Staring at the open maw of the cauldron, all she wants is for it to be over, to be free. She throws in anything she can find, everything she had carefully saved:
- The mangled black feather from the windowsill
- The moonlight reflecting off the snow beneath her window
- The translucent blue sheen of spilled milk
She squeezes her vein, dripping in blood. When it hurts too much to continue, she throws in:
- the tread of her mother’s footsteps down the stairs.
- the soft give of pillows as she lay on the bed, waiting
- wasted moments
She worries it will overflow, but they are swallowed quickly in that gaping hole of despair. So she throws in:
- the smooth resistance of his lips
- the sound of his voice saying: “We will try again”
- Saying: “So beautiful”
- Crooning: “fairest of all.”
These disintegrate before they even reached the cauldron. So she adds
- The icy cold of glass beneath her palms
- “She will be like your own.”
Throwing with abandon now:
- The emptiness between her outstretched arms.
- The nights spent watching Snow sleep
- Snow’s first word, “Papa.”
- “Go away.”
- “Not you.’
- The first big fight. “You’re not my mother.”
- Her reflection in the mirror. Brittleness round the mouth.
- “You are still the fairest of them all.”
- The knowledge he doesn’t mean it
By now the light is showing through her skin. She leans over, expecting the murky brew to stink. Instead, as the ingredients came together, they swell in a sudden wave, then coalesce into a glowing sphere that drops into her hand.
Red as blood, bright as the moon. Firm, full, perfect. Her soul within her palms. The bitterness a deeper undertaste, the shadows making a more radiant red. Like her life has been redeemed in a faultless moment, the hurt and pain crushed together into something beautiful and complete.
She thinks: This—this, I can give to Snow.
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