The town was thought to be made up of many noble fighters. They were all wealthy, well-mannered and good looking humans. That's what everyone saw them as, but those were only the outer traits. Anyone can fake these kinds of things. Our eyes don't see past those things, they can't see the greed, the bad tempers, the horrible twisted ways of thinking, or the pessimistic attitude they hold back with so much worthless effort. These kinds of people are asking for their own personal hell to begin. The one who places judgment on these people should show no mercy, they should be able to punish these people's true sins and force them to realize their true behavior. The person, who lets these lies of character get sent into a spiraling darkness, is and will forever be the true leader of the lives we desperately try to live. No one knew who this leader was though, within the town; no one could guess who might be the one person who can pass such judgment. No one would've guessed that it was a simple 15 year old girl.
Her eyes, a pale blue; her hair, a silky black; her skin, a white paleness of a new snow; and her face ... Expressionless with a smile that is revealed to no one. This girl can see what others cannot. What must the world look like from her eyes? Is it a place full of pain and suffering, or a beautiful place? We all lie and can't decipher right from wrong at the most important times. What must we do to stay alive through the struggles? Can this girl tell us these things?
And so the people wondered about this girl every day. She sat alone, listening closely to the sounds of the town as the seasons changed. The flowers bloomed, it got colder and colder, the rain period had passed but the snow was soon to come. She sat and watched, being talked about amongst the people. School was not a real priority for the girl. As far as she was concerned, the fate of the town could rest on her hands someday and they'd all regret the hatred they held in their hearts which has caused it all. And that girl was me.
This antagonistic blood that runs through my veins is what haunts me every day as I sit in this town, observing the dubious lies that play a major part in my life. I have not tried to get close to these people nor have I tried to understand them. My eyes are simply a tool used for observing the true nature of such beings. The power I hold does not set me apart from everyone, seeing as I blend in with the town. I have a gift like no other but I will not reveal it to just anyone. You will have to listen to my story to understand why I live my life this way and why I have been chosen among many to fulfill this kind of task.
It is not a simple story to tell, mind you, and it is not something one would enjoy remembering. It is simply and inevitably the way my destiny works. Much as the "Manifest Destiny," named by John O'Sullivan, a newspaper editor; the term "Manifest" was used for the event to seem clear or obvious and "destiny" is something that is unavoidable. I didn't mean to relate to such old history but it is the only thing I can think to connect the way things work in this story. Just like the story I am about to tell you, the events were clear and unavoidable. So it begins; my invisible fairy tale that will never come true.
Where it all Began and Where it Took Me
Lightning dances, clouds gather, and flowers are crushed. All of these things that may seem so natural held a different meaning for me. Storms were cries of help from the sky and fits of rage when no one came to help. I did not cry during these times out of fear, but merely out of sorrow and sympathy. My gift did not hold much strength then, that day when I was too young to know the meaning of it all. I am telling this story as a more understanding teenager now and I hope that you will understand why I have done the things that I have and I hope to earn forgiveness for my sins.
The storm clouds continued gathering and I was a young girl at that time, forced to stay inside of the home. I watched through the window with each moment though and could interpret the meaning behind the sky's pleas. Each rumble of thunder and each time a raindrop would pound against the cobblestone in front of my house, I knew what it meant. Did I dare say anything? What a stupid question. Who would understand if I told them? 'The sky is crying for help and is angry because no one will help it!' I'd be considered a laughing stock. From that moment on, I decided to simply observe and keep silent, even as my gift grew stronger.
I was running through the rain, my hair soaked down and raindrops were running down my arms while teardrops were running down my face. Why was I running, you ask? My adventure had just begun. I was the daughter of a noble family, not by birth but by my adoptive rights. I was born in a small part of England and raised there prestigiously. I was an outcast, a freak, a failure within my family. Personal hair stylists and custom-made silk clothing was not my forte; I refused to succumb to all of it. My gift kept me isolated for a long time but I began to fit in with my siblings. I had two older sisters and a brother at that time. My sisters were very high class; both had curly blonde hair and blue eyes that shimmered in the sun. They wore the expensive clothing and jewelry just like their mother, raised to have a sense of their own nobility. My brother was trained in the arts of defense with things such as fencing and martial arts. He was very kind but the air of royalty never faded around him. I was different.
