When someone has gained more than you without effort, do you have a right to dislike them?
It was a shrink test on the internet. I clicked and the page whirred into its hiatus of refreshing, the little blue circle twirling into a frenzy. I waited for the next question to appear.
I reread the first word; then again; once more and I could finally catch the whole phrase properly.
What had I answered? Yes. I had clicked No though. Of course I had said no, answering yes would admit a flaw in my thinking. My hand had hovered over the yes, whilst it waited for the mind's momentum to acknowledge this defect. That's what it was, a defect in the way of thinking. Defects are given; it wasn't my fault I wanted to say yes.
It would not be wrong to hate them, only fair, really. When thinking of it, there are few that hate the princesses in fairy tales. What did they do, to deserve all their glory? They were always the victims of hatred, perhaps that is enough to say that they were better? It was they, that fell trap to ignorance, more times even so. Of course they did, too innocent to suspect treachery of others, even when they had been warned. It's the princess who puts in no effort that gets the prince charming, not the one who never gives up.
There was a person I knew like this, someone who had everything come to their fingertips. The ease with which things came to her was more than anyone could boast.
She thought I was her friend and in all appearances I was. I asked someone once how close they thought I was to her.
They just laughed. "Well I'd say you're inseparable." I could not find a laugh myself.
This friend, so-called really, she thought we were as close as anyone could be, and yet … I could not say we were. She always got everything she asked for, I knew because she always came to me about it. There was a time, when I showed her a pretty dress in a store, peach in fact. She told me it looked nice, that it would suit me, perfect with my complexion. I saw her wearing it a week later when she did nothing but tell me how she had gained it. I could hear her voice chattering away, but I closed my ears to it.
I didn't have to question the forces that commanded our friendship. From the start, it had been us two, always us two. As others left to different captains, we were the ones that had nowhere else to go. The money bought her nothing then. The passing times though, had not brought us closer, only pushed our views apart.
Her life was filled with perfection. Good grades every time. She boasted deep, and I would see the suspicion in people's eyes as they stared at their own mark. I couldn't look at my mark, after she'd looked at hers. She always beat me.
I realised the new webpage had long-since evoked another question ready for me to ponder.
"Oh I don't care." I charged to the red cross, flipping my finger over the mouse before I had a chance to consult my mind. I no longer cared what it was for.
I rose to leave, the screen bolted in a maze. Each turn of the labyrinth could present a dead-end, or a further path. There were many routes presented before a princess, and many tasks that she needed to pass through. At best, they would get themselves diplomatically from situations; they would never fight lest they tore their gown. More likely they would be rescued by a prince charming.
My so-called friend would easily find the gold, just by sitting there. So delicately she would place herself, hair so perfectly aligned, smile righteous. He would come, the shining prince, the gold right before her. The labyrinth would be conquered without being aware of her presence. The evil queen does not know of the enemy that still resides in their land. If by chance the prince had not come, he was battling a dragon no doubt, she would dare to venture into the labyrinth. There she may meet a wise man, or a fairy, or a dwarf even. There would always be someone to put her on the right path. A small stumble of a root would be her only mistake. Alas! would be cried, and the shining prince would arrive to rescue the damsel in distress. The evil queen would not realise their trap had never been breached.
This labyrinth though, it may instead be a mental hurdle for the princess. Perhaps they think they're unloved, but never ugly. What would this princess do when they cannot find a way out of the depths of their own mind? She would cry. Her tear may summon a spell, or be heard by a passing stranger on a dashing steed. Every problem would be solved with a kiss. There would be no more confusion, no more worry. Without the kiss, there is no hope for lasting happiness.
Just as one evil queen had stared into the mirror, I had glanced into a window to find the fairest of them all. Her picture was a murky image, but still she was beautiful. There would always be graceful mahogany hair to match those emerald eyes. The mirror would proclaim her beauty, and I was the mirror's voice.
They were chattering through a talk show on the TV, spreading news about the latest affair. People talked about my so-called friend a lot. Never to me, but I heard it still. She's arrogant they say, but has a pretty face. Too pretty for her own good. I made a comment on her once. They looked at me and turned away. A bit fuzzy in the head I heard. For some reason, I felt like they were talking about both of us.
Someone told me once, that they thought she was insecure. I can't remember who it was. They said it like they were asking me, as if I could give them an answer. I only shrugged my shoulders. "I don't think so." She wasn't insecure, someone like that could not be insecure. People who were insecure had flimsy clothes and straggly hair, houses with broken fences and parents that fought.
