Once upon a time, in a land as beautiful as a garden gnome’s smile, lived a prosperous and much-beloved king and his young, noble queen. They ruled their kingdom, Briar’s Cove, fairly and treated their people with generosity and kindness not commonly found in those with royal blood. Case in point, the king’s brother, Cecil. Now here was a nasty fellow. Even after being given a small prefecture of his own, Cecil took out his “daddy issues” on anyone who wandered too close. Driving foxes into henhouses, cutting off little girl’s pigtails, dying the cleric’s habit blood red, refusing to ever sing ‘Happy Birthday’, even to his own mother, the man was a monster. He is the one who actually stole candy from the first baby…it’s true, look it up. So when news arrived that the King and Queen were expecting their first-born, let’s just say Cecil didn’t receive the news very well (no one drank a drop of ale for almost three weeks as a result).
More than a little miffed over the arrival of his usurper, Cecil devised a plan to rid himself of the brat. “So hag, can you make the child miserable unto the point of wishing for death?” Cecil barely contained his revulsion of being in such close proximity to the creature, known throughout the kingdom as Lyn Saabel, witch of Brair’s Cove. “Ah yes, of this you can be sure,” she cackled, “the child will be most accursed. Each month a sense of such depression, such insatiable and instant anger at even the most trivial of matters will completely overwhelm the princess. Randomly lashing out at any poor soul who crosses her path, breaking into tears for no other reason than a misaligned stone in a pond. She will find no herb, poultice or potion to alleviate her suffering. Should she not attempt to take her own life in desperation to end this torment, it would only be a matter of time before someone close to her does the deed, rather than endure the abuse she will no doubt commit on their person,” Lyn finished with a cockeyed smirk.
“So it is to be a girl-child, then? You have seen this?” Cecil asked, only slightly skeptical. “Oh yes, and she would have been lovely,” the witch added.
Delilah shielded her eyes as she scanned the skies for her usual companions. “Hmmm… not a good sign,” she thought. Over the last 18 years, Delilah had learned to identify several of the warning signs that always signaled the arrival of her ‘monthlies’ as she referred to them. Not seeing the pair of cardinals who usually accompanied her everywhere was a good indicator things were about to get ugly. Turning back to the castle, Delilah broke into a full sprint when a mockingbird vehemently chasing a crow flew directly in her path. Another bad omen. She couldn’t stay out in the open like this once her monthlies hit… she needed to cloister herself safely in her room, burn sage and wait it out. She found that downing a bottle of wine also helped her survive the ordeal and hoped that a bottle still remained in her quarters.
Arriving safely in her room several minutes later, Delilah went to her sideboard only to discover… no wine. As the last ounces of sanity drifted out of her and the curse took hold, Delilah let out a string of curses that would make a sailor blush, punched the wall and finally crumbled to the ground in a heap of sobs. Things were just warming up. Thankfully, this episode was tamer than the last had been. During the previous month’s affliction, Delilah had turned over three wagons full of that season’s harvest, she ruined some poor girls’ bonnet after claiming the girl had “looked at her funny” and wrote a very demoralizing note to the vicar who, as a result, left town never to return. The kingdom had lost more vicars that way… oh well.
Emerging from her newly-destroyed room a week later, Delilah was once again herself and decided to pay a visit to her father, the king. “Father, there has to be something that can help me. There has to be someone who knows how to reverse this curse!” Delilah pleaded with her father. “My dear, do you not think I have looked? I have scoured the kingdom and beyond for anything that might bring you a bit of peace. I’m sorry my dear, I don’t know what else we can do…” the King hung his head, hating the feeling of ineptitude he always felt when it came to his cherished daughter.
A few weeks later, Delilah was chatting contentedly with her cardinal friends while she sat on the riverbank, dipping her toes in the cool water. “Who are you talking to?” A voice asked from behind her. Whirling in surprise to face her unexpected visitor while simultaneously attempting to stand up in the thick mud of the riverbank, Delilah managed a “Huh?” before falling ass over elbow into the river.
“Such grace!” Harold laughed as the sodden princess yanked a lily pad off her head. “Forgive me, I don’t mean to laugh, but I’ve never had this kind of a reaction from a girl,” Harold was still chuckling. “With manners like that? I must admit I’m shocked,” Delilah retorted. “Who was this horrible man? He isn’t even offering to help me out of this muck,” she thought to herself as she waded to the bank. “Here, let me help you out of there,” and before Delilah could protest Harold had lifted her by the waist out of the water. “Take my coat, looks like you need it more than I do,” he said as he wrapped his coat around her shoulders.
