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A Prince's Perspective by Lauren Reynolds


It doesn’t seem fair, really,

that a moment’s curiosity

should become a life commitment,

that one single good deed

should turn into a declaration of marriage,

and that should be our only destiny.

We didn’t go into the Woods

looking for wives,

but adventure,

freedom:

perhaps peace,

not a girl in a glass coffin

We didn’t climb the tower

expecting to find a maiden in need of rescuing,

maybe treasure,

or a Sorcerer,

a map to some other quest.

You don’t explore an abandoned castle

lost to time and caked with briars

hoping to find a sleeping Lady,

maybe a dragon,

or an ogre,

or an evil witch

or some other beast that needs to be conquered.

That always makes for a better adventure.

You climb the beanstalk hoping to find a giant

not a harp shaped like some girl.

You slay the evil king to free the villagers from tyranny

not to win the hand of his daughter.   

We leave home hoping for quests of knowledge,

challenges to test our courage,

travels for treasure more precious than gold,

migrations into manhood,

so when we come home, different than before,

we’re ready

to take on the tasks of kingship,

to rule wisely.

Instead, this happens:

we find a girl.

Of course, we can’t leave her there,

Of course, it’s a kiss that breaks her spell,

Of course, we’ll take them home.

How else can we help them?

That’s also unfair, really,

That our first kiss—

—and theirs—

should be with a total stranger,

and a forced affair.

And yet they wake up,

dreaming of their true love,

their Prince Charming,

their kingdom to rule:

are we even allowed to say no?

To apologize politely

and say we don’t feel that same?

That we’d rather be friends?

It wouldn’t be fair to them either,

if we weren’t honest.

But the Maiden wants her Prince,

the Queen wants her grandchild,

the King wants his legacy secured,

the People want a Royal Wedding,

the Minister wants to avoid a scandal:

what choice do we have?

And what of her 

when she realizes this is her Grand Reward,

that the prize for all her suffering and hardship,

should be a man and babies and obnoxious mother-in-laws.

What if she wanted to be an adventurer? 

Or a warrior?

Or a Beast Tamer?

Or a Witch, herself?

No one asked her what she wanted

before she pricked her finger,

or got stolen by a flock of crows,

or kidnapped by a dragon

or forced to marry an ogre.

No one asked her what she wanted

because her opinions don’t always matter,

and no one ever asks the Prince what he wants,

because his opinions never matter.

That’s not how the story goes.

That’s not Happily Ever After,

or, at least, not the one everyone wants.

It really is terribly unfair,

that our gracious gesture,

our kindness and compassion

should be so horribly misunderstood. 

Lauren Reynolds spends her days spinning outrageous tales of faeries, pirates and evil queens and has published several short stories and poems. She lives in Maryland with her best friend and two dog daughters. In her free time she enjoys exploring the marshlands, visiting historical towns, searching thrift stores for hidden treasures and is a self-proclaimed mythology nut, anime junky and monster lover.


Image for “Lady of Shalott” by John William

Waterhouse.

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