There is no question, then: The man takes the injured crane into his home and tends to it with great patience and care. The crane seems to understand his intent, and so allows the touch of his rough hands, the stink of wood smoke and musk that stings. She bears it as best she can. Eventually, she recovers.
There is no question, then: The man must release her. He has no use for a crane, no matter how beautiful. He takes her out of the woods. The sky stretches out. The crane flies far.
But that is not where this tale ends.
most people will read this story about a woman delivered from domestic abuse as beautiful and triumphant, but i’m the lady on the fringes going “wellllll….”
this part got my goat:View Spoiler » “Marry me,” you say, fumbling the ring. You have only one free hand. The other holds a bag of frozen peas to her swollen rib cage. “We’ll go away from here. We’ll start over.”
There is a moment when her eyes slide away to the magazines and bundled script pages, the view from the new apartment, the billboards and city beyond. It is just a moment. Her gaze returns to you, red and puffy as a poppy gone to rot.
“Marry me,” you ask again. When you try to smooth away her tears, you only manage to rub the salt into her skin. It is then that she shows you the unsigned contract that came with the diamond and platinum monstrosity that has taken your place on her ring finger. Through your tears, she is someone you cannot recognize, bare-faced and broken.
an actress who enters into a publicity-orchestrated relationship with an abusive man she doesn’t love while the woman whom she’s been in a long-term secret relationship loyally covers up the bruises he leaves is offered multiple chances to get away and doesn’t because she likes the fame too much? that’s a hard ask, reader-sympathy-wise. i understand how difficult it is to get out of an abusive relationship when there’s an emotional attachment blinding the way out of it, but staying in a sham relationship as a calculated business decision, while shitting all over someone* who’s demonstrably invested themselves to your well-being seems like the inevitable result of someone who’s made their own shitty bed. am i saying she deserves to be abused? obviously not, but it’s a price she’s choosing to pay to keep her face on billboards, and since she’s accepting the consequences of this ‘relationship’ for her own ambition, my sympathies are 100% wth the woman who’s picking up her pieces back at their home, applying make-up to her lover with such abject devotion. this isn’t presented as a harvey weinstein situation, where she was railroaded into something and her career would be jeopardized if she didn’t comply; it’s depicted as a publicist thinking it’d be cute and lucrative if two co-stars had an offscreen romance. there aren’t any professional repercussions for backing out, so it comes across more selfish than sympathetic. « Hide Spoiler
i am one staunch bitch. still, the crane wife fragments were terribly lovely, and proof that i don’t lack empathy, i just can’t hand it out like halloween candy to people courting their own destruction.
three-and-a-half, rounded up, because it’s beautifully told, but this led horse ain’t drinking that water.**
read it for yourself here: