A Castle Made of Glass
Once upon a time an old woman lived by herself in a castle made of glass. Each pane was beautifully crafted, and she could gaze out at an ever-flowering garden or stare at her reflection for as long as she desired. The castle was enchanted so that each day it filled freshly new with flowers and with the finest foods, each a delicacy to the woman’s taste. Her wardrobe was curtailed to the latest, most flattering of fashions, her walls strung with intricate tapestries and detailed paintings suited to her preference, and for furnishings, only those pieces of the rarest woods and delightful craftsmanship could be seen. There was no thing that went untasted, or undiscovered; no jewel unseen nor unworn; no fabric unfelt. An enchantment of all extravagances against which there was no parallel.
There in the glass castle, she lived alone, having been tempted in her youth by the wonders of the enchantment, and sacrificing her lover for its gains in an instant. Thus, she found herself free of all companionship, but ensconced in a world of perfection.
As the years passed by she had grown most unhappy, and yet she could not determine the cause of her unhappiness. She had all she thought she could ever desire. But as she sat each day and contemplated her reflection, a sadness began to overwhelm her and she would cast her salt tears beyond the castle walls. Of late, so long and so often did she cry without knowledge that the tears rose up before her until they made a great sea.
On the day when the sea began to swirl into maddening whitecaps, her hands grew cold and a ruby ring slipped from her finger. It fell into the sea without a sound. And suddenly a small, infinitesimal feeling of lightness seemed to pass through the woman’s body. In strange curiosity, she took an emerald ring from another finger and threw it into the sea. Another wave of that delicate gentle feeling passed through her, and made her feel a moment of spritely euphoria, as though some moment of her age had been cast off.
Something twitched at the corners of her mouth.
All at once she shook the rest of the rings from her fingers and dropped her jeweled neckless and earrings into the water. A weightlessness began to move through her. Off went her fine dress. And she felt it all the more.
She moved through the castle, and dress by dress, jewel by jewel, she tossed them all into the sea that was once her tears. Then came tapestries, the paintings and the furnishings, dropped one by one, buoyant in the salted water, until they filled and began to sink. Next came the flowers, and then the fine food. And lastly, when the castle lay empty, she took it apart, glass pane by glass pane, and this, too, she let the sea claim.
Broken, bleeding weary, and naked, she felt younger than she had in years. She contemplated all that she had done. Then a slow grin spread across her face. Before her stood her lover, unburied from all her labor. They clasped hands, then kissed. For she was free.