The elegant white dress clung to my sides. I hated the sparkling fabric and wanted to rip the gown from my body. As a symbol of my oppression, it suffocated me, like my long hair. No matter how desperately I begged, my mother refused to let me cut it. Another symbol of my oppression.
Oh, how I longed to be rid of my chains! It seemed as though they would bind me forever.
Just as I whispered, "I can't live like this," the door flung open.
"What are you doing?" my mother snapped. "He's downstairs waiting on you!"
"I know," I muttered. "I'm sorry."
"Thank goodness you at least look presentable for once - and only because I had the dress made especially for you. I wish you'd dress this way all the time. As future queen, you need to have some propriety."
The underhanded insult did not surprise me. If I was beautiful, of course it was because of her. Why wouldn't it be? I obviously couldn't be beautiful on my own. But this I was used to. I was surprised she even suggested that I looked presentable. But she never let me forget what we both knew: I was worthless.
After some hesitation, for which I was scolded, I followed my mother out of my bedroom and made my way down the stairs into the enormous hall where dinner was prepared and the king was waiting.
Don't waste your touch
You won't feel anything
Or were you sent to save me?
I've thought too much
You won't find anything
Worthy of redeeming
After the meal, I returned to my room dizzy and nauseated.
"I can't do this. I can't do this."
As the panic attack set in, I felt my muscles constricting in my throat. I choked to breathe. When the sudden realization hit me, it was paralyzing. I found myself locked in a cage I could not escape, bound by the chains of my family and soon-to-be husband. I wanted out, and I knew the only escape. On the bed, I struggled even to cry, the sound stuck like peanut butter closing the air inside. Eventually, the sobbing came, shaking my chest until it hurt. When I could cry no longer, my eyes were red and my face was hot with frustration. There was only one way to free myself of my bonds.
I rushed to the balcony and hesitated as I gripped the railing. Looking down, I saw townspeople, looking the size of ants, walking and going about their days. They couldn't know my turmoil. They couldn't no my agony. My body swayed as I stepped up onto the railing, tears filling my eyes once more and blurring my vision as I looked around.
"God, help me," I cried softly.
Then I jumped.
I thought I had jumped to my death, sure that it would be my last breath, but something stopped me from hitting the ground, suspending me in the air just ten feet from the ground.
Yo he estado aqui muchas veces antes y regreso
To... break down, and cease all feeling
Burn now, what once was breathing
Reach out, and you may take my heart away
Her eyes lit up as she stared up at me, slowly using magic to lower me down until my feet touched the ground. She knew I hadn't fallen. She knew I had jumped.
"My God," she said quietly. "What the Hell are you doing?"
I could tell that she recognized me and started to panic, thinking of all the ways I could respond, all the lies I could tell.
"I was watching the townspeople and slipped," I told her.
"You're lying," she said harshly, but her voice suddenly softened as she continued. "I saw you step up on the railing. Why would you do something like that? You're betrothed to the king. You're soon to be queen. What could possibly be wrong in your life?"
"Betrothed sounds better than affianced, doesn't it?" I mumbled back, ignoring her impertinent questions.
She wasn't sure what I meant.
"Who are you?" I asked her, and waited for her response.
"Oh, God, I'm sorry!" she cried, suddenly bending down and kneeling before me as if she'd just fully comprehended who I really was. "I've been so rude. I should have addressed you as 'your majesty.'"
"No, please, don't... but what's your name?"
"Emma," she said, standing up as she gently took my hand and kissed it. "My name is Emma."
Imperfect cry, and scream in ecstasy
So what befalls the flawless?
Look what I've built, it shines so beautifully
Now watch as it destroys me
Just as soon as I opened my mouth to speak, a group of men ran towards us, yelling.
"You little bitch!" one of them screamed. "Emma Swan, get back here and let me wring your little neck!"
I looked at her with shock and confusion.
"Come on!" she cried. "We have to get out of here."
She grabbed my arm pulled me down an alleyway, running faster than I could as she dragged me along. When we finally lost them, we hid in a small corner in the back of an old, beat-up house.
"What the Hell is wrong with you?" I asked haughtily. "Why are they chasing you?"
"I stole some stuff, okay?" she snapped. "They're pretty much out for my blood. Anyway, you can punish me as you see fit. Execute me for my admission, if you want. I'd rather be punished by you than them."
"What did you steal?" I asked curiously, suddenly interested.
"I took some bread, to feed my parents. And I took some clothes from another merchant. And maybe some other food."
"Well, you're quite the thief, then, and not a very good one, at that."
The blonde scoffed and glared at me.
"I'd like to see you try it, Princess!"
"I'd rather steal to survive than marry the king," she admitted boldly. "I'm not going to punish you."
"You'll hand me over to your parents, then? I'd rather it be you."
"No. You won't be punished. I'm not going to tell a soul about this, ever," she promised, then said, "and neither are you."
"Who would I tell?"
"You parents? I don't know. Or care. You will tell no one of this."
With an audible gulp, she nodded.
"Yes, your majesty."
"Don't call me that," I hissed, but my voice softened. "Call me Regina."
As surprised as Emma looked, she nodded her head at me, but said nothing.
"I'm surprised that a commoner like yourself can do magic. Where did you learn?"
"It's a long story," Emma said shortly, looking away.
"All right. Where are you from then?"
"Does it matter?"
"No, but why did you save me?" I said, hesitating before I continued. "You should have let me die."
"What makes you so eager to end your life?"
"He's that awful?"
"No! It's not that. He's a good man."
I couldn't believe I was defending him.
"But I don't love him."
"Do you love someone else?"
"You're awfully bold, Emma Swan."
"I'm sorry," she said hurriedly. "I didn't mean to be."
"You know, I could have you hanged or beheaded for your insolence."
"Yes, your majesty. I understand, and you would be right to do so."
Emma lowered her head humbly, and I looked her over as she averted her eyes. The woman was truly beautiful, and her wavy blonde locks captivated me and held my gaze. Something about her begged me to reach out and touch her, to quiet her fear and assure her I wouldn't bring her harm, but I knew better than to be so familiar with someone I'd just met. A commoner.
"Who are you to tell me what is right for me to do? You're just a commoner."
"Yes, I know. It's not for me to say, and I apologize."
I was genuinely surprised at her manners, which were quite rare of a peasant. Her clothes were tattered, and I wondered what she'd look like in one of my elegant dresses. I'd rather her wear them than me. As I thought about it, I realized I would switch places with her, given the opportunity. Even as a thief - which I felt I could never be - I would prefer her life to my own. I yearned to escape my subjugation.
"I'm not going to hurt you," I told her, compelled to lift her chin and look back into her blue eyes.
"Why not?" she asked, clearly unsure of herself.
"Because I have no desire to do so, and because you don't deserve it."
"How do you know what I deserve?"
"Because I see through your act. I see through the rough front you put up and can tell that your heart is pure."
"And I see through yours."