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Authors: Becky Lyn Rickman

Grimm's Last Fairy Tale

BOOK: Grimm's Last Fairy Tale
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Grimm's

Last Fairy Tale

By Becky Lyn Rickman

Copyright © 2012 Rebecca Rickman

All rights reserved.

ISBN: 1469983206

ISBN-13: 978-1469983202

This book is fondly dedicated to the life God gave me; a life so distant from the one I planned, but the one I was blessed with, nonetheless,

and have grown to sometimes actually love.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS:

Thanks I give to all the writers of all the fairy tales that we read, tell, and share, and for all the hope they give us of someday being a Cinderella.

Special thanks also to those who have taken in the wayward gypsy when she made seemingly bad (but not really) choices and wound up a stray.

To the home out there waiting for me, not yet attained but dreamed of for so long—I’m on my way. Leave the light on.

To my sweet niece, Meg (Haglet), for giving me the ending to this perfect story!

Chapter 1
,

in which Maggie's life is explained

but many other things aren't

“Good morning, Hemingway.”

Maggie closed the door, turned the sign to OPEN and started the computer.

Margaret Naomi Austen loved mornings. She spent them cataloging dusty old volumes for Binding Love, her small town used bookstore, housing over 100,000 tomes. The work consumed her attention and left her little ability to fret about the life that came before; a life she esteemed to be filled with glaring failures. Maggie was 53. She carried a little too much weight around her hips. Her hair, with remnants of too many colorings and hard-earned silver could only be described as calico. The stress that had for so long been her bosom companion left its mark on her face.

She had lived the life of a gypsy, first with a father in the military, then with a husband in that same military, and then just through a series of seemingly odd choices. Those choices, however good or bad, had allowed her to be a big part of the lives of over 50 children, including a blend of biological, fosters, steps, and now some grands. But the battle scars of two unsuccessful marriages: one to an oppressive, manipulative, and physically abusive Air Force sergeant and the other to a narcissist who decided to come out of the closet after three and a half years of marriage. They had left her vacillating between gratitude for being liberated from them and sadness for so many years of love wasted.

Reminiscing always left her fatigued, so she threw herself into her work. She laughed a lot and though others believed she had scads of energy, she suffered a mild form of post-traumatic stress. The energy it took to simply get out of bed in the morning depleted her. But somehow she did it. In her mind, there was no choice. With all the kindnesses she had been shown throughout the bad years, she could hardly let anyone down by not functioning fully and gratefully.

During these hours each week, she could lose herself in the great wisdom, humor and intellect of the authors who so capably put thoughts to pen and paper and contributed to their respective societies. Their words lived on and so did their gifts. Maggie could never express to anyone how much they meant to her for fear of being misunderstood. She loved these authors, statesmen, humorists, poets and heroes. They did what she only dreamed of.

In her head, there were dozens of books screaming to be written. Novels, non-fiction, humorous autobiographies, enlightened tomes that expressed the feelings she could not share audibly. She ached to write and to be read. She would sit at the laptop, pouring her heart and soul into the keyboard, pounding out eloquent soliloquies, poignant verses and life-changing articulations until a call came. A call that meant someone needed picked up from school or taken to the doctor or babysat. She loved service. She lived for it. But she was tired and she had things she wanted to accomplish for herself now. This little secret was kept from those around her. It was secreted away and cherished and protected from potential ridicule. Guarded from assertions like, “you never finish what you start.” Protected from those who would think her uppity to want the notoriety that a published book might bring

Maggie was generally the only one in the bookstore. Most of these books were sold through online sites. The fountain of used book appreciators in London, Nebraska was little more than a trickle. There were plenty of well-read and educated people. But with the onslaught of the mega bookstore online sites, new books were just too plentiful and cheap. Most readers opted for the shiny, new versions, but not Maggie. She listened to dead composers, collected dead flower, and her house was chock full of dead people’s furniture and nick-knacks. It only made sense that she should prefer dead people’s writings. She was also madly in love with several dead men, like James Stewart, Cary Grant, even Red Skelton. Relationships were just easier with the deceased. But these fictional relationships were just that. Reverie in her head. Until the poem showed up on her desk. The whole thing started innocently and with the poem.

Chapter 2,

in which we meet three special cats, find out Maggie's aspirations, and

experience an unexplainable something

The cold was brutal this December in the central plains. It hurt to breathe and the lack of precipitation made it almost unbearable. Incredibly low temperatures were one thing, but not having that fluffy white reward made this chill a hard pill to swallow.

Maggie started her day the way she always did, by enjoying a nice hot bowl of oats with raisins and nuts, a cup of hibiscus and rosebud tea, and catching up on her email under the watchful guardianship of her rescued orange and white rag-doll cat, Mr. Darcy, her faded butterscotch munchkin kitty, Mr. Bingley, and her magnificently pointed longhair, Colonel Brandon. With a last name like Austen, it was only natural that she name her companions after those timeless and masterfully-written characters. She had started the car so it would be relatively warm when she got in to make her 7 minute commute to the book store.

