charged in sword-first but still fell victim to the garden of thorns, eyes gouged out. Me, I prick my finger on the spindle of my neighbour’s blackberry bushes, taste the fruit anyway, autumn stain on my teeth like a grinning vampire in a pink sweater. It’s not about courage, if I have any. It’s not serendipity either. All the things I’ve never known will coalesce in the same way, the tower of jade without windows or footholds, my hands unfit to climb. There will be a price to pay for everything we have ever loved: the voice or the sight or the coach to a pumpkin at midnight.
Me, I’m not afraid of my worst desires. I’ve seen them — the fallen bridge by the old library, the moonlight spilling onto thin pages as they scatter. The river is so dark with its own secrets. The things I would do to cross it are imaginable: a coin in my mouth or over my eyes, or look how empty these pockets are. I pay in the copper taste as I bite my tongue, don’t say the things I’m supposed to say, don’t pass go or collect the riches of all of you. The leap is too big and my thighs are still shaking. The sword is too dull, the tower a city block, the fruit too sour for me not to close my eyes.
The things Phillip seeks are not the same things I want from you. I never said I was noble. I’m paying the toll anyway because that’s how to move forwards: Chest of rubies, bloody finger, the garden of thorns all around. There will be a heavy price for the things I didn’t tell you. These promises I swallow; a garden gone barren; a curse in the corner of my own red mouth.
Abigail Mitchell is a London-based writer and a PhD candidate at the University of Southampton (UK) working on queer readings of the British witch trials. She also holds an MA Hons. (Cantab) from the University of Cambridge and an MPW from USC. She can be found on Twitter at @_abbimitchell or at abbimitchell.co.uk.