Princess Burning Hair sat in a corner of the attic. Motes of sunshine had faded her red hair and moths had made holes in the fabric of her being. To add insult to injury successive generations of mice had gnawed away at the rubber bands that held her limbs together. Now she was an apology for what she had been.
Downstairs Mrs Jones, owner of the doll, huddled deeper into the bedclothes, her body felt numb. Yet again her husband had launched a stream of invective against her.
Why had she done this or that when she knew the consequences of her actions would be disastrous? The constant criticism nibbled away at her being, Chinese water torture eroding the sharp edges of her consciousness into a soft, shapeless blur. The bamboo spikes of his barbed comments lodging in her ears and working into her brain. Months would go by without, and then suddenly, out of the blue, something would happen to disturb the equilibrium. The strings of her heart were unravelling a little more each day.
Her life underwent the same decline and degradation as the doll with no witness except for the reflections in the numerous mirrors hung on the walls. Why were there so many mirrors, she wondered. She never looked at herself and her husband paid little apparent attention to his appearance – he had no need to for he was always immaculately turned out.
Outside the home she had no life for she never went anywhere. Once her husband had brought a woman home, introducing her as a work colleague and green shards of jealousy stabbed at her already fragile self-confidence for the woman was attractive and self-assured. Not unlike how she had been, once upon a time.
When had this slow decline started and what had prompted it? Not given to in-depth self analysis she was hard put to identify the when and the why. Was it the day he had taken her pet away? The one being with whom she felt a special communion. Her last lifeline was gone, even if it wasn’t human. She had no close family, no close friends in whom to confide – what – anyway?
How could she describe the internal void, the lack of purpose to her life? Although they had not had children, she had gone out to work – not that she needed to but it gave her a reason to get up in the morning. Apart from feeding her husband breakfast, that is.
In the beginning her days had been filled, she had gone out and met friends, visited museums, art galleries but now she found she preferred her own company. She lost herself in travel books and composed endless mental journeys. Once she had even lain out on the bed all the clothes and things she would take on an imaginary trip to Zanzibar – the spice island of her dreams.
Her salvation had come the day she discovered the reference room at the local library – where they had computers. Hitherto an undiscovered world, she joined a class of computer illiterates and the world was never the same place again. She made new friends and discovered new places. But she said nothing of this at home. Her husband never noticed the tiny changes taking place on an almost daily basis. He had grown careless. It never occurred to him that she actually examined the contents of his pockets, read all the mail that arrived and returned it quietly to the stack on his bureau. She painted her toenails red. Hidden inside her sensible shoes he never saw them but she knew they were there – a beacon in the night. She started to wear new underwear too, which he was too blind to see, having long since ceased to bed her. All of these miniature rebellions giving her pleasure and increased confidence.
One day he returned to an empty apartment. No furniture, no food in the kitchen – which had been fitted and therefore she hadn’t been able to take it away with her. Even his computer had gone. When he went into the bedroom there was a single sheet of paper on the floor, propped against an old doll wearing a torn lace dress, with lifeless glass eyes in a pale china face, but with the most astonishingly brilliant, burning, chestnut coloured hair.
“Thank you for the life you have not given me. You gave up on me when I couldn’t follow you. Now the tables have turned. Don’t look for me for you will never find me again although you may hear of me from time to time in the papers.” It was signed Princess Burning Hair
Attached to this note was a newspaper clipping. He picked it up and read …….
The House of Roses today confirmed reports that Prince Charming has a new girlfriend and below was a photograph…..