The Princess Wishes for Her Own Ending
Elena M. Aponte
There is always a sword, and miles of forest and walls she cannot see beyond. There is always a father, and he is always a reluctant warrior who detests violence yet ignores the slights he makes against his only daughter. They will never understand each other, and he will always die, and she will always be alone.
She is hungry for blood and dirt, not the cold stone walls or the warm spring pools where she bathes, or even the sweet perfumes her maidservants comb into her inevitably long, inevitably blonde hair. She is told she is beautiful so many times she does not know who she is. Her beauty is said to resemble her mother’s, and yet her dead beautiful mother’s face she’s never seen will reflect in all of her mirrors. Beauty in words only, not of action.
There is always a curse, a prophecy, a destiny she must fulfill or else be consumed by darkness. There is always a boy who will love her. A boy whose life she will ruin in what will be said is in the name of love and sacrifice but how is she supposed to know what love is, when this version of love is just asking a boy to die for her?
Even when all the prophecies promise ruin by her sixteenth, eighteenth, or twenty-first year, even with her sunlit kingdom is promised to burn, the princess will only feel the shadow of lost time looming over her. And she will fight it.
So obsessed was her father of the fabled sword that she destroys it. Desperate to own herself. Desperate to change. Desperate for the boy whom she doesn’t know and hasn’t met not to die, not to fall in love with her, not to have this sword. She wonders who could have anticipated this? Who would have thought the perfect, sad, beautiful girl in the gleaming dresses and gold shoes would do something this terrible, this awful?
She does not know she is not the first princess to do this. There is always a princess who refuses, who rebels, who claws desperately toward her own future. She will be no different. As the blade turns molten and shatters, a shard catches across her skin, stinging hot and blooming red, and so thrilled is she to see a mistake, a marring, of her beauty. At least she’s made her own choice.
She is too aware of the weight of her braids and thinks to cut them off with one of the shards in hopes to singe it, make it permanent. She does not know she is not the first princess to do this, either. Her hair will grow back. She will remain unchanged, even after this. She will wait in the bath and the skies will darken and she will hear the boy’s voice in her dreams for the first time, and the maidservants will comb the knots and braid her mistakes back into beauty.
Unflinching, terrible beauty.