Story Saturday: A Princess in Time

"A Princess in Time"

Once upon a time, there was a young millennial lady named Alex who was fed up with her life after her boyfriend dumped her for being too old-fashioned. She decided to distract herself with random internet memes, but quickly got bored of that. After some more clicking, she soon found herself looking up her ancestry online. To her surprise, she learned that she was descended from royalty and found an old painting of her ancestor, Princess Alexandria III. Alex stared at the painting for what felt like hours. It was as if she was looking into a mirror version of herself in a beautiful Renaissance dress. There was something not quite right about the image, though. She tried zooming in and inspecting it closer. The next thing she knew, her monitor began glowing brightly and humming. Alex rolled her eyes, hoping she wouldn't need to buy a new computer. Suddenly, she felt a strong force sucking her into the screen. No matter how she tried to resist, she could not escape the magnetic pull from the graphic bearing her likeness.

When Alex was able to move again, she was sitting on a cold stone floor in an unfamiliar room. An old man stood over a table of potions wearing what she could only describe as a wizard's robe. She carefully stood up, noticing that her jeans had transformed into the elaborate dark green gown her ancestor was wearing in the painting. She did her best maneuver around her layers of petticoats and make her way to the old man. When she took a closer look at the table, she found a yellow scroll with an image on that she could have sworn was her most recent profile picture she had used on her Facebook page. The wizard studied her curiously.

"Did it work?" he asked.

"Did what work? Where the hell did you get my profile pic? Is this some sort of sick joke? You'd better tell me who you are and where I am right now, or I swear I'll call the police!" Alex reached into her pocket where her cell phone was but found that it too had vanished.

"Remarkable!" said the wizard. "You speak of things that do not exist in this realm, or at least not yet, so you must truly be the descendant of Princess Alexandria! That means she is free."

"Look, I have no idea what you're talking about, but I'm going to give that ancestry website the worst review imaginable and hopefully get them shut down. How dare you bring me here against my will! Was I drugged? Kidnapped?"

The wizard raised his eyebrows at her.

"You really have no idea what's happened, do you, my dear?"

"No, and if you call me that one more time, I swear I'll--"

He raised a hand to silence her and proceeded to explain everything. As it turned out, Alex's ancestor was being forced to marry a prince she didn't love. Not wanting to abandon her kingdom in its time of need, she came to the wizard for help because she could not find any solution to the situation other than running away, which was not an option, for she was the sole heir of the king and queen. The wizard found a spell that would allow her to travel through time so that she could switch places with someone who bore her likeness with none be the wiser. Alex refused to accept this explanation and demanded to be taken back to her room. The wizard saw that there was no way he alone could convince her, so he agreed and had her escorted to the most beautiful gleaming marble palace she had ever seen.

The king and queen welcomed her home warmly. She saw a slight resemblance in them to her own parents, but they were definitely not the same. The jewels atop their crowns were so dazzling, she could not possibly imagine that they were fake. If someone was playing a joke on her, they had gone through a monumental effort. Alex gasped when she was brought to her chambers. She may have lost her computer, but she gained a stunning canopy bed with soft silk sheets, a balcony overlooking the entire kingdom, a beautiful wardrobe of glittering gowns, and a shelf of scrolls and books with quaint feather pens and large black ink wells in its place. A maid came in to check on her and offered the most delicious tea and scones she had ever tasted. She could get used to this.

The following evening, a grand ball was held to celebrate her engagement to Prince Calahan. She was surprised when she saw him for the first time. Considering the lengths her ancestor had gone through to escape him, Alex thought the prince must be very old or pompous. Instead, his face was warm and youthful, and his eyes were warm and inviting. He approached her cautiously and kissed her knuckles, making her blush.

"Princess Alexandria, I realize you're upset about this situation, but I would like to make amends with you if you'll only give me another chance," he said.

"Please, just Alex," she corrected him, curtsying as gracefully as she could muster. Her childhood ballet training was finally starting to pay off.

"Alex? How informal. And here I thought you hated me."

"Hated you? How could I? I don't even know you!"

"Well, judging from how you spilled the pitcher of juice over my head and ran off at our last dinner, it seemed to be the logical assumption."

Alex suppressed a giggle. Princess Alexandria did not sound like someone who was cut out for this sort of life at all. "That was very rude of me. Please accept my apologies."

"You can make it up to me with a dance," he said, offering to escort her onto the dance floor where many glittering couples were twirling and swaying to the music.

As the night wore on, Alex found herself feeling more and more drawn to Prince Calahan. She laughed at his jokes and shared his interest in dance and music. It felt like the ball drew to a close all too soon, and she couldn't wait to see him again. She wondered why anyone would ever wish to escape such a wonderful life. Even after several days passed, she couldn't find a single thing to complain about.

On the eve of her wedding, her maids prepared her beautiful silver gown with delicate tulle ruffles and glittering jewels embroidered on it. It was even more stunning than Alex could have imagined. She was just about to try it on when she was told she had a visitor. It was the old wizard she met when she first appeared in this world. Alex held her breath, hoping he didn't want to send her back. She couldn't imagine finding anyone as charming as Calahan in her own time.

"I'm sorry it took me so long to come up with a counterspell," he said, holding up a luminescent potion. "I've spent the past few days riddled with guilt for bringing you here against your will. In a way, you were right about me kidnapping you. I was so determined to help Princess Alexandria that I never considered how it might affect the unfortunate person who bore her likeness. If you drink this, you will return to your old life, and it will be as though none of this had ever happened."

"And what of the princess?" asked Alex.

"I suppose she will have to be miserable for the rest of her life. I've seen her in one of my magic mirrors. She is doing well in your time and has become surprising proficient at something called coding. I don't understand it myself, but I believe it involves the strange technology you used to find your way here."

"Wow, she must be really smart if she could pick up computer language that quickly after coming from a place where computers don't even exist! It sounds like she's happy, and I am too. I thank you for your efforts, but I'm afraid I won't be needing this."

Alex took the potion and flung it off the balcony. The wizard bowed his head to her respectfully. "In that case, congratulations on your wedding, Princess."

And so, Alex, the brokenhearted millennial, married the love of her life while her ancestor became a successful computer coder in the 21st century. They both lived happily ever after.


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