I paced through the house, lethargic. No one was here. The TV plastered sound throughout the empty rooms. Mum would be out shopping now, spending money on things that would be held indifferent by me. My so-called friend's mother would be out shopping now too, buying beautiful things; icing for biscuits, honey for tea.
There would be nothing wrong to hate them a little. I can imagine the horror of the evil queen when she finds her plans foiled after all the effort put in. So in every right, I was allowed to dislike her, just a little, a bit more than a tad perhaps. Who was she to deserve it anyway; to get everything she wanted when others got none?
I settled myself to the couch, grasping the nearest book to my hand. Bible. I had read once how God had humiliated the King of Egypt. God would not mind my hatred, to be sure. It was He who let me feel these emotions, He gave her those glories. Happiness should be the one emotion we lived for; I was happy when I disliked her.
The door slammed, a voice coming to match. "Come help with the groceries!"
I rifled through the plastic bags now sitting on the table. "Mum, why'd you buy a jar of honey?"
"I thought you liked it."
My so-called friend liked honey, not me.
We ate dinner without Dad that night, like most nights. The dinner would always be ready on the table when my so-called friend's father returned home.
I sauntered off to my room as the night wore on. The front door once again opened, this time with the wood clanking as it fell back in its place. Blurry words came up to me, both hissing voices mixed as one. I shut my ears.
There are times, when you'll wake in the half-light of the moon slipping through the curtains. You'll look around, confused. Whose is this room I'm in? you ask yourself. This is not my bed, this is not my walls, that dress is not mine. Which world have I gone to? The thought might slip into your sleep weary head. Have I wandered into another's place out of curiosity? Your confusion grows. Exasperation may set in, and you cannot help but let a muddled tear slip down your cheek. In a dawning way, as perhaps sleep begins to return to your mind, things may begin to look familiar. That bag, is that mine? That chair, I sit in it often I believe. The last thing you catch, before sleep finishes its invasion, is a reflection in the mirror. It's that friend, you think. You fall asleep, but your face remains in your mind.
To the alarm's blare I woke, at first the scream merging into my dreams before drawing me to reality. My eyes were brought up groggily, blurry walls in view. Shut. Rest a few more moments. Open again. Pause. Shut. Maybe I needed to pinch myself? Open, just slowly, dauntingly, looking for the trap at hand. This wasn't my room. These white walls, that blue bookcase. I knew instantly, a room so perfect could only belong to one person. This was my so-called friend's room. Over there was a photo, several on the wall. I couldn't see properly who it was, but I knew it to be her. It was her smile. Expecting to see her I looked around, trying to catch a glimpse of her face. A mirror, but not a reflection. A portrait instead. My eyes travelled around; the objects, the shapes distantly becoming recognisable. I edged my face closer to the mirror, still far away though. There it was, that hint of beauty she held. I held. Who held? I looked away, looked again. Quick flashes of a face; eyes, a mouth, flesh. Another glance, this one to keep. That dash of green eyes, the shine of brown hair, a touch of smoothness to the flesh; each time adding to the picture. I left the bed to press my face against the glass, expecting almost to fall in. I wanted to touch her, to feel that face. I reached up to my own. She reached up to hers.
There'll be honey in my tea when I go downstairs, icing on the biscuits I take from the jar.
I bounced around quickly, relishing in what I had, the beauty I spread, and the life I held. It was perfect.
I took the dress draped over the chair. It was my dress, that touch of peach had always been mine. My hands moved easily across the room, finding things coming to my touch. I trailed a hand along the wall, how many times had I stared at this smooth surface and never saw its gloss? I reached for a book, the first in the pile. Whatever it was, I knew I had read it. I must have enjoyed it. Bible. I wasn't so sure anymore. I touched the next in the heap. The title came easily to memory; not long ago I had sat letting the words touch my mind, but the Bible?
Maybe it hadn't been me the day I read those words, but my reason told me there was only ever me. Some part of me may have read it once, but many things can be forgotten. A princess' gift is that she is able to forget the past, and forgive what has been done to her.
Ready, earlier than usual in only subtle attempts to make myself beautiful, I made for the door.
"Enjoy your day hon," Dad muttered from the stairs as he stumbled down.
Dad had come home drunk last night.
The night before, he had been late too. They had shouted in that tense night.
"Fix it. I no longer want our house to look like a scrapyard."
"Do it yourself, my petty darling."
I closed the door on my perfect house, stepping away from my perfect life, leaving behind my perfect family.
As I made my way past the broken fence I could see my so-called friend gliding through her own perfect yard.
When someone has gained more than you without effort, you have a right to hate them, don't you?
I knew she had honey in her tea, icing on her biscuits.