Once Upon A Time

            Once upon a time there was a dog named Hope. Hope was a small dog, a yippy little Pomeranian who lived in the quiet blue house on the corner, with the redheaded psychiatrist and the stalwart prison warden

            Once upon a time, in a kingdom far, far away, there was an audacious young captain who brazenly led his crew into a suicidal quest for a group of mythical knights

            Once upon a time

The empty document stares at her. She stares back, her gaze just as vacant as the screen in front of her.

She sits in the dark. The computer screen in front of her emits a pale little light, bathing her desk in a soft cone of white. Discarded candy wrappers from days (weeks? months?) ago lie scattered across her clustered work area, the weak light reflecting off the shiny plastic and dispersing little dots of colorful light throughout the room. By her left sits a small silver picture frame, encircled in a shimmering silver halo of its own. Enclosed is the image of child she once had, a child with a perfect heart-shaped face, innocent dark eyes framed with long lashes and pink rosebud lips. A child once full of hope and life and wonder. A child now devoid of all.

She sits and stares. There’s a soft tip-tap as her cold, numb fingers hammer out some empty, meaningless words, but then the backspace button is swiftly deployed, erasing the sad little words off the face of the earth. The document is empty once again, save for the first four words.

It was supposed to be a good idea. She was supposed to have a muse. But her muse was a fickle thing; it pestered her while she tried to slip away into the dark bliss of unconsciousness, and ran away into the depths of her mind when she tried to reawaken it, a feat nigh impossible as of late. Once upon a time her muse had been her most cherished friend, one that had led her to accomplish her dreams and supported her in every way possible. It was no more now. Perhaps her muse had finally perished, lost and forgotten in some secluded corner of her consciousness. But whatever ideas she had would evaporate out of her mind the moment her perpetually frozen fingers brushed the keyboard. The allure would suddenly be lost, and what once could have been brilliant and compelling was reduced to something as weak and superficial as a silly adolescent romance.

She has to write something. This dumpy little apartment isn’t going to pay for itself, and her editor is a hair’s-width away from giving up on her. She allows herself to crack a small, ironic smile at her current predicament. Alyssa Willows, an award-winning author. Ha. Now look at her. An ‘award-winning’ author completely unable to write even a single coherent sentence. How pathetic.

She stands up. She wants something to eat. Something sweet. Maybe a candy bar, or chocolate, or some cookies – anything to distract herself from this overwhelmingly pathetic moment. One day she’ll wake up and find herself immobile in a mountain of rolling fat, unable to do anything but awkwardly roll out the door, but the future is as obscure as ever and she doesn’t like thinking out it. It scares her, reduces her to nothing but a trembling pile of nerves curled up like a shrimp under a blanket.

Unused joints crackle irritatingly as they struggle with the sudden movement, muscles completely asleep from hours of dormancy. Her vision turns shockingly white and the room spins around her like a hurricane, but she doesn’t panic because she knows it’s only momentary. Ignoring her dizziness and her fuzzy vision, she turns to venture into the kitchen for the first time in six hours and –

And watches with utter disbelief as her horribly clumsy elbow collides with the lithe silver frame, sending it – and the precious photograph enclosed – skittering off the desk and tumbling to the floor in an ear-splitting crash. A moment passes where she is unable to face the truth, mind in strong denial. There had to be a way to turn back the clock to a minute ago, where she would turn around with her accursed elbow tucked against her body, where nothing would have shattered. But alas, time travel was still nonexistent and therefore impossible. She is on her knees in an instant, cradling the broken pieces in her cold, cold hands. The perfect heart-shaped face is marred by a sharp scratch across the otherwise unblemished white cheek. The skin of her hands yields to the sharp edges of broken glass, beads of blood emerging from the cuts, but she doesn’t feel the physical pain.

She stands up slowly this time, and the pain feels new again, as if the passage of time has done nothing to mend the hole in her heart. For a moment she just stands there, cradling the broken pieces in her cold, bleeding hands, wanting to cry but too numb to shed any tears.

Miserable joints give way and she sits again, in the dark. The allure of sugar has died, forgotten and abandoned. The dejected little computer screen shows a polar bear lost in a snowstorm, white and empty save for four little words.

          Once upon a time

The frigid fingers move to the keyboard, and this time, little black words fill up the screen, and a little weight is lifted off her heavy heart.