***UPDATE – a slightly more polished and beautifully typeset version is part of the MORE LOVE book.

(made available to read online for free once-in-a-while or generally with a donation based password.)

[ a short story or two fairy-tales colliding ]


All this waiting ceremony isn’t too nice, after all, but she’s never been more determined with anything, so she endures this part of the selection process to the fullest extent. It is anyway somewhat being glossed over by the persistence of the tickling goose-bumps that the Princess can’t help herself having during those last minutes before her life is in all likelihood being entirely altered. Looking around the room, she’s finding its considerate simplicity very endearing, indeed. Her floor-length plain linen gown, with only spare bits of crafty embroidery around the chest, seems to have been a choice made in a fit of real clairvoyance. She’s got to smile. There’s no one else in the room but her very own self, ever since the servant letting her in has left with a bow. Very considerate of the King not to contaminate the integrity of her being through the unsettling presence of other contestants.

In the throne room, the King’s leaning on his left arm, bored and aimlessly tired, while his right arm waves for yet another princess to come closer. The gurgle of waterworks surrounding his throne is the only noise to pervade the echoes of broad silence. There seems to be no need to look over this particular princess’ body as her face already tells him to wave her off again. Eyes are too eager, mouth too bitter, her demeanour too preposterously confident, covering up for a sad, poisonous self-deprecation. The King chooses not to meet her eyes as he’d only be more tired after establishing pointless rapport. He barely nods to the two girls waiting by his side, who then go about approaching the rejected to guide her towards the door in the back of the hall, serving the purpose of exit for this.
The King sinks back into his large ceremonial seat. The left arm he was resting on straightens the beard below his chin. His crown has slipped to the side, giving way to a few of his black curls to stick out in an unseemly manner. Never mind.
A couple of weeks ago he wore only sackcloths. The plan was to acquire a wife using the traditional method of camouflaging his status in order to thoroughly probe the heart of a future Queen before actually sharing a bed with her. It was a good, well thought-out plan and little could he know that its outcome, from the beginning to the end, turned out to be so gloomy.

The Princess’ days before coming here consisted primarily of saunas and all sorts of private lessons. All of them were pretty merry, there really was nothing at all that she could’ve possibly been missing. She was incredibly fond of her philosophy and spirituality teacher. She was carried away, again and again, by advancing her improvisational skills on the grand piano. And walking through the palace garden, with her jumpy golden retriever by her side, obedient to her mere whisper, was nice in spring, summer, fall and even in winter, when the breath drew tumbling vortexes in front of her face while her arms clenched the mink coat tighter towards her frail but perfectly in shape body. It was the sauna sessions (that she couldn’t get enough of at times), that made those cold winter months almost more pleasurable than the mighty radiance of spring and summer.
Yet it was during those very same sauna hours (which she usually spiced up with rosemary or sage infusions and subsequent whippings with her favourite birch twig), when her desire to be on somebody’s side was felt most urgently. While the sharp, biting twig scourged down on her and the sweat pearls scattered across the blistering floor, this nagging desire just wouldn’t leave her – that someone else ought to be actually doing this. The flogging. What a sad shame that there simply wasn’t anyone around, never had been, who she’d gladly handed over the twig yet. Even when it came to massaging and balsaming her body afterwards, she felt only comfortable under the attention of painstakingly hand-selected pubescent girls. Not even women could please her, let alone men.
But of course, these brief pangs of loneliness disappeared as soon as she conversed in Greek, Chinese or Latin with her favourite teachers. Or when she bent her head over yet another watercolour of the wondrous landscape spectacles painted daily outside her window.

