Hello again, Ancient Foe.

Years have hunched my bony shoulders, but I forget nothing.

Lo, though you may say “Who are you, again?”, I know who you are all too well, and that is my enemy — today, tomorrow, forever. Not even the thousand shouting voices of the Dark Ones can erase the bitter knowledge that you, and not I, received the “Best Art Student” certificate in our third-grade art class. This despite the fact that I was obviously the harder worker! Though my blood may turn to sand, my bones to dust, my rage will scream eternal on the night winds. Cursed are the works of your fingers, which spun a painting of a black kitten in a pumpkin into blue-ribbon status at the local school board office. It is I, moss-covered woods-crone, who knows the wicked truth: said seasonal feline was technically proficient, but also utterly uninspired and, indeed, partially traced from a calendar (a practice your reptilian mind repeated throughout your despicable career). Your art was not potent enough even to call a true familiar to your aid!

There are those who may say “Surely a wise woman would have moved on from this silly shit by now?” No. Never. My spite is a tonic. That tonic tastes delicious and cool as it slips ’twixt my lips. I cry, regularly, at the unknowable sky, “See this drink that hydrates me? It is my spite! Spite for my childhood nemesis! And, though the years have passed and my face hath turned to a papery mask of horror, still this spite tastes sweet as mothers milk! Yea, verily!” Yes, Ancient Foe, these are the things I say of you in the dark of midnight.

I believe it was Britney Spears who said, “Memory is a burden.” I’m sure it was Britney Spears who said, “It’s Britney, bitch.” How many times have I whispered to myself, balanced on the slim cusp of sleep, “It’s Sabrina, bitch” and imagined your face contracting into a surprised “O” of terror? Many times, ancient foe. Many upon many. And why terror? Because of the dread knowledge of your wrongs! You betrayed the artist’s mission: to push boundaries, to ask questions, to elevate the everyday sludge into gold. Instead, you took the easier path. You played to the base emotions of the crowd. And I, a sentimental fool, thought I had a chance! Of course, the conclusion was foregone. You won. You always won. Among your many prizes may or may not have been a modest gift certificate to a conveniently located Greek and Italian eatery, whose thin-crust pizza, in particular, was a handsome offering. I hope that their perfectly crisped flatbread burnt your tongue most profoundly, and the waiter was slow to bring iced water in your aid.

Of course, with age comes wisdom. Each groaning rotation of the earth sees my pity for you grow. Though you won plaudits for your weepy and tender graphite rendering of a pair of hands delicately holding a premature infant — copied (again) from a calendar (again!) — you could never match the whirlwind of pure artistic energy that spurred me to create a colored pencil depiction of fishwives and laundresses inhabiting a fantastical marketplace. There aren’t enough calendars in the world to inspire true vision.

I am a woman at peace with her life. This is evidenced by the gentle contemplation with which I’m able to consider your past egregious transgressions against me, Ancient Foe. Even the most despicable beings (you) are worthy of occasional sympathy from wise and entirely self-confident and content humans (me). The repetition of your smallest slights (I still cannot believe that calendar bullshit) in my head, day after day, is merely a natural meditation by one who’s disgusted by injustice in all its forms — particularly those forms that impact me, personally, and my tender-yet-prickly creative soul. Some might say this denotes pettiness, even obsession, but to that I say, firmly and confidently: “Nuh-unh.”

I can only assume, Ancient Foe, that you’re deeply unhappy and unsuccessful. I presume you’ve been drinking burnt coffee and finding mysterious hairs in every meal for the last ten years. So mote it be, and please don’t inform me if it’s otherwise.