She’d been awake for hours; taking her time as she dressed in front of the looking glass. Slipping into the long lace gown – appropriately sleeveless for the hot day -- that swept the floor, tiny lace gloves upon her piano fingers, delicate heels in a dusty mauve, a single string of pearls that clutched around her throat, long flaxen hair tied up in a rose-colored ribbon. She watched her copy in the glass, pursing its anemic mouth, blinking its empty, shade-colored eyes.

This day was meant to be one of magic, love, new beginnings; it was celebrating a union between two souls, only intertwined together by an invisible life-long string. This day was a turning page black page, remnants of the fingers that turned it, forever scented. This day was beautiful and romantic, full of kisses and promises never broken.

No. This day was like the plague. This day was sore. This day was a fist to the abdomen. This day was a tear-soaked pillow. This beautiful day of two people coming together – one of them meant so much to her – was so painful. Somehow, she could’ve come to terms with it, if she tried heard enough; that the man she worshipped – her father, Benjamin, the king of the stretch of land she called her home -- was to be married only a few minutes from now, to a cold woman that was not a match, not the mother that she’d remembered in flashes of memory.

Benjamin began a startling change the day he mentioned his marriage-to-be; his skin, once full of life and blood, turned ashy, pallid. He grew tired easily and his moods burned short. He spoke little to his daughter, his only thought on his mind was settling into the arms of that beautiful woman, Louise – the most beautiful woman in the land, they said, with her lovely raven-hair and dark eyes that hinted a buried witchery. He would forget the world the moment the door closed. It was then a deep cold settled over the castle and its inhabitants, only to eventually melt; but it has remained within the crevices, like a ghost.

She watched, slowly, as the copy’s eyes watered and spilled over. She tasted salt on her parched lips -- the consequence of stress, lack of proper nutrition. Then she crumbled like the sand and pressed her lace fingers to her face and stifled a broken sob against her palms. There was nothing she could do to stop this: just stand by and watch her father throw everything away for this woman. She would be his lovely queen, he would have a strong step-son to take the throne when the dreaded time came, and the ghost who’d once been titled as the princess would remain as such.

He'd loved her so once and she loved him, and still loved him, but rarely ever made a mention of it to his face, because he would never see her long enough. It was always Louise -- on his mind all the time, in the halls and corridors, even when she was embraced by him he would call her name.

The tiny clock on her bedside table chimed the hour – 9:00. She was going to be late. With one last look in the mirror to make sure she looked decent -- tears, away, she thought -- she was out the door, rushing toward the castle’s gardens.


The wedding canopy – which was situated near the stark red rose bushes and was littered with white roses – was the only item in the garden that overlooked the sea that gave an inkling that an extremely private wedding was to occur in a few moment's time. The procession would only consist of the bride, the groom, the woman’s son, and the man’s daughter, along with the tired priest.

When she hurried out past the open French doors, she was instantly met with her step-brother’s-to-be, Evan's needle-point gaze. He was a sharp, youthful man that looked just like his mother, all dark features. She tried to avoid it as she stepped on the unoccupied side of the canopy, facing the French doors that the couple were to emerge from. The priest stood under the canopy, quietly muttering the incantations that would merge the man as woman as one under the eyes of God.

She heard her sibling say, “You’re nearly late, Fae.”

"Well, I am here now, aren't I?" she mumbled, smoothing her hands down her bodice. She just wanted this ceremony to go by quickly so that she may retire to her chambers for the rest of her days.

Evan grunted. "We would've started the ceremony without you. I doubt you would've wanted to miss it."

Pity that you didn't. "I doubt you'd miss me," she said easily as a small breeze sailed by, as if to give her courage.

"I wouldn't," said Evan. "Neither would Mum and Benjamin."

Fae was about to reply -- an equally sharp barb already at hand -- when the two doors opened and her father, an ashy-looking man in a morning suit that matched his step-son’s, and his new bride, Louise, a bright young thing in a conservative lace dress with her dark hair in a low bun at the nape of her neck, emerged and began walking toward the canopy. The difference between the two was startling; Benjamin seemed as if he’d lost twenty pounds overnight, and Louise looked as if she hadn’t aged at all.

A pain arrowed itself into Fae’s heart; the thin threads of her life were finally breaking apart and she was falling back into the dark hole of oblivion. She was losing her father before her eyes – as well as the memories of her long-dead mother -- and gaining a woman and her son that possibly did not care for her or her father at all. A suffocating air settled over the tiny wedding reception and Fae silently wished for it to be over already so she could be alone with her thoughts.

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today…” the priest, a whittled reed of a man, intoned to the invisible wedding party. He began describing how their love and understanding of each other had grown and matured in the years that they’ve been together and now they’re able to share their lives with each other.

They’ve only been together for a number of months, Fae thought solemnly, for it was true. Perhaps, if they had been together for years, then Fae would've learned to love Louise and Evan.

And just as the priest proclaimed the happy couple wedded, Fae turned to look at the ocean, the shoreline, the ebbing waves, attempting to distract herself from the horrifying scene that was unveiling in front of her.

Then she heard the voice, blind and commanding in her mind, an invisible source, clear as water: You. Come here.