(back from 2000….sometime….when I was an undergrad at Berkeley)
The Princess has always been in danger. Always in danger of falling off the royal cliff.
She lived in a royal tower, away from the rest of her subjects, away from society. Hoping to find harmony within herself. Her friends once visited her at the royal tower. they thought it was quite novel to roam through the hallways of her royal tower. But only the towers they were allowed to trespass upon. They enjoyed the hospitality of the Princess and they took her for granted. They wanted to make the royal tower their home, and take advantage of the generosity of the Princess. This infuriated Her Highness and she was so upset, that she took a match and burned down her royal tower. She didn’t want her friends to enjoy her home and allow her to fade in the woodwork. A few friends managed to escape the flames and they promised the Princess they would mend their ways. They promised to always be by her side.
So the Princess built a new tower. It was more elegant and higher than ever before. The friends adored her new home, but they didn’t like climbing the staircases. There were too many steps to reach the main hall. So slowly, one by one, they decided forgot to visit the Princess. And she was alone.
She built a new tower, not as high, but hidden in a forest so only she would know the way. She built high spiky walls to keep out the despair of society. She built her ivory walls to protect herself from the pain friends may bring. She built another, small hole, to allow one person in at a time. And only at her permission. Only when she was sure she could trust her new friend. The Princess was lonely and so she came down from her tower to visit other royal members of the kingdom. She found a duke who could sing and spout poetry from his lips. She invited him to her royal tower. He entertained her and she fell in love with him. He promised to be with her forever. But one day, when the Princess was napping, the duke heard a nightingale. It was a beautiful bird with a sweet voice. So he followed it out of the tower and he allowed the bird and her song to lead him out of the forest. He thought he would be happy with the bird and its beautiful songs. But the bird flew away from him, the moment he wasn’t looking. He tried to go back to the royal tower, to apologize to the Princess for his broken promise. But he couldn’t find his way in the forest. And once again, she was alone.
The Princess found other suitors to visit her palace. But this time, she was not looking for company. She wanted revenge. Her suitors were merely toys for her amusement. And she could always find new toys to play with. And she proceeded to rip out the heart of anyone who has managed to slip into her tower. She left the bleeding hearts as trophies on her wall. As a reminder of how painful it was to give up her heart to another. But it was not enough. She wanted to add the duke’s heart to her trophy case. One day, when the Princess was hunting for new toys, she saw the duke sitting on bench. She noticed he was alone. She sat down next to him and asked him why he left her. He said he couldn’t stand how she would always lock him out of her bedroom. He said he was lonely, even when they were in the same room. He said she kept locking him out and so he found a nightingale, who kept him company with her songs. But he was alone. The Princess only smiled and left him. She went home with a new toy.
While she was stealing hearts, she also rejected a few. She sent those rejected hearts into her labyrinth woods, wandering and confused. However, there was one exception to this process. She met a Lord who could make her laugh. A Lord who could dance her off her feet. She deiced to keep this one around. For the pleasant company he provided. He was thankful to hold on to his heart. But he suffered quietly as he witnessed each toy coming through the tiny door. He offered no protest when she would play with other toys in front of him.
One of her suitors managed to convince her to stay out of her tower for a little while. This Prince showed her a city by the bay, with its tiny little bridge and it rolling waves. He took her to his home, a small cottage that overlooked this city. He was willing to be anything for her, friend, jester, debater, lover. He only wanted to take care of the Princess and he placed her in a home were she could not lock him out of any rooms. She felt so vulnerable without her ivory walls, but she learned to trust him. She became happy with him.
Still, she feared of forgetting the way to her royal tower. So every so often, she would take a trip by herself and into the woods. She would trace the lonely path that wounded its way to her tower, protected by its spiky ivory walls. Occasionally she would visit the duke and the lord on her way to the tower. Pretending the memories they shared were always happy ones. The duke would joke that she broke up with him. But she knew he was only trying to hide his own loneliness. She knew he was happy she found someone to take care of her. The lord would flirt outrageously to her and she would regret never giving him a chance to court her. The lord would try to dance with her and would try to hang on to her. But she would threaten to take his heart away. So he let go of her.
One day, she returned from her trip to find the home empty. She searched for her prince but the fog blinded her. She thought he betrayed her in the same way the duke did. But the Prince was standing next to her, trying to hold on to her, but she kept moving away in a confused state. Feeling the pain that her ivory walls once protected her from, she ran away from the city by the bay. She went back to her royal tower.
The Prince raced after her, all ways a day’s travel behind her grieving footsteps. He found the duke and the Lord she use to talk about. He enlisted their aid to find her. They brought him to the woods that hid her royal tower.
Once she arrived to the royal tower, she stepped inside the tiny door. She cared not for the beautiful rooms, nor her trophy of stolen hearts. She decided to add on to the tower, making it as tall as her second tower. Once completed, she climbed to the top.
At the top, she looked down and saw the Prince, the Lord, and the Duke. They waved frantically at her, trying to convince her to unlock the tiny door so they could save her. But she didn’t want to be saved. She just didn’t want to hurt anymore.
She stood there, at the top of her tower, suspended in time. Alone.
For the Princess has always been in danger. Always in danger of falling off the royal cliff.