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The Frog Prince

PART ONE
Thick willows shade the sun overhead and I yearn for the light to shatter the darkness. Staring directly in the area where the sun would be, nothing but sheer blankness fills the space. The leaves seem to be laughing at my distraught. I know many other peasant girls who are jealous of me, but they had no idea where I have started. They know not the true story, but the garbage rumors that had filtered into their ears from gossipy women. From the very bottom of the social scale to my princess status had not been for the wealth or for nothing. In the struggle, everything that once meant the world to me was nothing more than the past. It hurts my mind to think that far back and remember Eric, remember to the last time I ever saw him.
His hand lifted up to touch my rosy cheek. It was hot with humility, the same humbleness that devastated my face in sadness. It broke apart the happiness Eric had given and replaced it with the eternal heartache for him again. I knew then that I would never forget him, I never could. It was then, that a happing ending disappeared from the years ahead for me. My eyes turned to stare into his and it seemed like years had passed before he spoke.
“Francesca, you have to go.” The words hit me in the face and I had no time to react. Nothing was up to me anymore; someone else was deciding my fate. We lived in the poorest district in their kingdom and it could be told by their clothing how underprivileged we were. Meager salaries for hard labor in the factories were the only occupations the less educated men in this district could get. The money was terrible, but in return for their work they would receive two loaves of bread a week. This was worth anything, bread was a luxury and so men would fight with each other to gain these jobs. Having one was difficult; time was running out for Eric to apply.
He had the stature and build for a factory worker. His broad shoulders stood out from the rest of the slim men she knew and made him stick out. Despite his insufficient diet he had managed to keep in shape. Short jet-black hair made his appearance stick with someone. He didn’t have a forgettable look, but once he spoke a person couldn’t ever forget him. Soft words were all he spoke and the way he looked at a person when they spoke to him showed his warm compassion. His personality flowed out of him and his face would light up at everything someone said to him. Eric was one of those are humans who was liked by everyone, just because it would be impossible to dislike him.
“Francesca, you have to go,” he repeated to me. It wasn’t soft; his face aged ten years as if he barely heard his own words. Even when he was telling me to go, he was calm and kind. My hands broke from his, my face wrinkled as I tried not to cry. Seeing me cry would be like climbing over a wall miles high with no rocks sticking out, just a pair of shoes and a hope. He would be cracking down the protection I had built for myself. Squinting to blink away tears my eyes wandered away and saw back into my memories.
Sifting through countless, boring parties and a few afternoons with Eric I found the memory I was looking for. This was the most important memory sitting in my mind. It was in the back wooded area of our district where no one is supposed to go alone. Of course, being slightly rebellious in my own way, I went regardless of the warning that had been pressed upon me. The rocks in the pond curved around my skin and the feeling is more than description could ever convey. While feeling sorry for myself, at this point in my life things were very dark. My stepfather had been beating my mother and she had attempted to tell someone. This did her no good as she was hung for witchcraft that my stepfather had convinced people she practiced.
“Hello?” his voice seemed to echo in the forest. It sank into my ears as I drank in his character. He seemed pleasant and it didn’t care about his appearance, but was still highly attractive. My green eyes met his sad brown ones and I realized that I couldn’t be the only one who had been through tough times. His eyes told me that, he didn’t need to say a word. After not feeling sorry for myself, my body lifted out of the stream. As soon as my toes stepped out of the chilled water time stopped. The combination of dirt against my feet created a slushy pit of mud. Being the klutz I am I swiftly fell.
“Oh, no!” The words surprised me, but not as much as his arms. They caught me and held me tightly. Looking up to him, there was no one I would have rather seen.

