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I'll Wait Forever
Click-clack, click-clack go her shoes along the floor as she runs down the hallway. Everyone she passes stares at her; some of them look annoyed, the rest wear worn faces of sympathy. The Princess pays no attention to them as she flies by. There is no time to stop and accept their condolences; she has one chance, only one, and if she doesn’t hurry, it will be too late.
Quickening her pace the princess runs the length of the hall, only to stop abruptly in front of an iron door when she turns the corner. She grabs a jumble of keys off the right wall and hurriedly stabs one into the lock, followed by another, and finally hears the lock click by the third key. Struggling against the doors weight the princess pulls it open, dashes inside and runs up a spiral staircase. Higher and higher she climbs, her curly golden hair cascading down her back, and her extravagant white dress flowing out behind her.
The dim stone walls seem to close around her and she pushes herself to ascend faster, sweat prickling on her brow. Every few yards there is a window, and as the sunlight shines through it onto her porcelain face it passes through the fresh tears on her cheek like a prism, illuminating the walls with rainbows. The princess’s heart pounds inside her chest and over and over in her mind she repeats, “One last time, one last time, have to see him one last time.”
Fear grips her heart as the setting sun lowers in the sky, and she pushes herself to the limit, climbing the stairs even faster, using energy that she didn’t even know she had. Above her the staircase comes to an end. The Princess reaches the last step and scurries into a small room with a single, large bay window. Without slowing her pace, she rushes to the window and puts her hands in front her to grip the windowsill, slowing her impact.
Before her lays a beautiful countryside, far off in the distance the peaks of mountains capped with snow can be seen, lush, green grass covers a valley next to a rushing river that leads to the never ending sea. The chirpings of birds flows from the Camonail forest and produces a melancholy song.
These beautiful sights are not what the Princess has come to see though; her eyes are fixed on a single green hill, behind which the blazing orange sun is setting. Upon that hill is a lone rider, sitting upon a white horse. Endless tears flow from her eyes as she watches her Prince canter over the hill and into the sunset, out of sight.
The Princess falls to her knees, capturing the scene to keep the memory in her mind, just in case she was never to see him again. Her Prince was riding off to war to lead the troops into battle, and leaving her behind. The sun vanishes from sight, and it is as if a giant blanket was thrown over the earth, casting the land into the world of night. Above her the stars begin to twinkle like diamonds, and a sliver of the moon faintly illuminates the darkened landscape in indiscernible shadows. She pulls herself to her feet and begins to walk away, but casts one more glance over her shoulder, hoping, praying that she will see a white horse returning to the castle, but there is nothing but a rugged hill bathed in moonlight.
Another stream of tears flows from her eyes as she sends one more longing look out the window. “I will wait for your return,” she whispers, “even if I have to wait forever.”
She returned to the tower every day for the next seven years. Each day her eyes strained to see a white horse and rider. Each day she looked expectantly, hopefully, toward the place where she had last seen her beloved, and each day she turned and slowly descended the stairs with a sad and lonely heart filled with disappointment.
Seven years had passed since the army had marched off to war, and the war itself had ended over two years ago in victory, but still her husband had not returned.
Ever since it had appeared that the prince was not coming back, her father, the King, had been trying to convince her to marry another. Almost every day the princess found herself in the situation she was in now as she talks to her father.
"Princess Arianna, please come to reason; Lord Hatler is a very agreeable man."
Arianna looks not at her father, the king, as he speaks in his pleading voice, and answers him. "As I’ve told you before, Father, my husband is not dead; therefore I cannot marry.”
The king rubs his eyes. “It has been seven years, Arianna; you have to realize that he must have been killed in the war. Prince William is not coming back.”
Glancing out the window Arianna takes notice that the sun is lowering in the sky. “I’m sorry, Father,” she says, standing. “But I must leave.”
She departs the room, leaving behind a disappointed father. “He is not dead,” Arianna whispers to herself as she strides down the hallway toward the tower. “I would know it.”
A week before the war had ended, the Prince, along with a company of warriors, had set out to siege a city, but they never arrived and never returned. The soldiers had searched the woods endlessly, looking for any trace of them, but they had found none. To this day no one knew if the Prince was either dead or alive, but a year after the war ended he had been publicly proclaimed dead. “He’s not dead.” Arianna tells herself over and over again as she climbs the stairs to the top of the tower. Whenever she would lose hope, Arianna would remember what she’d promised on the first tower climb when she watched him ride away. “I will wait for you’re return, even if I have to wait forever.”
