“What a sunny day!” screamed Anne! From the edge of the veranda at the top of her windmill she could see the dawn opening up before her. Nary a raindrop was in sight, but the new sunlight so bright to view reflected off the morning dew, causing every blade of grass to look like shards of glass. Had they actually been shards of glass, they would have shattered due to Anne’s high-pitched piercing morning screams. You see Anne had misheard somebody speak long ago, and thanks to the simile used to describe the early morning dew upon the grass, believed indeed that they were shards of glass and not grass, and so refused to step foot outside of her house until the glass had ‘dissolved’. In reality, the glass/grass had not dissolved, but instead the condensation forming the dew upon the grass stalks had merely evaporated. This was why she became so excited every morning when she saw the sun, for she knew that the evil presence locking her into her windmill at night had dissipated. Anne had just this one major eccentricity, which is relatively surprising for a woman in her early sixties who had lived alone in a windmill for the past forty-seven years save for a box of carrots, a bunch of purple sprouting broccoli and a collection of misshaped Romanesque, and who screams at the dawn every morning.
Anne was an avid reader of Hans Christian Anderson and had been so since she was introduced as a child. She would with her parents, visit other people’s houses wherein they would study, discuss and engage in a question and answer session about the tales therein and afterwards would partake in tea and biscuits, some chocolate coated, some not, some with nuts in, some without. As such, her mind was programmed to believe that life worked out the same as a fairytale, and the stock characters truly existed, and that Mr. Anderson’s stories were in fact ancient and historically accurate events and unfulfilled allegorical prophecies which will come true in the not so distant and unspecified future.
These days, Anne believed that she was trapped in this windmill by the curse from unknown and unspecified evil being, who had grown the glass/grass to keep her inside and her Prince Charming away. Her gift was as she maintained, her piercing glass shattering shriek, which she released every morning in order that should her Mr. Right be wandering the woods at dawn to pick berries for his jam-making side business, then he would hear her screams and come charging over on his brilliant white steed to rescue the damsel in distress so that they could live happily ever after.
Anne stood out on the veranda and watched as the dawn broke further across the woods, illuminating every nook and cranny and waking the birds who sang to her their delightful morning songs. Anne swayed to the music of the birds, lost in bliss, knowing that this day could be the day that her Prince arrives and that she could wake up with him on the morrow and together they would laugh, smile and embrace, musing deliriously on how these songs would forever be their songs. She opened her eyes and a smile danced across her lips as she witnessed what we know is not the dissolving of the glass, but the evaporation of the dew. She made her way back inside, naked as the day she was born (she did not wear clothes for bed and she had no neighbours), intending to break her fast.
Every morning, Anne fixed herself a modest breakfast of bread, domestic brand strawberry jam (not homemade, although she expected her Prince Charming to be a preserve and conserve making prodigy), one subtly polished apple, and a small glass of grapefruit juice mixed with tonic water and grapes. She would in fact set her table for two, and make enough breakfast for two should she be lucky and her man should come. Ever she endeavoured to maintain this facade and her belief never wavered. In the days before when she was younger, the breakfast was heartier, but after so many days of eating alone and eating both breakfasts, she dwindled the portions to the modest plates she now serves, so as not to gain too much girth around her middle.
No sooner had she begun to spread the jam onto her bread than she heard a knock at the door. She stopped. Her heart was pounding with excitement. Who could it be? Could it be…could it really be he for whom she had waited her whole life? Her heart was racing and her palms were beginning to sweat as she grasped the door handle. It couldn’t be the postman, he wasn’t expected until tomorrow!
“Wait,” she said to her collection of amusingly coloured and shaped vegetables “it IS tomorrow!” Her heart sank as she opened the door, only to have it resurface when she saw not the red fleece of the Royal Mail, but a handsome man in elegant, regal finery seated atop the most brilliant white stallion.
“My lady,” he grunted, quietly taken aback at the naked woman standing before him, fingers stained with berries and annatto. “I heard your cry whilst I was out picking berries from which to make my world famous jam.” Anne’s heart went all aflutter, swooning she was, falling head over heels in love. “I trust you are safe now, for cry you no more do.”
“Good sir knight my terrors have dispersed, but only because your righteous, virtuous and gallant presence has overthrown the evil that creeps around my door. You have dispelled the curse and I am free.”
“Then let us away to my jam factory castle, where we shall together make the finest preserves and conserves and live happily ever after.”
“Oh my brave and handsome night, this is more than I ever hoped for. I shall pack my things at once and we shall make haste to your court where I shall undoubtedly want for nothing!”
“This is correct, my fair maiden” concerned though he was at the slight lunacy streaking past her otherwise vacant eyes, yet compelled by his knightly code to continue “but we cannot dally for long, I must return soon to oversee the temperature of the vats, lest my entire batch be ruined, and millions of people all over the world shall have disappoint breakfasts and unsuitable Victoria sponge cakes.”
“Then please rest here a while and break your fast with me, for I would not have you travel all this way for nothing. Berry picking in these woods is not an easy task, and you must be feeling the strain of such a toiling endeavour. I have provisions all ready and laid out upon my table.”
“Thank you kind lady, I have a hunger that has only increased since I laid thine eyes upon thee.”
Annie giggled seductively and allowed her hero to pass through into her windmill while his horse grazed serenely by the glistening stream that ran around the back of her windmill. The prince sniffed the air as he entered:
“What ho! Strawberry preserve! My very favourite of all the berry preserves!” He lifted the jar and observed it for a while. “Ohmygosh good heavens, good gracious and good grief! This is an inferior domestic brand, suitable only for prison canteens and budget hotel chains! You have lured me in with your nude trickery and you, you witch, have attempted to poison me with this black magic voodoo comestible filth!”
No sooner had he finished ranting than his body crumpled to the floor in a heap, preceded as that was by a sickening thud, a thud caused by Anne slamming the back of a shovel into his chiselled features. Clearly he was sent here by some evil entity, a glamour from whatever had placed the curse on her in the first place. She nearly fell for it too; her real Prince Charming would not be dissuaded by her choice of bread spread.
“Oh well,” she muttered, licking her lips and rubbing her hands. “I guess I’ll have stew for dinner again tonight” just like she had had for the 17166 dinners before this one, and it seemed increasingly likely that she would do so until the day she died, all alone with her vegetables in this windmill by the stream.
© Kris Blackburn 27/08/2015 (original version circa 2008)