If This Were A Fairy Tale
Once upon a time, there was a girl who wasn’t anybody. She had dark brown hair and pale skin and eyes like the ocean. She dressed funny and didn’t play well with other kids. She didn’t know their games and was full of strange games and weird stories. So they tried not to talk to her and laughed while they made jokes about her. Adults wouldn’t laugh, just tell her how wrong she was and how she could never measure up to what she should be.
If this were a fairy tale, she would have lived with an evil step-mother and step-sisters, kept in an attic and made to care for them all. Instead, she lived with her parents and her sisters in a small house in a small town, not so much in obscurity as in not worth noticing.
Once upon a time, there was a girl who was a queen. They say little girls always want to be princesses, but not this girl. Princesses had only two purposes, to be pretty and to wait for a prince. She wouldn’t wait for anyone, and she didn’t belong to anyone. Dressing up and being pretty was fun and all, but not when there were things to be doing. Queens got to do things. Countries didn’t just run themselves, you know.
She was too young, then, for people to look at her and think her beautiful. So, they noticed the way her blue eyes looked right into them and the assurance in her voice. People followed her like it was the natural thing to do.
If this were a fairy tale, she would have had to fight a dragon, or been cursed by a witch, or magically traded places with the other girl, who would be made pretty and graceful while she learned the value of hard work and to empathize with the downtrodden, or made an empire of the world.
One of those is close enough, though there wasn’t any magic involved, except that which lives in the hearts of each of us. So they each fought to be themselves, to be safe and unseen, to lead and be loved, and to do the work before them, whichever one they were, as they saw themselves.
If this were a fairy tale, this is how it would end, because fairy tales can’t show what they both knew about hard work:
… and they each put their hand on the mirror, palm to palm, the queen in tiny house in the woods, and the nobody girl in the palace. Their hands sank into magic glass, and they both stepped forward, their reflections joining into one. The birds swooped in and out of the empty room in the tiny house. The attendants and the council in the palace looked at each other. The nobody queen picked up her crown from the table, put it on her head, and said, “sit down, my friends, there’s work to be done.”