Once upon a time there was a girl named Elena who most people thought of as kind and gentle and nice. Nice — the most damning of words — not someone to ever be concerned with. The kind of girl who would never interrupt, shout, or say a bad word about anyone.
Elena spoke little and what she said was always in a soft voice. She worked at the village grocery shop and no matter how troubling the customer she was always polite and patient. On the morning of her sixteenth birthday a woman, who looked like she could suck nails right out of the wall, marched up to her.
"How much for these apples?”
“Tuppence a pound ma’am.”
“Tuppence? For this? Look at this hole — worms are feasting in there — just like they’re feasting in your brains.”
“Sorry about that ma’am — I’ll throw it away. Do forgive me, I can’t sell them for any less, but you can talk to the grocer.”
“What good are you? The most worthless piece of trash.”
Elena thought, “I saw you push your finger in that apple. I hope the worms slowly eat you up until there is nothing left.”
But she said, “Sorry again ma’am, you are most probably right.”
The following day the woman was found dead and by the end of the week she was deep in the ground being eaten by worms. Elena of course did not consider her death had anything to do with her black thoughts. Who would? The crazy fleeting ideas that rattle against the cage door of your filters — the sinful things your brain whispers in the dark of your mind — they never come true.
Later the village creep stopped by the grocery shop. The girl felt something brush down her long hair and she shivered.
"Sir, I did not see you there. Can I help you with something?"
“Yes. Yes. Please. I’m looking for firm, but soft fruit.”
“We have plenty of fruit, sir. They are on the other side as you can see.”
“I usually go for ripe melons, but today I want something a bit sweeter. Something smaller and moist. Something covered in a soft fuzzy layer.”
His hard fingers barely glanced along the downy hair of her arm. Elena gritted her teeth and paled.
Elena thought, “I hope your fingers break and you rot in hell.”
But she said, “That would be a peach, sir. I’m afraid they are out of season.”
“I can wait. Maybe they’ll be in season soon.”
The next morning he fell down a well. His fingers smashed on the wall on the way down, splintering. He could barely hold onto the rope and nobody lived close enough to hear his calls. He rotted in hell — a fact that surprised no one.
A day later she walked past the boy who most occupied her thoughts. She looked down and blushed and said nothing. But inside Elena thought, “Look at those lips. I would so chew on them.”
He caught up to her and turned her around.
“I’ve not noticed you before and this is unlike me, but—”
He kissed her fully, but her mouth was agape from surprise and she closed it so quickly that she chomped down on his lip. He pulled back sharply and raised his hand to his mouth.
"Stupid clumsy cow."
His fingertips dripped with blood. She ran back home crying.
At dinner her younger sister told her whole family what had happened.
"That’s why she’s been crying. The boy she likes hates her now."
Elena shook her head as her little sister paused to bite into a roll.
Elena thought, “I hope you choke on that.”
But instead she said, “Please, pass the butter.”
Her younger sister began to turn red and cough. She clutched at the table cloth and pulled at her throat.
Elena knew immediately what she had done. She had damned her sister with her evil thoughts, just like she had caused the boy’s lip to bleed, the creep to fall down the well and the woman to be eaten by worms.
Elena’s hands shook under the table as she watched her father and mother try and save her sister. Her face lost all colour as her sister’s face turned from red to purple to blue.
For months after Elena stayed hidden away in her room. She would not talk to anyone. She took all of her meals alone with the door firmly closed. She tried not to think evil thoughts, but she could not help it.
A mocking bird lost it’s voice.
The grocer’s vegetables rotted overnight.
A rash of babies were conceived all through the village as Elena in a fit of weakness thought what they could all go do together.
She opened her door and saw the fretful look on her mother’s face.
Elena thought, “How can I ever control my thoughts? I should just jump in the river and drown.”
But instead she said, “Don’t worry Mother, I’m fine now, going to get some fresh air.”
She ran straight to the stone bridge and jumped into the river without hesitation. Her thick woolen clothes dragged her quickly to the bottom. Her world faded from deep emerald to palest green.
Elena woke again to a bright light, like the fierce rapture of heaven, but instead of an angel her eyes resolved a darker face. The ebony tones of a young fisherman who looked down at her with concern.
He was dripping wet just like her. She looked up into his deep brown eyes as he spoke.
"Why would you, so full of promise, decide to do that?"
It took her a while to respond, she was held spellbound by the darkness of his hands against the paleness of her arm. She felt so safe and content in his hold.
"Whatever evil thoughts I think come true."
Elena shook her head and looked down, but he softly raised her chin back up so that he could look again into her eyes.
"Then why not say them aloud and rid them of power?"
Elena cleared her throat.
"I wish you would hold me like this each day for the rest of my life."
He smiled at her and nodded. The young fisherman and the foul-mouthed girl lived happily ever after.