Story Saturday: Scarlet's Wish

"Scarlet's Wish"

Once upon a time, a princess was born to a king and queen who were expecting a baby as beautiful as her older sister, Rose. Sadly, the new princess was born deformed with red scars across her face and body, so they named her Scarlet. They wanted Scarlet to be as beloved as Rose, but they worried that she might be harassed if she went outside, so they gave her a sheltered life in the castle with the freedom to wander within its walls as she pleased. Rose, on the other hand, was thrust into the royal duties of visiting foreign kingdoms and making public appearances, a task that she often found exhausting. Scarlet grew to be ashamed of her appearance and hid away from royal guests even when her parents invited her to meet them. The two sisters got along well and confided in each other with their troubles.

While Rose preferred being out in the sunshine, Scarlet's favorite time to go outside was at night when no one could judge her. She spent her nights stargazing on her balcony and her days researching the constellations in the castle library. There, she learned about a rare phenomenon called the wishing star, which was rumored to only appear once every three hundred years when the planets aligned. After doing some calculations, she realized to her delight that the wishing star would appear within the next week. She decided to keep it a secret while she mentally prepared to make her wish.

It just so happened that the next day, a prince named Thomas from a foreign kingdom came to the castle seeking a marriage alliance. The king and queen were happy to introduce him to Princess Rose, while Scarlet hid away in the shadows and watched them from afar. Thomas was the most beautiful man she had ever seen. He had eyes that sparkled like stars and a calming temperament to match. If only Scarlet could be as beautiful as Rose, she thought, perhaps she would have a chance to be courted by such a handsome prince.

That night, Princess Scarlet stood at her favorite spot on her balcony to gaze at the stars when she noticed a strange figure moving in the distance below. She was just about to warn the guards about the intruder when she recognized him as Prince Thomas. As he turned his gaze toward her balcony, she crouched into the shadows.

"Is that you, Princess Rose?" he called up toward her. "It's a beautiful night. Why don't you come down and join me?"

"I'm Rose's sister, Your Highness," Scarlet whimpered. She wasn't used to talking to people other than her family.

"Ah, then you must be the mysterious Princess Scarlet. I had been hoping to meet you. Do you enjoy watching the stars as well?"

"Yes," she croaked back, "but I'd rather you didn't see me. I wouldn't want to frighten you."

"You certainly don't sound frightening," he replied, "but I will respect your wishes."

Then the two partook in the most fascinating conversation Scarlet ever had in her life. The more she knew about Thomas, the more she grew to care for him, and that made her all the more terrified to let him see her face. She now knew what she wanted to wish for.

Over the next couple of days, Rose tried her best to convince Scarlet to stop hiding and introduce herself to the prince.

"He keeps asking about you," she said. "I think he likes you."

"He wouldn't like me if he knew what I looked like," Scarlet insisted.

"What are you so afraid of? I'll introduce you if you're too scared."

"Just wait until after tomorrow night."

"What happens tomorrow night?"

"It's a secret."

When the planets aligned at last, Scarlet saw the wishing star appear in the night sky just where her books told her it would. She closed her eyes and wished with all her heart to be as beautiful as her sister. She woke up the next morning in Rose's room, and staring back at her in the mirror was not her own face, but Rose's. At first, she was elated. For once in her life, she could finally be beautiful. Then a horrible thought hit her. If she was here, what happened to Rose?

Without taking the time to fix her hair or dress, Scarlet raced through the corridor in a panic toward the room where she had fallen asleep that night. She plummeted straight into Prince Thomas who seemed not to be bothered at all about being knocked onto the floor. Instead, his face was filled with concern for her.

"Are you all right, Princess Rose?" he asked, helping her to her feet.

"It's my sister!" Scarlet panted, "Have you seen her?"

"No, but I would certainly like to. Where is she?"

Thomas followed Scarlet to the door to her room as she pounded on it frantically. "Ro--I mean Scarlet? Are you in there?"

Scarlet held her breath as the door creaked open and she saw her own hideous face staring back at her.

"Is that you, sister?" asked the other princess in Scarlet's voice.

"I'm so sorry!" Scarlet cried, pulling Rose tightly into her arms. "I didn't mean for this to happen. I just wanted to be beautiful like you."

"So that explains it," Rose said thoughtfully. "I figured there was some sort of magic involved."

"Can someone please explain what's going on here?" asked Thomas.

"It's all my fault," whimpered Scarlet. "I wished--"

Before she could finish talking, Rose squeezed her hand and pushed her toward Thomas.

"Princess Rose here wanted to express her interest in a marriage alliance with you," said the real Rose, winking at Scarlet.

Scarlet blushed, silently thanking her sister for her kindness, and gently took Thomas's hand in her own. It was warm and inviting.

"Yes," she stammered. "I've... fallen for you, Prince Thomas, if you'll have me."

"Thank you, Princess Rose," said Thomas, gently letting go of Scarlet's hand, "but I'm afraid I can't accept. You see, I'm in love with your sister, Princess Scarlet."

Scarlet's heart fell in her chest as she watched in disbelief as Thomas embraced her old body without hesitation.

"You see?" said Rose. "I told you so!"

"What are you talking about?" asked Thomas. "What's going on?"

"Have you heard about the wishing star?" asked Scarlet.

Thomas thought for a moment. "That was last night, wasn't it?" The two girls watched him as he processed the situation. "Did one of you make a wish?"

Scarlet took a deep breath. "I thought if I could be beautiful like Rose, you could love me."

Thomas looked back and forth between the princesses and finally returned to Scarlet's side.

"So you're Princess Scarlet? And that's Princess Rose? But I don't understand," he said, looking back at Rose in Scarlet's body. "You were already beautiful."

Tears burned behind Scarlet's eyes as she realized what she had done. She clung to Thomas, sobbing gently.

"I had no idea you would love me the way I was. I've made a terrible mistake."

"It's all right," said Thomas. "I love you no matter how you look."

Then he leaned down and kissed her. As he did so, she felt a familiar burning sensation as her scars reappeared on her flesh and her height lowered by a few inches. When she opened her eyes again, her sister was looking back at her with all of her beauty restored.

"Oh, Rose!" cried Scarlet, breaking away from Thomas to hug her sister again. "I'm so sorry for everything! I never needed to make that wish in the first place. I see that now."

"No harm done. I'm just glad you were finally able to accept yourself for who you are," said Rose.

The marriage alliance was formed between the two kingdoms, and over time, Scarlet learned to show her face in public without feeling ashamed. Soon Rose found a suitor of her own, and both couples lived happily ever after.


Sugar said…
A beautiful tale! among my favourites.

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