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The Forgotten Fairy Tale of Should’ve, Could’ve, & Would’ve.


Like any normal child, I started writing letters to my One Day, Some Day daughter when I was 11-years-old. I’ve been writing her into the margins of my diaries for eleven years now in hopes that one day she’ll find these books buried somewhere in the attic and know through the etchings of my messy cursive that I wanted the most for her. Even when I’ve had no idea what to want for myself, I wanted the most for her. The following post is for her– my One Day, Some Day Daughter.

To my One Day, Some Day Daughter:

This is a story made for the day when you wake up, hair all knotted by the pull of your pillow, and stumble straight into Should’ve & Could’ve & Would’ve: a trio of sisters that the world should call witches, for they’ll snatch up your dreams and scarf down your desires, and Fix You Up Pretty in a Too Tiny Box that God Never Made You For.

He made you for dancing—for words too eloquent to say with more than a whispered voice—for tinsel delicately strewn on the branches of baby evergreens—for icing, thick and sugared on the tops of every little thing you touch. 

But one day, one gloom-stricken day, you’ll stumble into a cottage with doors that lock behind you and windows that snap shut to find Should’ve herself waiting for you.

You’ll know her by the rings piled on every long, sticky finger. The Diet Coke she clutches in her hand. The mole on her face, right beside the curl in her lips caked with a color that Chanel phased out two decades ago.

She’ll look you straight in the eye and ask you where you’ve been.

“A little late to join the par-tay, Babycakes,” she’ll say, snapping her gum. “HA, HA, HA, bet you were off thinking you could make something of yourself. Like you could move, bah! Like you could make a difference, BAH! Hey, Could’ve! COULLLLDDD’VEEEEE!!! Where are you!!! Getttt innnn hereeeeee nowwwww! And bring the cat!”

Could’ve will emerge, wearing a bathrobe. Could’ve is always one to wear a bathrobe with a hazard zone of red hair perched upon her head.

“Yea, yea, yea,” Could’ve will say, shuffling into the room with a fat orange fur ball tucked under arm. “What the heck do you want, Should’ve…. And WHO are YOU!?”

“We’ve got a guest,” Should’ve will announce.

“My name is….” You’ll start to say.

“Shhhhhh…” Could’ve will hush you and clench your cheeks tight. “We really don’t care! Names don’t matter in this place. Dreams don’t either. And certainly, certainly, not your silly little ambitions. Leave those at the door. Should’ve, get the remote. Judge Judy is on!”

From a corner of the cottage, you’ll watch Should’ve & Could’ve sink into the television, into a world they’ve always known. A world with no pushing, no pulling, no climbing. No maybe. No possibly.

With a creek and a slam, you’ll hear the front door shut, revealing a young girl with a bright green cape. Her fair complexion and midnight-like locks poking out beneath a hood that masks her real beauty.

“Where the heck did you run off to, Would’ve?” Should’ve will holler, not turning back to see her fair sister’s flushed cheeks. “We’ve got Doubt coming over for dinner in an hour and you gotta sweep the floors!”

“I was on a date…” Would’ve will say meekly.

“A WHAAAAATTTT?” Could’ve & Should’ve will scream out in unity.

“I said, a date,” Would’ve will say a little louder.

“With Whommmmmmmmm!?!”

“Try. I was out with Try again.” The name comes out short. Abrupt. You’ll feel the heavy gust of shame whipping through the cottage the moment Would’ve lets the name drop from her lips.

“Try!?!” Could’ve will roar. “You went on another date with Try? You stupid, stupid girl! What have we told you one million times before? Try does not go for girls like you.”

“I know you’ve said that but he’s charming and endearing and…”

“You are different, Would’ve! Can’t you see that? He will notice soon enough and then he’ll break your heart. People don’t try on a girl like you! Give him up….”

“You think you are special and you are not,” Should’ve will chime in. “Stop it already, Stop the Some Day, Stop the Day Dreaming. Stop the Special. Stop the Stand Out. You’ll only get hurt from boys like Try, he’s probably already forgotten your name.”

You’ll see it unfold. See the happiness seep straight from the bones of Would’ve as she stands in the center of her too tiny kitchen and tries to erase Try from her memory. Dismantle his name in some sort of fashion.

Boiling the T in the pot for the dinner made for Doubt.

Sweeping the R under the staircase beside forgotten cobwebs.

Washing the Y away in the sink after the dishes pile up.

She’ll forget the flowers that Try brought her. She’ll scrape away the times when Try showed her how to climb a tree and look down from the top. She’ll take to pushing the felt of the eraser across the chalkboard of the time when she and Try laid down in a pile of leaves and he took her hand in his.

“Would’ve, do you have a middle name?” he asked.

“Well, I suppose it’s Have. My name is really Would Have but people have always called me Would’ve for short.”

“Hmm,” Try said, “Have. It is a really pretty name. What does it mean?”

“I don’t really know. I’ve never really known it and I’ve grown up hearing from my sisters that I’ll never know it. I guess it is word that makes it possible to believe that if you want something then you could hold it, secure it, clutch it. All those things.”

