Being the Queen’s favourite has its perks and the food at my home is an ode to the fact that I owe her everything I have. For years, I have hunted animals and humans alike.
This child has seen only seven seasons, that too while living in rags and mopping the castle floor. She is a princess who has been lower than a servant. Today, when I brought her to the forest, she was overjoyed. She’s singing to the birds as she plucks wildflowers for a garland. My daughter does the same.
Today, she says, is the best day of her life. I know better. Not sure what wrong she has done and why the queen is against her. But I am just a soldier, a tool to kill all those who displease the crown. The queen desires the little girl dead and her wish is my command. Yet, my hand shakes today as I clutch the hilt of my sword.
No way can I kill her but I cannot take her back and risk the queen’s wrath.
I pull out my sword with shaking hands and call her to look at me. She looks at me with scared doe-eyes and pleading silently. My sword lowers on its own, as if I’ve lost all my strength.
I yell, “Your mother wants you dead. Run away before I kill you!”
In my heart, I plead, “Run away before I give up and return you to the castle, to the step-mother who’d kill you anyway. Run away before I stop being a monster and become a traitor to the crown.”
I watch as she runs deep in the forest; glad I didn’t have to kill her; afraid she’d die alone. I hunt a boar and take his heart to the monster in the castle as a proof of Snowdrop’s death, hoping she won’t find out the truth before I move my family to another town.
I wonder why I ever thought she is beautiful.
Photo by Ricardo Cruz on Unsplash