How do the stories begin? Oh, right, with once upon a time.
So, here it goes:
Once upon a time, there was an overlooked, beautiful girl who longed for someone to come and notice her. Along comes a handsome prince on horseback to save her. They live happily ever after in a ginormous castle.
Well, you know what I’ve got to say to those stories? Bullcrap.
Fairy tales are stories written by lonely people that want to deceive the minds of the youth. But, listen up kids, no one ever gets their happily ever after. Some messed up shit happens in life. Did you get that? Are you taking notes? You should be because I’m a prime example of someone not getting their happily ever after. Heck, I would even settle for Cinderella’s life before she met Prince Charming or whoever.
Because right now, my story belongs in the tragedy section of the bargain bin.
My castle comes in the form of a one-story house, parked on the side of a busy street, in a small crater in the earth in Washington.
And it’s freaking raining.
I stare up at the brick ranch style house with a scowl on my face. My one suitcase is on the wet ground at my feet. My brunette hair is soaked to my skin. I’m not wearing a jacket, just a thin t-shirt. There’s a black pickup truck parked in the driveway. It has a bumper sticker for the high school in town. I can’t help but laugh. I haven’t even been to the school yet.
I can’t get my feet to shuffle up the cracked walkway. This doesn’t feel real. The last few months, I’ve been basically sleepwalking through my life. Standing here in front of my new home starts to wake me up a bit.
“You’ve been standing there for ten minutes now, are you going to go in?” Says a deep voice from beside me.
I gulp, “I’m working up to it.”
“It won’t bite, you know?” He chuckles.
I turn to look at the older man standing to my right. A shot of pain grips my chest tight as I look into his sparkling blue eyes. Leo looks almost identical to my mother. I wonder how long the pain will last every time I look at him. I wonder if it’ll ever get easier.
He gives me a forced smile as he notices the look on my face, “One step at a time, remember, Greer?”
I nod. It all seemed so simple on the drive over here. I pumped myself up the whole plane trip. I told myself I could do it the whole car ride from the airport. So, why couldn’t I do it now? Why was this such a hard thing to do?
I vigorously nod, shaking myself from my stupor, and put one step in front of the other. I drag my suitcase behind me on its wheels. Leo keeps a safe distance behind me and watches carefully as I push open the door.
It smells like apples and cinnamon as soon as I step foot into the front room. There’s a candle burning on the sofa table. My eyes scan the pictures hanging on the wall: they’re all of me. There’s one from back when I was in grade school, a candid from an amusement park I visited a few years ago, and a few more from last year. It’s weird seeing them hanging there and I instantly wonder where Leo got them.
We walk slowly deeper into the house, past the kitchen and living room, and in front of the room at the end of the hallway. My name is hanging in wooden blocks on the door. I suck in a deep breath. I don’t want to go inside. My hand shakes on the knob. I turn it and step into the room.
Somehow, it feels ten degrees colder in this room than the others. I leave my suitcase by the door and examine the interior of my new room. The decorations and everything inside has been chosen for me. None of its mine.
I run a finger over the spines of the books, each one of them looks run down like they’ve been read over and over again. But I’ve never touched them. There’s a laptop sitting closed on the desk with a few decals on the shell, but I’ve never seen them before. The comforters blue color looks faded from washing too much, but I’ve never used it.
I stop in front of the side table and pick up the journal that lays there. “Property of Greer Evans” is written in black sharpie across the front. That’s the worst part. I don’t even know who Greer Evans’ is. I used to be Greer Thomas, but everything that made me her no longer exists. And no one can ever know. I used to be popular, but now I have to be basically invisible. No, I just barely exist, and you know what? I love it.
“So, settle in, alright?” Leo says as he hovers in my doorway. “You start school on Monday.”
High school, great.
I watch as he shuts the door behind him, leaving me alone in a bedroom filled with things that aren’t mine. I instantly miss my old room. I miss my old life. I miss being Greer Thomas when things were simple.
I step in front of the body mirror that hangs from the closet door. I don’t recognize the girl staring back. This is Greer Evans, a brunette with short hair and tanned skin. After the incident back home, I was rushed out of the states for a bit. That’s where the tan had come from. I’d spent a few weeks on the beach in the Bahamas while also training to become Greer Evans. But now it was time to face reality again, or at least whatever the heck this new life is.
I still wasn’t used to how dark and short my hair is. I reach up and tug on the ends. Greer Thomas had waist length blonde hair and pale skin. I had to remind myself that I wasn’t her anymore.
And I never would be again.