The Firestarter – Jesika’s Ambition

One of my short stories from my fairy tale series, and unfortunately it hits close to home. The story begins with a familiar tone, but with a twist.

Sara liked to make up fairy tales. Some were about people she knew, and others were gathered like fallen oranges from that tree she remembered in the yard with the pool and the agapanthus she planted herself while others slept. Others were often sleeping when she worked. She had long ago accepted that about people. This tale is about a girl that can’t accept herself—cannot see her life through a clear lens . The girl has dreams but wakes to realize that she was only a resemblance. The real Jesika was not that pretty. Not that ambitious. Not that resourceful.

Jesika starts fires. Fires of the heart are her special brand of self-consolation. Fire is a distraction—a compromise of her soul and she doesn’t blame herself for the outcomes. How could she? It is simply circumstance—happenstance in her mind, a deserved outcome as she finds herself unable to face her fears. She had been told to be mindful, but doesn’t believe silly words bent on changing her methods of simply surviving. Beware. On the outside Jesika acts resilient to the world, but her inner monster hides and is full of surprises for all.

There was a beautiful young girl named Jesika that lived with her mother. They lived on the fringes of a city full of dreams and wealth. Her mother was a hard worker who designed and crafted fine clothes for the wealthy clients of that city of wonder. The wealthy paid her only a fraction of her worth but well enough to provide the girl some finer things of her desire. The mother made her a bedroom fit for a princess with the extra fabric from the fine clothes of her patrons. She even exchanged her services for fine objects of crystal and pearl to give to her daughter. Although the objects never seemed enough for the girl, the mother continued to try to please her daughter by working harder and longer in a world that was getting darker and more treacherous.

Her daughter didn’t notice such trivial things of the working world. She believed her dreams to be bigger and better deserved, but the dreams were not her own. Each night a man with two faces appeared to her. He was old and wide and each of his mouths would talk to her.

One voice was quiet and soft but told her harsh things.

“Go now. Take what you need. Others will work for you and provide those lovely things your silly mother cannot.”

The other voice was louder and gruff.

“You. You are a princess. Act like it!”

As the young girl grew she began to stare out her second story window above the glittering street below in the house that was not quite fine enough. The dream voices would come to her and the girl began to desire the things she saw with more than a fleeing thought. She wanted the jewelry that sparkled around the necks as the pretty girls walked by, the soft leather bags they carried, and the cars they arrived in, all black and shiny. And although, she barely ate, she wished to dine every night with a prince that would take her to the grandest restaurants and drink wine from hidden cellars.

On the day she turned eighteen, she took a long walk and came upon a big house. It was like those in magazines with windows that reached to the stars and six cars parked in a driveway that was not quite circular.

She walked up the driveway and opened the front door as if she lived there (in her dreams, she did). She walked up the winding staircase. At the top, she reached the first room. She entered the room without thought and was overjoyed by the site of large wing chair in the corner. It was bigger than any chair she could imagine. She was too small to climb up into it and didn’t try, but she walked around it, running her hand across the soft tan leather as she moved.  In the second room further down the hall, she saw a huge armoire made of Bocote wood. She wanted to open the double doors of that finely carved piece, but it was too high to reach, but she didn’t try. She never does. Finally, she moved to the hallway again and at the very end came upon the biggest room of all. She turned the crystal knob and pushed open the heavy door. She couldn’t take her eyes off the bed. The other rooms had big grand furnishings but this room—this bed was small. It was exactly her height and width. She couldn’t help herself. She climbed in and fell fast asleep. She couldn’t have known it was a magic bed.

The girl would awake and then sleep again in an endless loop and would never dream of anything again, for the dreamers with no ambition will eventually fall into a bed of perpetual dreamless sleep.