I don’t exactly remember where I have heard this fairytale, I think it was my granny or perhaps it was my mother. I’d sit in awe as I listened intently, of how Belgium used to be long ago. But this is a story about true love and fantasy.
Centuries before now, every night at twelve, a girl and a boy would meet on the old cobblestone bridge overlooking the lake. She would sit on the stones, legs tucked under a long, crimson dress, hair tied back away from a pale face, showing off her defined features. Her tapering fingers would fiddle with a golden pendant she wore around her neck until her prince would arrive.
He’d stand on the cobbles beside her, blue eyes watching his ashen beauty stand to embrace him. Each night he would plant a gentle kiss on her left cheek, before walking hand in hand across the bridge. At the time when the town slept, the pair would run through the lanes and past the little houses. Just to feel the night breeze rush past them, and the moonlight caressing their skin so softly, it was perfect.
Eventually, they would slow down and walk calmly down one street lined with trees. It felt never-ending, that’s what they loved most about it. When it really did end, he would produce a shimmering apple from his robe and place it in her cupped hands, awaiting the favour. Hidden by the shadows of the church courtyard, he would kiss her more passionately, until their time to part once again loomed.
It was a beautiful romance. However, all things turn sour eventually. The young prince’s brother adored the beauty of the pale girl, and craved her touch for himself. One night he decided to poison the apple his brother took as a gift each night. If the girl could not be his, she could not belong to anyone.
The lovers felt the rain patter on their flesh that night. As their clothes and hair began to dampen, the prince handed his angel the apple, and watched her lips touch it’s smooth exterior in order to take a bite. To his shock, she began to choke. As her breathing grew more and more uneasy, her body fell to the cobbles, and the rosy apple was released from limp hands, only to roll into the lake they used to so fondly gaze into.
The prince sunk to his knees and gathered her up in his arms. Kissing her cold forehead, he cradled her body in his, weeping on the steps of the church. The legend goes that he died there, holding her still, frozen from the cold and rain. Yet their souls were united again.
Perhaps one day, when I am in the land of Flanders, I will remember this story when I look down from the bridge onto the lake. The town may have changed, but sometimes the past can be resurfaced, especially whenever an apple floats in the water under the moonlight of a fairytale Belgium