Once upon a time there was a beautiful-
Once upon a time there was a meek and lovely-
Once upon a time there was a slim and willowy-
This isn’t working.
Let me start again.
Listen, once upon a time there was a woman. She had all the inner flesh and bone, and all the outer skin and limbs. She was under a curse. Plagued by a monster. That’s the story, see? It was a monster in her chest and on her back and in her brain that sucked up happiness, energy and the ability to perform basic tasks like showering and eating anything that wasn’t Chinese takeaway. She went to a wizard for help, said hey help me, I need help, and the wizard adjusted the collar on his white coat and said have you tried jogging?
To be fair she gave this suggestion the weight and contemplation that behooved it, considering the money she shelled out to speak to the wizard in the first place. However, seeing as she had to grit her soul and drag her screaming bones out the door, pulling a coat over her pyjamas just to make it to the wizard’s chrome, sterile lair in the first place, it was a sensible assumption that jogging was not on the cards.
A brief summary of what was on the cards:
3. Not eating;
4. Eating too much;
5. Not crying because everything is dark inside;
6. Seventy-two hours awake because the concept of lying down and being still and alone with her brain is unfathomable;
7. When Do We Venture Outside? Oh Love, Only When We Must;
8. Crying again but this time until she gets a nosebleed;
9. Absolutely not looking at knives.
So she went to a knight, and said I’m losing my fucking mind.
She said, I’m rotting on the inside.
She said, my brain is eating itself.
She said, I don’t know how much longer I can stay alive.
Contrary to classic fairy tale convention, it was the knight who gave her a magic potion. A potion to be taken twice a day to fix the broken regulation of chemicals in her brain.
There’s more to it than that, you need to talk about it, said the knight. It’s time to peel back skin and open the padlocks on doors in the back of your mind. Come visit me once a fortnight, we’ll hash it out, don’t worry, we’ve got this. But you have to hang in there kitty, because this is going to be a long process.
It was. No doubt about that, the potion was just the beginning. But it helped the woman see the curse she was under. ?She was finally able to recognise the monster for what it was, and comprehend all the wasted days under its weight as it sat on her back and ate her spare ribs.
The woman bided her time. She grew her teeth. She met with the knight once every two weeks.
Hey, the woman said one day. It was one day well into the future because it had been a long process.
Hey, said the monster. What’s shakin’? What’s the haps’? You’re looking so much better since you gave up all the Chinese takeouts, has anyone told you that?
You stole a lot of things from me.
The monster scratched its scaly hide in contemplation, flakes of skin falling to the ground like opaque autumn leaves. Well, it said finally, they say depression makes you artistic or something. Isn’t that nice?
Hey, the monster said again, in more alarmed tones. Hey hey ow. Hey ow fuck no. Ow ow no ow no. Hey! Ow! No!
The woman had sharp teeth and strong jaws from years of talking things out with the knight. Each bite sunk through the monsters hide like a fork through butter.
Once upon a time, there was a woman who was plagued by a monster. It took a long time. It took hard work. But one day she ate that motherfucker all up.
Méabh de Brún is a Cúirt Slam Poetry finalist and an Arcade Award-nominated playwright. Her writing has been featured at headstuff.ie, the Imbas Books Celtic Mythology collection, Mysterion Magazine, and The Stinging Fly. You can find her waxing lyric on twitter as @jooovinile.