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And the prince and the princess lived happily ever after. They got along amicably and didn’t bicker, but also, they didn’t really thrive since all the prince really knew about the princess was that she was beautiful and abhorred the dragon that kept her locked away. And all she knew about the prince was that he was handsome and brave and good at killing dragons.

They had lots of royal sex, which ruled, but they rarely talked about things outside of the weather, and how much of a prick that dragon was.

Nowadays, the castle was filled with silence, since the princess was commonly the only one home. The quiet vacancy was a sharp contrast to all of the joy and celebration of a literal storybook wedding, which had filled the hallways and grounds, once upon a time. And not just on the day of the nuptials, but in the weeks before the wedding, and after the dragon slaying, where the princess and prince’s handlers drew up dowries and plans.

The newly betrothed were surrounded by guests. There were portraitists and historians and handmaids and seamstresses, and even other princes and princesses stopping by to pay their respects, and maybe quietly size up their potential future foes. In fact, the two hardly had any time together without others. These very important strangers took the place between the prince and the princes that the dragon once occupied.

The princess longed to take the horse out for a ride around the castle grounds, but the prince needed the horse for work and they only had the one. Instead, she dwelled in the library, perusing the tomes she had already read during her dragonian internment. There were hundreds of stories of princes and princesses that had happy endings, tales that once fueled the princess’s hope, during the years locked away.

Re-reading them now, as a stay at home castlewife, the messages hit differently.

The stories were all about the pursuit and the glory of heroic acts that unlocked castle gates and princesses’ hearts. But nowhere did they mention or give even the tiniest of hints about what happened after the dastardly dragons were smote. Never a suggestion of what made happily ever after so happy.

The reading became research and the research began to pile up, until the princess was writing her own story.

Writing her story. Once upon a time there was a princess who was held captive by an unrelenting presence. Then she was freed only to find herself held captive by an unrelenting absence.

But unlike being captive to an unruly creature, this captor allowed the princess to explore. She didn’t need the prince to save her, she could rely on herself. She sought and grew and learned. Soon she had her own horse and was out of the castle as often as the prince. She brought her story to other castles and princesses, the ones who had incorrectly sized her up, and who were locked up by societal beasts of their own.

Lore of the princess grew throughout the kingdom, just like stories of heroic and royal conquests by princes. Rulers sought counsel with the princess as they navigated rescues from dragons and hydra, and then increasingly called her in for political and domestic diplomacy. Now others wrote stories about the princess.

And they all ended happily ever after.

Josh Bard

Josh Bard is a guy. A sports guy, an ideas guy, a wise guy, a funny guy, a Boston guy, and sometimes THAT guy. Never been a Guy Fieri guy, though.

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