The perfect rainbow after a perfect rainstorm sits outside my window. I will never be able to go out and sit on a bench outside in the perfectness again. Instead, my petite figure is cramped here, in this prison. To anyone else, this building would be a palace and place for royalty. For me, it is nothing more than sent to prison for a punishment that will last the rest of my life. Recalling how I got caught in this situation in the first place always catches me off guard.
A stone path stood between me and every other girl in the entire country, or so it seemed. Slim bodies and large ones crowded the entire street. Regular men attempted to push their way through to get their way to the market. They were acting as if it was a regular weekend and they were trading their hunted meat for delectable treats from the baker. In their attempts, a rather big man probably around fifty shoved into me. Being much smaller and much less strong then him I fell. Embarrassment sounded through my ears and cheeks grew cherry red. Mortification surrounded me and I was unsure what to do about it. How to minimize an uncomfortable moment wasn’t one of the few courses girls were taught as children. My face felt hot as I swiped the dust off of my dress with my lean fingers. Perhaps it was a theory of mine that if I could wipe off all the dirt it would be the same as wiping this moment from my memory. This theory was very wrong because it obviously stuck with me.
“Do you need help up?” a white glove sat outraised in front of me and I took hold of it. It pulled me from the ground, back to my feet where stability took hand of me again. The feeling was much better and my thoughts went back to normal again. Everything was back to my regular life when I looked into the face of my savior. That is when the familiarity of the entire situation slipped between my fingers. Everything that had been or would ever be that had slept in my dreams dissolved into thin air and the consciousness conquered me.
He was the prince.
His quest had been to find his princess and instead it was standing next to me helping me up from my plunge into the ground. He had been searching the entire country for the girl just right for him. That is when he chose me. Out of every single girl in the entire country he required me to come and live with him. Girls popped out of the woods clinging to his body, trying to be the chosen one and he found me. I was lying on the ground, sick with embarrassment, and he chose me. Supposedly, happiness was the only emotion I was allowed to express at that moment and it was the last thing on my mind. Every moment with Eric flashed before me, and at the last one it all being pictures. Each picture floated with the wind, as I imagined myself running after each picture I realized there was no use. My efforts were fruitless because it was over. My first love was gone.
PART TWO
Life with the princess was meant for royalty, I was never going to live up to the expectations he had set for me.
“Sit straighter, princesses do not slouch,” his mother whispered to me during the formal four-course dinner served by only the best chef in the entire world.
“Put on a little makeup, darling,” she said as I had her approve my appearance. As I stared at her trying to make her evaporate like water into the breeze outside the window she spoke again. “Princesses do not pout.”
“Princesses do not pick out the own dresses, silly girl. Princesses have their stylist do that for them.” The more his mother tried to help, the more her efforts seemed as if they were of no good. I wasn’t cut out for this perfect image she had imagined for her son’s wife. Each moment I spent with her, hatred bubbled within me. It crossed over my intestines and sank deep into my heart. With each snobby comment something within me died, what exactly that something was I could not put my finger on.
Ornate paintings hung upon each huge wall in the castle. This palace had obviously taken a very long time to draw out and build. It is such a shame that the prince did not pick a princess who appreciates it to its full beauty. Instead I stand within the walls, trapped like a mouse in cat’s paws. It shuns me for being so cruel and mean towards everything it stands for. The building taunts me, crawling within my thoughts and bickering with them. One evening it finally struck the prince that he may like to go outside the castle for once in his life, for no purpose just a walk perhaps. It had never been permitted to do such a thing before I joined him.
“Tonight, I may go out,” he mentioned to me during the third course of the meal.
“Honey, since when do you go out? Is there something in the market I could pick up for you tomorrow, dear?” she inquired; nervousness stung to her words and only provoked the prince’s rebellion more.
“Yes, I would like to go for a walk,” her persisted. His mind was set and for once, the queen sank down her seat. She had lost and she knew it. Somehow, it hit me that I may get the backlash of this argument later when she helps me take off the corset. At this point, I almost didn’t care. The prince was taking charge.
He went out deep into woods, the same wooded area most people are warned as a child not to walk alone in. Breathing in the fresh country air and enjoying everything it had to offer him he became more relaxed. His limbs softened and his mind wandered. It walked without any control over it to the depths of everything it had witnessed. The gruesome slaughters as punishment for witches and wizards who had been found out horrified his perfect idea of life. It also had the foul happiness of the rich life. The christenings of his family in the royal church by the royal religious members forced him to hang his head low. He was never supposed to hang his head; it always had to hail high in the air to show is social status. At this point in his life, he didn’t care because his mother was there to badger him into social order.
Maple syrup flew into his nose as he turned to face a rather old woman. She looked at him with immense concentration and this took him aback. No one had ever looked at him like that and her elder wrinkles told him she used to be a force not meant to be reckoned with. Now, in her age, which was probably somewhere in the high seventies she would be no threat for his muscles. He didn’t feel the threatening that sometimes held his judgment in front of his eyes and shielded him from doing something wrong.
“Come over here,” the raspy words stole his surprise and twisted it around his heart. Walking over, in his expensive shoes and his suit hand crafted from the genius hands of the cloth maker in a small Middle Eastern country bothered her. She could not touch exactly the aggressive nature he gave off, but it certainly was not something she would let go on for much longer. Her creased hands stained with age spots gestured for him to sit in the seat across form her. She relaxed in her chair, her eyes closing then opening again. A table lay between them as he sat puzzled waiting for something to happen.
Her face lit up light a lantern and his eyes opened in surprise. Cat like eyes replaced her normal gray ones and he could not move. He was stuck waiting for something to happen.
“You have been given everything and still crave for more. You have gotten every desire an average man would spend years saving for, and still you are unsatisfied. Your selfishness is something you have poked and prodded with for years, yet, you cannot rid yourself of it.” She stopped to catch her breath and continued, “Did you even know you stole Francesca from her only love? It was the only thing in her life that helped her get over the death of her mother that you and your people carried out. You executed her for witchcraft, which, of course, she was not guilt of. From this moment on you will be cursed. It isn’t until you get everything you hoped for that, that curse will become a part of you permanently. If I were you, I wouldn’t get too comfortable in this life.” A tear slid down his privileged cheeks as he thought for a moment.

