Happily Never After
On Lighthouse Avenue, inside the house at the end of the street, lives a girl with no heart. This is not to say she is cold or unloving, but it is literal and true. If you peeked inside her pale skin, peeled back her veins and muscles, you would find a cavernous hole of sorts.
Her name is Alice White Cabot, and she is eighteen-years-old today.
A light turns on in the shed behind the Cabot house. Beyond the roses that line the aged rocks on the side wall of the large house, past the stepping stones, a few feet farther than the toad rot, gundly flax, and verbena flowers (I’m sure we will get to that later), and finally we reach a small wooden box, what once was a gardening shed. Now it is filled to the brim with papers, maps, pens, various supplies, two pictures, one knife, and the girl in question.
Allie sits at the window on a small black stool with the knife in her hand. Her dark hair and blue eyes are the only vivid colors in the otherwise grey shed. She is absentmindedly cutting her finger again and again. Three droplets of blood bead off of her fingertips and fall on to the white carpet. Not flinching, she stares out the window at the snow falling like feathers from the sky. Allie thinks she must have heard that somewhere, some time ago. When and where are lost to her.
It’s Christmas and almost time for dinner. She looks around the ancient space, with its empty flowerpots and cobwebs, and knows that this will be the last time she will be in this room that has given her solace for so many years. When her mother first died she hid under the desk in the corner and read every book she could find; mostly adventure stories, like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Robinson Crusoe. The ceiling leaked and mice occasionally set up house, but it was her special place.
The gash on her finger has closed and all that remains is dried blood that is crusted on the knife blade as well.
On top of the cluttered desk is a purple music box. She gets up from her seat and places the knife on a dilapidated shelf. She gingerly opens the gold metal latch on the music box. A ballerina springs to life, and a haunting song echoes throughout the four walls of her sanctuary.
She pulls out a note. On the front of the folded paper, the words Happy Birthday are scrawled in pretty script.
My darling Allie,
I wish more than anything that I could have given this to you myself, but I know Gram will be there to do it for me. You must feel the time slipping away like I did. There is so much that I want to say and so much that I, myself, don’t know how to explain. I cannot tell you what to do my love. Whatever you decide, no matter what, you are my sweet bean. You are so loved and that will never change.
Her face is scrunched up, her nostrils flared and forehead taut, but she will not cry.
Allie grabs the knife again. She cradles it in both of her hands for several seconds before she takes the hilt and turns the blade towards her stomach, so close that the tip digs into her belly button.
Her breath mingles with dust in the unheated shed. Allie holds the knife like one would hold a brush or maybe a spoon, casually, yet calculated.
With no other thought she plunges the weapon into her stomach, causing blood to immediately pool onto her white sweater. She makes no sound, not even a whimper. Both eyes are popped open, wide and surprised, while her other expressions remain motionless. As quickly as she put the blade in, she pulls it back out, a squirt of blood escaping as well.
Allie drops the knife, and it clatters across the floor. She raises her hands and clutches them to her stomach, probing the area gently. 1-2-3…seconds pass.
She lifts her t-shirt to reveal a smooth layer of skin, like the day she was born. The wound is gone.
Yes, today, Allie White Cabot does not feel like celebrating because in one year’s time, she has to rip out the heart of the one she loves, or she will die.
“Damn it! Damn it! Damn it!”
But, until then she is cursed to breathe and live and what she doesn’t want more than anything else, she is cursed to love and be loved.
The curse of the Heartless.
What do I know? I’m just the mirror who watched the curse come to life. I’m just a mirror who is trapped like the rest.
This is not just her story, but it is his, as well. Kallin Grimm, the boy who loves the girl.
The boy who can save us all.
Allie walks over and roughly grabs a map of Illinois from the clutter on the desk. There is a bold red circle around the city of Chicago.
“See you soon,” Allie says. She opens the door and a gush of cold air blows inside, causing the music box to slam closed and the melody to stop abruptly. She wonders if that’s what it will sound like when she dies.
A snowflake lands on her lip, and she licks it off. It will all be worth it, if she can just keep him safe.