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Everywoman And the Monsters

Once and always, there was a woman who sought her fortune. She had not expected this. As a little girl, she had dreamed only of making a little garden, baking bread so she was surrounded by what surely must be the aroma of heaven, and every night watching the glorious sunset. Her dreams might have grown bigger with time - or not, who knows? But her father cut off her hand, her grandmother cut out her tongue (why? it does not matter why; nothing could ever adequately explain it) and so she ran from home to seek her fortune.

The hand grew back. It ached in bad weather, and that was bad enough, but she learned how to write and paint and catch rain with it. The tongue grew back. It could not say certain words without her wanting to vomit, and that was bad enough, but she learned to sing and orate with it. She became strong, interesting. She grew flowers where she could, baked bread when she could, watched sunsets. And she fought the monsters when they came - sometimes to victory, sometimes to a shuddering defeat from which she crawled away only half-alive. For the road was haunted with monsters. Beautiful, charming, often inexplicable, they came to her shouting, smiling, hobbling, dancing. They were rich men, old ladies. They were some guy walking along the street, some president of a country.

At last, after what felt like many lifetimes, the woman arrived at the gates to a beautiful land. As far as she could see, there were gardens - wild, enchanting gardens through the land and in the hearts of the people who lived there. No kings ruled this country, for gardeners understand better than that. They work for nurturance not power, diversity not monoculture. The woman in all her hope and her weariness approached the gates.

And monsters reared up to stop her.

Always they had been trying to stop her from entering this beautiful land, even before she knew it existed. For you see they would wither and die if they could not feed on her hope, her gentleness, her dreaming, her softness, her love. They had turned her out of home and built the road she must walk along. The woman tried now to raise a sword against them, but she was so tired. She had fought so long, and here at the point of hope the monsters were fiercer, more powerful, than ever before. Despairing, she turned to go.

But a young, pink-haired woman came up to take her hand (the one holding a sword). And a quiet-faced man in a uniform came up to take her other hand (the one that had been regrown). Look, they told her. And looking, she saw a vast crowd behind her - all the women with regrown hands, tongues, feet, hearts; all the men with wounds themselves, all the people who had been walking roads and fighting monsters for what seemed like forever, seeking a fortune the monsters told them existed. All the billions of people who dreamed of growing gardens, loving others and their own selves, being happy and safe, chasing the grimy dreams of monsters instead.

And look, said the young woman and the quiet-faced man. So she looked at the monsters. How great they were! How fierce and loud! How much power they held! And yet ... how small inside. How frightened. She saw in their eyes that they knew they were outnumbered, and this knowledge made them desperate and dangerous, with their claws buried deep in the lovely, scarred breast of the world.

But the woman turned away from them again and looked at the billions standing with her. Perhaps we could do this together, she said.

And so they did. They sang until the monsters were silenced. They tore down the gates until hope became the present moment. They made the road beneath their feet into a garden.

It's not that easy, some said.

But really, it was.

photo by Amber Carbo Privizzini

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