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This Tired World Can Change

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She hadn't meant to get lost, of course, but the subways were a new experience for Giselle. Certainly she'd assured Robert that she could manage, and she really had thought she could, but emerging from the station to find that she wasn't at all near their apartment made her think that maybe she didn't understand them as well as she'd thought.

"Oh my," she said to herself as she looked around. It was no use going back onto the train - it was getting to be a bit late, and she might've taken the wrong one and there was no one to ask. If she could find a taxi, she could get back, but there seemed to be very few taxis wherever she was.

"Well," she told herself, "I'll just have to find someone to help me. I'm sure there will be plenty of people somewhere nearby. There are always people out and about in New York." And with that decision, she headed off down the street.

A couple of blocks later, she arrived at a park. It was night, but there seemed to be plenty of people in the park, so she walked on in. After she neared them, though, she realised that they were mostly what Robert called "unsavoury types". And it wasn't that Giselle didn't believe that most people were good if you gave them the chance, but it was rather dark, and he'd told her some rather frightening things about people like this.

"Hey, you lost, sweetheart?" someone called, and there was a bunch of snickering. They were making fun of her, she recognised, but... maybe they were only like how Robert said they were because people expected them to be. After all, her whole life before she'd come to New York, she'd waited for a prince to come whisk her off her feet because that's what she was supposed to do, being a pretty girl living alone in the woods.

They just needed her to give them a chance to be whoever they wanted to be, like Robert have given her.

"Hello!" she said, turning with a smile to the young man who'd spoken. He and his friends looked a bit startled that she had actually spoken to them. "Yes, I am, actually. I'm a bit new to this city, and I thought I could find my way home on the subway, except that I seem to have ended up in the entirely wrong place, and I couldn't find a taxi anywhere." She clasped her hands in front of her, looking earnestly from face to face. "Could one of you perhaps help me find a taxi, or the right train to take to where I need to be?"

They all just stared at her for a moment, and a tiny, scared part of Giselle began to fear that they wouldn't help her after all, but she kept smiling hopefully at them, trusting that they'd do the right thing.

"Yeah," the original speaker said, finally, stepping forward. "We'll call you a cab, okay, sugar?"

"Oh, thank you!" Giselle exclaimed, and threw her arms around his neck in a spontaneous hug of gratitude. He didn't seem to know what to do with her, only awkwardly patting her on the back before she let go, but he was smiling a little when she stepped back.

"Yeah, it's no big," he said with a shrug, and pulled out his cell phone to call for a cab to come to the corner of the park nearest them.

"It's really not safe for a pretty girl like you to be wandering around here alone this late," one of the others said. "We'll sit with you while you wait, if you like."

"Oh, that would be lovely," Giselle told him gratefully. "Thank you very much. You're all being so kind to me."

The cab took twenty minutes to get there, during which Giselle asked the young men all about themselves, encouraged their dreams, told them how to contact her if they ever needed any help, and promised to be back soon - though not so late at night, she added with a laugh. She waved good-bye to them out the window until they turned a corner and she couldn't see them anymore. It was a short ride, with most of the traffic being in the touristy parts of the city at this time of night, and Giselle made the most of it.

"You just be brave and ask her," she told the cabbie when she paid him, with a generous tip. "If she loves you, and you love her, it'll all work out."

"Thanks," he said with a grateful smile. "You have a good night, now."

"You too!" Giselle replied with a big smile, and waved as he drove off before turning and heading into the apartment building. She smiled at the doorman, and asked how his mother was doing before heading inside and boarding the elevator. When she finally opened the door to their apartment, she was over an hour later than she'd planned to be, and Robert was pacing across the living room. His head snapped up when she opened the door, and it took hardly two seconds for him to cross the space and wrap her in his arms. Giselle smiled a little and pressed her cheek to his chest.

"Where were you?" he demanded, still holding on to her tightly. "I was so worried."

"Oh, Robert," she said, pulling back to smile up at him, "you won't believe how many lovely people I met tonight..."