Tag Archives: Jane Flett

“The Boy Princess” – Fiction by Jane Flett

Boy with a Crow - Akseli Gallen-Kallela, 1884
Boy with a Crow – Akseli Gallen-Kallela, 1884

The grand finale of our Summer 2015 issue is “The Boy Princess” by Jane Flett, an unforgettable fairy tale that’s as bizarre as it is touching.

{ X }

EVERYWHERE IT IS AUTUMN, the leaves are capsizing, and yesterday I saw the boy princess in the woods. He was squatting beneath a stone bridge, throwing pebbles into the stream, while I watched from the other bank. I like to watch him balance. His thighs are sturdy—meaty, in fact—though I could see the muscles quivering underneath the skin. A pulse in the neck of a baby bird. His garter had begun to unravel, and the dirty end of the lace was lapping in the stream.

I didn’t want to disturb him. The boy princess is a paper sack of contradictions—part brittle sugar-glass, part thick, sure flesh. The pebbles made an empty thwack when they hit the water and I thought of wishes and wells. If I could be granted one true thing by the wish master, what would it be?

To be the stream, nuzzling at that grubby lace? No—

To be the garter, quick against his thigh? No—

To take the boy princess in my mouth and taste him, so sweet and slick he hurts my teeth.

The wish master gave me none of these things. I left the boy princess to his pebbles and reflection, and climbed over the rocky banks towards home.

{ X }

I try to pretend I can take or leave the boy princess, but of course, either is impossible. The moment I met him last spring, he crawled beneath my heart, and he dwells there now with sharp canine honesty.

I met him on the mountain of rejected objects one morning when the sun was fat in the sky. He was exercising his pet crow. That is, he was throwing scraps of bacon from a paper bag into the void past the cliff and the three-legged crow would swoop and caw and plummet, racing against meat and gravity, to rise up victorious with a morsel in its mouth. I didn’t know he was the boy princess then. I didn’t know the crow was his. But there was something transfixing about the arc of his arm.

The skin was covered in ragged black sketches. An owl’s eye, which seemed to follow me when I walked. A map of islands with a sea full of kraken. The languid silhouette of a bear. But the skin was also very pale. It looked as if it would puncture if you pressed too firm a nib against it. As if any line of ink would be followed by blood.

I watched the crow. It was lovely to watch the balance of his body as he landed. His back leg hit the grass first, then the middle, then the front, and the crow would rock forward, bob, and settle back against his tail. Every time, a gentle crow curtsey: Thank you.

“That’s a good crow,” I said.

The boy princess turned around. He narrowed his eyes, or perhaps it was just mascara smudging in the sockets.

“He’s not,” said the boy princess.

“But—”

“He might seem good. It’s because he’s got three legs, isn’t it? But trust me—” at this, he lobbed another morsel of bacon over the cliff top “—this crow is impossible.”

Continue reading “The Boy Princess” – Fiction by Jane Flett