“The jerk is still smirking!” Delilah felt her temper rising. Quickly she looked for her cardinals and not finding them felt a familiar tingle of panic. “I have to go. Uh… thanks for the coat,” Delilah wrenched the garment off and practically threw it back in Harold’s face. Starting to run, Delilah looked over her shoulder long enough to shout “and the bath!” before she picked up her pace and was gone from view.
Smiling, Harold picked up his coat and moved back to the road he had been traveling to town. Arriving in town and a few inquiries later, he was surprised to discover that no one recognized his description of the water nymph he had surprised earlier that day. “Surely a girl possessing such beauty would be well known?” he thought as he walked into the Harp tavern which also doubled as a boarding house.
“Guess it was just a false alarm,” Delilah shrugged her shoulders as she walked into the main hall for dinner the next evening. Turns out what she thought was her monthlies making an appearance, was just an antagonistic man pushing her buttons.“What are you doing here?” she practically screeched as she saw the rude stranger sitting cozily next to her father at the head table. “Delilah! Is that any way for a princess to address a guest at her father’s table?!?” the king’s disapproval was apparent. “My sincerest apologies, father. I was just startled,” Delilah stammered. Somewhat appeased, the king the introduced her tormentor of the previous day as Harold Kindley, Earl of Riversprings.
Following dinner, Delilah left the castle for an evening stroll, desperately needing any excuse to escape from the eyes of the Earl of Riverspring, which seemed to follow her every movement. “Good evening, Delilah. Pleasant evening, is it not?” Harold said as he approached her. “It was,” Delilah said before etiquette kicked in. “Well then, don’t hold back…tell me how you really feel!” Harold chuckled. “Oh no; you don’t want that, believe me. Haven’t you heard all the stories about me? You better tuck tail and turn around right now before it’s too late,” Delilah was once again nervously scanning the sky for her feathered friends who seemed to be missing more often than not lately. Turning back to Harold, Delilah caught a glimpse of what she was sure was a mocking bird tail followed by the shriek of a crow on the run.
And then, it happened. She felt the change wash over her so quickly she didn’t have time to distance herself from Harold. Before she knew it, she was fully engaged in a tirade of epic proportion with Harold as it’s only target. Picking him apart from his too-long haircut to his clumsy-looking feet, Delilah lit into him with a force you would have to see to believe. Looking a bit stunned, Harold let out a low whistle as Delilah paused to take a breath, and just as she was winding up for a second go, he started ticking her. The act was so unexpected, so bizarre, the wind was immediately taken out of Delilah’s sails and soon she was wriggling on the ground in a fit of uncontrollable laughter. Finally after five minutes of continuous laughter, Delilah sat up and waited for the anger to return. And waited some more.
“Snap out of it, have a chocolate,” Harold grinned as he offered her a sweet.
So she did.
From that point forward, if Delilah began to show signs of her monthlies coming on, Harold was there with a tickle and a chocolate and while she was never completely cured of the curse, she no longer felt the urge to remove anyone’s fingernails or submerge a barking dog in a bucket of paint…which was a good thing.
Oh and Cecil? He ended up married with five daughters… and just when he thought the hormone levels couldn’t get any higher, his mother-in-law moved in. Justice served.
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: I’m PMSing hardcore today. Lovely, ain’t it? Everything was pissing me off today: where people parked in the parking lot, someone was walking at the same pace as I was, trying on clothes and nothing fitting cause I’m a gelatinous mass… yeah, I’m in high spirits today. Fairytales ain’t my thing, but I thought it appropriate, just adds to the ridiculousness of it all… man, I hate being pissy for no good reason! Stupid hormones! I know I’ll probably regret divulging so much information, but at the moment I don’t really care (sorry, future Sam). Of course nothing was helping me out of this pointless funk (except a spoon-full of Nutella), everything was just making it worse. Then my boyfriend got home. I was ready to pounce and rip his face off but before I could, happily clueless to his impending annihilation, he did something I wasn’t expecting. He said something sweet (I can’t remember what right now, due to hormone-induced amnesia) and offered me a Snapple peach tea. I deflated like whoopee-cushion under a fat bottom. So, in summation, I feel better… although I still hate the fact that my moods can alter so dramatically but am thankful that such a despicable condition can be disarmed with a kind word and considerate gesture.
TWO: The Harp Tavern is where we grabbed a late dinner tonight to celebrate my improved mood. Great fish & chips.
THREE: There is a mama cardinal and daddy cardinal that make daily appearances to the bird feeder outside my kitchen window (I’ve referenced them before here). Betty and Bert, as I call them, and they helped distract me from my self-inflicted doldrums today. So, I threw them into the story, very Disney-esque of me, don’t you think? Additionally, one of my favorite things is seeing a feisty lil ol mocking bird chasing a big nasty crow away from it’s nest. It’s really one of the coolest things to watch…saw one today and it made me happy… for a half a minute at least.
Love & Squirrels.