Everything But the Glass Slipper

April 4, 2008
By Sarah Bradtke, Schoolcraft, MI

When I was little, I always imagined how it would happen. I’d be a damsel in distress, maybe a princess in a castle, waiting to be rescued by my handsome prince charming. Soon he would come my way, a smile perched on his not-so-skinny lips, a glint in his bottomless eyes, and slay the dragon or climb my castle. One look at him would make everything better, extinguish any thought from my mind. He’d smile again and meet my even gaze, I would feel the electricity, and my heart would race when he’d say the magic words:

“I love you.”

So naturally I was surprised when he looked me in the eye and said it. He—no prince, but certainly not a pauper. Out of the blue, a pitch from left field, no palace in sight; the blood froze like icicles in my veins, only to melt again when he didn’t smile.

He meant it.

We peered at each other. I studied him, a moment feeling like a year, time turning irrelevant. Counted his freckles like stars in the sky, numbered the flecks of gold embedded in his irises. I traced his barely perceptible scar in my mind’s eye, but these extremities didn’t tell me anything. Nothing more than what I didn’t already know, their secrets held tight to the core of their master.

I parted my lips, though nothing came out except the unspoken words from the hallow of my mouth. They leaked out before I noticed them swirling around his head in their invisible state, telling him exactly what I thought. Whispered to him the secrets of my soul. He felt it too, for he straightened and almost half-smiled before turning away.

Turned away, back to his friends, leaving me with a load of questions so big a bulldozer would collapse under their weight. I blinked before the tears could escape, shook the feeling off my shoulders, wondered why I even thought anything in the first place. Maybe he’s shy, maybe he’s puzzled about what I think, maybe—he doesn’t love me at all.

I swam down the hall in a sea of confusion, the sensation inching back up my throat. It paused briefly when I leaned my head on my locker, breathed cool sighs in and out. Suddenly a chill traced my spine, warm flesh covered my eyes, an arm snaked around my waist. I turned to look, and it was awkward and uncomfortable but beautiful and right. His eyes shone into mine, his hand claimed the untouched territory on the small of my back…

Blessed—I felt blessed. I had everything but the glass slipper; I was a princess in reality with him as my prince. In only a moment, I realized that even real-life fairy tales have happy endings.

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