Once Upon a Time
"It's time for our final performance," the shadows announced.
"Once upon a time" is not the right phrase for us, because our story is also the story of many other people who have ever loved and been told they could not. But we'll use it anyway, because that's the way all the best stories start.
Once upon a time, princes and UFOs and true-hearted friends really did exist. And the Rose Prince turned all the girls in the world into princesses, save for three.
The first girl was the oldest and fairest, and loved to sing. She was quiet and calm as a spring, and wore a different ribbon in her hair each day of the week. She loved to write romantic poems and plays. Her name was lost in the time that has since passed, but for this story she will be called A-ko.
The second girl was the youngest and smallest, with braided hair and freckles on her nose. She was cheerful and unrestrained, but also the most thoughtful and witty. She dreamed one day of being an actress in a famous theater troupe, and she told A-ko that she could write all her plays for her. She was called B-ko.
The third girl was a bit odd, even among their standards. She was loud and dramatic and had a mind for inventing unusual contraptions and dressing oddly, and sometimes even the other girls didn't understand her. They called her C-ko, but she called herself a monkey.
Once upon a time, three girls met and fell in love. They had a bond greater than sisters-lovers-bestfriends-soulmates and they were happy to be themselves, and nothing else.
But then the Prince came, and everything changed.
The Prince offered to turn them into princesses if they would only declare their love for him, but they refused.
We have each other, we need no one else, they told him. The prince could not understand, for none had turned down his offer before. If you would not be princesses, then surely you must be witches! he replied, and rode away to the castle where he dwelt, to tell his sister of the startling news.
The sister of the Prince was a terrible witch, and she cursed the girls for refusing her brother. She banished them to the shadows, where they could never look on the sun again, although in return she set a seed of darkness within her own heart. And there it festered, until eventually she was consumed by her bitterness.
The girls were turned away from the light forever, but A-ko told them not to be sad. As long as we have each other, we will be all right. But one night while they hid in the shadows, they were discovered and their secret was revealed. They were declared to be heretics, sinners, witches of the evilest nature, for what woman would love another but she were bewitched or a witch herself?
C-ko called the townpeople a lot of horrible names, and B-ko laughed in their faces and kissed A-ko the harder, but they were taken away and locked in the darkest dungeon. And there they stayed, until C-ko discovered an incredible power. When the Prince's sister had doomed them to the shadows, she had also given them dominion over the shadows, so that they could sculpt themselves into clever forms and flit silently along the walls.
They escaped, and knew peace for a time. Until the Prince became the Joker, the wild card, and he was not content to wait until the world's shell was broken.
With his new powers the Joker and his sister built a new palace of stone and roses and magic, and because the girls had defied him he again locked them away. This time they could not escape, but only watch from the shadows as the years went by.
But they were not disheartened. A-ko wrote her most unforgettable plays, and B-ko thought of all the best lines. But C-ko became estranged from them, and went off by herself to explore the most abandoned regions of the school, and those who passed by heard secrets whispered from the shadows.
One day, a lady-prince was born. She was destined to fail, but the girls watched and took interest because here was a girl who was neither witch nor princess, like themselves. And they were moved to act when they had not been before. They came out of the shadows and tried to help the lady-prince, enjoying the opportunity to give her a warning in front of the noses of the witch and the evil Joker-Prince.
They still had a grudge against the witch, you see.
And the lady-prince failed anyway. The world's shell was eventually broken by the witch, and her brother went back to playing with his toys, only they weren't quite listening to him anymore.
And the three girls decided they had had enough, and they went off into the sunset holding hands, their shadows stretched along the ground. Students who had lunch in the schoolyard that day swore they saw a mysterious flying object taking off into the sky.
Telling stories takes so much effort--
But everyone knows the narrator has the best part of all!