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The Boy Who Knew Fear

by Emily Marie Concannon 7 months ago in Fable
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The Classic Retelling of the Grimm Tale as seen Through the Wisdom of the Archetypes

The Boy Who Knew Fear
Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash

The Boy Who Knew Fear

“Carrying your satchel and followed by your hound, you the Fool make your way in the world. The world is unprepared for your fearless and sunny smile.” The Fool Card.

Once upon a time, there lived a father and his two sons. I don't know if they lived a long time ago, but I do know the world was very different back then. So different, in fact, that the Earth was not afraid of magic. She embraced it, even though her children sometimes abused it. The Earth knew her children, the humans, were mostly good. But, they could also be bad sometimes. And when they were bad, their mother would sigh and plants would not grow so sweetly.

So it was that at one time there lived a family. They had two children, two boys who were but 7 months apart. Perhaps you wonder why they have such an unusual birth difference, well there are several explanations.

The most obvious answer is that the mother gave birth to the first early or something of that sort. But there was more to it than that. The answer was, one child was a changeling. The mother bore and birthed her firstborn and then seven months later she saw two boys in her crib.

"Why, husband, have you placed a second son in the crib?" She squeaked when she saw the boy.

"No woman," her husband answered. "If there are two then we must have had two all along!"

"That is very strange," said the woman, who was also very gullible. "I have not seen him for so long. What was his name?"

"Shudder," answered her husband, because the winds were so bitter that winter.

"That is such a strange name!" Declared the woman in alarm. "He must have caused me a lot of pain at birth. I do not remember him because of this, it seems. He shall not inherit our farm, for he was a naughty boy who remained hidden for so long!"

She went about her day as if nothing had happened. It was as if she had two boys all along. And she used this to verify all of her ailments in life, until the poor boy was blamed for everything from her back pain to the cock crowing too early every day.

"All you do is cause mischief!" The woman and her husband would sigh, wondering if this boy would ever become a righteous man. One day, the boy's greatest fears came to the forefront as he failed to save his father's life.

He was out hunting one day with his father. And, he noticed a bear not far away from them. Curious, he approached the lovely creature in hopes of understanding her better. But, his father had a very different response. He began to scream and shout to his son to run as fast as he could.

Shudder was an honorable boy who respected his dad's wishes. He did not understand why, but he ran as fast as his legs would carry him. But, the bear followed. Shudder thought this was amazing and wished the bear would always follow him. But, his father saw the situation very differently. He strung his bow and shot several arrows at the beast.

The boy was very confused by his father's actions, but saw the creature change direction to follow his father. Assuming his father wanted to play with the creature, he decided to head home. As the evening grew later and later his mother began to grow very agitated. Shudder did not understand why his mother was so concerned.

"Your father has not returned!" She exclaimed, feeling utterly lost for words at her son's inability to comprehend fear.

"Mother, he was playing a game with the bear in the forest," he said simply. At these words, his mother fainted. Unsure what he should do, he went and told his older brother who worked at the blacksmith's. His brother could do this because he feared fire. Shudder did not and his parents feared he would burn himself.

Upon hearing what Shudder said, his brother said nothing but ran back home. His brother grabbed their favorite hunting hound and saddled the horse. Several hours later, they returned with the dead body of their father. His brother would not speak to him, and his mother screamed at him.

Shudder felt sad, but he did not feel afraid. He also did not know why his father died. Why did he die?

"Because of you!" His mother screamed. "Because you did not fear the bear, your father is dead!"

The Fool’s Journey

“You depart from your Oedipal mother and contact the Universe. In search of the soul, you were never permitted to own.” The Departure from the Empress.

The boy always wondered how he could be so very awful. He caused his mother nothing but pain and agony. And, he could not do the one thing his father expected of him before his father died. He could not shudder. Try as he may, nothing brought him fear. And, somehow, this killed his father.

"So mother, if I learn to shudder you will be pleased?" Shudder asked his mother.

"Oh, for you to feel all the fear in the world will make me very pleased!" His mother said back.

