It’s been two years since I was brought to this lovely prison. I have eaten nothing but stale bread and yellow water, and slept on a pile of itchy straw full of nasty insects. Leo and I spend our mornings picking the lice out of each other’s hair. Then, we sit around all afternoon, dreaming of royal banquets and wool blankets.
I spend most of tonight trying to give in to Destiny, begging for forgiveness and hoping for gifts. Sometimes I wonder if Destiny is too heartless to give gifts, and if Leo’s healing will end us eventually.
Oops, scratch that. There’s no us between Leo and I. As much as I wish there was, as much as I long for a love that I’m not forced to have, I know that I am destined to be with Denver. Yet I can’t tell myself that Leo and I aren’t perfect for one another. I yawn. It’s getting late, and my eyelids feel heavier and heavier each second. I’ll think about it in the morning.
I wake up to a boy who woke up on the wrong side of the bed. This is great! I think to myself. This will show me the bad side of Leo so that I can accept Denver as my prince charming! Immediately I regret that thought. When did I become so cold and selfish? For some strange reason I can’t explain, I don’t want Leo to see that I am so insecure around him. I try to act casual as I ask him why he’s so upset.
“What’s wrong? You’re usually not like this.” I ask, hoping he can’t see right through me.
“I’m just so sick of this place! I need real food. I need comfort. And most of all, I NEED FRESH AIR!” His chest rises and falls with his heavy breathing. A raging fire burns brightly in his eyes. I have never seen him so emotional.
“I would help you if I could, but there’s nothing I can do! The only person who has keys to our cell is the witch!” I clamp a hand over my mouth. I think I just put a dangerous idea in his head.
“SOUP’S OOOOOOOON!” Wails a raspy voice from down the hallway. Though I’ve heard that same old sentence in that same old voice every day, this time, it sends butterflies fluttering everywhere in my stomach. Will Leo make his move to escape?
Our dinner, which ironically consists nothing of soup, slides through the slot at the bottom of our door. In a split second, Leo snatches up the warty gray hand that feeds us every day. If he doesn’t pull this off, we will never get fed again. If he does and we get caught, who knows what will happen?
For a guy with healing powers, that kid can really hurt. He pulls the witch’s arm all the way through the slot, and a revolting wail attacks my eardrums.
“Give us the keys to this prison, or I can make this hurt a lot more!” Leo says, happy to take his anger out on the witch.
“AAAAYYYYYAAAAAAAARRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAGGGGHHH!” The witch screams. I can almost see her ugly face twisted in agony. “FINE I’LL LET YOU OUT!” She finally says to us. Leo continues to hold firm until the door begins to swing outwards. I shove myself in between the door and the wall, just to make sure that the witch doesn’t close the door on us, now that Leo has released her. But the witch is afraid of us now. She tosses her wand to us, and scampers away like an old stray dog.
We grab our belongings, which is a wand and a loaf of stale bread, then we leave. It takes us a while to find the exit, but when we do, Leo and I have tears in our eyes.
It’s been so long.. I missed the outside world so much. Still, I can’t be here long. Leo will stay here, free from his fate , but I will go back to the prison to make more sacrifices for Destiny. I don’t bother to think about that now, now that I can breathe fresh air. My only thought is about how right everyone is when they say great outdoors.
We run into the woods. I don’t want to be anywhere near our old home. The shadows that cover us make me feel protected, and I never want to step into the sunlight again.
Leo stops suddenly at the bank of a pond. I try, but I can’t stop my momentum and I end up smashing into Leo. We both fall into the water, because that’s the kind of useless, clumsy person that I am. He laughs, and I laugh with him as we tackle each other, not caring that we are both ruining our only clothes.
We crawl out of the pond, covered from head to toe in mud. The summer breeze feels refreshingly cold against my tattered birthday gown. Desperate for the wind blowing through my hair, I grab onto a low tree branch and swing myself up onto it. Shakily, I stand up and reach for the next branch, trying to ignore the pine sap covering my hands. It takes me fifteen minutes to climb six feet, and I’m already exhausted.
“Need a hand, slow poke?” Leo calls to me from the top, and I almost fall off of the tree. How did he get up there so fast?
“Don’t ask me how I got up here so fast, because I honestly don’t know.” Another reason to prove that Leo is perfect for me and Denver is not. Great.
I grab his hand, and before long, I am finally at the top.
I feel like I can do anything. I can climb any tree, I can fly, and I can choose my own destiny.
Leo’s shoulder brushes mine. Goosebumps tickle my arms. Has he always had this affect on me? Do I have the same affect on him? How am I ever going to go back to the prison? Questions swirl through my mind like a tornado. I don’t even realize that Leo is crying until I feel a teardrop fall on my hand.
“What’s wrong?” I ask, not knowing what else to say.
“I..... I don’t think that I can handle it.”
“You can always come back to the dungeon with me, if you want.”
“Not that, I love the freedom.”
“Then what is it?”
“I don’t know if I can watch you leave.”
The realization hits me like a brick wall. He does love me. I do love him. What was Destiny thinking?