When she arrived, she was greeted by the guardian of the bookstore, Hemingway, also a rescue cat, but a beautiful petite calico. Hemingway had the same nasty habit as Mr. Darcy of plopping herself down across the keyboard as Maggie was typing. Maggie had determined that “meow” was actually feline-speak for “me.” Sadly she sometimes admired their self-centeredness. Why could she not put herself first once in awhile as they did?

Most of the morning, the place was quiet, which was just the way she loved it. She began deleting the previous day’s sales from the database and packaging them up for shipment. She marveled at how many places to which they shipped books. The list now included 38 countries. She then looked at the new orders and went back to the stacks to retrieve them. The book store was comprised of storage units, 9 of them total, with a long hallway that ran alongside each of them. It was almost a hundred feet from the front of the store to the rear. When she returned, a very old book of poetry was opened beside the keyboard.

“Odd,” she whispered. “I didn’t hear the door chimes.” She looked down to the page that was opened. It was her favorite poem of all time. These verses were the most romantic she had ever read in her life and made her fall head over heels with the poetry of its ahead-of-his-time author, e. e. cummings.

since feeling is first

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
- the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says

we are for each other; then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

Until that moment, the full impact of her loneliness had not hit her. Her tears fell onto the book below, leaving dark spots on the age-tinted pages. She read the words again. And again. She allowed herself a few moments, not really considering who had done this; then she closed the book, grabbed a tissue, and went back to work. There was no time for this maudlin behavior now. Nor could she think about the motivation behind the prank. She had discussed her love of this poem with her oldest daughter, Rhiannon, who had been an aspiring poet in high school and was also a great admirer of Mr. Cummings.

Trying to put the incident behind her, she cataloged the new collection of old books which she had recently purchased and then went back to straighten the shelves and consolidate the books. She thought about how easy it was to make the empty spaces once occupied by books, now sold and shipped, disappear and wondered what it might take to have her own dark and empty spaces go away. The rest of the day kept her busy enough to avoid too much thinking. There were a few requests for hard-to-find books, which became a quest to find the best book in the best condition for the best price and before Maggie realized it, it was time to go home.

When she arrived home, she was determined to write. Strange occurrences, sad songs, and gloomy skies were inspiration to her and this morning’s inexplicable poetic gift certainly qualified.

She turned on her laptop, bypassing the dozen or so books she had already started, and began a new one. This one would be about a gardener who liked poetry.

She no sooner began than the phone rang. She exhaled so loudly that Mr. Darcy awoke from his afternoon nap. It was her daughter, Rachel. She had a bet going with her husband and needed to know the name of Normie’s wife on Cheers. Maggie had always been the renowned source of useless trivia. Whenever anyone couldn’t remember something, they phoned, regardless of the hour.

“Vera,” she answered a little too quietly. “Normie's wife was named Vera.”

“That’s it! Thanks, mom!” Click.

“So glad I could be of service.” Sarcasm was one of her only defenses, but was generally only expressed in her head and never used it to hurt anyone’s feelings. She delighted in being the key master of all frivolous knowledge. It secretly made her smile. But she would rather schedule these inquisitive intrusions for times when she was not trying to fulfill her life’s wish.

Maggie gathered her thoughts and re-joined her work in progress. She achieved a page and a half when the phone rang again. She was just beginning to realize a gentle momentum. Why, oh why? It was someone needing someone else’s number. This was a quick and easy fix. Done.

She was able to complete 4 pages before dinner. With some satisfaction, she saved her work, heated a frozen diet entrée, and ate, fending off the boys’ attempts to take the food not only off her plate, but out of her mouth. Naughty bad-kins, she would call him. She would threaten to send him to the feline welfare line or worse, back to the shelter. They smiled their Cheshire cat grins and after a movie and the evening chores, they all retired to Maggie’s twin bed and slept the sleep of unfulfilled dreams. Just because she had come to terms with her singularity did not mean she did not occasionally lie down with melancholy as a mate.

Chapter 3,
in which Maggie continues her

routine, but with another surprise

Maggie got to work early the next morning. She wanted to see if there were any more cryptic messages for her. There were none.

She got busy with her morning routine. She visited Philosophy, Sociology, Fiction M, Devotional, and Horses, gathering book orders in each section, and then made her way back to the front of the store. When she set the books down on the desk, she noticed a volume already there, once again open to a specific page, but this time, there was a pencil laid on the page pointing to a specific sentence.


Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.”

This passage she was unfamiliar with and when she closed the book, she found it was written by Aristotle. Alright, my phantom bookstore guest is well-read. I’ll give him that. She immediately thought about how, though she had a cumulative 22 years of marriage under her belt, she had never experienced that kind of intimacy. She repeated the words in her head: a single soul inhabiting two bodies. Two becoming one. It was as elusive to her as being a size 4.

Still, this was getting really creepy. Again, no door chimes. She looked around and saw that no one was there. Had the post-traumatic stress finally caught up with her? She didn’t feel particularly depressed. She had lucid thoughts and was fully functional, but her mind could offer no explanation. She thought about the two abstracts once more. Both incidences were romantically inclined. Did she have an admirer? Was someone slipping in and out without her knowing and leaving her these sentiments? Clearly, whoever was doing this was at least as literature-loving as she.

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