Once upon a time.

Happily ever after.

There were Brianna's favorite words. Growing up, her mom and dad had read a lot of fairy tales to her, and as soon as she learned to read, that was all she read. During recess, Brianna would pretend that she was a princess; she would climb to the top of the jungle gym, where there was a secluded tower, and wait for her Prince to rescue her from the Dragon, which was just a green slide.

What she didn't know was how cruel middle school could be. Brianna held onto her naïve notions that her Prince Charming would rescue her from the cold, cruel world. She forced herself to fall for any guy who so much as glanced at her. She passionately attempted to make her fairy tales real, but wound up with a battle-scarred heart, instead.

At last, one guy did fall in love with her. His name was Dylan. As soon as he admitted he liked her, the two became inseparable. They always hung out, watched movies, had dinner out, the normal dates. Brianna loved him, and never dreamed of letting him go.

Then the relationship turned bad. As Brianna discovered, fourteen-year-old Dylan's parents were never home. His mom had left him and his dad, who went out and drank every night. Dylan had no siblings. Though two summers, the two spent almost every night at Dylan's house. They loved being together, so they would just lie on the couch in each other's arms, watching movies until they fell asleep.

Those twelve years of innocence that Brianna had held onto were suddenly snatched away from her when Dylan inevitably broke up with her. She was left crushed, still a silly girl with a head full of stories. Turns out, once he became popular with his friends, Dylan began to date another, older girl who had teased Brianna throughout elementary school.

Once Dylan broke up with her, Brianna did not show herself. She had almost trusted Dylan enough to reveal her soul to him, but now, she was afraid of getting hurt again. By eighth grade, Brianna had become an easy target for the cliques of girls that roamed Copperdale Middle School. She began to hide herself. She would eat a sack lunch in a favorite teacher's classroom, not daring to go outside with the rest of the kids.

As it turns out, there was someone as broken and lonely as Brianna was. Thirteen-year-old Michael had been bullied all his life, and eighth grade was no exception. He turned down the same road as Brianna, and was just bringing a sack lunch into his favorite teacher's room when he literally ran into Brianna. Sandwiches, apples, thermoses, and cookies bounced to the floor. With a muffled "sorry", they both bent to gather their lunches.

Michael and Brianna both stood up. Their eyes met, Michael's dark blue and Brianna's chestnut brown. Brianna managed a brave smile as she handed Michael his apple. At last, she worked up enough nerve to speak. "I'm Brianna. What's your name?" she asked.

"Michael." He grabbed the apple from her and stuffed it into his paper bag.

The next day, Michael and Brianna had lunch in the cafeteria for the first time in three months. They sat at a table and got to know each other. They finally could ignore the teasing remarks thrown at them day after day. The two became best friends all through the rest of eighth grade, and all through high school.

After college, Brianna and Michael began to date. Once married, they moved into a house not far from where Dylan used to live. They both thank God every day for bringing them together. Now they have two kids: Noah and Alexis, and three goldfish: Goldie, Silvery, and Coppery.

Both of them learned that the power of love can do anything...if you wait long enough.