That night, she sold her heart off to that charming boy and forever lost it. Under the full moon, she wept for the love she never had, for the love that never was, for the love that will never be. Her tears ran rivers down her face until she had no more and could only lay there tangled in the flimsy gossamer shawl. Silently shaking. Exhausted. She had escaped from her tower only to be trapped by the wall. She had found her savior only to be forlorn. She just watched the full moon.
She thought back to all the times they had shared together. She remembered their stolen secreted kisses, she remembered how he had gently stroked her face, brushing her hair behind her ears. She remembered the hesitant soft brush of his lips. She remembered the way she clung to him, so afraid to let go.
She thought about how they first met. The twinkling golden lights cascading down upon the shimmering dresses and newly shined black leather shoes, the glittering jewels and red-lipped smiles. She remembers trading secret glances, peeking out at him from behind her fan while he pretended not to notice. The air was as rosy as her flushed cheeks when their eyes met.
How she had loved him. She would sneak away from the maids, from the guards, from all the watchful eyes and judiciary looks. He would take her far away from her world. And with him, she could forget. She could forget her world, carelessly throw all of it away for his promises. He had promised smiles and kisses, freedom and happiness. He had kissed her knuckles and promised to come back, to save her. Promised on this night to take her away forever.
His promises were sweet and she consumed them hungrily. She ate them up and licked her fingers and relished the relief she felt as the sugar dissolved on her tongue. But that’s all that they were: momentary bliss. And now she was left with the harsh aftertaste of reality.
He was just a peasant boy and his love was for her power, for her money, for the position he could get through her. His love could not hold her and all her wants and needs. His love could easily be bought away with money, the promise of a title, and for such things, he left her with his broken promises.
How could she not have known? What a fool she was. And what a pitiful romance she had.
As she rose from the ground, there was no more sign of the girl she once was. But inside the girl she once was still screamed, howling in pain and grief, rage and sorrow. The girl still clung to hope that he would magically appear and whisk her away. The girl refused to see the truth.
But the woman she became knew. She knew the truth. He wanted to be her Cinderella as much as she wanted to his Rapunzel. Their love was a hollow manifestation of their need for a savoir. But they could not save each other. No one could save her anymore.
With the rise of the sun, her last possibility of escape disappeared and her freedom was forever sealed away. Her fate had come to gather her.
The guards found her first, yelling at each other and at her to speak. She did nothing. She feared that if she spoke, she would be unable to contain the hot waves of anger that broiled inside. Anger at her life, anger at him for his promises, anger at herself for believing it. And so she shrouded herself in the numbness. It was comforting, accepting; it muffled the screams of the girl inside.
Then came the bustling maids like a flock of geese, squawking at her as they herded her inside to her chambers. There, they plucked the dirt-smeared dress off her body, doused her in hot water, scrubbed her, cleaned her, dressed her, painted her face pale and lips bloody, and fastened that dreadful ruby choker around her neck.
They called her “Princess” and they referred to her as “Your Majesty” but at times like this, she had to wonder who was in charge of who. But this was not anything new. It was always like this. Whether she liked it or not, this was her life. Her inescapable reality soon to be solidified in front of the whole world. Today was her coronation.
As she walked down the road of crimson red, the faces around her blurred like a watery painting. These would be the faces she would see for the rest of her life, watching her, judging her, glaring and admiring her. She would have all the time in the world to familiarize herself with them. But not now.
Because her gaze was focused on a crumpled girl laying in a heap at the foot of the throne. She recognized that girl. That girl who screamed silently, who no one seemed to hear or see or notice. This peculiar girl who looked just like her. It was the girl from inside who still clung to sweet promises.
“What happened to you?” the girl sobbed. “You used to be so full of hope, you used to have such a big heart. What happened?”
Something inside broke. She sneered, leaning in close to the girl’s face. Her voice was a disgusted snarl. “Life happened. I just finally learned the truth.”
She straightened, looking down revulsion.
“Hope and love is for the weak. Yes, that’s what I was. What you are. But I have grown. I’ve grown stronger. This is who I am now.”
She turned swiftly and strode to the throne. The whimpering girl cowered before disappearing. “If the world wants to make me a queen, I’ll give them a queen.”
Turning to regard her people, her subjects, her kingdom, she was a woman who was elegant, majestic, beautiful, strong, powerful and dangerous. She was heartless.