One of the first things the camouflaged King tried out in town was to enter a ‘club’ or ‘disco’. From what he understood, ‘culturally’, this was the prime opportunity for people these days to get ‘coupled up’. so to speak. Leaving aside the insults at the door where only a substantial bribe got him past the chunk of meat put in charge to guard it (what a contrast to his fantastically sophisticated palace guards), the final experience proved utterly disheartening.
He saw a girl or two, one on the dance floor and later another one at the bar. They were both very nice looking and ‘good material’ at their core (if he for the time being left their spoilt surfaces out of the picture). The first one just sneered at his appearance when he tried to approach her on the dance floor. The second one blushed, not out of innocent modesty but out of embarrassment to be seen by anyone talking to a person who was dressed like he was.
The remainder of the girls wasn’t even worth to be looked at. The range of their pursuits stretched all the way from pathetic desperate cravings, to just wanting to be liked for the wreck that they refused to see they’d become. The older they were, the harder they appeared but even the young ones, underneath, already had hardened to fulfill their destined trajectory towards some kind of ‘insanity’.
While cheap dance music was hoodwinking everyone to be having a good time, the King had to realise, in his sackcloths at the bar, leaving untouched his watered-down margarita, that not even in his throne hall, which upon his orders was often empty for days on end, so as to not disturb his work of profound contemplation, did he feel that lonely and lost as he did among this particular crowd of lonely and lost people.
There came a day in the Princess’ life when a new gardener arrived and she began chatting to him on the occasion of one of her strolls through the park. He was at any rate a good looking fellow and talking to him seemed almost as delightful as talking to one of her beloved teachers. Although there was of course that part in her that dreaded even considering a commoner to be her prospective husband, his energy and good looks overrode her preoccupation and she decided to invite him for tea in the reading room a couple of days later.
When he arrived, precisely on time, he didn’t bother getting changed into a different outfit and she appreciated this urgency to put on display his pride and authenticity.
“Tea?”, she asked. They were alone in the room as she’d sent everybody away for her little adventure.
“Thank you, your Highness.” His smile reverberated in her bowels.
“How do you find work in our gardens?”, the Princess opened her game.
“Since it means working for someone like you I couldn’t wish for anything better.” If flirtation had any meaning at all then this gardener used it with ease and conviction. And he did have a gaze. Good it pleased her and teased her.
Their conversation went on for a couple of more moves. She’d left the birch twig lying around subliminally to see how he would react. It was negative. This gardener just couldn’t cross the given status barrier. Not only this. He was at his core just not inclined to really understand her, or perhaps, as a matter of fact, every woman’s condition. To be treated as equal on the surface, maybe even elevated. But to be sure as hell taken by the throat underneath this surface and, of course, in all the corners of darkness that they were meant to walk in together.
The subsequent dismissal from the royal services of the good looking gardener had caused her some sort of grief, even bouts of guilt for a while. But as soon as the new one arrived who was just as sweet but just not as good looking, everything that had gone on before, or the nothingness of it, was actually quickly forgotten.

For the King, the next logical step was to simply canvass the street. But where to start? All he found was scolding and taking advantage of him wherever he turned. Those women who he happened to make any contact with, if they were not simply afraid for all the wrong reasons, mostly laughed at him. Although he ultimately didn’t mind all this abuse (he always felt that people wallowing in their ignorance simply didn’t know what they got themselves involved with on a slightly higher level), he also didn’t exactly need it, or at least didn’t have the time to go through this over and over again. So in the end it was decided that other tactics had to be employed.
Meanwhile, yet another princess who’s again looking hopeless has been planting herself before his regal eyes. A tired flicking with the little finger of the hand he’s leaning on causes the two girls on his side to do their thing again.
Back on the case, one of his people eventually hooked him up with a dating agency. While they went at length to conceal the King’s actual identity, it was required to fashion a profile purporting a yearly income over 100.000 from an inherited stock folio to overlook his slovenly looks and modest career prospects before being allowed entry into their ‘sacred’ books. The lack of a decent haircut and the beard he decided to leave uncombed for his profile meant that there weren’t many women putting him forward into their list of favourites.
Ultimately, probably due to the lure of the hilarious money figure (surely rather than the promise of plenty of free time or the actually not entirely unjustified assumption of a certain sexual prowess), four women felt emboldened to reveal their interest in such a way as to file their availability for a date.
Three of them he had to reject withoutsecond thought as they were obviously either taking the piss or quite simply dumb. The last one had something about her which wouldn’t necessarily have indicated anything calculating in particular. In a certain way this woman seemed still kind of natural, even despite her given profession as ‘entrepeneuress’. So he let himself get involved in this and the agency arranged between them a dinner.
Seeing her sitting at the table in flesh and blood two days later, he didn’t possess the rudeness to turn on his heels and leave but instead sat down and remained silent. She was insecure and looked away. While he glanced at her from behind the menu that he kept pretending to study at length, it became clear to him that she had all reason to be insecure as she was long past her prime (not at all like her youthful photograph), and could only hope, if anything, to score a decent bloke who generously overlooked her nervy touchiness, while she was preparing him breakfast after his night of steady drilling through countless barricades of sensual self-inhibition.
It was she who finally left the stage, after the silence produced by their togetherness at an exclusive restaurant’s table couldn’t be broken from either side, no matter how hard both of them tried.

