The prince of a long forgotten kingdom saw her light, and wanted it for himself. He pursued her relentlessly, with promises of great adventures. The girl resisted, for her freedom was worth more than anything the prince could surely offer, but the girl’s family encouraged her to tame herself, and begin a life of stability and honour. And so, she agreed.
But the rules were strict, the crown heavy, and the dresses tight. She traded freedom for false stability and felt regret almost immediately. The very light that the prince had pursued was blinding him, and he felt rage being left in her shadow. He made it his mission to dim the princess and steal her light for his own.
From the outside, the new princess had a perfect life: after all, she had a castle, and a prince, and eventually, small heirs to her kingdom. She was strong and outspoken, kind and friendly, smart and talented, and oh so very lucky.
All the villagers around her marveled at her life, but the truth was that the princess was a caged bird. She could no longer frolic in the fields, she could no longer make new acquaintances in the market, she was told to be less, to be quiet, and her pursuits were now silly and inconsequential in light of her new royal role. She felt bound, lifeless, and desolate.
She sought love, and was given silence. She sought support, and was told to look elsewhere. She sought adventure, but was kept caged. She sought help, and was left alone. All that was left were the rules of what the prince wanted her to be, opposing in stark contrast the girl he once so relentlessly pursued.
She found little joy in the confines of the carefully constructed world she was in. She was empty, and her light had been snuffed. She retreated into herself, finding solace in the dark corners of isolation. If she built a wall of her own making, the castle mote would not seem as daunting. One day, in her lonely wanderings, she discovered secrets in the castle walls; they were filled with moldy guilt and filthy treaties and she knew she could not abide by the terrible things done in her kingdom.
When she confronted the prince about the things his armies had done, he cast her aside and denied the heirs their throne. He would make her pay for speaking up. He would make her regret her using her voice. He would hold her prisoner forever, never to see the sunlight again. He locked her down, and she plotted her escape.
She had given her life to the kingdom, where would she go? The darkness of the dungeon overtook her, but each day, she would remove the crown from her weary head, and use it’s sharp edges to carve a bigger and bigger hole in the stone wall, until one day, a small ray of sunshine blasted in. She knew if she just kept trying, she’d reach freedom.
On the day she finally exploded through those walls, the princess gathered her children and escaped to the forest, lungs filled with the air she missed so much. For a long time, the princess and her children hid in the forest depths, quietly gathering their strength. Many days, the princess felt like breathing was all she could accomplish, but her children sat patiently next to her. She lived as though in a dream world – unsure how this new reality had happened.
In the depths of the protective forest, it became difficult to tell night from day – how long had they been hiding? Anxious and fearful, the princess remained lifeless and hidden.
And then one day, the princess awoke with a start, to find her children kneeling next to her.
“Mommy, enough. We need you now,” was all they said, and with that, the princess felt a warm light inside her.
She remembered that feeling.
The strength. The power. The happiness. The freedom.
She stood slowly, brushing the leaves and mud from her dirty gown, taking her children’s hands in her own, and walked out of the cool forest into the sunshine. Chins to the sky, all three of them could feel their futures.
As they marched towards the village, they happened upon a strawberry patch. As the princess bent down to pick the berries, her dress tore, and she ripped the confining fabric apart. She carefully picked the berries, placing them in the fabric torn from her gown, and carried them to the market where she sold them. With the first batch of berries sold, she bought a swatch of fabric to make a shelter for her and the children. With the next, she bought new seeds to plant new crops. It wasn’t long until the princess and her children had enough to buy the land on which her garden grew.
With each effort, came new rewards. The days were exhausting, and each night a sweet relief, but the princess realized that the hard work was well worth the freedom. Never again would she sacrifice herself.
Together, the princess and her children carved a new quiet life for themselves, in the shadow of the prince’s kingdom.
True, they would never be royalty, but they would know unending love, and together live happily ever after.