Emily Rae Robles

the paradoxymoron

The Princess Becomes a Pauper

Once upon a time, there was a princess named Sirya. As is typical of most fairy tale princesses, she was beloved by her parents, subjects, and loyal court. Despite her stereotypical royality, however, one factor remained that separated her from the rest of princesses whose fairy tales have graced nursery shelves: she was hated by animals. Dogs, cats, lizards, pigeons, rats, dragons—they all despised her. It was not a curse laid upon her by some vengeful witch, nor was it a prophesied attribute which pointed to future battles and hope for the kingdom. No, it was simply a personal flaw with which she was forced to live during her entire princess-hood.This story is not about how Princess Sirya overcame whatever it was that caused her to be so repulsive to animals. Rather, it is about two creatures of the kingdom who managed to overcome their initial repulsion in order to befriend the poor princess. Sort of.

In any other existence, Princess Sirya would be perfectly capable of living a perfectly normal life with perfectly normal friends, even if none of them were animals. However, as a fairy tale princess living in a fairy tale kingdom, much was expected of her. Everyone knew that witches hated animal s while princesses loved them and befriended them; this was the one and only significant difference between the two subspecies of humanity (other than the fact that witches were prone to carving peasants’ hearts out as a regular past time.) As a great source of hatred and fear amongst the animal kingdom, Princess Sirya was viewed by all as unfortunately evil.Do not be mistaken—they still loved her and remained loyal to her, but parents passing by would shield their children’s eyes from this mutant of princesshood. Worst of all, the local princes all considered her absolutely not an option when it came to arranged marriages or chivalrous rescuing, since the idea of allowing such bad luck into their castles provoked total horror in their cultured minds.

Princess Sirya, of course, being a normal, well-educated princess, found her nationwide revulsion quite disconcerting. After all, it wasn’t her fault animals preferred to remain outside a mile radius from her chambers. She held no grudges or even dislikes against them, except the mosquitoes, which were prone to biting her as often as possible. She couldn’t help it that the rats that occupied her bedroom walls preferred not to be dressed up in leftover rags, nor could she force the birds outside her window to join her in song and dance every morning as she bathed. In fact, Princess Sirya rather disliked singing. It reminded her of the mosquitoes that so often buzzed around her head. Despite her shortcomings, however, Princess Sirya was a fairly down-to-earth young girl, so she decided simply to accept her faults and make the best of her situation. After all, not every girl could call herself a princess.

Little did Princess Sirya know that before long, even she would no longer be able to call herself a princess. On her sixteenth birthday, which is when most princesses in her universe were married off, her parents lovingly informed her that since she had no suitors and thus no interested princes, she was no longer eligible to remain their child. Although (former) Princess Sirya found their arguments completely unsound, she respected her parents’ wishes by packing up her bags and moving to a small hut in the country that they had kindly purchased her.

Any other exiled princess would have made the most of their situation by immediately befriending a horde of small woodland creatures that would assist them with the duties of normal peasant life with which she was so unaccustomed. Sirya, for obvious reasons, was unable to utilize this particular subsection of former subjects. Thus, she was forced to learn how to dress herself, bathe herself, make her own meals, grow her own food, and clean her own humble abode. The worst part was the plowing. It is extremely difficult to plow when every horse in the kingdom gallops away as soon as he catches a whiff of your previously-royal scent. But Sirya managed on her own, even despite the neighbors who treated her civility but offered her nothing close to friendship.

One day, early in the spring when the snow was melting but the ground was still too frozen to plant seeds, Sirya was shivering under her threadbare blankets and dreading leaving her bed to prepare breakfast when she heard a knock at the door. This in itself was unusual because very few people, dwarves, or other creatures ever knocked at her door. The mailman did, once; he was a rather stupid ogre who hadn’t yet heard the news that the unlucky princess was exiled to his paper route. The rest of the knocks were usually mischief-loving youngsters who would balance a bucket of snow, mud, water, or whatever else was handy on her door and then run off chuckling. Although Sirya desperately did not want to open the door to a similar surprise on this particular morning, she knew that such pranksters did not usually venture out of their own huts this early in the morning. Groaning with pain from the bruise left on her backside last time she caught a horse unawares, she dragged herself out of bed and gloomily opened the door, automatically stepping away from it in case she was wrong about the early hours of her prankster friends.

She wasn’t.

For the first time in the year since she had been banished to this corner of the kingdom, she opened the door to a human being who looked her in the eye and actually smiled at her. Not only that, an oblivious-looking but kind of cute goat stood by this stranger’s side, and actually bleated at her with, she realized with surprise, a friendly-sounding sort of bleat.