***

He returned home paler than usually. Francesca couldn’t put tell what it was, but something was quite clear. All this time, she had hated for something that wasn’t completely up to him. Her heart grew tender for just a moment as she walked up to his room in her lovely silk gown to sit down and talk with him. When she found him, something came over. She lay one gentle kiss upon his lips. He lit up and the sky grew dark. She grew dark and he grew smaller.
Smaller.


Smaller.




Smaller.
Until he was nothing more than a frog in her hands, her disbelief hung in the air. He lay in her palm and she gasped at his appearance. He croaked once then ran into the expensive red carpet. She quickly ran out of the castle, and into the arms of the forest. She fell deep within them. Her footing moved fast, her heart moved faster as she realized what she had just done. How could Eric ever take her back when she had kissed another man, willingly?

***

“Eric,” she ran into his small cottage.
“Francesca,” he ran into her arms. She stepped back, taking a good look at the room. Paintings filled the room.
“Eric, you never painted before,” she began.
“That was before you left. I have been cursed,” he looked at her expecting a reaction.
She covered her mouth, crying softly. Risking everything for him and still it wasn’t good enough. The wind whispered into her face, it sang the song of the lilies and the advice of the red robins. How well did she really know Eric? Except for a few picnics in the magical forest, everything was a mystery hidden deep within him.
Then, she turned to the paintings. Thick brush strokes showed everything that had happened to her and Eric. The last painting confused her slightly. It was a picture of Eric falling into a painting within a painting within a painting.
“Eric, what have you done?” she turned to him, pink filled her cheeks as thoughts ran through her.
“Someone had to get that old woman to curse the prince,” he stopped for a moment. “It is just that I didn’t expect to be cursed in return.” Everything turned upside down as she fell back onto the floor of the cottage. He was cursed for her, he got himself cursed to save her and now her happing ending was actually impossible.
He tried to speak, but no words came out.
It happened then, right then, in that split second.
A harsh rippling tide of air ruined the thin, wood door and pushed his body back. He flew into the last painting. A whirlwind of paper snuck into him and he fell back. The most horrendous, bloodcurdling sound she had ever heard in her entire life came out of his mouth.
She sat in the small room, devastated, and wondered if it was possible to be a princess without a prince.



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