The antechamber has become a bit chilly and the Princes is drawing her overcoat closer. It still doesn’t matter how much longer she’s supposed to wait until she’s allowed to see the King. The tickling sensation accompanying the finality of change hasn’t left her throughout. Coming up as erratic shivers every now and again, it is seemingly rooted deep in her bowels. It is inexplicable but certain. Very different to physical arousal, let’s say.
There was this one occasion, for example, when her masseuse had reported sick on too short a notice, so that the only solution they could come up with for the time being was a male replacement. Since she really badly needed the treatment that day, very reluctantly she accepted.
The guy was good, though. Too good, as it caused her well-kept, dormant stirrings to uncontrollably mount to the surface. The kneading of her thighs and buttocks was done in such a skillful way that little flashes started to twirl before her tightly shut eyes. A frightening tremor crawled up her naked spine to produce awkward eruptions of inexplicable happiness right in the centre of her brain. Had she not forced herself to turn her head and look at the ‘replacement’, in hindsight, she might’ve possibly surrendered herself to this weird moment. Looking back at it now, this was a most dangerous and terrifying situation. The guy was decent looking and certainly well built. But lying on her back and studying his facial expressions while he got himself ready to treat her front with a similar gusto, she could only slide off the bench sideways, thanking him coolly, to head straight for the sauna where she gave herself some of the best thrashing she’s ever had. There was simply no way to allow her body a surrender to a guy like him. It was something totally unheard of among friends or peers and (at least for a girl like her) something completely out of the question.

Something suddenly scratches at the other end of the room and the very same servant who’s led her in earlier shows up with his familiar bow. The time has arrived to see the King. She lets her overcoat slide onto the white marble floor.
Her eyes adjust slowly to the subdued hall she’s faced with while bypassing the servant. After a while she can make out the silhouette of the King’s throne right in front of her. The door behind clicks back into place with a soft and deep echo over the steady gurgle of a room filled with fountains. There’s the pungent fragrance of bamboo groves permeating the hall throughout.

The King watches the Princess gliding up towards him. He’s acutely aware that this candidate might be the person he’s been looking for. He follows, widely awake now, the breath-taking, sweet smoothness of her steps despite her obvious struggle to get her eyes adjusted to the low-light conditions. The careful pacing of her linen cloth swooshes amidst the calming ripples of waterworks. Her fair skin gives the impression to be almost glowing. The King can see an aura around the Princess that seems to indicate her not being quite ‘ordinary’. A Princess with a capital ‘P’.
The two girls by his side are poised and the King clearly senses their excitement growing in line with his own. His right hand clasps the twig waiting on the royal seat next to him, a plain pagan rendition of his secret diamond-studded real sceptre.

