This is my latest for the S-Project. As always, comments and criticism are welcomed.
They were the first words she said, after mama, dada, and kitty. “I’m a princess.”
Her parents nearly burst with pride. Of course she was a princess. She was their little princess. Didn’t her mother curl her hair every night in nice neat little rag curls? Didn’t her father come home every day and swing her around and say, “How’s my little princess?” before he even kissed her mother hello?
She wore a tarnished toy tiara every day, and tied her mother’s apron over her shoulders and regally trailed about the house. She decided her baby brother was the court jester, and she made him do tricks for her amusement.
Everyone said she was an awful prig, but she knew better. She was a princess. Princesses didn’t play in the dirt. They weren’t allowed to get dirty. She did try to play with the other kids one day, even though she knew she would get dirty, but she got a spanking when she got home. So she remained aloof after that.
And she didn’t jump rope, because her dress flew up and showed her lacy underpants. Princesses never showed their underpants. She wanted to jump rope. It was fun. “Why can’t I wear blue jeans, like the other girls?” she asked her mother. ”Then my underpants wouldn’t show.” Her question was met with a gasp of horror. “Girls never wear boys’ clothes!” her mother said with a tone of shock, and the question was closed.
So she sat quietly on the steps and read a book and watched the other girls have all the fun. Sometimes she sighed. Being a princess was awful hard work.
JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL
She was starting to notice the boys, but apparently princesses didn’t do that. The list of things that princesses didn’t do was getting longer and longer. What good is it, being a princess, if you never get to have any fun? Shocked at her rebellious thought, she decided to talk to her mother.
“What am I supposed to do with my life?”
Her mother’s laugh sounded like breaking glass. “Why, you’re supposed to grow up and get married and have children.”
“But what am I supposed to be?”
“A good wife and a good mother, silly girl.”
“Stop asking such silly questions, and help me fix dinner. Daddy’s going to be home soon, and you know what a bear he can be when he’s hungry.”
She swallowed the questions that had arisen to her eager lips, choking them back down, and obediently went to help her mother. Because princesses were always obedient.
Princesses got to have fun in high school! She wasn’t left out on the sidelines anymore, because the other girls weren’t playing in the dirt or jumping rope. No, she got to participate now, and it was fun. She was on the school newspaper, because, her mother said, it was important to be involved in different activities so she could seem well-rounded.
“But I like it because it’s interesting.”
“Interesting-schminteresting.” Her mother pooh-poohed her ambitions like she brushed off almost everything else she said.
And the princess noticed that whenever her brother talked to their mother about his ambitions, she listened and encouraged him. She wondered why it was different. And one day she asked her mother, and her mother said it was because he was going to have to have a job so that he could support his family.
“But won’t I have a job, too?”
“Your job is to be a good wife and a good mother,” her mother repeated, as she had done so many times before.
“But what if I don’t get married? Or what if I just want to work?”
“Wash your mouth out with soap right now!” her mother commanded, half joking, but not really, and the princess stubbornly set her mouth and glared at her mother. And they had their first real argument. It wasn’t pretty, and it didn’t end until the mother started to cry and the princess melted and apologized, not really knowing what she was apologizing for.
The princess went to a nice, safe religious college where everyone knew their responsibilities. The young men knew they were to find brides who would be good wives and good mothers, and they were to provide for their families. The young women knew they were to be good wives and good mothers, and that was their job. Oh, sure, some of them were a little rebellious, but they were few and far between.
The princess floated daintily down the halls and through her classes and through the activities, and she caught the eye of a very handsome prince. My, he thought to himself, she is a very dainty princess. She looks like she will be a good wife and mother.
And the prince asked the princess out on a date, and well, they sort of hit it off. She didn’t seem to have much to say, but she looked like the right sort. And he seemed masterful and had his life planned out, and he looked like the right sort.
So they got married, and had some children. They didn’t exactly live happily every after, but they lived. And then one day the princess saw her oldest daughter put on a a tarnished toy tiara and tie an apron around her shoulders and prance down the hall and say, “Mommy! Look! I’m a princess!”
And she looked in the mirror and she saw that she didn’t look like a princess anymore. And she didn’t feel like a princess anymore. And she didn’t think she wanted to be a princess anymore. But she didn’t know how to be anything else.
And when the prince came home from work, he picked up his daughter and swung her around and said, “How’s my little princess?” And he ruffled his son’s hair and helped him with his homework. And he played with his other daughter, and he changed the baby’s diapers. But his eyes just slid across her face like he didn’t even see her anymore.
And when she was washing the dishes after dinner she cried silently, her hot tears scalding her hands. And then she went to her daughter, and she removed that tarnished toy tiara, snapped it into pieces, and said fiercely, “You are NOT a princess, do you hear me? You are a president, or you are an astronaut, or you are a reporter, or you are ANYTHING you want to be, but you are NOT a princess!” Her daughter started crying because her toy was broken and because her mommy was acting all strange, and the princess hugged her daughter and started crying again, and they just sat there and cried together.
The prince came into the room, holding the baby, to see what was wrong. And he saw them there, and just stood and looked at them, and didn’t know what to do. So he just stood there. And then he turned and walked out of the room.