“Are there things like that for you?” Try asked Would’ve, tucking a strand of black hair behind her ear. “Do you want things like that?”

“Well…” she hesitated. “No one has ever asked me that. I don’t really think about it.”

“You should think about it more,” Try said. “I like it better than Would’ve. I will call you that from now on. Have. Have. Have. My Little Have.”

She’ll forget that Try ever told her she was different in a good kind of way, special in a certain kind of way. And you’ll watch her Sink, Sink, Sink into a Stew of Sadness over the Try she’d never have.

And Would’ve, not quite the Have she wanted to be, will see you standing off in the corner, in the Shadows of the Shack where Could’ve & Should’ve rule and she’ll give you a look that stings and pricks with all its sadness, saying, “Go…. Go….Don’t stay here with us.”

And you better go then. You better go then.

“Before they notice you’re gone… Go… Go…”

And as you go, slipping out the door and away from the cottage, Would’ve will tuck a note into the crook of your hand. My dear, you’ll become a messenger for a girl who needs her Try.

“To my Dearest Try,

One day I may know you better, in a way where I am not so afraid of you and I am not so petrified by the good you could bring to me. Right now I am just the Would’ve, stuck beside the Could’ve and the Should’ve that I’ve known my whole life. And I am longing to know something different… longing to know what the world would be like if I could just be Have. Have. Have. Have.

One day, I’ll fly away. One day, I’ll fly away and find you out there in this big, old world. Until then, until then, I’m holding you closer than I ever thought I could admit.

Love,

Your Little Have”

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18 thoughts on “The Forgotten Fairy Tale of Should’ve, Could’ve, & Would’ve.

  1. Douglas says:

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Oh, there are not enough words. Fantastic. If this is any indication as to how the book is going to be I simply cannot wait to read it.

  2. Hannah, Darling, I cannot even begin to explain to you what I just experienced while reading this entry of yours in bed at 1:30 am in South Africa. I couldn’t fall asleep, and your post came through on e-mail on my phone. God sent an angel (yes, you) to talk to me this morning. I am in awe, I am speechless and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your amazing gift of putting words together in a way that makes me want to weep and laugh at the same time. You have given me new-found hope to try again (on so many many levels). I am at a loss for words that could justify how amazing you are and how amazing I feel….WOW

  3. rebecca2468 says:

    Breathtaking and heartbreaking at the same time. I need to tuck this beautiful post of yours in my diary for my granddaughters to find the voice of one girl named Hannah Brencher (aka Have) who inspires everyone who reads her work. Thank you from the bottom and the top of my heart!

  4. Hannah, this is beautiful! I’m in tears. There are moments when I am reading something you’ve written that I actually have to stop and compose myself… this was definitely one of those moments. Your words have a way of breaking down my walls. I think it’s God speaking to me through them. Thank you from a girl who’s stayed in that cottage for far too long.

  5. Absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. You writing never ceases to leave me astounded by its beauty and insight and creativity. I love this. I love your writing. And I think you have the most incredible gift in the whole wide world.

  6. twentyonelittlethings says:

    I never have the right words to respond to your gorgeous writing. I don’t think I’ve ever used that word to describe writing before. But that’s what yours is, truly gorgeous, rich and all-consuming. This Forgotten Fairy Tale is genius! You, my dear Hannah, are one of the most talented people I have ever had the pleasure to know. I can’t wait to gobble up more of your words! ❤

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  8. Tanya says:

    Thank you…I will reread this and each time I pray God would sing into the depths of my soul the true name He has for me…I needed this tonight. And I will pass the message along to many who need to read this too…may it continue as a ripple effect and may the world grow with songbirds finding the courage to spread their wings and fly.

  9. Kay says:

    This is my first ever comment, of any blog…in someways I have never felt the compulsion I imagined I would feel; to actually let the author know how it affected me. Until this. Right now. As I sit in my living room scrolling through “stuff” that is backed up in my head of things that might make something better someday. That piece struck me through the heart, took me on a journey to my own soul and held me there while I thought about “Have”. I have it. Thank you for that gift and for that love. You are skilled and blessed. Have a wonderful day.

  10. Gabriel Sutton says:

    I would like to start off by saying my baby sister, Moriah Sutton, went to the Pursuit 31 conference in Rome, Georgia; heard you speak and has not quit talking about how amazing you are! I kept reading all the stuff she continued to post about you and everything that she continued to tell me, I finally decided to check your blog and read up on everything you’re doing. And I am SO SO glad I did! I don’t get sucked into reading blogs, if I read one, I won’t comment; but since I started reading your blog I have been sucked into this overwhelming power of love, perseverance and encouragement! God has blessed you with an ability to touch people through the eloquent way that you put words together and the passion that is behind them! This story specifically spoke to me and made me want to throw everything else out and begin to try again! I want to meet have and try, but I want to become did. Because I succeeded in doing what I set out to do not matter what could’ve and should’ve and doubt continued to whisper in my ear! This was truly powerful!

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