Once upon a time long ago, there was a little princess named Reina born to a mighty King. The princess had straight brown hair with a cowlick on the left side. She had rosy cheeks and a gap in her front teeth. She also had a small red little strawberry birthmark on her knee. These features made her different and unique and the King loved them. He would brush her hair and tell her she was beautiful, and when she would brush her teeth he would say, “I love to see you smile!” When people would ask how did she hurt her knee, he would answer, “This beautiful strawberry birthmark will be with her always because she is my child.”
They lived in a beautiful palace surrounded by woods. In the front of the palace at the main entrance, there was a huge statue of a big green dragon named Dracon. He stood tall and shiny, and people would come from all around to admire Dracon. There were tales of how mighty and strong he was and how he was placed at the gate to ward off evil and to protect the princess.
One night, the princess heard a knock on her window, and went to look out and Dracon was there. She almost screamed, but he covered his mouth and told her “Shhhhhh! Come with me! I want to show you something fun!” She was a little scared and confused but everybody loved Dracon, so she went with him. He put her on his back and took off deep into the forest. As he went around the trees, her hair was just blowing in the wind. He finally told her she could talk so she just shrilled with excitement under the stars! Quickly, he returned her to the window, and she climbed back in bed smiling peacefully as she slept.
When she awoke the next morning, she thought it was a dream. It just didn’t seem possible that Dracon would take her out of the palace for a ride through the forest! She ran to the window and looked out and there was Dracon standing tall and still. Later that night, she could barely blink because she kept looking at the window waiting to see if Dracon would be there. Right as she was about to fall asleep she saw him at the window with his finger over his lip telling her to be very quiet. She closed her mouth tightly and climbed on his back and off they went.
As they entered the forest he told her she could talk now. He started to go really fast and she was laughing, but then he went faster, and farther, and even faster. She was starting to get afraid because she knew the King did not want her going this far away from the palace. Dracon told her he wanted to show her all she had been missing. He wanted to show her all of the things the King was keeping from her. Some of the things he showed her were scary to her. She said she wanted to go back to the palace so he took her home and told her to never ever tell the King. Ever.
The next few nights he came to her window again and each time he would take her deeper into the forest. She was afraid to go with him but Dracon was stronger and much bigger than her. Dracon told her she could never tell anyone, especially the King, about the trips to the forest. He told her the King would be very upset and not love her anymore. If she told anyone at all, then the palace guards would come pick her up and take her far away from the palace and she would be all alone. He told her she had to keep it a secret.
One day when she was brushing her hair, she looked in the mirror and noticed she looked green. She took a cloth and tried to get it off of her skin but the tint would not go away. She stared in the mirror and looked at her hair and thought it looked like the dirty mop water and she hated the piece that stuck up. She tried to smile but could barely open her mouth because she hated the gap in her teeth. She even tried to put a small piece of bread there to see what it would look like to have a normal pretty smile. She didn’t like her smile anymore. She didn’t like much of anything anymore.
But, she didn’t want to upset the King and have him call the palace guards to come get her, so she played along as normal as she could when he was around. She didn’t want to upset him because she was afraid of him now almost as much as she was afraid of Dracon. She didn’t want the king to brush her hair anymore and when he asked her to smile she didn’t show her teeth. She started to wear longer and bigger clothes because she was so afraid others would see the green tint in her skin. She started eating more potatoes to fill her up and hoped they would somehow absorb the green and make her skin the way it used to be. She could barely remember how it used to be as she started to believe she always had a green tint to her. She believed she was born this way.
She thought maybe the King made her this way.
One night, Dracon came to her window with his finger over his lip telling her to be quiet, but this time she kept her eyes closed and pretended to be asleep. He kept tapping the window and she peeked and saw his eyes and could tell he was angry, so she got up and went to the window to go to the scary forest with him. When he brought her back she laid awake all night trying to think of what she could do to escape Dracon. She just didn’t see a way out.
A few days later, she woke up and she was not feeling well at all. She ate so many potatoes that day she could barely move, and she was still green. That night when Dracon came to her window, she held her lips tightly shut but she shook her head NO! He turned his head and glared at her with those mean dark eyes. She went to the window and told him she didn’t want to go to the forest anymore. As he started to get upset she became even more upset and said, “I don’t want to go and I am not going! I’m tired of going and I feel so bad.” Then she got even louder and said, “I’m never going with you again! NEVER!!!” This time she was so loud, Dracon backed away because he feared she would wake up the King. She ran to her bed and laid there shaking with the covers pulled tightly to her chin waiting for Dracon to come back.
The sun came up the next morning and Dracon was at the gate again surrounded by people who had traveled far to see him. She went downstairs and the King greeted her with a hug but she just stood with her arms by her side and said she wasn’t feeling well and went back to her room. She waited that night for Dracon to come to her window again but he never came back to her window. She never went into the forest again.
She would have dreams about the forest and all of the scary sights, and sounds and smells. She would wake up and remind herself that she was not in the forest and that she was ok. She would pull up the sleeves on her gown and see the green tint was still there. She could not eat enough potatoes to get rid of that green! She also found a jar a honey and realized one drop on her hair would keep it from sticking up so she started to put honey on her hair. She stopped smiling completely because she didn’t like her teeth and didn’t want others to see them. She wore long pants and skirts because she didn’t like her birthmark and because her legs looked green too.
Some nights, she would tiptoe to the window and see Dracon in the moonlight. Just seeing him was enough to make her tremble. His dark eyes made her afraid the most. Even though he didn’t come to her window anymore, she was still afraid of him.