I had been a delicate girl, keeping to myself. The life my family was so pretentiously living was not the life I wanted to be condemned to. My creativity and my "sixth sense" I suppose you would call it, is what led me to my downfall. I would wear shorts in the summer, keep my hair short, and play outside. In the winter, I'd wear sweaters and catch snowflakes on my tongue, dancing in the white mist that had covered my world. In autumn, when the leaves fell all in different colors, piling up, I would jump into them whilst wearing thin jackets. None of what I wore was of fine material, nor was it expensive. Not everything I did was the way high-class people would act, and everything I wanted was an invisible dream. It turned spring and I would pick flowers and bring them into the 'palace' as I liked to refer to it as. The next day, they would disappear. I knew it would happen but I continued to bring the blooming lilies along with daisies that had sprung up from the sweet green grass.
The "king" who just happened to be my adoptive father called upon my actions. They were all living in a sense of fake royalty. They had a lot of money and in England, it was more likely for it to be considered monarchy but in this time, it was simply power by wealth. I had been called for an audience with his majesty to "discuss" my actions, based on the evidence from his "royal court", simply the rest of the family. These types of meetings were very typical. I just could not believe it took them so long to call upon me. I think they had overlooked my carelessness for a long while and now decided to lecture me, before punishing me. The simple words that escaped their mouths were familiar but I did not dare to speak out.
"You are to wear the finest dresses at all times, keep your hair long so it is easier to put traditional decorations into, and you are to act accordingly as one of our status. Have you forgotten this, Camilla? You are to always ask permission before you leave the home and you are to be educated inside of these walls. You must maintain your grades and never speak out of turn. Keep your head held high and let people know of the origin in which you were raised," as spoken by the Queen.
"Camilla." This name I dreaded. It was the name given to me as a member of this family. The family who attends dances and tea parties and has meetings with other wealthy families; the family in which princesses are raised who wear corsets and satin dresses, holding fans that were fringed with lace and had their hair pulled up and decorated. The family in which princes would wear the finest suits and have their hair slicked back, walking with their back straight and their head up high, standing tall over the others, waiting to assume the throne in which they lived under. These people hold no meaning to me anymore, for I disconnected myself from their styles long ago. It was not simply the matter of wearing dresses with frilled lace on the shoulders and had satin that flowed to the ground, following you with each small step that you had to take ever so delicately. It was a matter of the suffocation I felt in those environments. Moreover, the punishment I received if I did not abide by such attire.
If I refused to follow the examples of my older siblings and my parents, I would be locked up in my room. Like the princess locked in the tower. Except I was no princess; this punishment, I was used to, but this time it was different. I was not allowed to have anything to eat or drink, I would be changed into corsets and dresses and high heels and have my hair done every day against my will. If I did not allow them to do these things, the guards would be throwing me into a smaller room inside of my own chamber, one with even harsher conditions (If that was possible). The room made me feel like I was suffocating even more, my throat closing and halting the intake of oxygen altogether. Wearing a corset that was hugging my waist as tightly as possible did not help, not in the overwhelming mental crowd I was running in, breathless. I already had a good figure but I would rather have free will over physical appearance any day. Everyone else believed that beauty led you to great things. The room was dark and had nothing inside of it. It was cold and lonely in there and I could be locked in there for hours. When I was finally let out, they had a disciplinary teacher come and teach me some manners. I would be educated in walking properly, eating properly without actually eating, speaking properly, dressing properly. Of course I did everything wrong on purpose. And the punishment I received consisted of being smacked, being whipped, being thrown into that closet constantly, being threatened, or lectured. There was a wide range of things. They were desperate to get me to behave like them. I was like a wild stallion, I could not be broken.
