All young girls grew up reading fairy tales about the princess waiting to be saved. She’d let down her long hair or wait in distress as she was held captive. She was vulnerable and always found happiness in a man’s warm embrace. Well, screw that. I’m a Princess that waits for no man.
I refuse to let down my hair or wait for some man to find me. I won’t sit around for him because I’m the one doing the saving. Let me make this clear, my father would much rather me sit pretty and wait for some man to ask me to marry him. Me. No. I knew who I wanted to marry. I had since I was a little girl and he taught me how to ride a horse bareback and to joust like a professional. His name was Lee. We did jousting only for fun because it was a rather primitive sport but I loved it. It made sense when my father told me there was to be a competition for my hand in marriage that this would be the event. You know why? Because they’d all lose to Lee and to me.
Cue the sighs and confetti because Lee, he would fight for me, even knowing how I felt about being fawned over. He loved me. I knew that with everything that I was because he respected me. My intelligence. My choices. My thoughts. And he was easy on the eyes. His long hair and chiseled face with a distinguished chin that I longed to run my teeth over. And his eyes, so dark and expressive. Trouble was, he still had to fight for my hand.
“Ladies and Gentlemen please be seated for the tournament. Whoever taps or gets their opponents to fall first wins and shall earn the hand in marriage of the lovely Princess Annabelle.” I cringed as they sold me off like cattle. They motioned to where I sat or was supposed to be sitting. My servant was a good fill-in.
I snuck away and geared up, disguising myself in full gear. I wasn’t going down without fighting for what I believed in. Laws and Procedures were one thing I couldn’t fight my father on but I was known to get around them and I had a plan.
“Begin!” I rode with a passion as I immediately knocked the first contender off his horse, then the second, then the third. Murmurs ran through the crowd of who the masked man was. Little did they know it was me, fighting for my own honor. This wasn’t about Lee because I knew at the end of the day he was going to be the one I shared my life with. This was about every little girl watching, thinking that she was only able to choose a man who could fight for her and win. That she had no say in her own happily ever after. I was here to rip that veil off their eyes and show them that women were our own heroes.
“The last two standing men please prepare.” I looked at the end and saw Lee holding onto his helmet. He looked up to where he thought I was sitting and blew a kiss.
“Although I know you can fight for yourself dear Annabelle, I will fight for you because I love you wholeheartedly and would do anything to spend my life with you.” I know I didn’t need saving, or a man to complete me but Lee, he was the exception to the rule. He didn’t treat me differently because I was a Princess or a woman. He let me learn and try things, be independent yet supported me when I needed. I watched him through the slits of the helmet as he pulled back his long blonde hair and covered his face with the helmet.
Then it started. We went back and forth many times, both of us dodging and weaving each other’s attempts to get the other to fall off our horse. It was a dance that Lee and I had done many times before. Then, I caught him off guard, going below his jousting stick and pinning him in the shoulder. A loud gasp sounded through the audience, my father standing up and clutching the end of his chair.
“Unmask yourselves!” He demanded.
Lee took off his mask and then I did, my long black hair flowing around me. Silence greeted me.
“I have won my own hand and marriage.” I smiled at my father, shaking his head and slumping into his seat. Lee looked stunned but smiled, placing his helmet between his arms.
“I wanted to show every young girl that you are the makers of your own destiny. Not a silly game or tournament. You. It all starts with loving yourself and knowing your worth!” I pointed out into the crowd. Women cheered and men looked confused as I stood in front of them, their princess declaring the rights of women all around.
“Women don’t need a man to complete them or to be a good queen,” I glanced up at my father who sat there unsure of what to do. “But I, Princess Annabelle, choose Lee to be my husband. Not because I need him or because someone told me I had to marry him but because I love him.” I dropped my helmet and ran into Lee’s arms.
“That was quite a spectacle, princess,” he whispered against my ear.
“Would you expect anything less from me?” I questioned.
“Absolutely not. You were a worthy competitor. Even if your form was a bit off.”
“Lee, I will have you know that I beat you far and–”my objections were halted when his lips pressed down on mine. I didn’t agree with fairytales but with my lips pressed against the man I knew was my soulmate, I did believe in one thing: happily ever afters.