In old town Gallawalena, lived a Princess.
Her parents forbade her from leaving the castle, for the world was too scary for their little Princess.
Since she was young, fear of suffocation often haunted the Princess, for the castle was massive but her heart and adventurous spirit were even bigger. To settle her fear, the Princess spent each night by her window. But each night a Bad Man would visit her. The Princess, afraid her parents would take away the one freedom she had, said nothing to no one about the Bad Man and her window.
The Bad Man wore plain trousers bunched at the ankle with high socks and worn shoes. He wore a grey loose fit button down and a straw hat. The Princess could not always see him clearly due to the night time fog but she could see his green eyes and how they changed with excitement as he spoke. She saw his soft smile. And she was fascinated by his balance as he sat on the tree branch outside of her window with such ease.
“To be honest,” thought the Princess, “the Bad Man makes everything look easy.”
Each night, the Bad Man would bring the Princess stories of his life and travel. Her blue eyes would grow big with excitement as he explained. One night, he leaned closer to her window and touched her long blonde hair. The Princess didn’t feel scared and before she knew it, her eyes locked with his and then he left.
Each morning, the Princess woke up and was a dutiful daughter to the King and Queen. She sat up straight away, took her tea the way her mother said she should, not the way she liked it. She pretended to listen to her instructors and pay attention in class but her mind was always on the Bad Man.
She would wait for him each night by her window. And night after night, he came to her. By day he would do the things she asked him to so that he could tell her about them later. If she asked him to sit in a field of flowers and remember the smell, he would do it. If it rained, he would tell her what it felt like to be wet and cold and walk along the enchanted forest. He would do these things for her.
After many years, the Princess finally became of age to marry. The discussion was meek. The Princess dreaded it. For she would still live in the castle but one with a different window and a different view and a world where the Bad Man did not fit in.
On her 18th birthday, the Bad Man came with a present and, while the Princess knew it was frowned upon to accept it, she did. He handed her a perfectly wrapped box. She carefully opened it in front of him and what she found in the box was the smallest bird egg.
The Princess spoke with fear, “I will not be able to see you now that I am promised to a prince. Bad man, please let me go with you, take me.”
“I cannot take you, Princess, you must leave on your own. Take this gift and think of me and when you need me the most it will help. I promise.”
The Princess knew the Bad Man was good on his promise, for he had never given her any reason not to believe so, he kept all his promises to her and would continue to do so.
The night before her wedding, the Princess slept with the egg the Bad Man gave her and cried long and hard into her pillow. Her mother heard her weeping and warned that it would leave her eyes puffy and unattractive for her wedding day.
Finally, the Princess fell asleep. In the morning, she woke to the egg by her side. It had a crack in it and the Princess feared she may have damaged it in her sleep. But she soon realized the egg was hatching. The Princess’ eyes widened. A small white feathered bird emerged and the Princess cried. Tears of joy, tears of fear. She took the bird in her lap and hugged him.
At that moment, the Princess knew she needed to escape. Her little Feathered Friend gave her the courage. But the Princess had never escaped before.
How does one escape a castle she has never left? She didn’t even know the way out.
As the Princess thought about her escape options, her Feathered Friend grew by the second. He grew until he was bigger than her.
The Princess, hearing her mother’s footsteps, opened the window and quickly climbed on top of her Feathered Friend and they flew away.
“Take me to the Bad Man,” said the Princess and so the bird did.
They flew for hours and the Princess started to grow uncomfortable and scared.
But she trusted her Feathered Friend and she needed to see her Bad Man.
Finally, they arrived at the Bad Man’s cottage. He was waiting for them, with a fire lit and dinner ready.
“I knew you would come,” said the Bad Man. “Dinner is ready.”
For years to come, they’d sit and eat dinner together every night, the three of them, warm and safe. Every day, they walked the enchanted forest and the Princess never grew tired of the freedom the Bad Man gave her.