Even though I have been roaming these abandoned hallways, I am still unable to grasp my kingdoms end. Our country used to be powerful, rich, and full of life. Now all I see are the lifeless skeletons of people I used to call a friend.
I’m not sure why I haven’t left this plane yet. I spent a long time thinking that maybe I haven’t gone to the afterlife because I’m supposed to guard these ruins, and keep watch over a kingdom of skeletons and corpses. Now however, I’m not so sure. Wouldn’t it have made more sense for my father, the King to keep watch? People also haven’t stepped foot here for at least a good century or so, so why should I have to keep watch over a place no one is interested in anyway?
I float through these corridors everyday, reliving old memories and hoping to see the faces of my loved ones once again. Some times I dance, pretending my Prince was still here. We were dancing alone together in the ballroom when they attacked, and killed us both agonizingly slow while we watched the other be tortured. Our skeletons are probably still on separate ends of the room, arms reaching out for each other. I never went back in that room after that day. No explorer did either.
I heard a small stepping noise behind me. Even though I know nothing can see me, I still turn around startled, expecting to be attacked again.
There’s a small boy on the opposite end of the hallway, wandering. He must be 8 or 9. I haven’t seen a face in so long, I’m not angry at him for walking across my kingdoms grave. He most likely doesn’t even know we ever existed. I don’t think anyone does.
I follow him, through hallway after hallway and room after room. He glances at the skeletons when he sees them, but he looks away awfully fast. I think it makes him uncomfortable.
Sometimes he’ll sit and stare at the carved ceiling of a room or at the ornate stone carvings decorating our doorways. Architecture was one of my people’s prides. If he was older I think he might’ve studied them, but at his age I’m pretty sure he just thinks they’re pretty.
Finally we reach the throne room. Sometimes I still expect to see my father there, slouching down and laughing with his advisors. We had so much free time, we were peaceful with everyone. We never had to worry about war or an invasion. That gave us plenty of time to have fun, master the arts, and improve our economy.
The throne room was the greatest joy of the castle. It took years to make, carving every detail with such precision. The floor was a deep dark brown, made from the wood of a far off kingdom inhabiting a jungle. It was a peace offering. The throne used to be a shiny, sleek stone with velvety purple cushions. It was raised on a small stage, so my father could be higher and overlook anyone that had entered. The windows on the opposite side of the room were so many different colors, on a sunny day they’d reflect rainbows into the walls and floor.
Now the throneroom was dirty, dusty, cracked in various places, and worst of all, full of skeletons.
The child walks up to the throne. The once plush cushions embedded in the stone now rotted away.
I can’t believe my eyes when he sits on it. Out of all of the people I had seen enter this castle I had never, ever seen someone be so disrespectful as to sit on my fathers throne. I try and pick up a rock to throw at him, but it falls right through my hands. I try and pick up more and more at a time, hoping, praying I’d become solid again and punish the child for his disrespect. It never worked.
He is only sat for a few minutes when he gets back up and wanders again. He’s been here a very long time, shouldn’t he be getting home to a mom and dad soon?
I see him exit the throne room through the left corridor, which is a straight line to the ballroom I was slain in.
No no no! I float as fast as I can towards the child, trying to push him or throw him or anything to prevent him from entering that room.
I don’t want to follow him there. Yet I also do, to make sure he leaves mine and my lovers skeletons alone. The thought of our bones being tampered with fills me with an uncontrollable rage.
The child pushes open the huge, half rotten wooden doors and steps into the room.
I gasp when I see it. It was surprisingly almost the same as I had left it. My eyes water, and my throat closes up. I can still feel the same pain I had when I watched them kill my love. That same agonizing, heart-wrenching pain when you want to protect the one you love so bad but there is nothing you can do.
He had always told me that when it came time for us to go, he would be holding me and comforting me. Instead, what really happened was us being ripped apart and forced to watch each other as we were tortured and stabbed over and over again. I can still feel their swords jamming into my body, slice after slice after slice.
The child goes to stand in the middle of the room, and turns around, seeming to look right at me.
Tears are steaming down my ghostly face now. I’m looking back at him.
“Is this where you died?” He asked with an eerily plain expression.
I’m shocked that he can see me, I hesitate and don’t respond for a moment, thinking I was hearing things.
“Yes. That’s my skeleton.” I choked out, pointing to my skeleton on the right side of the room.
He turns to look at it. My left hand is outstretched, my head looking directly at my prince.
