He didn’t belong there. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure how he got there. How he convinced me to let my hair come tumbling down to the ground where he stood. How he climbed and climbed and still I didn’t think to cut him loose.
I just remember him being there. Brown eyes so warm and inviting as I sank deeper and deeper into the depths of them. The depths of him. How quickly I memorized the quirk of his smile, the tilt of his eyebrows, the steady and shuddering timbre of his laugh. And his touch. Long fingers reaching toward me, brushing against mine, lingering for awhile because he knew that I’d let them.
All those times his gaze held mine like he was searching—searching for my secrets. Wondering why I’d kept myself cooped up in this place for so long. Yes, I knew what he was asking all those times his eyes held mine. But I didn’t have an answer. Not one I could give voice.
But I know now. I know now what I wouldn’t bring myself to confess then. It’s not that I was comfortable. It’s not that I was happy. It’s not that I wouldn’t like to imagine my life any other way.
It’s because I was afraid.
Yes, so very, very afraid. Afraid of the world outside and all the dangers it concealed in the crevices of its palms. Afraid of the hurt it could inflict upon a soul as fragile as mine.
He can’t tell me I’m wrong. I’ve seen the marks. I’ve seen the scars. I know what the world has done to him. I’ve seen it in his shuddering breaths and in the way the light flickers and fades from his eyes.
My prince is wounded.
Oh, he’s charming. And, oh, he’s wonderful. And, oh, he’s so many things that I dreamed…
But deep down inside, within the secret tower of his heart, my prince has wounds he hides from me.
That’s why I’ve stayed here all these years. Because it’s safer in my tower. Safer not to know. Safer to imagine that the world is bright and beautiful, than to accept that darkness overcomes the sunshine eventually.
But my defenses have been compromised. The world—in the form of this prince—has found its way in. I cannot stay here any longer, caught up in my fantasies when reality has stepped through my window and called me by name.
So I ask him what the world is like, and he speaks of beauty shadowed by darkness. Of joy walking hand-in-hand with pain. And I never imagined the two could be so intertwined, but I see it now… through his eyes. And I wonder how our vision can be so different. How he sees things I never thought to notice before.
This is the moment everything changes. Where everything I’ve ever known to be true turns out to be wrong.
And I realize my tower hasn’t protected me at all; it has only made me blind.