What is wrong with me? Did I just yell at a Fairy Godmother?
“Well Charlotte, why do you think you’re here?”
Sifting through feelings Charlotte found no words. She sat in the silence of rebellion. Her posture concretized, transformed into stonewalling. She wondered will this endless night ever end?
The Fairy Godmother loomed like a long shadow standing next to her. “You have begun to put your past behind you. Tonight you dealt with grief, the losses of your parents and the loss of your life as a girl, at the center of her parents love. Our time together is short. You must enter the sacred dream and find your way home.”
Cinderella shut her eyes, banishing the cave and the Fairy Godmother. Only the words continued reverberating through the luminous fibers of her dreambody. Something indiscernible was happening. She saw her dreambody woven with fibers of light, thick and tight. Softening her posture, light peaked out beyond the fibers. She was surrounded in a nimbus of golden light.
The Fairy Godmother said, “Do you know how to enter the sacred dream? Can you retrieve pieces of your spirit broken away by trauma? Will you walk between dreams or enter the dream of another? These are the skills of a Queen Charlotte. You have set aside pains of the past and now we dream.”
The Fairy Godmother unfurled a necklace of moonstones from around her wrist. The soft luminosity of the pebbles reminded Cinderella of the Grand Ball. The Prince had seen beyond her stepmother’s deceptions. Did he learn to see beyond illusions while apprenticing to the Fairy Godmother of the West? When he pulled Cinderella into his arms she had felt a wild joy.
Now the Fairy Godmother’s version of introspection and dreaming awaited her attention. Glowing with a light she did not understand, Cinderella was unbearably tired. Her resistance fading, intuition, the miles of sensors lining her gut, intelligence free of worry and doubt, assured her of the Fairy Godmother’s wisdom. She was safe.
But while her dreambody glowed, her physical body ached, bone deep striations of throbbing. Eyes hollow, trapped between who she was and who she might become, she retracted her light. Instinctively closing her fibers prevented leakage of her luminosity.
The Fairy Godmother’s radiance filled the cave, the limestone walls reflecting her light until the entire cave was alive.
Plaintively Cinderella asked, “Who am I now? Am I Cinderella or Charlotte?”
The Fairy Godmother’s face shifted in the fire light but she did not speak. Cinderella couldn’t describe the features of this woman of the West. One moment her silhouette was delicate. Blinking, in the next moment strength radiated out of the Fairy Godmother like a force of nature.
Charlotte felt even her wicked stepmother would not be able to keep up with the ever shifting nature of the West, the subtleties of twilight. Were the powers of the West stronger than her stepmother?
She watched, the light in her dreambody distilled to a pinprick, her fibers held so tightly closed she shook with the effort. In silence the Fairy Godmother pulled out of her pack, two shawls almost the size of blankets. Woven out of goat hair, dyed midnight blue, she wrapped a shawl around her shoulders and handing Cinderella the second shawl.
Bundled in the soft fabric Cinderella’s eyes became even heavier. The Fairy Godmother sang a song. She threw herbs into the fire. As the smoke cleared Cinderella shivered. The air was vibrantly alive. She took the cup the Fairy Godmother handed her. The drink was strong with clover honey and herbs. The fire burned high warming even the limestone wall and floors. Shadows wavered, expanding and contracting, over the pale surface. In the light of the flames Cinderella was lost. Shadow and light was an ever-changing effervescent dance on limestone’s blonde walls. Her head nodded. She tipped ever so slowly until she lay down.
The last she remembered the Fairy Godmother was smoothing the hair away from her face while humming. No one had touched her like that since her mother died. Cinderella felt her heart crack; fierce joy, sadness and terror flooded her. She was falling into an abyss of darkness, a menacing velvet presence. She screamed. No sound, only feelings, choking her alive. Her world went black.