The Princess can eventually make out the King’s features. His face is soft and yet chiselled. His eyes convey curiosity and kindness at the same time. A few steps away, she feels as if she’s seen enough and in smiling submission lowers her gaze. Outside her range of view she catches the King getting up from his throne. In his right hand he seems to be holding something that looks like a rod. A sudden shock-wave of delight makes her knees quiver. Her cheeks must’ve been blushing but she manages to remain firm on the ground.
Stepping down from his throne, the King comes closer to the Princess. Yes.
He calls out her name formally to be given a chance to look straight into her face. That split second of eye-sight is really all he’s needing to know. His future wife. The two girls step forward and approach her. Each of them grabs one of her arms gently.
Upon being called by her name, she looks up at the King. His voice causes spasms to rise from her bosom all the way down to the womb. When the two girls (other wives?) step to her sides, she lowers her gaze again. As she does, she recognises the rod in the King’s hand to be the twig of a birch tree. Hidden fountains dislocatingly break free from her private chambers. The Princess can hardly contain her posture. As if they knew, the two girls tighten their grip and turn her round to put on display the Princess’ backside. They guide her upper body down to cause her to bend at the waist. With an orchestrated flick from both sides, the maidens then hoist her gown. The Princess isn’t sure whether it is the King himself or his wives who pull down her panties. Her legs quiver and have turned numb so that she needs to fasten her knees with both hands in order to keep them steady. But they still quiver. Her neck has meanwhile painfully stiffened and her face is gushing out cold sweat. Despite the fact that her head is dizzy and spinning with violent urges (most of which she hasn’t known that existed), her crown sits still firmly on it, as if nothing was happening at all, to the thoroughly dishevelled owner beneath it.

The King is easing himself into the mere execution of doing a job now. Both semi-spheres in front of him have a sheer perfect roundness about them. It is quite true that he is stirred now. But it is not the ritual itself, the exposure and submission of the Princess’ nakedness, that is stirring him. It is the embodiment of her whole being, that aftermath of the split-second when their eyes have just met. Lives after lives were passing by in that instant, a reconciled stream of eternally longing souls, bouncing back from hidden recesses with utter respect and understanding. It is this afterglow, this impression that the Princess’ being has left before it bent over, that renders the twig in his hand into a holy tool of consecration. It is the crisp snaps and the wet squirmings, all of which he is so frighteningly aware to almost feel in his own body as an untasted cocktail of pain and bliss. It is all of this that causes these life-changing stirrings in him.
And it might as well be their stark contrast to the inexplicable softness of limbs spread out in front of him that compels the King to repeat the same procedure again and again – the ritual of a marriage contract between a Princess and King – until a few pearls of sweat on his forehead and the culmination of comforting lights in his groins make him sit down on his throne again.

Each hissing bite of the twig causes tears to spring forth off her eye sockets and yet there’s no need to bite on her lips. There has, in fact, no pain at all, part in any of this. Everything’s entirely drowned in sheer pleasure until the very last beat.
Soaked and wired, slowly the burns fizzle out. The girls or other wives assist her to stand up straight again. Then, with featherweight delicacy, they turn her round to face her newly wed husband.
She resists any urge to look up at her King while they lead her to be within his arm’s reach. She can feel his heavy breath on her bare shoulders and bosom.
He touches her cheek, strokes it with all the love and respect he can muster. While at the same time, some of his stirrings, he decides to convey to her through this prolonged gesture.
After he’s done so, without further ado, the King gets up and leaves.

The Princess is immediately afterwards being guided out of the room. Only her pants have been left behind. Yet, what she’s taking with her is much more than a couple of itchy streaks on her bottom. While she walks out of the King’s place and back into her own life of study and leisure, the Princess has been turned upside down. She has fully tumbled and is still fully tumbling.
Never is her life going to be the same again.
She has a husband now.
Never is she going to be alone again.
No words can describe the bliss she’s now pouring over the keys of her beloved piano before she can meet her King, once again, to commence pouring the same bliss all over Him.

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