To Catch A Prince

by Kaley Jemison

Lorelei threw down her copy of “Happily Ever After” magazine with a gasp. She could not believe that Priscilla from finishing school had found a prince just by kissing a frog. Lorelei had been trying for years to find a prince. She had attended every ball, sang loudly in the woods, and even left her shoe behind at a party like the famous Cinderella- all to no avail. Lorelei was the daughter of a seamstress and a baker and she lived in a small home on the edge of the forest. She hated sharing a room with her sisters and wearing the most unfashionable hand-me-downs. Like most girls, she dreamed of marrying a dashing prince and moving into one of the grand palaces with four-carriage garages that line Enchanted Avenue. She could not begin to fathom how clumsy Priscilla who could not even curtsey without tripping over her skirts had managed to become engaged to a prince. Lorelei suddenly stopped pacing and sat back down at the end of her rickety bed.  An idea had sprung into her head. Pricilla’s prince had been transformed into a frog by a vengeful witch. What if there were other disguised princes desperately waiting for a beautiful maiden to kiss them and turn them back into humans?

Lorelei hastened over to her wardrobe and selected the pink, silk gown that she had saved all her babysitting money to buy. Then, she sat before the slightly cracked vanity mirror and arranged her dyed golden, blond hair into curls that framed her face. After a final glance at her reflection, Lorelei slipped down the stairs. Her sisters, Beth and Alison, were washing pots in the kitchen. “I’m off to the market”, Lorelei told them airily. Beth glanced at Lorelei’s appearance and raised an eyebrow,

“Dressed like that?”

“You never know who you’ll run into”, Lorelei replied as she walked towards the door. Alison rolled her eyes,

“You have to help us with the dishes Margaret.” Lorelei glared,

“I told you. To call me Lorelei now”, she reminded. Princesses always had long, flowing names not like Margaret. Slamming the cottage door behind her, Lorelei walked along the path. After a quarter of a mile, she reached the town, it was bustling. Carriages crossed the cobblestone road, a crowd had formed outside the courthouse, protesting the Goldilocks verses the Three Bear’s case. The Big Bad Wolf leered down at Lorelei from a wanted poster. She passed the Everything but Apples bakery chain that was run by Princess Snow White. Next to the bakery was a large, shimmering tower that was the headquarters of the Fairy Godmother Assistance Bureau. A long line of weeping people snaked out the door. Two years ago, Lorelei had tried to have a fairy godmother turn her into a princess, but the woman had told her that they used magical interference only in the most desperate circumstances. Lorelei had cried for weeks after that disappointment. She slowed as she passed the True Love’s Kiss neighborhood on Enchanted Avenue which was lined with impressive castles and glistening swimming pools tucked away behind golden gates. This is where Lorelei dreamed of living. In a palace with servants at her beck and call, an indoor swimming pool, and a loving, handsome prince.

Turning off the street, Lorelei entered the forest and began scanning the trees for an oddly humanlike animal. She started to sing and twirl through the trees. Enchanted animals always sang along with fair maidens, but the forest remained silent except for the echo of her lilting voice. Then she spotted a brown and white speckled rabbit nibbling on a blade of grass. “Your majesty!” called Lorelei loudly, “I shall kiss you and lift the witch’s spell.” The rabbit simply stared at Lorelei, its whiskers twitching and then it hopped away. Her heart sank. A true prince would not have run away. Lorelei sighed dramatically, but continued down the path until she spied a squirrel sitting at the base of an old oak tree. He is sitting rather like a human, thought Lorelei as she slowly approached the squirrel and curtsied.  The squirrel chattered at her. Lorelei knelt on the leafy ground and crawled forward. The squirrel was nibbling on an acorn. She stared into his inquisitive, warm, brown eyes and kissed him. Then the squirrel promptly leapt up and bit her on the lip. Lorelei cried out. Her lip was bleeding. The squirrel climbed up a tree where it perched and seemed to be laughing at her.

The rest of the afternoon was not much better for Lorelei. Three birds flew away from her when she tried to kiss them and the gopher that she managed to kiss remained a gopher. The forest had grown dim and Lorelei was dejectedly walking home when she spotted a small, fluffy creature peering at her from under a bush. She approached the animal and it came out of its nest. Lorelei curtsied and before she could run, the animal lifted its tail and sprayed her. Lorelei gagged at the stench and her eyes watered. When a bruised, bedraggled, and smelly Lorelei walked through the door of her home, her family gagged at the odor.

“Did you find your prince?” ask Beth sarcastically, her voice was muffled because she was pinching her nose from the pungent smell.

The next day, Lorelei awoke with new determination to find her prince charming. She had finally washed away the skunk’s putrid odor after seven baths. She slipped into her second favorite dress and ran a comb through her golden curls. She tip-toed down the stairs and was just turning the knob to the front door when her mother appeared with her hands on her hips and a scowl on her face.

“Where do you think you are going?”

“For a walk in the woods”, Lorelei mumbled in response.

