Author Bio: Jacquelyn Phillips believes in Happily Ever After—but she doesn’t write about the perfect fairy tale ending. Oftentimes, she stretches the limits and breaks tradition turning the princess into the villain and the prince into a damsel in distress. She challenges her readers to distort their previous knowledge of fairy tales, tweaking the characters in each story, creating tales that are complicated, yet strangely familiar. She has had her piece of short fiction, Cinderella, published in the spring 2013 edition of Aztec Literary Review. Jacquelyn was editor-in-chief of pacificREVIEW 2014 edition titled, Strangley Ever After. She is currently working on her novel, Cat and Mouse, a tragic love story surrounded by the truth and fickleness of friendship interspersed with comic relief and hope. Jacquelyn graduated from San Diego State University, Summa Cum Laude, obtaining a BA in English. She currently resides in San Diego pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing at San Diego State University.
The River and The Moon
Written by Jacquelyn Phillips
She first saw him—no,
not first saw, rather first
noticed him—braiding reeds at the river.
Torn and bloody:
dangled in the remaining current
pulsing from the previous night’s tears.
The muscles in his back rolled;
waves beneath his skin—
promises held within the curves of the Moon.
She fingered her golden locks
free-flowing, curled down her bodice
resting amidst the heavy tufts and folds of her skirt.
her fingers mindlessly weave a braid to match
the one he—that one night—
to match his speed and delicacy.
His ears twitched, his hair tingled, but his hands,
would not stop.
Eyes remained focused on the reeds—his chest
now rising and falling
at an unexpected pace.
He felt her hidden behind
The clip-clop of hooves,
The polished wheels,
The window veil—
And the man—the Beast—his soft hands, rough
Too tight, too tense, on her thigh.
A lion’s paw clawing
the dirt eager to pounce.
The river—their river—just beyond the castle
he pretends it’s a dream;
The Beast, no fool, watches her trembling fingers
strand one—strand two—
strand one—strand three—
ever so slightly
and through the veil
sees strand one—
strand two—strand one—
She feels the Beast’s breath
on her neck
hot, so hot, it’s like ice against bare skin.
She shivers and sweats—
hands still braiding.
The Beast gently grasps her forearm—
She refuses to flinch
to show her fear.
She always thinks of him
when the Beast loses his temper.
Only when the carriage disappears
does he look
over his shoulder.
Through the fog,
beyond the trees,
disturbing the birds and the bees.
The distant crunch of wheels
on pebbles punctures
He remembers—still feels—
the touch of her skin pink
blistered from long nights braiding the reeds.
He wants her warmth one last time
to relive their youth—
and the River Rat.
Where their jewels were glistening water droplets,
pearls, stones smoothed by the storms,
wealth measured in Love.
She found him the first night braiding reeds
and asked that he braid her long hair.
Like a man able to weave gold from straw,
his fingers pulled tenderly—her soft golden locks
tempting him to steal her away.
She nodded. He smiled.
She would return the next full moon
when the sky turned purple and
wolves emerged from their dark dwellings.
He never told her no—
Never uttered the truth.
Oh, the Moon, pale like her skin.
She would never understand why
she stood alone, a braided reed
molded into a heart at her feet.
She could never love him as one should
A Princess, he reasoned, would not choose
a River Rat.
She never told him her secret—
that although destined to marry a Prince,
she wanted to be
one of the Moon.
To love him and braid reeds together.
To escape what a man—a Beast—does to innocence
in the safety of the dark.