“Who’s that?” He questions, pointing to my love on the left side of the room.
I take a deep breath in and out, “My Prince-” I was going to say his name, but my eyes watered up and my throat closed again before I could. I have felt such shame these past few centuries that I could not hold my love as he died.
“What were your names?” The child asked. He was so full of questions, it almost annoyed me.
“I-I’m Princess Naomi. He was Prince Garroth.” I manage to say. That was the first time I had spoken his name since my death.
The child is quiet now. He just looks around the room, seeming to admire the astonishingly amazing preservation of it. The floor was still clean white tile, except for the blood stains around our skeletons. The walls still golden and the carvings have not one scratch.
I decide to break the silence between us and ask a question.
“Why can you see me?”
“I’ve always been able to see dead people.”
“Is there anyone else roaming the castle?”
“No. Just you. Why is it only you?”
“I’ve pondered that for centuries child.”
It’s quiet again. He’s surprisingly very well spoken for such a young child.
The child turns to leave, and I want to tell him to stop. He’s the first person I’ve spoken to in so long, I don’t want him to go yet.
“Wait!” I shout after him, and he turns around to look at me. My hand is outstretched, trying to grab him even though I know I can’t.
“How did you find this place?” I ask.
“My grandmother told me where to find it. She said her father would bring her here sometimes when she was my age. You know, maybe you haven’t left yet because you haven’t let go of your castle. I read that in one of my story books yesterday.” He recommended, his tone becoming happier and louder when he spoke of his book. He seemed like such a creative and smart child. I hoped that mine and Garroth’s future children would be just that.
“Maybe you’re right. But I’m not sure if I can let go. I miss my old life so much.” I begin to weep again.
“Don’t be sad that it’s over. Be happy that it happened and you get to see everyone again in heaven. I also read that in my book yesterday.”
“You know, you’re very smart. I’m sure your grandmother is very proud of you.”
I ponder his words. I suppose they do have truth to them, however I’m not sure if I’m comfortable leaving and letting the castle be looted and torn apart by people. Then again, that was out of my control a long time ago.
“I’ll make sure to tell my grandma all about the beautiful princess I met at the castle. She’ll be ecstatic to hear about you. She said that when she was little she could see you too, but not talk to you. She’ll be happy to hear that I spoke to you.”
I was a little taken aback by that. How many other people that have come barging in have been able to see me, yet still roam these halls anyways? Shouldn’t they realize the disrespectfulness of that decision?
“I have to leave now. It’s almost dinner time and my grandma said she’ll make my favorite tonight, also, there’s another ghost behind you. I think it’s your boyfriend.” The child giggled before scurrying off.
My throat closes up. Prince Garroth? I spin around and am greeted face to face to my love.
If I were alive, my heart would be racing. My ears would be filled up and tears would rush down my face. But, since I’m dead I only feel the tears and the amazing feeling of love in my chest.
I rush to my love, reaching to wrap my arms around him, And for the first time, I make contact. The feeling of touch is so foreign now, I’m almost frightened by it.
There he is, in all of his beauty is my prince, my Garroth. The one that I’d race the halls with at night, the one that I’d stargaze with and name the stars after him. The one that I’d kiss and seek for comfort when I was ill or upset.
His arms wrap around me too, his face buried in my neck. I sob into him, a million emotions hitting me all at once. Even though I am feeling the most emotions I have ever felt in my life and it almost hurts, I love it. I love being able to feel my love and heartbreak and deep compassion for him again.
“Hello my love.” Were the only words he spoke to me before I felt myself being lifted up. I knew I could fly, but I could always control it. Now I am involuntarily rising and cannot move at all.
“Garroth, what’s happening?” I ask in a panicked voice, looking down at the ground beneath me.
“I’ve been sent to retrieve you dear. It’s time to come home.”
And just like that, my worries are washed away.
I’m finally going to see everyone again.
He begins to rise up with me too, and he joins our hands as we stare up towards the sky. I catch sight of the child running off through the path in the forest, and I wave to him. He sees me as well, and waves back, a smile on his face. I think he will be telling his grandmother about the prince and princess he met at the castle later.
“Are you ready, Princess?” Garroth asked, staring into my eyes.
“As long as I’m with you my love.”
I don’t seem to care anymore if people come to look at my kingdom. It deserves to be looked at. It deserves to be praised and touched and beheld.
I’m no longer the Princess surveying a kingdom of corpses. I’m a Princess who’s finally going home.