Hideous? That’s what the stories say at least. Depicted with frog-like skin texture, matted hair and teeth black as death. Some say her fingernails are claws, others say her nails are short and filled with grime. People have told tales about her for an age-long. Tales that said her breath could rot an apple to its core. Tales that said her laugh cracked like whips against the ears.
Every story told made its way around the world, making her feel small, alone and insecure. Her image was her curse. A person said to be so hideous her own name was taken away. Instead they gave her the title - Witch. She would try to see if the descriptions were honest, but every mirror would crack at her reflection. Giving up on glass she tried the waters, but even then her reflection was distorted by ripples. Left only with the words of others to describe her appearance, she decided that she was truly ugly.
To appease their suffering she took refuge deep in the darkest of woods. But as time passed word spread of a creature so vile that the Devil himself would avert his gaze. That was the start of the pitchforks and torches, they would chase her away threatening her life and cursing her name. Haunted by her deformities and hunted by humanity, she moved from place to place never finding solitude. The string of stories unraveled even further, saying she could cast spells to harm others. She had no magic; she possessed nothing but sadness.
“Why? Why have I been birthed with such horrid features?” She wept in acrimony. “Do you really think that?” Said a soft voice from behind. Alarmed she spun from twelve to six to see a man standing before her. “Don’t look!” She cried. “My form may make you blind.” The man didn’t pull his gaze, rather he took a step closer. “I once held a torch with the intent of setting you ablaze. I once was part of a mob handling pitchforks with rage. I heard that you were Satan's spawn, I heard that you were conceived as chaos’s fawn.” He took another step closer, she took two back.
“Do not be afraid. My kindled fire has simmered to smolder. My illusions were thwarted once I saw you hence over. You’re beauties so great it has been mistook for imperfection. They do not understand since you are flawless, a true gift from heaven.” The Witch was agape, shocked at his sentence. Realizing her teeth were revealed she quickly covered her lips.
“What is your name?” He asked. “My name is Marigold,” said the Witch. “Please take my hand.” He said with his right palm outreached. Marigold was uneasy, never before had someone said something so sweet. “I want to show you the truth,” he said with a smile.
Marigold put her hand into his, and he brought them to the outskirts of a nearby village. With his free hand he pointed in the direction of a man. “Look, do you see that man? He drinks till he's drunk and sleeps with the swine.” Moving his index finger over he pointed at a woman. “She sells her body for food instead of tending her own gardens.” They walked a little farther down until they could see a large tree covered in fiery leaves. “That tree is where they hang those they deem sinners.” He looked in Marigold’s eyes, she could feel his soul touching hers.
“They are truly ugly. They do not know beauty and they never will.” Marigold felt her lips uplift at the corners creating a small crescent. “What is your name?” She asked. “My name is William,” said the man. “Still I don’t understand,” said Marigold. “For when I looked to see my true guise, mirrors cracked and waters rippled.” William pulled Marigold back into the colorful woods of Autumn. Spying a rock he sat her gently upon it and took several steps backward. “Would you like for me to describe what I see before me?” He asked. “Yes,” she replied.
William took a breath and observed her like one would the stars. “I see someone kind,” he first said while walking around her. “I see someone who has been attacked with sticks, stones and worst of all words. The bruises on your skin have healed and disappeared, but the damage to your soul will forever linger.” He paused and knelt to the ground picking up a dandelion.
“Once you heard of peoples fears you left to give them peace. When you became hungry you harvested nuts and berries, but when a woodland creature was nearby you shared what little you had.” He twirled the stem of the dandelion in between his fingers and Marigold watched as the yellow florets spun like a small sun. “Dandelions are considered weeds, and most people are opposed to them. But the color is actually quite lovely.” He said while placing it in her hair. “People have considered you a weed, but actually you are quite lovely.” He said with a soft smile.
“When I look at you I see you. When I heard your lamentation I wanted to weep with you. For the world is so cruel to hate what they can not understand. Your eyes are like a hearth warm and homely, the smile I saw caress your lips was angelic. What has been said of you has been devised through jealousy and unfulfilled yearning. The greatest carvers, painters and artists could never replicate such divine splendor.” William stopped and went down to one knee before her. “I would like to take you with me Marigold. Somewhere far from here and give you a life you deserve. I will wake you every dawn and lay you down every sunset as who you really are. I will be your shield and your sword against all who call you Witch.”
Marigold was flustered. “How can I run away with someone I have just met? Your silver tongue warms my heart and yet I can hardly call you friend.” Marigold stood up and looked up towards the orange flare setting in the sky. “If you flee with me you will be called Lover of the Witch. They will hunt you along with I until we both are dead.”
William rose to his feet grabbing Marigold by her waist. “Death will not separate us. When I first saw you I remembered that I have known you before this life. I have found you now and I will find you again.” William kissed her. Marigold kissed him back. After a few seconds she pushed his chest. “Are you sure you can see me?” The sky was now black and the clouds covered the moon and stars. “You are the only light in this world of darkness that now remains,” William said while moving his hand through her hair. “I see you for you. Pure beauty lost in a web of lies." They kissed as Marigold melted into love for the one who saw her soul.