A few years later she would look out of that same window each night and see his powerful shadow in the moonlight. She started to wonder why she was still so afraid? Maybe it was a bad dream? But, if it was a bad dream, then why did she look green from the forest? Plus she could remember what she saw in the deep forest and she had never been there before Dracon. She just tried to forget about Dracon. She tried to imagine that he never existed and was not around.
It worked for a little while, and she started to say and do more around the king. She would even let him brush her hair again, but when he called her beautiful she didn’t believe him anymore. She knew she couldn’t be beautiful because she was green.
One day in the middle of summer when it was so very hot, the princess slipped on her bathing suit while the king was busy with work and went swimming in the pool at the palace. She jumped into the water and swam all the way to the bottom. She stayed down as long as she could and when she looked up she saw the bright sunlight shining through the water. She pushed off the bottom of the pool and swam up as fast as she could towards that light to catch her breath. Just as she started to break the water and gasp for air she realized the king was right there. She was inches from his face and she immediately went back under water all the way to the bottom and tried to hide.
She tried to stay down longer this time but had to come back up again to get air. He waited for her to come up and he reached out for her and down she went again. She just couldn’t face him. She couldn’t let him see how green she had let her skin get from the forest and Dracon. Just as she was about to go all the way to the bottom again she raised one arm to him and he grabbed her and pulled her out of the water.
“My Princess!” he cried, “Why are you running from me?” He took her in his arms and she laid her cheek to His chest and she sobbed. She let out deep heavy cries, and she was not able to speak. As the tears rolled down her cheeks, he rubbed her hair and said “Beautiful” over and over.
Finally, she spoke and quietly she whispered, “I am not beautiful. I am not a princess. I am green now.” He said to her, “My child, you are not green. You are beautiful. You are my princess. I made you and I love you. Can you tell me why you are crying? Why do you think you are green?”
Reina said, “I’m scared to tell you. I’ve lied to you and I have done really bad things.” He wrapped her up in a big towel and said, “Here, let’s go for a walk and you can tell me.”
He took her by the hand and walked up to Dracon. Suddenly with him holding her hand Dracon looked puny. His eyes didn’t scare her and his shoulders were almost hunched over like a weak dragon. She was not afraid of Dracon at all with the King, so right in front of Dracon she looked at the King and said, “Dracon took me into the forest!” When she said that she dropped her head and squeezed her eyes shut because she was afraid of the palace guards coming to get her.
Instead the King grabbed both of her hands and he took a part of the towel and he started wiping her hands with the towel. The towel remained bright white, but her hands were no longer green.
He put her hand in his and took her to the edge of the forest. Her heart was pounding as she saw the sky turning dark and she could hear the sounds echoing in the night. He said, “Show me where you went,” and as she stepped into the woods, he reached down and took the towel and he rubbed her feet. Again, the towel remained white but her feet were no longer green.
As she took him to all of the scary places in the forest, he continued to wipe the green away and call her beautiful. Once they were deep in the forest, she collapsed and he picked her up and carried her all the way back into the palace and he put her gently in her bed. He stayed with her and held her hand.
She was asleep for a long time, and when she finally opened her eyes she saw the king. He was still sitting by her bed holding her hand. He rubbed her hair at the cowlick and called her beautiful. He put his hand on her chin and she smiled big.
He patted her knee on the birthmark and said, “Little girl, get up! Come and eat with me.”
She went into the bathroom to wash her face and she smiled at her reflection staring back at her. She was no longer green, and her cowlick had her part just right. She smiled big and put her tongue in between the space in her front teeth and smiled even bigger. She put on a dress that was just above her birthmark, and she headed downstairs to eat with the King.
When she got to the table, he was standing with her chair pulled out for her. There were no potatoes on the table. He told her she didn’t have to eat them anymore. She said, “How did you know?”
He said, “Reina, you are my girl, my princess. You belong to me. I created you and made you beautiful. Everything about you is beautiful to me, because you are mine. I never left you and I never will!”
Reina was confused and whispered, “Surely you left me when I was in the forest! A king would never be in the dark forest!”
He said, “My child. I am the King. I am your King. I never leave you. I was with you always, even in the dark forest! Especially in the dark forest! I was right there beside you and when Dracon was going really fast you would even squeeze my hand. Do you remember the sweet smell of Jasmine sometimes when you were in the forest with Dracon? That was me. I was covering your eyes from the scary sights, and covering your ears from the frightful noises, and the peaceful smell of jasmine filled the air.”
Reina amazed with wonder, asked, “But how did you make the green go away? I was green. How did you get the green off?”
The king said, “My precious Reina. You were never green. Dracon was green and the forest was green, and so you started to think you were like them, but you are not and you never have been like them. That’s why I took you back to the forest. I wanted you to see you that you are not green. You are my child and you are my princess.”
Reina said, “The pool – you came and got me out of the pool! Why did you get me out of the pool?”
The king said, “Again, I was with you when you first got in the pool. I saw you wanting to just stay at the bottom, but much like the deep forest, there is no life at the bottom. This time, you finally saw my light when you were out of breath and you came to me. You called out to me and reached for me. I rescued you, and I pulled you from the depths of that water and into the depth of my everlasting arms. I am your King.”
Reina smiled big and gave the King a big hug. She looked sheepishly up to him and with a little bit of fear in those brown eyes, she asked quietly, “and…Dracon…what about Dracon?”
He rubbed her hair and said “Beautiful, the Palace Guards came for him this morning. You don’t have to be afraid anymore. I am here with you and all you ever have to do is call on me. I love you child. I love everything about you. You are fearfully and wonderfully made! You are my princess and I am your king.”
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