Once upon a time, in a kingdom not so far away from here, there lived a young princess and her royal siblings. The princess was the youngest – spirited and intelligent – and she was quite the favorite at court. She painted lovely pictures, and created fantastical stories with her stuffed animals, and even won a few prizes here and there for her spinning-straw-to-gold skills.
The king and queen, although sentimental, were pragmatic. Not wanting a dungeon full of hapless young adults lounging around throwing darts at the tapestries, they raised their children to go out into the world and seek their own fortunes. The young princess, Justine, was no different in this regard. She grew up and left the castle, and became a freelance enchantress. She was all the rage at country fairs throughout the land.
Years passed, and eventually, the king and queen died. After an appropriate period of grief, Justine (being an entrepreneur who supposedly had more flexibility with her time) was called upon to return to the castle and help settle affairs. Her elder siblings had no interest in taking over the kingdom (there was talk of a sale to an investment-savvy sultan who lived across the Seven Seas), so she was given free rein to make all decisions. Not her strong suit, but it was what it was.
As she crossed the drawbridge, Justine had no idea what was in store for her. It had been years since she’d visited, as Mom and Dad were all too happy to follow her to whatever festival or village curse she happened to be working. Entering the darkened castle, a strange sensation crept over her. Expecting to see maybe a scepter or two, some stray mead flagons and the like, she was astonished to find every room intact, with every artifact her parents ever owned.
She counted no less than 37 tiaras in her mother’s chambers, and her father’s jousting lance collection had grown considerably from what she remembered. Every closet was packed to the gills with silverware, chests of gold, bottles of fine wine, bolts of brocade, silk flower arrangements, and gifts from serfs.
Most distressing of all was her own room. Every stuffed animal was carefully arranged, enshrined around her bed. Every painting she’d ever created was stacked in the corner – it reached to the ceiling. All of her straw-spinning trophies and certificates (even the ones for participation) were stuffed into bins and boxes. To top it all off, she found a letter with the royal seal addressed to her: “Dearest Justine, we know how much our perfectly good heavy wood furniture, gilt palace decor, and memorabilia meant to you. We trust that you will be able to enjoy it all or find the best homes for…” (you can guess the rest).
“Oh my God,” Justine exclaimed, absent-mindedly dropping her wand among the jewels and outgrown gowns, “They kept everything.”
The Spell of Acquisition and Saving had fallen over her childhood home – one of the most difficult of all incantations for any self-respecting sorceress to break.
What was she to do? She was paralyzed at the thought of going through each chest and cupboard in the 4000 square foot castle (why they had never downsized was a mystery). Most of what she saw, yes, held decent memories, but had she not seen it she wouldn’t have even remembered any of it in the first place. None of it would have mattered, absent her re-entry into her parents’ home. She felt powerless. She sank to the floor, tears falling like crystal droplets to the floor…
Would she eventually find the strength to wave her wand and make it all go away?
Could she donate everything to the frog prince colony down at the river? Maybe they could make use of the velvet cushions.
Could she call upon a Fairy Godmother to drive a truck up to the back door and haul it to the kingdom landfill?
Or, there’s that anthropologically-obsessed mermaid who might come pick some stuff out…
Maybe she could just give up her wandering enchantress life and stay in the palace, wearing a different tiara every night and slowly picking through every item until she became a Mysterious Old Crone.
Perhaps a handsome prince would ride up on a white horse and…no, frankly, I don’t think he’d be much help. Let’s not go there.
How would you write the ending? What would you hope for Justine in her quest to find a solution?
The moral of the story: assumptions are dangerous. Leaving so many things behind might mean it all goes to the frogs.