When my punishment was over, I would sit in front of the small window in my room that looked over the cobblestone paths and the forests beyond that which led further into the town. The sun shone in through the window, passing through my translucent curtains and onto my pale skin. My room was set up to remind me of how our family is supposed to live. A four post king size bed with many silk embroidered pillows, long veils hanging over the banisters, and the finest blankets; a lot of it consisted of light pinks and some other neutral colors. I felt the most isolated at this point in time. Most people would say "She's so lucky to live in wealth," or "What could be so bad about living so highly?" Well it's not all fun and games, which they knew nothing about when they whispered those things amongst themselves. I knew that they just were jealous, wanting it all for themselves, wanting to be treated like royalty. If I could just give it all away, I would. I hold no authority here. Not while I am locked up and beaten, all for the sake of becoming "tamed".
My decision changed everything though. I'll give in and abide by their rules and bend to their will, but it will not be the true me. The true me will be locked away for now. Just because I am giving in, does not mean I am giving up. Yes, I am just a child acting selfishly but would you want to live a confined life? I put on one of the dresses they love ever so much and allowed my hair to have decorations put in it. The dress was a light pink with frilled shoulders and it went down to the ground beneath my captive feet. I was wearing silver strapped high heels and had a fan in my hand, wearing white lace gloves. I was allowed out of my room and I was taking slow, delicate steps, keeping my head held high. My fan was hiding my face thankfully because my expression would be horrifying if they saw how much these tasks angered me. My older sisters were in awe over my sudden change and I stepped into the large dining room, sitting down and crossing my legs in a lady-like fashion. I had my back straight and my fan was in my lap respectfully as I awaited a visit from my mother to get her approval. No one knew of the plan that was in my mind. I would give in for now but once this foolish act was to my mother's liking, I'd have my freedom. Or at least that's what I thought.
The "Queen" walked elegantly into the dining room, sitting at one end of the long table. She crossed her legs in the correct manner and her watchful gaze shifted to me. A small smile formed on her lips. I knew she was looking closely for faults. She scanned me from head to toe and then stood up abruptly. Her fan hit me on the head and my composure faltered a bit. She enjoyed this reaction and spoke as if she had all of the dignity in the world.
"My daughter, you are forcing yourself to be to my liking. Right now, I do not like what I am seeing. You are still a child and you may be able to dress and act maturely at your age, but even for a child, this behavior should be more natural for you. You may have to keep a silhouette of elegance, but your composure should not slip so easily. This is the problem with stubborn children." she lectured me endlessly and matter-of-factly.
I was just a child but I was trying hard. I understood more than others, forced to live in that environment and my gift limited my actions because I did not fully understand it when I was that young. And yet, I ran. I burst through the doors of the house, into the rain. I became drenched, constantly tripping over my own feet in high heels. My hair fell back down to shoulder length and I ran as fast as I could, my high heels hitting the wet cobblestone with small thuds. I couldn't control my tears and let it all out. The years of childhood I had been suppressing while I was under the judgment of my fake family. Can you see how it is an invisible fairy tale? There was no prince charming to come and rescue me, I did not end up getting along with my sisters in the end, I did not have my own palace or learn to accept my life and be treated kindly. I did not get those luxuries. Besides, I wasn't really a princess in a castle; but merely an adoptive wealth under a large roof. Through my eyes, it was the disastrous fairy tale that led me to a life of adventure.
My feet carried me along as fast as possible, my hand grasping the edge of my dress so I wouldn't trip and fall onto the wet cobblestone under my feet. I passed by many people but they did not look twice at me, thinking of how pitiful I was. So young and foolish, running away; but they did not know what I was running from. The lies and expectations to live up to, the dresses, the attitude, the elegance, the so called "High-class" attitude, which I would just call being a snob. I knew how to do it all but I did not want a life of being told what to do and how to do it. I did not want to be locked up and be forced into an arranged marriage or look down upon others with a lower status. I was a selfish child at the time, but I was not a sadist. I am not one to inflict pain and suffering, nor one to endure it. I am no one's artificial lab rat.
