Note: Story was originally published with She’s Got Wonder. They are not longer operational,
but the work can be found archived here: https://shesgotwonder.squarespace.com/journal/i-
For those of you who dream of “Once Upon a Time”, I’ve had it. I’ve lived each picture
perfect moment. Each chance meeting, every eye-opening kiss, and the most glorious of
“Happily Ever After’s”. I could tell you of ball gowns and castles and of the Prince Charming
who comes on horseback to rescue you from all that you have known. I have had it, and I have
lived it. But I have also lost it.
I used to be a Princess. Any girl can be one and any room can become an inescapable
tower if you deem the conditions of your life fit to build one. And I lived in a tall tower, the
foundations built from my life, and its towering visage of my own invention. I hid there for many
years, melancholy, magnificent, and measured. A scared little girl in a graceful frame, watching
and waiting for someone to save me from my life and from myself.
It had felt as though I had been waiting for eternity, the rescue from my self-imposed
exile untimely delayed. I grew more frustrated as the days went by, but I had friends in the form
of birds who kept me company and sang me songs. I passed my days reading the old stories my
mother had once shared with me beside my bed as I fell asleep. Whether it be day or night, I
dreamed of a faraway land without trouble or care, and a man to rescue and love me, and make
my life better with a single kiss. I wished for it every day.
Then, my Prince Charming came.
He was no different from any other boy, aside from the fact that he came to save me. He
climbed my tower in the dead of night, and made me deeply passionate promises as he stole
quick kisses from my uncertain lips. He told me how beautiful I was and how he knew that he
had to have me, to make me his Queen, the moment he had laid eyes on me. My bird friends
chirped loudly into both our ears, but he shooed them away. When he asked me if I should like to
leave my tower and go to his castle with him, I said yes.
I should have specified that on the rare occasion, I might like to return.
He toppled my tower before I truly got to say goodbye. It became nothing more than ash
and rubble and I watched as the birds screeched and fled, far out of my sight. I cried and
screamed, but he kissed me and told me it was better this way. With nowhere left to go, what
choice did I have but to follow?
He brought me to his castle and dressed me like a doll. All the finest gowns to pinch and
conform. All the makeup to hide the touch of the sun. His father was sick, and soon he would be
King. His mother was silent, with sad bashful eyes. She never paid me any mind. My Prince was
affectionate, but when he’d had enough kisses, I was cast aside. The only solace I found were in
the nights he did not come to my room.
I tried to let myself dream. I tried to think of all the power, the agency, I would have once
I was Queen. I tried to take an interest, I really did my best, but all my attempts were met with a
soft and dismissive kiss. What need had I for books? What need had I to write? What need had I
to explore the kingdom to ensure our subjects were alright? A Queen did not belong in council,
she had no taste for war, she had no place of any kind, beyond the bedroom door.
“Why worry your pretty head about such things?” My Prince had said to me. “You don’t
take care of anyone else. You only care for me.”
And so, for a time, I remained passive in my role. I kissed his lips. I bore his sorrow. I
felt his rage. I asked for nothing in return. I remained a silent minion until the day I could no
I am not sure what it is that broke me, or what had changed from the day before, but
when my Prince came knocking, I didn’t answer the door. He broke it down and took my lips by
force. He did not wipe away my tears as I had his. He left me tired, confused, and sore.
The next night at a banquet a Lord asked me a question. I could never tell you now to
what it pertained, but my Prince tried to silence the Lord, much to my dismay. “It is foolish to
expect a Princess to know of such things!” he had exclaimed.
“It may be foolish,” my voice suddenly rang, “but I was asked and I will answer.” The
Prince raged and the Lord sat fascinated.
I was not given dinner for the next three nights.
Although I did not know it then, my transformation was just about to begin.
