Gisela felt terrified by fairy tales about other princesses. None of her girlfriends at the convent shared this torment. She was the only true princess among them. The tales were much easier on the average high born and on the commoner. They were hard on witches and wicked stepmothers. She prayed that God would not turn her into a wicked stepmother. She wouldn’t mind some of the magical powers of witches though. A charm to get out of work. A charm to hide a pimple or make it appear as a birth mark. She blushed, not because of the heresy of her thoughts but because she felt how meagre and limited her fantasies were: get out of work? Hide a pimple? As a witch, she could do better than that: make her grumpy father a happy man. Answer mother’s prayers. Turn the whole convent into a fun fair. Bring the heathens to their knees so that they took the body of the Lord in their foul mouths and drank His instead of their enemies’ blood. Laugh into the face of an evil witch who gave you a poisoned apple. Swim at the bottom of a lake and shake hands with the wild green man who lived there. – The abbess was wicked and wise at once. Everyone knew she slept with the choirmaster: this happened every day after Nocturns when nuns and novices made ready for bed and were dozy from lack of sleep and the day’s hard work. Gisela knew because her cell lay at the end of the corridor leading to the abbess’ quarters and because, at some point of their lovemaking, the abbess and the choirmaster would chant together in high tones. Muffled, supposedly, by the heavy bedspread given to the abbey by her own father showing himself and her mother surrounded by naked angels with trumpets. Perhaps the bedspread itself was charmed and made them do whatever they did? It surely was good for them and for the whole convent: when the choirmaster was away, the abbess’ face turned gray and she seemed suddenly aged. She was moody then and unfair, a wicked stepmother. Whatever the singing sorcerer gave her was a powerful potion.
#23/100 Days 2011. Photo: drawing by Taffimai: “The Delicacy Of Hands.”