A woman’s face, round and filled with life, laughed down at her. “You tell yourself a really good scary story!” She said. Raising a moon faced drum she struck the hide with a padded mallet. Right next to Cinderella’s ear! The reverberation travelled down her ear canal into her jaw unlocking the spasm holding muscles rigid. Her luminous fibers forming her dreambody relaxed. Her throat opened. A hoarse cough, rolling onto her side Cinderella coughed and coughed. Finally expelling a thick river of mucus; she was horrified. The rhythm of the drum never faltered.
Muscles unwound. Her heart synchronized with the drum’s pulse and cadence. Even her skin throbbed. Each thump was thunder: Bbaaaa booom. Air quivered. Shimmering, the drum’s face stretched over a hoop the size of a watermelon. “Where am I?”
Cinderella sighed, surrendering into the heartbeat. Her preoccupations fell away. Concerns for her future drifted, dissolving like smoke. The authority of the drum, throbbing, the tides on the current of moon, was all encompassing. She drifted atop a deep sleep, relaxed and alert.
A whisper across eternity, she heard, “We all have a place within us; a place of impenetrable peace. From this location you’ll retrieve your spirit.”
Cinderella opened her eyes. Overwhelmed she snapped them shut. Squeezing her eyelids tight, the pouring in of nature, she opened one eye. Trees vividly green against blue sky. Bushes bent heavy with gardenia blossoms and fragrance. A wilderness whipped through the garden, primitive and free. Lighter than air the woman’s disembodied voice continued, “Impress on your spirit shield your place of impenetrable peace.”
Cinderella risked opening both eyes. Intensity: the saturation of colors rippled over her skin. Gusts of wind bent the bushes setting the flowers swaying. Fragrance set free, hit her with supernatural force.
She was in a place of untamable power but felt only peace. She could see fragments. A flash of memory emerged and receded. Moments in time punched through the otherworldly landscape. Feelings externalized from her past floated on the breeze. The numb years, after her parents passing, unfolded in exquisite detail, compressed in the blink of an eye.
She observed from a great distance these traumas. She took solace in Nature. The mountains gave their strength. Glacier fed streams sparkled with purity. Trees swaying in communion, the fragrance of her mother’s roses, these were the stepping stones she used to find her way back to love. Blackie as her ever-present guardian, her mother’s gardens, night-walking through memories and dreams of family life were more stepping stones. The moment was eternal until eventually love, Cinderella’s Deepest Desire to give and receive love, was restored.
She felt a stirring in her naval. Images, grief and loss, viewed from this landscape of impenetrable peace, mixed with love migrated fusing in her belly. The frayed edges of the landscape smoothed like the individual fibers of a feather gently brushed into place. In this way Cinderella reconciled the disparate parts of herself into a cohesive whole. She retrieved the broken pieces of her soul. Her belly contained her memories, within the reflected the landscape of impenetrable peace, shimmering and vibrating with love.
When Cinderella woke the following morning she stretched. Her eyes popped open. She felt willowy and tall. Free of the aching muscles and complaining joints that plagued her. The fire was a pile of ashes. Water and bread waited on a wood platter. Next to her was a drum. Three symbols imprinted in the face of her drum resonated in her belly. Startled, she sat up, knocking over the water. Jumping to her feet she put her hand to her belly and felt a quickening.
She cried out in surprise and alarm. In a panic she ran out of the cave, slamming into the Fairy Godmother beyond the gigantic stone covering the entrance. “Good morning Cinderella. Has your moon shield frightened you? Will you choose to become a woman of power? A woman who knows who she is? Or will you continue to cower?”
“Yikes! Harsh words so early in the morning!”
Cinderella felt at once hurt and infuriated. She wanted to lash out. Before she could spit out her words of anger the Fairy Godmother turned her around, taking her to face her drum standing up along the limestone wall. Pointing, the Fairy Godmother said, “These symbols carry messages of love, protection and wholeness for you. They are potentially the beginnings of a Sacred Spiral.”
Turning Cinderella around one more time, she said, “Go and spend the day in sunshine. We have only one more night together and much dreaming ahead of us.
“Balance your work of dreaming in the reflected luminosity of the moon, with exercise and sun.” She gave Cinderella a push past the standing stone and into day light.