Through the ForestMature

This is the story of the encounter between a Little Red Riding Hood and a Wolf. Beware of who you might meet in the forest, whether you are Little Red Riding Hood or the Wolf. You never know what might happen.

Once upon a time - because it is true, it was once upon a time - there was a young woman named Garnet. Yes, she was beautiful, and yes, she was sweet of disposition, but she was also strong. Those who did not know her sometimes thought her hard, presuming too much from what they saw and not enough from what they could learn by speaking to her.

Her mother had rejoiced at her birth and had named her carefully, thinking garnets beautiful and the name to be a fine, rich name. She hoped it would bring her daughter luck and jewels, and all the good the world could bring. She was a good mother, if perhaps wanting too much to shelter her daughter, to keep her safe and guide her along a comfortable path. All she could do for her daughter she did, little enough though it was. Instead she dreamed of a better life, the dream she had had for herself. Everything she wanted her daughter to have.

Garnet, however, had always felt the stones that were her namesake resembled drops of blood. She had been given one once by her grandmother who doted on her, just a tiny one laced on a thin gold chain. It hung down low, dangling now just above the valley between her breasts; a drop of blood against creamy skin, forever frozen on its path to where gravity would call it. The first time she had seen her reflection in a mirror when she wore it she had been frightened, but as she grew older she took a certain sort of satisfaction from the image she saw.

Some nights she wished she could cry bloody tears from frustration and loneliness. To her, the garnet became that one tear, the one drop of blood from a lip bitten to keep from screaming.

Her mother saw only a pretty jewel, just as she saw only a pretty daughter, a daughter she loved. Her grandmother saw a gift, both in the jewel she had given and in the granddaughter she adored.

The wilderness was the only place Garnet felt she could find peace, be it urban or rural, cityscape or lonely hillside. There she could look within her soul and see the woman she longed to become. She could dream of all the things she wished she could say, thoughts she longed to share, fantasies she ached to fulfill. The moon and stars looked down on her, silent companions who glittered and shed their light like cooling balm upon the raw heart that beat within the girl's chest.

Garnet was torn. She knew the life she was supposed to lead, all the things she was supposed to be, wish, dream. She had been told the tales, sung the songs, painted the pictures. Yet still she whispered silent prayers to the stillness of the night.

Please, let there be more.

There was something caged within her, something longing for a life so different from what she knew her mother wanted. Something those few she called friends could not understand. She herself had barely begun to grasp just what it was.

She knew herself though.

And so she spent watchful hours listening to the rhythm of the city, hearing lonely songs in the wail of sirens and the rush of cars. And waking dreams claimed her when she could escape the urban jungle, seek solitude in grass and trees, the smell of earth and the galaxy of stars above. It was there she could begin to contemplate just what else her life could be. There she could see the darkness that hungered, allow herself to feel the pain and accept it as part of life. Somewhere there had to be someone who would understand, who could accept this quiet part of her that flexed restless claws.

That was how it began. The baby had become a girl, the girl a youth, and the youth had begun to comprehend what it was to be a woman. She played her role, doing what she could to protect her mother from glimpses of her frustration. A dutiful daughter, a loving child. She was, perhaps, naive, but she was loved and her family wanted her protected. No one could say she did not try to live up to all that was expected of her, and if those who loved her best wanted to shelter her, who could fault them?

The world was a dangerous place, after all. There were monsters out there.

The End

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