Shudder packed a sack and set out the next morning.

"I am going out into the world so that I might meet and know who Fear is," Shudder told his mother. "Once I meet him, I hope you will be pleased."

His mother said nothing for she was too full of grief. She simply slammed the door on him. He was now alone. The only thing was, he was not afraid to be alone. He traversed the country asking farmers if they knew fear and where could he find him? But, they all took him for a fool and waved him away.

Finally, after three days, he was so tired and hungry that he fell asleep in a pile of hay. The farmer who owned this field was inside eating a midday meal when Shudder collapsed in his hay pile. He dreamt of meeting fear in a palace between three hills. He was a jovial fellow who taught him all about shuddering and doing it properly. Then, he dreamt that he journeyed home and showed his mother Fear and she was overjoyed at the sight of this prince.

Unfortunately, none of these things came to pass for poor Shudder. It was all just a dream. And, he was awakened in the most unpleasant manner. A young girl, presumably the farmer's daughter, began smiting him over and over again. She made the most unpleasant noises while she did this too.

"You are in my father's field!" She kept screaming over and over while smacking him.

"I am Shudder," he stammered as he struggled to his feet. "I was only sleeping."

"You were sleeping in my father's field!" She shouted again. He still didn't understand, but since she would not stop hitting him he decided to smack her very hard across the face.

She was struck so hard by his blow that she fell backward. She struggled to look up at him in shock.

"You should fear my father!" She declared. His eyes lit up immensely at her words.

"Your father is Fear? Oh please show me to him, I must be his servant. It is the only way my mother will take me back," Shudder told the girl. She was very confused by his words. But, after a moment she realized this moron thought "fear" was a name! And, he wished to be the servant of Fear until he could learn to shudder. She immediately thought of a wicked plan.

She left Shudder in the field as she ran home to tell her father. Her father was a giant man, and a wicked man. He stole for his money and he abused his daughter. Legend said he killed and ate his wife because she kept asking him for flowers. His daughter knew better than to cross him and did everything she could to support him.

And so, this was why she told her father her plan. For she had absorbed all of his wickedness except for one tiny sliver of her heart. She kept that sliver in the hopes that she could use it one day.

Shudder met the man who he thought was Fear and asked that be taught to shudder. As payment, he will serve him until the day he learns to shudder. The giant of a man agreed and Shudder was put to work immediately. He worked all day and only slept a couple of hours in the drafty barn. He was growing very skinny, but he still worked himself to the bone.

The Fool, the Magician, and the Emperor

“In awe and wonder, you watch the Magician alter the Universe. Utilizing the elements and the minor arcana, the Magician subdues the Earth to himself. But, alas! The greedy fire of the Emperor consumes his creativity.” The Magician’s Dilemma

The farmer's daughter at first just thought he was dumber than bricks. She mocked him and laughed at him, but it did not faze him. He was on a mission, and as time wore on she started to admire him. She started to sneak him some snacks. And, the farmer started to get suspicious of his daughter.

"If you feed this boy he may grow stronger than me!" He yelled. He decided to punish his daughter by locking her upstairs. Everyone knew there was an evil spirit up there. The farmer kept him around to torment his enemies.

Shudder was outside working when he heard a scream come from upstairs of the house. It was such a scream as he had never heard before. It poured out of the cracks of the home and fill you with dread. In response, his body began to quiver.

He was shuddering! Excited, he ran to the farmer and shook his hands, and told him he has taught him how to shudder.

"Come now, you must meet my mother!" Exclaimed the boy. But the farmer spat in his face and cursed him. Shudder did not like this.

"Why would you curse me, Fear?" He asked, confused.

"You are my slave!" The farmer shouted back. "I'll never let you go! Now back to work!"

"No," the boy said flatly. "I served you until you taught me to shudder. This is done. Now I must go home."

The farmer wished to kill him, but knew the boy was stronger than he was. But, this did not mean he could not destroy the boy. He had his evil spirit. He decided to trick the boy.

"Tell you what, if you are willing to travel to the roof and find my daughter, you can have her and all my wealth." The farmer told him.