“Not after you skipped your chores yesterday. You will not leave this house until you have finished the mending and washed the dishes”, ordered Lorelei’s mother. It was not until late afternoon, when Lorelei was finally able to continue her hunt for a prince. She walked, singing under the canopy of trees and spied a duck lying beneath a bush. Peering under the leafy foliage, she saw that the duck was injured. Gently, Lorelei lifted the duck and cradled him. He must be a prince that was wounded in a battle with an evil enchantress who turned him into a duck. Lorelei carefully carried him back to her home where she gently stitched up his wound.

“What are you doing?” asked Alison, standing on tip-toe to see the duck in her older sister’s arms.

“This is my prince”, explained Lorelei as she bent to kiss the duck on the head. She held her breath waiting for a shimmer in the air and golden sparks to fall on the duck as he transformed back into a dashing prince who proclaim is undying love for her on bended knee and ask for her hand in marriage, but, once again, nothing happened. The duck was still just a duck. Lorelei turned away, wiping the tears from her eyes. She had been so certain that she would find her prince who would sweep her off her feet and they would ride away from this old home on a beautiful white steed and live together in an opulent castle. She released the unromantic duck in a nearby pond. Then, she crawled into bed and gazed out her bedroom window at the stars in the night sky, dreaming of her prince.  Just then, she spotted a shooting star.  Closing her eyes, she wished from the bottom of her heart to find her true love.

The next day, after mopping the floors, Lorelei returned to the woods. While walking through town, she spotted a farmer and his oxen. Full of hope, she leapt forward as they passed and kissed an ox.

“What are you doing”, bellowed the farmer, but seeing that the ox was still an ox, Lorelei promptly skipped off into the woods.  She began to sing and all the birds immediately took flight. Still optimistic, Lorelei chased after a rabbit that bounded away. Then she spied a little, brown deer nibbling on a blade of grass. She approached and it fled, winding between trees and around bushes. Lorelei followed it at a run, calling “Please, wait your majesty.” Suddenly, the deer swerved around an oak tree and Lorelei ran into something and fell to the ground. She rose and began brushing leaves off of her dress. Thinking that she had run into a tree, she looked up glaring and saw a man. He was tall with dark hair, green eyes, and was glaring right back at her.

“What are you doing? You have been scaring the game away. They hear you singing and flee. I need to catch something to eat, but because of you, I haven’t caught anything for the past two days.” Lorelei scowled and said indignantly,

“My singing is beautiful. It hasn’t scared any animals away.”

“Well if you wouldn’t mind leaving, so I can finally shoot this deer.” He raised his bow and aimed at the deer

“No”, Lorelei shrieked and leapt in front of the poor, defenseless deer. The arrow hit her arm and she gasped, staring down at the blood blossoming around the arrow shaft.  It hurt, but Lorelei had read all the magazines and knew precisely what to do. She swooned.  The hunter sighed exasperatedly and gathered her up in his arms and carried her back to his cottage. When he laid her down, Lorelei sighed and daintily opened her eyes.  The hunter quickly pulled the arrow out of her arm. She cried out and he wiped the blood away and said,

“It is not a deep cut, so you should be fine.  I am very sorry, but you should not have run in front of me. Is there anything that I can do to make you feel better?”

“Yes”, Lorelei replied as she sat up. “You can kiss me.”

“Kiss you?” the hunter repeated confusedly.

“Yes, kiss me. Last night, I made a wish on a shooting star to find my true love and today I ran into you, so you must be my prince.” The hunter shook his head,

“I am definitely not a prince. I am a carpenter. I don’t rule a kingdom. You can stay for dinner, but then you are going to leave.” He crossed to the table where he began to chop vegetables and throw them into a pot of water.  When the soup was done, he poured it into two bowls and handed one of them to her. They sat across from each other at his wooden table. His home was similar to her own. It was small with simple, unadorned furniture. Lorelei tasted the soup. It was very bitter and she made a face. The hunter, John, saw and said,

“I know it tastes horrible. I am a terrible cook.” Lorelei got to her feet and stepped outside. She was back in a few minutes holding a few herbs.  She added them to their bowls and gave the soup a stir

“Now it should taste better”, she said proudly. John tasted it and agreed that it was delicious.  They talked and laughed for the rest of the meal and afterwards, he walked her home.

Over the next few days, Lorelei met John in the woods. He taught her how to track an animal and she tried to teach him how to sing. He was far from a gallant prince, but he was kind and funny. One afternoon, Lorelei was strolling through the woods, picking flowers to weave into a crown. She sat beneath a maple tree and began sorting through her bouquet of daisies and lilacs when she heard a rustling in the foliage behind her.  Lorelei spun around and her heart leapt with fear. There, not six feet in front of her, was a bear. Lorelei shrieked as the bear approached.  Her hands scrabbling uselessly against the bark, she attempted to climb the tree, but her feet kept slipping. The bear drew closer until it was inches from her. She could see its onyx eyes and feel its hot breath.  Then, over the bear’s shoulder, she saw John. He hastily raised his bow and released the string. His arrow soared through the air and hit the bear squarely between the eyes and it instantly fell to the ground.

They embraced and John kissed her. There were no golden sparks and he did not transform into someone else, but the kiss had a magic all its own. He was not a wealthy prince, but Lorelei loved him anyway. Naturally, they were married the very next day in a serene meadow and afterwards they rode back to his cottage on a sorrel mare.  From that day on John and Margaret lived happily ever after.

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