Arianna couldn’t help but feel at a loss for all the time she had spent waiting. She stares out the tower window at the breathtaking scene before her. Inch by inch the sun slowly lowers until it is hiding behind the hill. Still her eyes strain in hopes of seeing her Prince. Sighing and teary eyed she turns away, but just as she does something catches her eye. She returns her attention to the hill and her breath gets caught in her throat when she faintly sees a lone rider on a white horse coming over the hill. “Can it be?” She whispers. Arianna blinks, expecting the horse and rider to disappear, but they don’t.
Smiling while weeping tears of joy she rushes down the staircase, skirts streaming out behind her. The Princess tries not to raise her hopes as she opens the iron door at the foot of the staircase and rushes down the hall, but she just feels that it is him. Inside her chest her heart beats wildly, and her breathing is short. In a flurry of satin she flies out of the palace gate, stopping abruptly in front of a man dismounting a white horse. Arianna holds her breath; the man’s back is to her. At her entrance the man turns, and Arianna’s heart breaks as she sees not her dear William standing before her, but Lord Hatler.
“Princess Arianna…” He seems surprised at her sudden appearance, but smiles broadly.
“Good day, your lordship.” She curtsies and awkwardly walks back through the palace gate.
Lord Hatler stayed for dinner, and later on Arianna learned that he would be staying at the palace for a few days. Following dinner Lord Hatler excused himself, leaving Arianna and her Father alone. Gently, her father tells her that he has arranged for her to marry Lord Hatler. Arianna stands so fast her chair topples back behind her. “Father!” She nearly yells. “What have you done?”
“Arianna!” Her father says sternly. “I cannot watch you be in constant devastation for the rest of your life! Prince William is not coming back! It is because you would never agree to marry another man that I arranged the marriage with Lord Hatler.”
“I will not have it!” The King shouts. “You will marry Lord Hatler in two days, and you will be courteous about it!”
Bursting into tears Arianna runs from the room with a broken heart. How could her father be so cruel? He does not know what it would feel like for her to have to marry a man while she is still in love with another. In her room, Arianna cannot keep herself from tears; all she can think about is her beloved William. “Oh,” she cries. “Where are you, William? Come back to me.”
The next two days passed in a blur; Arianna was aloof during her conversations with Lord Hatler, and when he picked her a red rose in the garden, neither the beauty of the rose nor the gracious intent with which it was given could move her heart. She didn’t, couldn’t eat. The only thing she could think of was a life of misery, a life without her beloved.
On the day of her wedding, she slips away from all of her attendants so she can climb the castle tower one last time, with one last hope. Her father had forbidden her to ever climb the tower again once she was married to Lord Hatler. Each step she takes up the tower feels like a lifetime, and with each heavy step comes a new wave of tears. Every breath she breathes burns through her lungs.
When she reaches the last step she walks to the window, her strength failing her. She takes in everything like she did the first time she came to the tower; the mountains, the forest, and the sparkling river. Arianna breaths it all in and holds the picture in her memory. With tears flowing from her eyes she watches as the sun sinks low into the sky and no white horse comes riding over the hill. “Oh,” She thinks. “If only I could stay in this moment forever.” Throwing one more glance out the window she whispers, “Wherever you are, I want you to know that I will always love you, and even though it will mean nothing after tonight, I will wait for you, forever.”
With a broken heart, she walks toward the staircase, knowing that her soon to be husband is waiting for her. Arianna looks up, and stops dead in her tracks.
“I will always love you, too.”
Her tears cease, her heart falters, and her breathing cuts off.
“William.” She whispers. “Oh, William!”
Throwing her arms around him she bursts into sobs. “Where were you?” She cries. “Seven years I waited!”
“I’m so sorry, Arianna.” He whispers in her ear. “When we went to siege the city, we were captured. Most of the soldiers with me were killed, but some were kept prisoners as I was. I was only just released by the new warden.” The Prince pulls back and looks into her blue eyes. “They said I could find you up here; is it true that you returned here every day at sunset?”
Arianna nods. “Yes, I did…because I loved you. I was going to wait however long it took; I never lost hope. Somehow, William, I knew that I wouldn't have to wait forever.”