Hidden underneath dust and regret was where she kept her wedding dress.
In the beginning, when the colors were first drained from her world, she took to torturing herself by lifting the box and fingering the thin lace. Voices would drift from the hall beyond; whispers of misplaced concern barely touched her skin.
Onlookers believed her tears were for the man she lost. Truthfully, she’d grieved him and the possibility of a happily-ever-after a long time ago.
Plop. Drip. Drop.
These tears fell for a different reason.
She just didn’t want to be alone with herself.
Somewhere along the way, she had taught herself that she’d only be happy once a man could set her free from the tower where she’d rotted, day-by-day, inflicting inner wounds upon herself. She wasn’t worthy or strong until he fought for her to be.
With him now gone, what was her purpose? He wasn’t there to remind her of it. He wasn’t there to fight the demons and constantly reassure her of all qualities that made her worth escaping the tower in the first place.
When the princess became a bride, she thought that was the end of her life in captivity. Oh, she had wanted it to be the end so badly.
The day of the wedding, everyone gasped in awe as she strode down the aisle. They said she looked so happy. They said she looked so free.
Was she? Truth be told, looking back to her pictures, she could later see the invisible thread tethering her to the man she had once vowed to love forever. Instead of a thread of passion and kindness, it resembled one of pain and resentment.
Once upon a time, he had been a good man to her. But as the days stretched on, he tired of her weaknesses. He tired of her begging him to remind her of her strengths.
“I saved you from that tower,” he told her once bitterly. “I can’t keep reminding you why you don’t belong there.”
She’d writhed in pain, fighting against her every desire until she could take it no more. “Please…remind me,” she whispered.
She withered right before her husband’s eyes. Color drained from both their worlds as he realized she had vowed to love him before vowing to love herself. They cut their thread and separated. She returned to her tower.
It’s too soon to know the ending of this story. All she knows for certain is that the lace of her wedding dress is as thin as the lies of her marriage.