I began to leave my room before the Prince would come, and spend my nights inside the
library. It was never locked, as it was so out of use. Cold, untouched as it was, covered in a thick
layer of dust. In it I found the same stories my mother had told me, my own pages long since
buried under the rubble of my lost tower. I reread all the stories of Princesses being rescued and I
cursed my fate and my belief in the promise of Happily Ever After. Cursed my mother, long
since gone, for filling my head with nothing but the promise of it. I feared for the other girls and
wondered if their Prince’s had been kind or cruel. I began to envy the Dragons, Witches, and
Mermaids. All those monsters who could burn, curse, or drown the Prince’s that sought to
Each night I returned to my room, fine gown covered in a layer of dust, a new story in my
heart. Moving away from rescued Princesses, and shifting towards something darker, more
powerful. Something that brought me comfort as I closed my eyes, and dreamed of anywhere but
there. I would not dare to think of the morning, or what it would bring. The night belonged to
me, and the stories I read, and all that I was beginning to create deep inside my being.
The days grew longer, and my Prince grew crueler, and faster than I ever could, he built
me a new tower to which only he had the key. And he came, and he took, and he destroyed what
was left of the Princess he had rescued. No remorse, no love, not even a tear for the sins he
committed. He was a Prince. He took what he felt he was owed, or so he had whispered in my
ear. And perhaps he was owed a Princess, but my nights in the library had served me well.
I spent those moments of solitude in my tower, not waiting, wishing, or hiding, as I had
before, but practicing. Finding that spark inside of myself that I had long since tucked away. I
had taken stories and created something new to save me from my sorrow. With the stories gone,
all I had left was myself.
I used to be a Princess. I still was when he took me down and destroyed my tower. I’m
not sure what I was in the time in-between, but I know that I was not his. I never was.
I left the tower of my own creation as a Princess. I left the tower he placed me in as a
Monster, or so he might call me. I brought it down to ash and dust as I used my voice to burn,
curse, and drown the prison he had made for me. And when my Prince Charming tried to pierce
my flesh, I could feel nothing. I watched his eyes burn with a possessive hatred that, while it
frightened me, it also made me weary.
I did not burn or drown him, but I used all the strength my voice possessed to curse him.
That all may see beyond his Princely features, and gaze upon his heart, and its twisted roots. His
portraits would still be handsome, but he would never find another Princess to rescue.
As I took flight and left him behind, I burned the bridges to the lands that would connect
him to me. I drowned the banks and made the crossing treacherous. He still tries to find me, still
tries to take back that which he feels he is owed. Sometimes he gets close, but he is too afraid of
my fire, and too afraid of my voice to ever succeed.
Gone is his fair Princess. In her place is the Monster you may have heard about in all
those fairy stories, with a dozen Prince Charmings and that same unfulfilled Happily Ever After.
But sometimes the story goes a little differently.
Sometimes a Princess will come to me and I will take her into my tower, newly built, and
keep her safe. Brave Knights will try to rescue her, but if they are anything like my Prince
Charming was, destruction on horseback, then if they do not leave at my request, then they never
return home, whether by fire, water, or voice, it is their choice.
Sometimes, a Princess gets lucky though and a gentleman of kindness will come, not to
rescue her, but perhaps to know her. To see the witch or dragon or siren, that protects her, and
earn their trust. They love her not because she is a Princess, rather, they fall in love with her in
spite of it.
Sometimes I am filled with envy, but I try not to think upon my mistakes and allow them
to taint my happiness for others. I enjoy my fire and my voice, but I wish I had never had to use
them because now I can never put them away. They burn too brightly to be hidden again.
And I am not hiding, and I am not waiting. I used to be a Princess, and maybe someday, I
will be again…but I will always be what some may call a Monster to all the Prince Charmings
that seek to destroy me. For the kind, perhaps they will just see me as I am.
I used to be a Princess. I became a Monster. I am just a girl.
N.A. Kimber (she/her) is a writer from Caledon, Ontario. She is the co-founder of the online publication Forget Me Not Press which she runs with her twin sister and artist, K.E.Donoghue-Stanford. She can usually be found with a cup of tea in hand, knitting, reading, or (obviously) writing.