Reflecting back her life as mirrors and opening unknown doors, the pages spilled from undusted shelves. For a moment the princess paused and watched the bits of yesterday hold, caught in the night air by ever lower light. Fairy dust? Yes. And no. She became angry and ever more frustrated.
“Could other words follow each last?” she asked. “If there was room on the page, was there space in the story? How could they connect to my beginnings?” In one night she lived one hundred lives, but in reality, it was not only one night. In that we fairies could help her, keeping her candles lit and those of the kingdom dark.
The princess stared at the scar in her own open binding from where she had torn the three papers that flew from her tower that long ago twilight. Her fingers ran over the strings not unlike those that had become a butterfly, and almost like the hem that in that same moment was being sewn upon her coronation gown. She could almost believe they could sing upon the farmer’s guitar or warm the writer far from port. She traced each loop of the knots, one by one, pausing on the last.
“The last,” she breathed, calling out. We, her fairies, listened to her heart, and to her mind, we opened a crack of possibility staring out towards dawn.
With what was her only bit of nail, she started to pull the binding apart. Switching to the sharpened, unused pencil, she dug with more fury but still carefully until the varnished floor, not unlike winter ice, rewound in time to be the flame of autumn and then a flush of spring. Multicolored, layered leaves sprouted from under loose piles blooming from the finished volumes in the library. Our princess’s eyes hovered above her open, empty hand, but it was filled with more than air, even more than hope. In her other hand, the fingers wrapped around the freed strings.
She began to order the sheets, grouping them with certain books, once stacked without meaning. We fairies flew near, carrying some of our own favorites to her like seeds long ago sown by ancestors that we had now come to miss. She ripped phrases from her own worn notebook to complete passages. Here it was, in front of and inside her, the end to her future past. Both breath and sigh, escaped her lips together, snuffing the candles black.
The princess did what was required of her. The enchantment would remain intact as the kingdom was bound complete using the pages gifted to write her future as lived past. She slept and was found early the next morning, awkwardly draped but peaceful over her books. Each one lived its own beginning, middle and end. It was a story blessed by the words in which we believe, those of us who dream of happy endings. We remained with her until the delicate light of dawn blended with our own glow. Together, we kissed her tired hand.
When the young princess appeared, she climbed to the balcony and sat upon the throne. She paused, watching the people below. She read her words. More importantly, they were not hers alone. Left, perhaps, for us, we wanted to believe. The book remained softly dozing on her bed. Blank still, except for our footprints, and one page that read.
“The story does not have to end for me to move on. If the words said aloud are not considered profound, I enjoy seeing them nonetheless. When I can remember them, I write them. Now I write them here. The words, perhaps, are unfitting of such memory. A long forgotten dream or a goal ignored, it may be unbelievable to believe in them. Still, words simply are.”
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