Note: this story contains a metaphor for abuse, and to be sensitive to all readers, I thought it best to mention before you begin reading.
Once upon a time there lived a woman named Zyla, who was gifted with the rarest of abilities. On a full moon, if she was outside, without warning she would begin dancing frantically, a big smile on her face, and her eyes a pure shimmering white.
At the very spot she danced, a tree would grow, which bore fruit that could heal any illness in the world. Quite naturally, Zyla made 'dancing healer' her profession and decided to travel far and wide, so that on every full moon, she was in a different town that could benefit from the tree she would tap dance into existence.
Although she was invited by wealthy kingdoms far and wide, Zyla only visited poorer towns, as she felt terrible they couldn't afford medicine normally, and wanted to help them by giving them access to her magical trees.
Zyla traveled far and wide for several years, and although she knew her magic helped countless people, her heart yearned for home, and her family. Traveling was lonely, not to mention dangerous, so with a shaky sigh she decided the following year would be her last as the dancing healer, and that it was time to quit, at least for now.
But word of Zyla had reached the King's Alchemist, a miserly and twisted man called Shick, who decided he would hunt down Zyla and try and extract the secret of the full moon dances, so he could become rich from selling it himself.
You see, Shick was a deeply pathetic man, who as a child had baffled doctors by contorting and twisting all over the place. Experts had studied him and discovered his very spine was made of jelly, and in unison had nodded and agreed he should venture into politics when he was old enough. Shick had then risen up the ranks, his jelly-spine proving perfect for craning his neck where it didn't belong. Gossip flowed from his lips freely and the King himself was wary about confiding in him, such was the reputation of Shick.
Scheming for a few days before stiffening his resolve (or stiffening it the best someone with a spine made of jelly can), he posed as a poor old man on the side of the road, and eventually found Zyla, who was determinedly walking towards the next town in her red dress and battered brown sandals. He beckoned for her to come close, and as she did, he blew a powder into her face that made her faint for thirteen hours.
Zyla woke up in a scorching, barren desert, far away from any town. Shick said he'd taken her somewhere no one would find her. Threatening her with a knife, he demanded she dance for him that very night, which was going to be a full moon.
Seeing she had no choice, Zyla waited for the full moon, and as her inner-child wailed at the unkindness of the world, she began tap dancing, her feet a blur on the rocky ground. Her eyes turned a shimmering white as usual, but she was crying, tears streaming down her face.
She was being forced to dance, and it was breaking her heart that her gift was being abused in such a way.
Shick meanwhile, was watching intently and scribbling notes in his diary with his fat podgy fingers, his eyes transfixed on Zyla's dancing.
Before long, a tree started to grow from the ground, twisting and turning as it grew rapidly, fruit appearing on its branches within minutes.
Shick shoved Zyla out of the way and picked the fruit, slowly making a cut on his palm with his knife to see if the fruit would heal him. He took a small bite out of a blue oval shaped fruit and held his palm up to the heavens expectantly.
However, because the tree had grown whilst Zyla had been crying, it did not heal him. This tree was born of sheer heartache, which my dear reader, next to love itself, is one of the most powerfully potent forces in the world.
The tree did not heal - it burned. Shick screamed as his skin burst into flames, his entire body quickly becoming engulfed in fire. But as they were far from anywhere, he ran around the desert, completely aflame, screaming through the harsh night as he was incinerated alive, his jelly spine melting and popping from the heat.
Zyla sat with her knees to her face and wept bitterly, both exhausted and terrified. It was at that moment the Wind heard her cries through the night and took pity on her. It lifted her up and took her home, where her family were waiting with open arms and the warmth of a hundred toasty blankets. She fell into their embrace and her tears of anguish turned to sobs of relief, her eyes now returning to their normal colour.
The Wind was deeply furious at what Man had done to Zyla, so as it left, it swiped a single tear from her cheek and split it into billions of tiny shards, all too small to see with the human eye, and carried them on its wings.
It vowed revenge in the most vindictive way, and the The Sea itself wept at its dark plan.
These tiny shards are called Tear Embers, and to teach the world a lesson, The Wind decided to punish all men. Naturally, not all men are like Shick, but as a wild and tenacious creature, The Wind decided as Shick was a man, men were the problem, and promptly got to work.
The Wind pricked the eyes of all men with a Tear Ember, sending it straight to their hearts, for the eyes are the gateway to one's heart.
Once they lodge themselves in a man's heart, it starts to become as hard and cold as the desert floor Zyla had been forced to dance on.
These Tear Embers, are what we now call bitterness. Nearly every man is infected with a Tear Ember at some point in his life - if you're a man you'll randomly feel a sharp prick in your eye, which will vanish as quickly as it came. You probably gave it a rub and carried on with your day and forgot it ever happened. If you're not a man, ask one - they'll frown but eventually the cogs will turn and they'll remember the random sharp jab in their eye.
If you're a man you'll go about your daily business, but you will feel a cold, dull ache permeate your heart, and every thought will be tainted with bitterness, until your laugh becomes foreign to you and you forget the colours of your very soul.
You'll put it down to the stresses of work, growing up, or the state of politics in the world - but that's just not true. Your heart has been infected with a Tear Ember, and is slowly becoming cold, barren and unkind.
But all hope is not lost. It seems The Wind is an ironic creature, because there is one way to dissolve the Tear Ember and expel it from your heart.
To heal yourself and to be free of the bitterness, you have to repeat the one thing Zyla did that fateful night, many moons ago.
You have to cry.