Prince Charming

October 25, 2009
In an idyllic world I would be a princess, with long gleaming blonde hair, sparkling eyes, graceful posture, and a honeyed voice. Sometimes when I go out to Blueberry Hill, I spread a sweater underneath my head and lie there just at the curve for hours. Gazing into the sky, huge cumulonimbus clouds like immense dollops of whipped cream start to make shapes. Today I can almost see a castle with its turrets and balconies and towers taking shape in the weightless white. If I close my eyes and wish, maybe I’ll levitate and the wind will carry me away from here.
The slam of a car door startles me out of my daydream. Footsteps on the soft green grass and dandelions that dot the hill. Someone is coming up. I put my arms under my head and focus back on the cumulonimbi above me, though my cloud castle has already drifted away.
“I thought I’d find you here.”
Of course. It just had to be Jake. He’s known me since we were in first grade, though, so I don‘t know why I‘m surprised. His voice is sort of gravelly because he smokes, even though I’ve told him I think it’s a filthy habit. When Jake reaches the top of Blueberry Hill, he stretches out beside me on his back.
“You gonna tell me what’s wrong, or do I have to guess?”
As if you could, Jake. If I were to tell him what’s really wrong, if I were to tell him the real reason why I left his house while he was in the bathroom after we‘d had sex, then he’d know. If he knew then everything would change. I take a deep breath and exhale but it just sounds like an annoyed sigh. I roll over onto my side to face him, and as I do I catch his soap-cigarettes-boy scent and try to discreetly inhale it.
“Look, Jake,” I start carefully, not trusting my voice, “a lot’s been going on at home, I mean what with the baby coming and me hearing back from colleges and everything. I guess I just got a little stressed out.”
He pulls me into his arms so my cheek is resting on his chest, kisses the top of my head.
“Daisy, you know you can tell me anything. That’s what I’m here for. What kind of boyfriend would I be if you couldn’t?”
The normal kind, I think meanly. He’s right, thought. We’ve been dating for almost two years and everything has been almost surreal. We fight, sure, but nothing’s ever gone seriously amiss. I should treat him better than I do, and I know that he could do much, much better than me.
Look at him, he’s definite Prince Charming material. His tousled strawberry-blonde hair, his eyes like the sky on a clear day, his slow, sweet smile; everything about him draws you in. The fact that he sings in a band doesn’t hurt, either. There are plenty of little sixteen year old scene groupies that would love to snatch him out of my arms.

I trace the outline of the tattoo that covers where his heart would be. I used to love when he would wear his v-necks so I could get closer to his skin. The tattoo is the cover of Idylls of the King, his very favorite book; also a gift from his father. That’s something we have in common; we don’t have dads. His dad died of cancer four years ago, my dad ran off with his secretary four years ago. Now Jake’s dad is in Heaven and my dad is in San Francisco with Jeannette=the-secretary and their new little family unit. It sounds bitter, I know, but sometimes I wish my dad was dead too so I didn’t have to hate him.
We’ve been lying here for awhile and the sun is just starting to set. I’m a little cold but not enough to complain about it. It takes a lot of anything to make me complain, and even then. . .If I truly were that golden-haired princess of the stuff fairy-tale legends are made, there would have to be something or someone with a hold over me. A witch with a spell or an enchantment, or a hideous beast who would be keeping me under its power. In my life, I guess I have someone like that. He’s the reason why I have a ten o’clock curfew on weekends even though I’m eighteen years old. He’s the reason why I buy concealer in bulk at CVS, to dab carefully over the bruises that form a gentle pattern of purplish-green petals across my body. He’s the reason why I can’t even bring myself to have sex with Jake with the lights on. Or even at all sometimes. My stepfather, Chuck. When I think about Chuck I feel the uncontrollable urge to shove my fingers down my throat and vomit and vomit until every last trace of the bullshit he forces on me is on the pavement in front of my feet or in a porcelain bowl in front of my face. Sometimes I sit in the corner in my bedroom, knees pulled to my chest, and I just cry. What was I talking about? Oh, right. Jake asked me a question.
Jake twirls a piece of my hair around his index finger and it gleams the color of gold in the sun. For a strange minute it makes me think of Rumplestiltskin and the girl who spun the straw into gold. Jake loves to touch, taste, smell, hear, and see things; he loves to experience things to the maximum that his senses will allow. It’s something that I love about him, how he’s always getting excited about smelling the Wonder Bread factory or seeing really excellent graffiti on a passing freight-train.
“Are you absolutely sure you’re okay? It’s not something I did?”
I nod, hearing his heart beat against my cheek.
“I promise. It’s just me being stupid. Forgive me.” I try out a cheerful sincerity, hoping it doesn’t sound forced. Jake wraps his arms around me and pulls me up on top of him. He brushes a tendril of hair out of my eyes and I feel like the biggest idiot in the world when I see how sweet his expression is. Why can’t I just tell him?
“I’ll always forgive you. I love you, Daisy.”
It still makes me feel like my insides have melted when he says it. That feeling almost makes me forget about what’s waiting for me at home. Almost.
“I love you too, Jake. So, so much.”
And then we kiss and I push the Beast that holds me captive back into the dark corner that it belongs in. For just one more day.

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