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The Illusion Of Control | Chapter 6, An Altered Lesson

June 10, 2020


Chapter 6
An Altered Lesson

I shake off the remnants
of the lurking
that I shouldn’t have 
even shown my mother
a glimpse of. 

“Now, what was it
that you needed me for
that was so urgent?”
She smiles and takes my hand in hers,
closing her eyes once more
breathing in the sweet perfume of her garden.

“Do you know 
when I first came to live here
with your father,
this place was in ruins?”

I do know.
I let her continue anyway.

“It was full of weeds
and dead grass.
It was deprived of color
and light.”

But all it needed
was a little bit of love
to become the beautiful garden
it is today.
That’s what she’s going to say,
that’s what she always says.
It’s a lesson she’s taught me
time and time again:
Love conquers all.
I’m so ready for it,
I’m almost bored.

“I hated this place.”
This makes me turn towards her
with my eyes wide.
She’s never said that before.
But she looks the same:
red lips,
fair skin,
raven hair,
her eyes closed,
her thoughts cleared,
she is at peace,
she is comfortable.
Why is she changing the lesson?

“When your father was giving me the tour of the castle grounds,
upon seeing the wretchedness of the unkempt garden,
I shrieked.”

That’s so unlike her
I almost can’t imagine it.
My mother is always so calm
and kind.
She’s never been
based on appearances.

“You see, it reminded me
of terrible, terrible things
that had happened.
I didn’t want to face it,
I didn’t want to look at it.
I only wanted to hide.
Because for me,
being amongst the weeds
and the thorns
and the dead grass
was like admitting to myself
that I was still in pain.
Even after I got
my happily ever after
with your father,
I was still in pain.”

Her breath gets shaky.

“I was… hurt
and betrayed
by someone I trusted.
Someone I loved
and cared for,
despite them not caring for me.
I thought that in due time
they would grow to love me.
But I was wrong.
And I almost paid for it
with my life.”

She’s never talked
about my grandmother before.
Her name was always
in passing.
I know how wicked she was
and how she attempted to kill my mother
with a poisoned apple.
But I never knew
just how much
that broke her.

“After my first week
attempting to survive in court,
I was tremendously overwhelmed.
Your father could only do so much for me
to calm my nerves.
I had to be perfect.
I had to make everyone fall in love with me.
And that is such a great burden to bear.”

I wonder
what it's like
being a woman
in a place like this.
Where she has almost no power
or respect.
Where she has to either
climb her way to top
through the sheets of vile men
or glower at the bottom
with only her dreams to comfort her.
I feel for her.
I will never know what it’s like,
but I feel for her.
All of them.
They all deserve better lives.

“I found myself back here
in this wretched place.
I had run
until I could no longer breathe.
And for some reason,
my legs had carried me here.
I fell to my knees
in the dirt
and I started to cry.”

I place my other hand over hers.
“Oh, mother.”
She doesn’t open her eyes
but I feel her fingers
tensing under mine.

“After I was done,
I crawled to the planting beds
and started pulling out the weeds.
I pricked my finger with the thorns
more times than I can count
but it was so cathartic.
I was freeing myself
of my past
of my pain.”

She smiles brightly,
finally opening her eyes
and meeting my gaze.

“And so, this place became my sanctuary
Here, I am free.
Without my garden,
I would be nothing but a ghost,
an empty shell of myself
with a smile plastered on my face.”

That sounds painfully familiar.
Why is it that my mother
knows everything about me
while I refrain from telling her

Her smile changes
to a more sympathetic tone.
my son,
do you…
Do you have a sanctuary?”
Do you feel trapped when you’re here in the castle?


“Is it in the woods?
Is that where you were this morning?
In your sanctuary?”


“I see…
It must be pretty lousy at its job.”

I tilt my head questioningly
She shoves me slightly.
“You’re still so stiff
and rigid.
I hope one day you find peace.”

“Do you want me 
to find that peace
in Deirdre?”
It slips out
before I even think about it.

Her eyes lace with sympathy,
she leans her head on my shoulder
and sighs.

“Of course,
that would be preferred
It’s a wife’s job
to make their husband
comfortable and calm.”
Of course.
Please, tell me
it’s okay to only feel safe
in the arms of another man.
Tell me I’m not broken.
Tell me I’m normal
and everything is gonna be
Tell me you accept me
for who I am.
Please, mother-
“I suppose a woman can only do so much.
Maybe we can make 
that little clearing in the woods
you love so much
into a garden, like mine.
We could get benches
and plant flowers

I tune her out.
That clearing 
has been my
for so long.
No matter who
stumbled upon it
or stormed through it,
it would always be

But all of that changed,
when I brought Gill into it.
Suddenly, it was no longer
He wasn’t trespassing
or merely visiting,
I wanted it to be his
so that I could call it

Now, he’s gone
and with it,
the peace my sanctuary 
once gave me.
And I hate
how I already
forgive him for that.
If you didn't really get it, this was the lesson: You need to have a proper coping mechanism for your trauma. Something reliable and safe.
This is the longest chapter so far I think. The next one is the shortest one so I'll just post it after this.
Here's Chapter One, The Crack of Dawn if you wanna start from the beginning. 


See History
  • June 10, 2020 - 9:48am (Now Viewing)

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    *tears streaming down heart*
    "with a poisoned apple."(what I love it) "Love conquers all./I’m so ready for it,/I’m almost bored./ /“I hated this place.”"(omgosh)"I would be nothing but a ghost,/an empty shell of myself/with a smile plastered on my face."(hits so close to home)"I wanted it to be his/so that I could call it/ours."(best romance line I've read all month((and I reread the throne of glass series this month)))
    YOU'RE FREAKING BLOWING MY MIND. *clicks follow button* keep it up, pls :)

    3 months ago
  • Busssy.Beee

    O_O this... made me speechless. just the mother's traumatic experience and the way you wrote it, just wow................

    3 months ago
  • Jason_claire :)

    This one is my personal favorite so far.

    8 months ago
  • elliem

    "I wonder
    what it's like
    being a woman
    in a place like this.
    Where she has almost no power
    or respect.
    Where she has to either
    climb her way to top
    through the sheets of vile men
    or glower at the bottom
    with only her dreams to comfort her.
    I feel for her.
    I will never know what it’s like,
    but I feel for her.
    All of them.
    They all deserve better lives."

    YES *clap* HENRY *clap*!!! This whole chapter, especially this paragraph, was amazing. I really want Henry to be happy. Also, I had completely forgotten that his mother was Snow White until this chapter lol. It was just a lovely surprise all over again, I guess. I love hearing about Snow's backstory and how she just really wants to support Henry even if she doesn't understand. I also feel so heartbroken that Henry desperately wants to tell her but feels like he can't, or that something is holding him back. I love your characters; you put a spin on classic fairytale characters and make them multidimensional, realistic, and loveable.

    8 months ago