"I do not want these things," the boy answered. "I want my mother to forgive me. The only way she will is if Fear comes with me."

The farmer was distraught. He felt unsure how to trick the boy. He decided he must travel with him and leave him with the spirit.

"Fine I will come," the farmer answered, feeling exasperated. "But first you must go to the roof and grab my travel satchel."

The boy agreed and traveled up the stairs with the farmer. Upon reaching the top there was a black door that the farmer told the boy he must go through. Shudder was confused but did not think too much. He opened the door and went through.

The Fool Meets Death

“The pale horseman approaches thee. It tells you it has come for you. But, you do not fear their face. You smile, oh Fool, for you fear nothing. Death is nothing but a change.” To Smile at Death.

Shudder entered a completely dark room. He heard the screams from earlier and felt his body shudder. But he traveled towards the noise in hopes that the person making this noise will have a lantern.

"Hello?" He called out to the noise. The voice kept screaming in agony, but he heard the farmer's daughter speaking amidst the screams.

"Shudder! Shudder, listen! You need to go! The dark spirit will possess you and make you wish to throw yourself to the ground to die! You must leave!"

"I can't, ma'am," he answered her. "Your father needs his satchel."

She only screamed and said no more. He kept moving towards her. He found her hand and gave her hand a squeeze. She squeezed his hand back. He could tell she was desperate.

He tried to make her conscious so that she might help him. But, she kept fainting.

"Hisssssss!" A mysterious voice chimed In his ear. The voice said all sorts of things. But, Shudder dismissed the voice.

"Begone, you!" He said back. "You are indeed annoying! I need to find a satchel! Go bother the farmer, Fear." Shudder led the voice to the black door.

"Yessssss!! Yessssss!" Hissed the voice angrily. "my husband put up that door thinking it could keep me here! Boy, open the black door, release me that I might take revenge on my husband!"

Shudder realized at this moment that this was the farmer's wife. And, she needed to see him.

"Of course," he answered. And, he opened the door. He saw no one, but felt a cold breeze pass by him. The farmer's face grew pale and he let out a scream. Shudder shut the door, assuming the wife needed to be alone with her husband. He heard the farmer scream and assumed he was having a good time.

The darkroom was lit up with a beam of sunlight. The light beamed down on the crippled body of the daughter. He helped her and she thanked him.

"Oh, think nothing of it," he said. "It seems your mother missed your father ."

"No," she answered with a quiver. "My family is evil, Shudder. They are evil. But, at last, my mother can rest and my father is vanquished. And, you have saved me. The curse is finally lifted."

The Star, the Moon, and the World

“The World shines bright in the light of your mind. Having finished the cycle, you arrive in your Universe. Your mind no longer consumes you, for the Moon’s Divination and the Guidance of the Star illuminate your World.” Journey’s End.

Shudder noticed the girl changed. She was plain and simple before. Now, she was clothed in a white gown and wore a gold crown on her head. The farmhouse was turned into a marvelous Palace.

"This palace was cursed by an evil fairy long ago," she told him. "My family has always been so evil, that even she was disgusted! She cursed this place and made my family into ogres. Finally, my parents' evil souls destroyed each other. You saved me, though."

"What am I doing here?" He asked her.

"You are a fairy too," she told him. "And, you broke the spell. You are lord of the manor now."

"But, my mother will never forgive me,' he told her. She giggled at his words. She summoned a servant and gave him a chest of gold. She ordered the servant to bring it to the woman and tell her that her son, Shudder who is lord of the fairy manor, sends it with his blessings.

To prove that his mother forgave him, she brought Shudder to a scrying mirror to peek at the world of humans. He saw his mom praise him and thank him. Most important, however, she blessed him and forgave him.

Shudder lived forever in the realm of the fairies with his new bride. He felt at home, at long last, after years of seeking his own home. He feared nothing, but at least he now knew how to shudder.


About the author

Emily Marie Concannon

I am a world nomad with a passion for vegan food, history, coffee, and equality.

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