“When I walk, I walk with you. Where I go, you're with me always.”
~Alice Hoffman~~The Story Sisters
I saw my world as Elv did. Elv the eldest of the three girls in Alice Hoffman’s novel The Story Sisters. She is the main character of the work. I loved The Story Sisters from the moment I picked it up, and as it is with such a wonderful story, I never did put it back down.
“It’s pancreatic cancer,” the doctor said grimly. I took in a sharp breath before asking the obvious question. Will it be fatal? I could tell by the doctor’s expression that he was as ignorant to a person’s fate as I was. It wasn’t his fault, I knew that one survivor stood for every dozen that didn’t. I knew that no amount of love or worry was going to change how the story would end. I locked my emotions away. Crying was a worthless weapon.
Elv knew loss from an early age. Loss of trust, loss of safety, loss of love, she understood that feelings were a weakness. She locked her heart away and tried desperately to stop caring. She never could quite manage it though and instead of allowing others to hurt her, she hurt herself first. What was pain added to more pain, it was nothing at all.
“Had you loved him?” I asked myself that sunny day I saw their wedding invitation. I think I did, in a very peculiar way. I loved his smile, his laughter, the fact he could somehow steal anything from anywhere. I’d loved the way he hugged me, as if he hadn’t seen me in decades and he always hung on longer than most huggers did. I knew I had loved him, but I also knew why. He changed who I was when I was with him. I became the best version of myself. Loving him was like loving me too. I suddenly hoped that the girl on the invitation hugged him longer than anyone else did and that when he was with her he felt extraordinary. I missed him. I missed myself.
Elv fell in love, she found her Prince. Only it’s not always that clear. Her Prince was flawed because she had fallen in love with a human. Elv had taken on the weakness of love, but was unprepared for how heavy love could be. When it came to the day that love was lost, I, as well as Elv, understood that love could be your greatest strength, even in sadness. We understood that true love was meant to be effortless.
“I think she’s a hopeless case,” he said. I had wondered the same thing about her myself. Up close, it certainly seemed that way. Even she told us to forget about her. I was angry and hurt but I’d known her all her life. I’d seen her first steps, I had known how to rock her to sleep, I’d been watching her even when she thought I was paying no attention at all. I knew that people didn’t change completely. She was still inside, beneath the rage, the pain and the scars. Like a seed beneath the earth, she was there, and one day she would bloom. On that day, I would feel our unbreakable connection turn her walls to ash. I knew she was there; I just needed to wait for her.
Elv’s story is about waiting. It’s about waiting for someone to save you, and the harsh lesson that one must ultimately save themselves. Her story is about blood. That you can spill it with your tongue, that it binds us all the same. Elv’s is a story of coping. Of knowing things aren’t going to work out the way you’d planned. That the right person’s arms can make all the difference in the world. The importance of feeling the pain when you’re ready. Her story is a fairytale. The good and evil can look eerily similar, patience is essential; love is what makes you fight for your kingdom. Elv’s story is mine, and perhaps it is yours as well.
I don’t think I could ever thank Alice Hoffman enough for giving me Elv’s story.
It gives me hope for my own.
All My Love,