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The Lady or the Tiger? (Out Came the Tiger)
It’s a painful thing – it truly is – to watch a ferocious, voracious creature of the wild tear the man you’re madly in love with as if he was nothing but a thin sliver of paper. But the princess chose his fate, and he accepted it. Out from the door arose the bloodthirsty tiger, leaping forth to devour the boy after being bereft of any food for several weeks. He was its first meal – and probably its last – he had those countless torturous days.
Why, you may ask me, would she send her lover – her star-crossed lover at that – to a death more painful than anyone could imagine? Could it be her semi-barbaric nature? Her unbearable jealousy towards the woman she gravely despised? Could it be she is no greater, no kinder, than her father would ever reveal?
It was on that fateful day that she watched as the only man she ever loved was torn apart, piece by piece, and overcome by the tiger’s feral instincts. It was on that fateful day that she witnessed as the crowd, and the king himself, watched with a terrible weight over their hearts as the man screamed, hollered, and thundered with pain. And no, the tiger had not consumed him in a way with the least amount of pain: She watched as her loved was torn limb by limb by the tiger as his eyes met hers as he lie on the floor dying.
A tear – no, a literal river of tears – fell from the princess’s eye as she watched her true love die the most painful death she could ever imagine. She shielded her eyes, but even that could stop her from hearing the torturous screams he uttered, all in her name.
“MY DEAR PRINCESS!” he cried. “I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU!”
Those words twisted her heart, shattering it on the floor, as if her heart itself was her lover. And it was, and it always will be, even when death finally found a way to reunite them once again in Heaven, or even in hell.
The tiger tortured him before it truly killed him, but that wasn’t why he screamed in pain. It was from the gnawing pain within his chest that he screamed for her. It was the truth that he would never see her again until she died. But he hope – he implored the will above – that she would die a painless death, that she shall not suffer what he had to suffer. He wanted the princess to live a long, happy life, as happy as she could without him by her side.
The princess died that day – not literally, but her soul did. Her soul ascended to Heaven, or descended to hell, as it followed his soul and left her body to linger on the Earth in writhing pain without his body. She heard his words once again.
“IT IS YOU I’VE ALWAYS LOVED!” he thundered. “AND IT IS YOU I SHALL DIE FOR!”
Hearing those words, she foolishly gazed down upon the arena to see the lake of her lover’s blood that he bled for her. She turned away, facing her father. What she saw made her rethink her father’s nature: He looked away from the arena, his eyes closed, and his ears suffering, as the tiger devoured the boy.
She looked forward, and all she saw was thousands of people with their eyes averted. Their hands covered their ears, and they rocked in their seat, shivering with discomfort. It was one thing to shed a tear for someone out of sympathy, but each person sitting before the arena – the peasants, the knights, the king, and the princess herself – felt a terrible pain shred its way through their chests. They were the princess.
But only she knew of the pain within her heart. She thought back on the day before, the day she had taken her first two lives.
It was on the day before when she eluded the gala her father threw for the death of impudent man who dared commit treason on their kingdom. She stored a dagger within her imperialistic dress flowing in the breeze. She cunningly hid it away from the men and women wandering the castle walls. The princess made her way down to the dungeon, her lover on her mind, and searched each cellar for him.
Peculiarly, the dungeon was unguarded, allowing her a quick entry into the dungeon.
“My love,” she called out into the dungeon.
She heard the sound of rattling chains hit the metal bars.
“My beloved princess!” a voice called out. “What are you doing here?”
The princess followed the beautiful, magnificent sound of her lover and raced for it. She found herself staring at the handsome man chained to the wall with iron clasps.
“I’ve come,” she said with joy rising in her voice, “to rescue you from that wench and that terrible tiger my father plans to feed you to.”
She reached through the metal bars and felt the loving touch of his hands caress her gentle fingers. The princess closed her eyes, for she knew, whether she succeeded or not, that she would never feel him ever again.
“No,” he replied dismally, “you cannot, my beautiful rose maiden. If you do, you and I must suffer the fates of wondering where we are for the rest of our lives, and that in itself shall kill the both of us.”
The princess shook her head drastically.
“I can’t bear to see you with that accursed woman, or to be eaten alive by the murderous tiger. Please do not leave me, my love.”
“And I won’t, for in death, I shall meet you. You must send that tiger to kill me, for then I shall see you once again, wherever we may be. Send me that tiger, and when all eyes are on me, you shall motion which door the tiger awaits me, so that you and I will suffer for but a single while. If I lie in the arms of that witch, I shall die inside. But if I die from the tiger, then I am put out of my misery, and you are free to marry whomever you please.”
Before the princess could reply, she heard the sound of heavy armor meet climb down the stairs.
“I’ve seen someone come into the dungeon,” the two lovers heard. “We must eradicate whoever lies within the dungeon.”
The princess and her lover quickly moved to the walls. She watched as the shadows of two men made their way through the door.
“For you, my love,” she said, taking the dagger out from her dress. As she moved it out, her dress was sliced into a long lace.
She hurled the dagger at one of the figures looming through the doorway. Her aim was precise, and it managed to slip through the narrow slit within the knight’s armor that allowed him to see. It pierced through the man’s eyes and killed him instantly. He fell with a clatter of armor and thud.
The princess quickly hid within the veil of shadows when the second knight paraded into the dungeon. She felt the long lace and tied it to a rock. She looked two cellars down her lover’s cell and noticed a tiger – and not the tiger – sleeping in the cell. The princess quickly revealed herself to the knight, whose back was turned.
She hurled her lace and rock towards the lock on the tiger’s gate, awakening it with a rattle. The knight turned around to face her. He held his sword towards her.
“Milady,” he replied. “You’re not allowed down here.”
The princess ignored him completely.
“You shall suffer the fate my lover shall!”
She tugged on her lace, bringing to completely towards her. The gate swung open, releasing the hungry tiger. It pounced on the knight, snapping his neck. The princess quickly made her escape before the tiger could catch up to her.
The princess dreaded the next day. She stood in front of the arena, with all eyes on her lover. He looked up to her and she motioned her hand. He opened it and out came the tiger.
Now why would she do that, you ask? The answer lies within both the princess and lover’s shared heart.
The tremendous jealousy gnashing its teeth on the princess was too unbearable for her to take; no, it was not for the cause of jealousy that she did it. She killed her lover, and not a decision she alone would make, to alleviate the torture that her lover would suffer while in the arms of that wretched woman.