By Ana Sharma
The Reimagination of a Most Beloved Story
Ella stood facing the window, her slim fingers placed over the delicate-looking glass, the very image of idyllic elegance. Her long, brown curls hung over her shoulder, ruffled and rebellious, as she gazed out of the window, her eyes brown and unblinking, quietly surveying the outside world. She sat on the window ledge, a thick volume lying on her lap, untouched. The cries of children and their subsequent peals of laughter were keenly observed by her, a gentle smile tugging at the edge of her lips, a sort of silent joy overtaking her. She took great pleasure in observing the world, in its still and rather immovable state, and its often immediate juxtaposition of unmistakable sonority. It instilled a sense of constancy, of never-changing movement, in her life, particularly when she found herself entangled, ever so deeply, in the folds of misery.
It was widely acknowledged, by all who had the pleasure of knowing Ella, that she did not have a propensity for misery or anything of the like. Indeed, she was a figure of great brightness and joy, and it often seemed as though nothing could dampen such inherent cheeriness. But as of late, a heavy cloud had hung over her head, suppressing all such joy, so that only misery, and misery alone, occupied her bosom. She felt numb, and a stranger to all feelings. In the depths of such misery, she would often wonder whether this emptiness, this painstaking sadness, that filled her heart would ever depart from her. What would happen if these days stretched themselves into weeks, months, and even years? How often these thoughts entered her mind, I cannot definitively say, but that it was often enough can be sufficed. It seemed as though hope had quite acquitted her.
It had all begun with the death of her beloved father. He had been an intelligent man, capable of great tenderness. A strong proficient of the Law, he was rigorous and hardworking, a friend to all, and above all, the greatest father Ella could have hoped for. The day Ella’s mother had passed had been a very sorry day indeed. He had not felt such pain equal to it before. His wise and selfless wife, the love of his life, was gone. Bitterness encompassed his heart. And indeed, for many days, he locked himself in his chambers, weeping tears of remorse, of anger, of anguish, and then acceptance. So engulfed in his own deep-seated grief was he that he forgot his daughter. It was only when, upon briefly leaving his chambers to relieve himself, that he heard the gentle sobs of a distressed soul, namely, his daughter. It was in that moment that he truly knew himself. From that rather sobering moment, her father vowed to ease his daughter’s sorrow and reacquaint her with joy. And so it was. But it was a very long time until they both recovered, and happiness reentered their home once more.
It seemed to Ella that happiness was a flighty, unnatural thing that occasionally flitted from door to door. It was not a constant state of being, but a mere stroke of luck whenever it chose to make an appearance. Her father had been the light of her life; he had taught her the greatest of lessons, and cultivated her love of books and
stories and magic. He had taught her the importance of faith and gathering strength from it. And indeed, when this odd stillness came over her, she did.
However, during this unpleasant affair, there was one thing that did comfort Ella. For it was during her father’s more frequent travels that he had made a rather interesting acquaintance. She was a marquess, famed for her unequaled beauty and dinner parties. Her father had seemed wholly enchanted by her, as Ella observed upon his return. He had spoken of nothing else, a faint glimmer of hope pervading his eyes. Ella saw it. She saw it and grew fearful, feeling protective over her mother and the marriage she had idealised for so long. But she also saw her father’s happiness, the sudden stroke of youthfulness in his face. She could not recall when she had last seen him look that way. And surely, if he was falling in love with this marquess, she thought, she must be a simply wonderful woman! How could she interfere when her father’s happiness was at stake? She could not, and from that moment, she made certain to smile brightly and appear attentive as he spoke of her. What he told of this marquess filled her heart with hope, overtime. Their house had long yearned for a warm, motherly figure to fill its walls with music and laughter and happiness. And indeed, a year after that, it was so. Her father and her new stepmother Anne, the marquess, married, in a quiet ceremony, with her two daughters and the priest as witnesses.
Though she had not yet met her new stepmother, she could deeply empathise with the grief that she was certain was ever present to her. Her arrival had been imminent, until the news of her father’s passing had reached her. Nonetheless, she was due to arrive in a fortnight. Ella felt the chill within her evaporate, as she pondered on the great pleasure of having a mother to comfort her. She wondered what her stepmother looked like, how she spoke, and how she would receive her. With lingering hope in her heart, Ella smiled, believing that the worst was behind her, and with her stepmother’s arrival would come the arrival of happiness and a new life for her.
Want to know how this story ends? That’s up to you! We’re asking Gib Mag readers to come up with a concluding paragraph, and email them in to [email protected] for a chance to be featured. We’re looking forward to seeing your entries!
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As you may have seen in our December issue, author Ana Sharma provided us with a cliffhanger that needed a conclusion in her story A Christmas Adventure. Thank you to all who sent in their concluding paragraphs! Here is our winner:
He slowly pushed open the door… there was a dim light but still light enough to see. River stared, the cold wind hit his face and then he felt something soft on his ankle… It was a wing; an injured one. The dim light was losing its energy, and then a voice, the sweetest voice: “I am an Angel from God, please help me”. River was now frightened but curious at the same time as the light drew him in.
“How did you get here?” River asked.
“I fell,” said the Angel.
“From Heaven?” asked River.
River took off his dressing gown belt and wrapped it around the injured wing, which suddenly began to glow brighter and white.
“Thank-you, boy” said the Angel, “for your kindness I will grant you a Christmas wish.”
“What I would like is for my Dad to be here for Christmas; he has been working away for months and he does not know if he can get here for Christmas day.”
At that moment the light shone so bright that River had to cover his eyes. Suddenly, the light went out and the Angel was gone. River felt the cold again, closed the door and went back into his bed.
Christmas Day, it had snowed. River looked out of the window there was a path of large foot prints towards the house. River put on his dressing gown and ran down the stairs. He could smell sausages and could hear laughter… He went into the kitchen and saw both his parents preparing the turkey! River ran and jumped up to hug his Dad.
“Merry Christmas Son, I made it.”
“River,” Mum asked, “where is your belt?”
River replied: “I gave it to an injured Angel in the night.”
With that, Mum & Dad laughed. “Let’s eat!”
By Flor-de-liz Latorre