06.02.2021 jealousy is rearing her shadowed face towards me and her eyes glow radioactive green in the dark

"i think that there is something wrong with me," she said, gazing into the mirror. she flickers all over with jagged lime bolts of static, and i smell the tell-tale scent of acrid ozone. she is shaking ever so slightly, miniscule bursts of energy that disrupt the air around her.

"well, tell me all about it, sweetheart." the endearment makes her lip curl up for a fraction of a second, but i catch it. there is not a single detail i miss, on the other side. every detail is akin to lines of code on a page.

after a momentary pause, she says, "you told me there would be a prince in shining armor, waiting for me with open arms." i say nothing. "you TOLD me, in no uncertain terms, that if i just stayed here, he would come to me. if i just grew out my locks, if i just did my chores, if i nurtured the right kind of countenance and demeanor, that at the end of all this, i would have my happily ever after. so where is it? where is my prince?"

"well, if it's a prince you want, you had him," i emphasize. "you had two even! remember when the two suitors come by, and you decided you didn't like either one? what am i supposed to do about that, darling? what am i supposed to do with you?"

"you know damn well those were no princes. just boys on wagons and horses. nothing special, nothing like what you promised!" at the crest of her petulance, she stomps her foot on the floor, and the room becomes blurry to me. a feral growl rips its way out of her throat, and she claws at her scalp as the crackling static spreads all over. i don't enjoy seeing her like this.

"come now, this is no way to behave. why don't you tell me what's actually going on? how can you possibly be unhappy now? your tower has all you could want, servants at your every wish and command. and we're certainly not forbidding you from seeing these boys, so what makes you tear at the seams like this? hmm?" i see her take a deep breath, face in her hands. counting in for three, holding for four, releasing for seven. just like i taught her.

"i let him go, but i want that boy to miss me. i want that boy to dream about the princess he left in the tower and i want him to never find another. i want him to stay awake at night, wondering what he did wrong, wondering if he could win me back with a better suit of armor, a fancier car. most importantly, i want that boy to HURT the way i hurt! i hope he's suffering the way i'm suffering, i hope he feels lonely and rotten and miserable!" static followed by a yelp of pain.

"...i don't mean any of that. i don't, i swear. that's not what i wanted to say at all. he made me happy. he shook my hand, and he was a good man though he never knew me. he was just never in a tower. he grew up close to the soil, and he was real. and now that he's gone, how do i know anything outside truly exists? he was my ticket out. he was supposed to carry me far away, and i'd never have to come back."

from behind the glass, i reach out. i understand her. i run my hands along her image, smoothing out her hair, feeling the soft curve of her cheek. i wrap her in my arms. and i murmur into her ears, "but that isn't what you wanted after all."

sighing, the fight drains out of her. "it's not. i thought i did. i thought i wanted anything i was good at, and i'm certainly good at this. the fretting over my appearance, the attentive gazing, all of it. but it's so fake compared to what he showed me i could be. and yet..."

she meets my eyes, and the way her sea-glass eyes shine in the dark makes the mirror warp. she bends me to her shape, and i reach out to hold her hands with my own. twins in a dark womb, warm flesh to cold silicon. we are one and the same.

together, we remember the maids of our youth. the way we frolicked in the grass with them, before they were punished for getting the princess dirty. "it feels like i'm betraying them," we say. "the girls, they always knew that freedom came at a cost. they knew the effort it would take to find a good man, to make a marriage last. the labor of children, the labor of home." in some strange way, they were the prince we wanted. practical, caring, and worldly.

"i wish my maid had been my prince. i wish she loved me like that, enough to steal me away from it all. enough to care for me beyond her duties. but i could never ask that of her. i would never ask her to sacrifice herself for my sake the way i would a knight." we admit this under the glow of stars. "if the right knight existed, it would be the one we kill and hide under a bush. it would be the one who would give all he had for me. i would take his horse. donning his chainlinks and plates, i would ride alone, into the sunset."