My parents scowl at me like I’ve insulted them to their cores. All because I’ve professed my love for our stable-hand.
No, he is not of noble blood, but he has the heart of a prince.
Why can’t they see that?
I feel like Juliet. Forbidden to love my Romeo.
“This is not done!” My father yells.
My mouth opens to protest, but my love stops me with a gentle touch.
His eyes are full of some hidden torture and I know by the set of his mouth that he has given up. “They are right, beloved.”
The words are like jolts of electricity. Painful and sharp.
My parents fight to be the first to agree with him.
“Don’t say such a thing. You’re better than any I could ever wish for!”
He only shakes his head and his shoulders droop. “I thought I could forget.” He says, “I thought I could pretend I was someone else, but if I am to love you right, then we must heed your parents.” His eyes plead with me to understand.
But I don’t.
He takes a breath and I know he’s steeling himself for what’s next. “I’ve been living a lie. For a while you helped me forget the truth, but I am not who you think. I’m a monster, not worthy to love you for even a day, let alone a life time.”
I stop him. “How can you say that?”
“I was born of fire and earth. Born of lightning. I’m cursed, a half human!”
My parents and I gasp.
The full meaning of his words are not lost on us.
The room floods with light. Bright and hot. Wind whips at my dress and hair and I fall to my knees on our marble floor as the rumble disperses. We are no longer alone.
I know who’s come.
Blinking, I scan the room for them and even though I’m expecting to see them, the sight of them makes my heart jump to my throat.
The king and queen are standing in my living room.
The queen’s eyes are full of tears and within a moment she’s standing before my love. Her hand lifting to his creased brow. “My son.” She says, “You’ve been lost to us for so long.”
“I don’t understand.” He says.
The queen tucks his unruly fringe behind his ear, “Your were stolen, cursed to forget us. It is only because you’ve voiced your identity that we were released to see you. You are our son. Born of fire and earth. Born of lightning.”
My parents fill the precious moment with their nattering and flattery. Effectively ruining the reunion. “We knew it the instant we saw him, your majesties. And fortune has favored us, for our daughter has claimed his heart.”
I cringe. Feeling a bit like Elizabeth Bennett at the ball, watching her family ruin their good name with foolish and cavalier words.
It is now I who is unworthy.
And I’m not the only one who thinks so. The queen scans me from head to toe. Her look is quick, but I feel like I’ve stepped into an airport body scanner. Every ugly detail of my frame exposed to strangers.
There’s nothing I can do to escape the scrutiny.
Before I can say or do anything to try and gain favor in her sight, my love lifts me off my feet, spinning me in circles. “This is joy itself and we shall be married, as soon as possible!”
He sets me down and I peak at the queen.
Her mouth quirks as if she’s tasted something unpleasant, but then a smile fills her face and she agrees to the match. “But first,” She says, “We must celebrate your return to us.”
A celebration is planned. A black and white affair.
The palace is decked to the nines, chandeliers sparkle with diamonds, long tables are covered with all variety of delicacies and people twirl around me with the elegance and grace of swans.
They smile prettily at me, but I feel like Eliza Doolittle at the races. Afraid that at any moment they will discover I don’t belong.
I catch the gaze of the queen.
I know I should go to her, make some sort of amends. I run my hands down the white muslin of my skirt. Hoping she will be pleased by my choice.
She greets me with a smile, but the light doesn’t touch her eyes.
“I wanted to thank you.” I say.
The queen turns to one of her many maids and shares a look with her. It makes my stomach turn. “Oh, girl.” She says, turning back to me, “This marriage will not come to pass. I’ve already set things into motion that will ruin your family name for good and the kingdom will scorn you.”
“They will blame you and your family for all the evils my son has endured and then I will find him a suitable bride. One who’s worthy of his station.”
I find my feet backing away. What can I say?
My only hope is to find my love.
My feet run through the corridors, down long twisting stairs. I know I’ll find him soon and everything will be set right, but then a dreaded sound fills the air.
I know I must hurry, but it’s too late and the familiar buzz of an alarm calls me away.