There once was a princess who lived in a big castle overlooking the village. She was the most beautiful princess who had ever walked the earth and she was also gifted with a great mind, which of course made her even more beautiful than all the ordinary individuals who made up the population of the village. The King and Queen who had given birth to the Princess were naturally very fond of her but they had been so busy with ruling for many years and had somewhat neglected her needs. This had caused some emotional difficulties for the Princess and she had had to see a shrink every Tuesday. Over time the Princess became detached and troubled and spent her time in the castle because that was where she felt safe. Every time she left the safety of the castle people seemed to take advantage of her or not phone when they had promised after a one night stand. Staying in the castle was not a problem. It was easy to arrange things because many supermarkets offer a delivery service. She arranged to pay all her bills by direct debit and she used convenient telephone banking services. People would occasionally come to the castle to maintain things like electrics and to tune the piano. Because the Princess was no longer socialising she lost touch with her friends. They carried on going to swanky wine bars without her. But she was not unduly worried because she had made some new ones who had moved into the castle. Their names were Greif, Sorrow, Anguish, Melancholy and Heartbreak. These new friends were now much more entertaining than any of the friends she had known before. They would play fabulous word games around the castle and they were loud and vivacious and so much more confident than other people that she had met in her life. Greif loved hide and seek, although he was no good at hiding. Sorrow loved ring-a-roses and he would spin the Princess around and around with hysterical glee until she was almost sick. Melancholy was quieter and more reserved but always insisted on being in the Princesses team. Heartbreak was her closest friend. He was happy to play any of the games that the Princess played with the others. He was always full of ideas and plots to entertain everyone and when he left the room, to go to the toilet for example, the Princess would feel anxious until his return. For this reason she began to sleep with Heartbreak. He was always there when she went to bed and always there when she woke up in the morning. As time went on the six friends became even closer and the Princess felt that she was part of a family that loved her. And she was most pleased that all of her new family were unemployed because it meant that they would never neglect her in the way that her other family had done before. Also, because they were all out of work, they were entitled to housing benefit and thus helped towards the running costs of the castle. Over time they all became inseparable. One day, and much to the surprise of the Princess, there was a knock at the door. Everyone jumped up and stopped what they were doing. Melancholy shouted “oh my God who could it be?” and he began to shake uncontrollably. “Calm down,” said the Princess wiping beads of sweat from his brow. “Everything will be just fine!” But then Grief began to wail violently and Anguish screamed and span around in a circle……“Oh God it’s a fucking visitor!” he screamed. A general panic ensued and Heartbreak, getting carried away with the furor of things, farted and cried simultaneously. One more unapologetic knock at the door caused a general rise in the volume of the now ridiculous activities and the Princess left the room sniggering to herself. At the door there were two small girls. “Will you come out to play?” they asked rather directly. Now the Princess was not of a mind to play with strangers and remember, she was not used to leaving the castle. “What are your names?” she asked, not wishing to seem rude before telling them to bugger off. “I am Hope,” said the smaller one of the two. “And I am delight,” said the other. “Hmmmmm,” said the Princess, “I would very much like to play with you but I have all the friends I need at the moment thank you.” Then she slammed the door in their faces. When she returned to the hysterical mob in the drawing-room it took three days to calm everyone down. Every sound they now heard sent them spinning into a state of panic. They interrogated the Princess about who the visitors were as they curtain twitched to a rota. “Stop worrying,” she told them, “it was just some silly children who had dropped their ball in the moat. They wanted to know if I had a boat, or if I ever drained it. I told them to fuck off because they looked too happy.” “Oh good for you! Hooray for the Princess!” they all shouted as they picked her up high above their shoulders and danced with her about the room until the small hours of the night. Finally, as she began to drift into a deep sleep next to Heartbreak and Melancholy (who now insisted on sleeping in the bed too after the hideous incident with the visitors) she wondered what it would have been like to play with the strangers and she hoped secretly that they would return. As indeed they did. “What do you want this time!” demanded the Princess, feigning crossness. “Well,” said Hope, “we are still so wishing that you will come and play with us and Delight is having a big party later with…….” she paused for dramatic effect “the finest……wobbly jellies.” Now the Princess had not been to a party for many years. In fact, it had been so long ago that she had quite forgotten that there were such things. “Well I might like to come,” said the Princess, “but I have absolutely nothing to wear and also my housemates would miss me terribly. “Bring them, bring them!” shouted the girls jumping up and down and waving their arms in the air. The Princess thought about this option. Would she be able to persuade her friends? “Oh all right, I will ask them and I will wear something from the dressing up box.” As it turned out, Grief, Anguish, Sorrow, Melancholy and Heartbreak all refused to come to the party saying they despised jelly. Then they tried to make the Princess feel guilty about leaving them but crying in dark corners and not being able to catch their breath. But the Princess really did want to go to the party because she thought that there might be a jumpy castle and she had found a Dolce and Cabana dress in the dressing up trunk. When the Princess returned home she found all her friends wandering aimlessly about the grounds of the castle. She tried to speak to them but they were all too cantankerous and self-indulgent. She was still smiling because the party had been so good and because she had made a new bunch of friends called Pleasure, Future and Mirth. The Princess’s old friends became disgruntled and over the next few days, she found it increasingly difficult to find them. Occasionally she would catch a brief glimpse of one of them as they peered around a wall or behind a piece of furniture. “Is that you?” she would say as they scurried off. The Princess began to have visitors; people whom she had met at the party would pop over and increasingly she would leave the castle for excursions and such like. One by one the old friends decided to leave. Anguish left first, then Grief, then Sorrow, then Melancholy. Heartbreak was the hardest to say goodbye to. The Princess had spent so much time in his company and what with sleeping with him and everything, she was really going to miss him. But the Princess kept an album of their pictures to remind herself of those good times and she knew deep in her heart of hearts that those old friends were always near, watching over her, if she ever decided to have them back.
© Pasha de la Mare du Valentine 2010 all rights reserved