“Hello?” she greeted, still wary of the motives of her visitors.

“GOOOOOOD morning!” the stranger returned heartily. “And isn’t it great to see YOU on this fine morning. I hope you’re doing fine? Glad to hear it, glad to hear it. May I come in for just a moment, out of this insufferable cold?”

Still in shock at what she deemed genuine good-heartedness, Sirya wordlessly opened the door wider. The man (who she had to admit was quite handsome) bestowed yet another gleaming smile upon her and entered her cluttered hall, thanking her profusely as he kicked the mud off of his worn boots.

“What a fantastic place you have here!” he marveled, surveying the dark room. Sirya raised her eyebrows, mentally reviewing all the corners she would have dusted, dishes she would have done, and clothes and books she would have put away if she had ever thought that she’d have had a visitor in the next million years. Regardless, she figured that she might as well take advantage of such a rare social opportunity, especially when it involved such a good-looking young man.

“Do you…need anything?” Sirya asked, knowing that no neighbor in their right mind would venture into her kitchen to borrow a tainted, animal-repelling egg.

“Only good, old-fashioned companionship!” the stranger replied with another ear-splitting grin. As Sirya pondered what type of mental disorder this man could possibly have, he suddenly grew more serious as he continued, “I’ve been traveling for a good three weeks in this weather, on foot, with no company but Georgie here” (he nudged the goat)”so as soon as I saw the first signs of civilization, I jumped out of my boots with joy. I don’t suppose you have any bacon?”

Sirya did, and as she clumsily burned it on her malfunctioning stovetop, the man, who revealed his name to be Alan, continued his life story. It involved lots of adventure, a multitude of vicious ogres, and very little pocket change. Although Sirya saw no sign of a weapon on his person that could have possibly held off the entire swarm of ogres that lived down in the caves by the river, she decided not to argue with the glimmer of danger that appeared in Alan’s eye as he recalled the events exactly as they happened. Before she knew what was happening, she found herself spilling her own life story: how the animals hated her and the subjects feared her off-putting qualities, how she really didn’t know how to grow garden peas, and how she missed her mother and father, even though they had banished her with nary so much as a goodbye hug.By this time, the bacon was really burned.

“Sirya, I am so sorry for your hardships,” Alan said sorrowfully as she concluded her story by throwing the flaming remains of her only dishtowel into the sink. He leaned forward and gazed into her eyes. “Why don’t you come with me and be my companion in my travels? We can be married tomorrow.”

Sirya was shocked at this display of affection, not because it would seem out of the blue to many, but because she was still not accustomed to guests who asked her the time of day, let alone her hand in marriage. Figuring that this was her one chance to leave the neighborhood she had grown to hate, she shrugged her shoulders and answered , “Why not? But only if Georgie doesn’t mind.” The latter part of her response stemmed more from her fear that Georgie would betray her identity as the animal-hated princess than from any belief that he would actually provide input. Although all local animals could talk, few of them cared enough to comment on more than the state of their food. It was much to her surprise then that Georgie looked up at her and, clear as day, said,

“Princess, don’t you dare trust this man. Ogres, my hoof. He’s a traveling salesman and all he’s trying to do is scam some bacon off of you. He’ll leave you stranded by the side of the road as soon as he gets control of your property.”

Her mouth dropping open, Sirya glared at her newfound “friends”. “Is this true?” she asked wearily.

“I suppose so,” Alan answered honestly. “But since I still haven’t gotten any of your bacon, you don’t really have to worry about the rest of it yet.”

Sirya sighed, then pounded her fist on the table. “I don’t care if you ARE a traveling salesman,” she said angrily. “I hate this place and you can get me away from it. And I’d be careful about trying to scam me out of anything because whether they like it or not, my parents are the king and queen and there are a whole load of laws in place that will make it unspeakably difficult for a traveling salesman to take control of this hideous little hut. So I will absolutely marry you tomorrow, and we will roam the countryside bringing a new kind of terror to the people who rejected me: overpriced vacuum cleaners.”

Alan was so impressed by Sirya’s dedication to the job that he instantly sold Georgie to gain money for the marriage certificate. As soon as they were married, the reign of terror began, with the first victims becoming the neighbors who had spurned the under-appreciated ex-princess. With their pockets full of unsuspecting peasants’ money, Sirya and Alan set off to live a long and extremely prosperous life, full of bitterness and vacuum cleaners.

And thus, a new kind of witch was born, one who rode not on a broomstick, but on the much more modern version.

 

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February 5, 2011 - Posted by | stories, writings | , , ,

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