always enchanted

Once upon a time (because don’t all great stories start that way?) there was a very small girl. She had eyes like starlight and lips of laughter, and her hair fell around her face in chocolate ringlets. She loved wearing dresses, but she hated flip-flops – she wanted them to make that satisfying smacksmacksmack sound, but they just fell off her feet. So she decided that being girly wasn’t her thing. She got a skateboard that she couldn’t ride no matter how hard she tried, and her knees were perpetually purple.

When she grew up she wanted to be a writer-artist-anthropologist-astronaut-biologist-musician. That would be the best job in the world, she thought. But she was sure that the world had even more to offer her. So she read and read and read, science magazines and adventure stories, books about cowboys and fairies and mermaids, letting the images spill into her mind until she became absolutely enchanted.

She was also psychic, she knew that for sure. Once she predicted that it would snow, and the next day the ground was covered in white. I’m magic, she thought. And her enchantment grew.

Then the little girl went traveling. Just like in her adventure stories, she took planes and boats to exotic places, making a new best friend everyday. She didn’t care that she couldn’t understand their strange words, and they didn’t care that they couldn’t understand hers. They knew it really didn’t matter.

Eventually the little girl grew up. Always too tall, she began to slouch anxiously. She hid her starlight eyes behind glasses and sealed her laughing lips shut. She didn’t want to make exciting new friends anymore, she wanted to stay home where things were safe and familiar. She began to feel as though she’d left herself behind on one of her adventures; bits of her were missing, she was sure of it.

But she was still enchanted by the world. Beautiful images swirled around in her head, and she struggled to get them onto paper – first with pictures, then with words. And through her words and pictures she tried to capture herself, to find the missing pieces.

Sometimes that little girl gets annoyed that she doesn’t know how her story ends. But then she looks at her favorite fairy tales, and she feels better.

Because when a story begins Once Upon a Time, everyone knows how it has to end.

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