Happy Ever After

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
Can an old, faded storybook provide real hope for a grown woman?

Submitted: May 14, 2007

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Submitted: May 14, 2007

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Once upon a time... a little girl sat on her Daddy's lap, listening intently with eyes wide, as they read stories together from an old book. It was late and her father had already read her several fairy tales, but she begged him for just one more. With a conspiratorial smile, he agreed, both of them gleefully indulging in the decadence of an extra tale. The little girl gazed wistfully at the beautiful princesses, imagining herself wearing their opulent gowns. She booed the wicked witches and scary monsters and cheered the handsome prince as he defeated his enemies to claim the heroine's love with a gentle kiss.

In the corner of her bedroom, the little girl and her Daddy rocked gently in the whitewashed rocking chair, lost in the make-believe world of the old story book. All around them, fairies danced across the wallpaper and down the curtains that gently draped around the cottage window, which looked out to the fields and the starry night sky outside. A dolls house shaped like a fairy castle sat proudly atop a white painted wooden chest of drawers against one wall and fairy princess dolls lay on against the pink pillows on the bed.

Feeling safe and loved, leaning against her Daddy's chest, the little girl knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that one day she too would have a happy ending, like all the princesses in her story book.

* * * *

Happy endings do happen. They have to happen. Otherwise, why would they happen in fairy tales?

Alone, in the dark cold house, she stands. Now no longer a little girl in a fairy-filled bedroom, she catches sight of her reflection in the dusky mirror and sees the woman she has become. Hugging her arms to her body, she tries to subdue the shaking in her frame - a painful combination of intense anger and bitter cold. How did it come to this?

The memory of her father makes her throat tight and she swallows hard to keep the tears at bay. Despite her effort, the tears come, her sobs strong and violent as the longing cuts like a knife through to her very soul.

How did it come to this? The question repeats slowly in her mind, rolling over and over like distant thunder.

Her intentions had been the best - she had promised to love and keep loving no matter what. But the man she so desperately wanted to be her happy ending had lied to her. He had woven dreams around her until she was caught up in his promises, then revealed the awful truth as stories of hate and betrayal, devouring her soul from the inside out. The man she loved and would have gone to the ends of the earth for slowly retreated, leaving her cold and rejected, alone in a world she no longer recognised.

Silence has become her only companion in this house. In silence, she has borne every snub, every offense, every blow. In silence she has wept beside him, every night for the past six years. She has maintained her painful silence until today. Until this very moment. Until she found the book.

It was hidden beneath piles of papers she had brought with her when she entered this house, ten long years ago, as almost a different person – a hopeful optimist, caught up in the irresistible promise of his love.

“Clear your rubbish from the attic,” he’d said that morning as he was leaving, “Get your crap out of my space, OK?”

Obediently, she had climbed the rusting ladder to the attic, black bin bags in hand, and spent three hours opening dusty boxes, choking in the thick, musty air. Amidst the dross of her former life – university papers, notebooks and paperback books with yellowing pages – her story book was revealed.

Now she gazes down through misty eyes at the worn leather cover in her hands and carefully opens it again. The old, fading pages seem to light up her face, filling the room with a warmth it has not possessed for years. Old friends smile up at her - beautiful faces and handsome eyes, pink castles and magical landscapes. They are willing strength into her aching, bruised limbs and soothing her scarred brow. She leans closer, almost as if hearing their whispered voices, and her eyes widen like the little girl on her Daddy's lap, all those years ago.

With trembling hands, she finds her mobile phone, checking around her as if he may be watching from the shadows. But she is alone, save for her old friends with their urgent smiles. She quickly dials a number and waits for what feels like an eternity. With each ring, she feels her courage building, the hope of long ago reigniting her pulse.

Happy endings can happen, she tells herself, they can happen for me. They will happen for me.

\"Hello?\" The call connects and a warm, familiar voice on the end of the line sends a shock of panic and adrenalin through her heart.

\"Daddy?\" She struggles against the emotion choking at her voice. \"Daddy it's me.\"

\"Princess? Is that really you? It's been so long - where are you?\"

\"It doesn't matter where I am. I want to come home. Can I come home, Daddy?\"

Her father's voice shakes with his reply, \"Yes, baby. Come home now. I'll be waiting for you. Everything is going to be OK.\"

Grabbing the book, she picks up the small suitcase at her feet and flings open the door, running out into the starry night, leaving the nightmare behind her. Running towards her happy ending.


© Copyright 2018 Miranda Dickinson. All rights reserved.

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