at the start of my story, all was well with me myself and I. we dwelt in harmony, like Kay and Gerda in their roof-top Eden of window boxes filled with sweet peas and roses.
and then, gradually, all was less well. the reasons being many, some forgotten. perhaps it does not even matter how the sorcerer’s mirror shattered and the splinters fell into the heart and the eyes of the Kay-me, and
‘everything good and beautiful reflected in it shrank away, while everything bad and ugly swelled up, until there wasn’t anyone or any place that hadn’t been twisted by it...’
including how I saw myself.
so, the Kay-me hitched his sledge to the sleigh of the Snow Queen, alcohol. and when she stopped the sleigh’s wild ride, she took him up beside her.
“Are you still frozen?” she asked, and kissed him on the forehead. Oh! Her kiss was colder than cold. It went straight to his heart, which was nearly a lump of ice, anyway. He thought he would die – but only for a moment. Then everything was all right, and he didn’t feel cold any more. Then the Snow Queen kissed Kay once more, and he forgot little Gerda, and her grandmother, and everyone at home. “No more kisses, now,” she said, “or I’ll kiss you to death.”
Kay gazed at her. She was so beautiful, more beautiful than he could grasp. He thought she was perfect, and he was not afraid. But she just smiled, until it seemed to him that he really didn’t know anything at all.
so Gerda-me was forgotten, left behind as if she had never existed, while Kay-me lived on, numb and isolated in a frozen palace of his own choosing. but Gerda-me had not forgotten the other half of herself. she told the sunshine and the swallows he was dead and gone, but they convinced her that he was not. and she began her quest.
she hunted long and far. she asked all the flowers of spring and summer who told her their riddles, but did not answer her questions. so she searched on, into the mournfulness of the grey winter.
she had many adventures, assisted by others – either magical beasts, like ravens and reindeer – or, else, rarely for a fairy tale, by other helpers who were nearly all wise, strong women. their stories began before hers, intersected with hers, and sometimes – like that of the little robber girl, who ‘rode off into the wide world’ – carried on past this story now of ours.
but Gerda-me, although she was little, and cold, in the snow – ‘without boots, without gloves, in the icy middle of freezing Finmark’ – did not need twelve league boots, or a magical sword, but carried on in her own strength.
which, it turns out, is all she ever needed. As the Lapp woman said:
“I can’t give her any more power than she has within her. Don’t you feel how strong that is? Humans and beasts are at her service as she makes her way through the wide world on her two bare feet. But she must not learn of her power from us. It comes from her own heart. If she can’t find her own way into the Snow Queen’s palace and free little Kay by herself, there’s nothing we can do to help.”
When Gerda reached Kay she wept upon his breast, and her tears and her love sank deep inside him and melted the splinter of ice in his heart. And then Kay wept, and cried away the splinter of mirror in his own eye. so their sorrow was indistinguishable from their joy, which is the mystery at the heart of Love.
the Snow Queen had required Kay to solve a puzzle before he could leave the palace. and as Kay and Gerda danced in their happiness, the blocks of ice resolved themselves into the word that unlocked Kay’s freedom, and mine.
that word could be many things: eternity, faith, acceptance, forever. which word it is depends upon each one of us.
‘The Snow Queen could come back whenever she liked: Kay’s freedom was written plain on the shining ice.’
and when Kay and Gerda returned to their rooftop garden:
‘They felt that they were not the same. They had grown up. But they were still children at heart. And where they sat it was summer: warm, blessed summer.’
thank you, thank you to my lovely soberverse friends for your endless support and encouragement. I am enormously privileged to know you all.
just starting to grow up, now. I am one year sober today.