I lived alone, moving from place to place in England. I acted high-class just like they wanted me to and would wear the dresses I packed the night I left. I brought only one bag with me and tried to find simple jobs to work at for the next seven years. Things did not change much and my family never tried to find me. They let me stay out on the streets. I soon grew taller and my hair grew longer. I kept a good figure and was strong, still keeping an attitude like no other. I was often called over by various men, wanting money or because they thought I was "A beauty like no other". Talking to others was not something I prioritized. I wanted to travel somewhere other than England. England was my home but I still felt confined to its borders, as if life were getting tighter with each second. I knew I was pathetic but I had to keep faking my status and I had to keep pretending. Who was the liar now? My reflection only showed my fake intentions and actions. It was all worthless. I had been saving up money for so long, but for what? To live my life stuck here in England, pretending to be noble when I am nothing of the sort?
I made my decision. My hard work would bring me to America. The United States, more specifically. I bought my ticket and packed up my things. I had no goodbyes to give out, for no one wanted to befriend a liar who had such a strange gift. And I wanted to befriend no one whose true, ugly personality was reflected into my eyes. My gift did not fade, but I know people for what they truly are. All of the lies and greediness they hold, and how impure they are. My journey was not over and I knew it would not be for a long while.
The plane ride was very long and I felt as if I was going to fall through the bottom of the plane and land in the middle of the ocean, this awful dress weighing me down to the bottom and restraining me until I ran out of air. However, no one would come to rescue me from those depths. Even now, while I am soaring through the sky and the clouds are in my view through this tiny window, crying out to me, I feel like I am drowning.
When I landed in the United States, it was so unfamiliar to me. I walked around aimlessly. I was in the area of Duluth, Minnesota and people around me were staring at me in a very disgusted manner, obviously thinking I was some kind of circus freak. Most people were dressed casually and there were many different types of people there. Ones who only thought of love, ones who only held greed, and there were ones who were only selfish. Unfortunately, I had never grown out of my own selfish ways. I went further into the town, my curiosity getting the better of me. My fan covered my face, even though I knew acting high class here would only make me look like a fool. The roads were of fresh pavement and the grass covered a wide range of the town I was in. People were bustling around, some wearing suits, and some had children on their arms, in a hurry to get somewhere. Back in England, things were different from this and I felt very out of place. I had no family or friends and I only had my stupid fake pride, which would soon fail me as well. My true self is still hiding deep within and I knew who I was even as a child. I still know who I am, but I have not let my facade crumble. I would be screaming bloody murder, crying and feeling lost if I let all of it go.
"Stay composed Camilla... Stay calm." I whispered to myself as I wandered the streets, which had no meaning to me.
All of the faces that I passed were just reminders of my old life, where my thoughts and feelings remained unspoken under all circumstances. They probably had not even realized that I ran away at this point, too engrossed in eating a peaceful afternoon meal, no Camilla there to need scolding. I began to panic as I roamed the streets aimlessly, not having any idea where to go from there. The stares intensified as the crowd of unfamiliar shapes focused on my dress, my panicked expression, my long hair that was obviously well kempt, and then the pairs of eyes would fall upon the high heels on my feet. Speaking of the high heels, they were starting to hurt, badly at that.
One painful step after another, I tried to keep a pleasant expression on my face as I shoved through the crowd that seemed only to be getting bigger. Wait, I didn't have to force a smile anymore for the sake of image; No longer would I have to parade around with practiced posture and a smile that meets my eyes. As I went, I didn't expect to run into any sort of trouble, figuring people would avoid a wandering lost cause who was so blatantly out of place. My train of thought was halted though as I seemed to hit into a type of brick wall, a thud still resonating through my whole body. When I got enough sense to look up and see who was before me, it was only a sense of disappointment that swept over me. How stupid was I to think that I would run into someone to give me a tour or to offer me some help? Even though his expression was composed and he brushed it off as nothing, my eyes were telling me differently, sending the message to me loud and clear that he was annoyed and he thought I was just some 'troubled kid'. It wasn't entirely untrue, but my gift was turning the tables on me again, stinging me little by little with the true nature of people. Even out of England, people were dishonest and rude, wearing invisible masks without having to go to the masquerade. Was life just one giant masquerade outside of England walls?
