JUNE 7, 2004 (MONDAY)
A Fairy Tale
Once upon a time, there was a princess who lived alone in an enchanted castle. She was neither incredibly beautiful or graceful or delicate, but she had a good and generous heart and a pleasing disposition, and her name was generally praised by the villagers for miles. And that was how she lived for all of her life.
And so her name reached the wandering prince. Upon hearing about the princess and her life, he galloped straightaway to the castle and wooed the princess for a night and a day to come away with him on his gallant steed. And of course, the princess fell in love with the prince and consented to go away with him. And so they moved to another kingdom, and she gave him land to till and a castle to live in and knights to fight for him, and every night she gave her body and heart to him. And for a while, they were happy.
But then, being the wandering prince, he was never quite content to stay for long in one place. And so one spring morning, while the bluebirds were still asleep, he quietly left the bedchamber where the princess was still sleeping, and stole away to the stables where he silently saddled his horse and, with only a purse full of silver and his sword, galloped away from the land, from the castle, from his knights, and from the princess.
And so when the princess awoke, she was truly alone.
At first, she wept. She wept so much that a lake formed around her, until only her bed floated above the water. The lake was so clear that it was like a mirror, and each drop of water would transform into the purest crystal in your palm.
And then she was furious. She was so angry that her lake of tears dried up in the heat of her anger, and all that she was left with were traces of salt on the floor of the bedchamber. Her anger was so great that the walls of the castle shook and trembled, and the knights quickly leapt onto their steeds and escaped. Her anger was so great that even the wandering prince, who was already far, far away, heard her scream and shout and curse his name to the high heavens.
And then, finally, when the sun had set and the moon was shining like a disk of silver across the ebony sky, the princess gathered all her belongings and neatly placed them in a small bag. She also brought with her the gifts of the wandering prince, the trinkets that he gave her. She glanced at the table, where he left a beautiful gold-gilded pocket watch that she gave him the night before. For a moment, she wanted to cry again.
But then, she thought to herself, why should I cry again? I’ve cried for him already. And I’ve already gotten angry, and a fat lot of good that did to me. Now, I think I’d like to go home.
And so she straightened her shoulders, and tucked her hair behind her ears, and slung her bag over her back and proceeded to the stables, where she saddled the last horse and rode away into the evening. She followed sunrise and moonrise, sleeping in glens and grassy dens, and following the path that led back to her home. Sometimes she would dream of him sleeping beside her, her fingers brushing away stray curls of his hair, and she would wake up crying. But she never looked back.
And someday, she will reach her enchanted castle once more. And even though she looks worn and travel-stained, the gatekeepers will allow her to enter, and she will walk through the marble courtyard, where another prince will be waiting by the wishing well. He will take one look at her and realize that she was the one he has been waiting for his whole life. And he will hand her a rose, and kiss her gently on the cheek, and lead her back inside her home, where she belonged in the first place.