First day back in school,
the new girl walks in and all the boys stare.
They all said she was cute, but none of them
pointed out her auburn hair, bouncing like
wildflowers in the wind, sharp eyes and a gaze
like sun rays cutting through the room.
She didn’t meet my gaze.
The boys were all taller than me, all huddled
together as if this was some kind of rugby
game—that’s what it felt like, a game
that I was never meant to be a part of.
We went camping together,
me and her, and all the boys wanted to
visit our tent for late night thrills,
stories in the dark, I was left out
in the dark only to crawl back in
at sunrise. The sun rays cut through
our tent flaps, highlighting her
glimmering auburn hair.
I didn’t like it when our camping trip
became ours-and-the-others’ as if nature was
a shared space; in romance novels the princess
and the prince lived together as one natural entity.
But I liked singing to the birds, and she liked
walking with bambini in the woods, we were one
with nature but we did not become a natural entity.
We returned eventually,
from our brief trip that was merely a study excursion
for her but for me it was a like stepping into a fairytale.
But fairytales only made room for one princess per story,
I was culled from the narrative when she found her prince.
I hopped from one story to another,
determined to find my happy ending; picked a prince,
took him to the woods but he jumped when he heard
birds singing and got jitters when the leaves rustled
ignored the bambini playing around he wanted to play
a very different type of game with me.
I was part of it this time.
but it didn’t feel like I was winning. Had it been a
different kind of prince, perhaps auburn-haired with
the voice of a princess and eyes like light smelling like
sweet wildflowers, I would’ve been happy.
Not a mix-and-match kind of prince,
but the meant to be kind of one,
not just a man meant to complete
one half of my fairytale romance.
Illustration by Rivka Cocker