"Are you alright? Are you lost?" a voice suddenly sounded from behind me. It was a medium pitched voice, not too deep or too high, but enough to send shivers up my spine, wondering who was bombarding me with questions. Well, they were only two questions, but I had to turn around and analyze the gesture. There was a tall man standing in front of me, looking like he was around sixteen or so, an air of friendliness around him. Everyone started out that way, but even when I looked closer at him, nothing else was there; no other message or deeper meaning to his words that would make me want to step back and constantly apologize. His hair was a deep brown color, in his face a bit, but it looked nice when it was messy. He leaned down to observe me and repeat his questions, his pale blue eyes meeting mine and the overwhelming scent of cologne hanging in the air that was invading my space. It was a change that I wasn't exactly welcoming, causing me to lean backwards slightly. My eyes searched his briefly, before I averted my gaze and played with the sides of my dress, feeling like an idiot in this kind of world. I felt as if my voice was stuck in my throat, but I answered him finally.
"I am new here.... I am fine though," my throat managed to choke out in a strong English accent.
"Why so formal?" he asked curiously, a small smile touching his light pink lips. Getting a better look at him, he was pretty average looking, but the way he spoke was comforting, and I wanted to hear more. He was slim and his arms had been lining with a bit of muscle, which was surprising for how young he looked. There wasn't anything extremely spectacular about him, but he had a boyish charm that I'd never gotten to see around England. Dark denim was covering his long legs and his feet were in red high top sneakers. The shirt he was wearing was a light blue flannel button up shirt that was hanging open and he had a black men's tank top underneath that swooped down at a rounded neck.
I swallowed my hesitation and replied to him once more, hoping I didn't sound as stupid as I probably looked. "I have been raised to speak politely. I suppose I am just not used to speaking differently." It was the truth, and I was hoping to fix that someday. Maybe even get a sense of humor that wasn't my internal sarcasm that was never voiced. The boy simply shrugged, not looking into it too much or asking me too many questions.
"Well, you stick out like a sore thumb here." he stated, being as polite as possible before he extended his long arm and pointed towards a store behind me. I felt a bit stupid for not noticing that it was a store, and the fact that I didn't even think about changing. What exactly was I thinking of doing? "I'm Duke, by the way. I forgot to introduce myself earlier." His name was so strange but he still kept an even tone, as if he was used to meeting new people, used to being so casual and comforting. Now was the time for me to have an alias, a name that I actually didn't hate and a name that didn't sound so high maintenance. I started pulling letters from my name, trying to put them together to come up with a new name, or think of other girl's names around England that didn't sound royal and uptight. One name popped into my head that seemed to suit my image well enough and the thought of others calling me by it just gave me a sense of happiness somewhere within me. It was something new to be known as, a new me, a brand new girl that could not be judged so easily.
"My name is Lana," I told him, though it sounded a bit too matter-of-factly when I heard it coming from my own mouth. It was a lie, a small fib, a little white lie, a small piece of fiction, and no matter how much I despised liars (even though I could see right through them), it was the only way to create a new life for myself. Nothing started out with bad intentions, nothing started with things turning around. It was just a straight path for me to walk on, a road with no bumps or potholes, newly paved. Duke, as he had introduced himself as, simply smiled understandingly and took a step forward as if it was the most natural motion in the world.
"Well, Lana... Would you like me to show you around the city?"
It was odd, the way things looked in the city. There were so many unfamiliar buildings and signs, not to mention the rows of houses by light gray sidewalks. I had agreed to go with him reluctantly, seeing nothing but sincerity in his words, a light blush coming to my cheeks when his hand took mine and he started pulling me along down those foreign streets.
"W-Where are we going?" I managed to say, my eyes searching around at every place we passed as we walked at a pace quicker than what I was hoping. If he were in high heels and a thick dress, he would probably feel the same way, but I noted every detail to memory as fast as I could. The large structures of the buildings, the small, peaceful houses, the clean streets, and the smell of fresh food wafting through the air were what surprised me. So much for going clothes shopping to avoid 'sticking out like a sore thumb'. Allowing him to pull me along wasn't exactly my brightest idea since he was a stranger, but nothing surprised me as much as where he took me. Part of me wanted to stop and turn around in the opposite direction, but that would be like going back to square one. I loathed square one; it was almost as bad as shipping me back to England in a gift-wrapped package labeled 'Here you go!'