Collaborative Short Story: Onions and Fairy Folk.

Happy Hump Day everyone!  For this blog post, I have had the honour of collaborating with the incredibly talented Mark David Tari, aka FortFrolicArt on Instagram.  I came across his page on Instagram quite by chance, and was immediately drawn to his otherworldly images.  David is  a nineteen year old graphic design student from Hungary.  He has been painting and creating art since his childhood, and began editing a few years ago.  He gets a lot of inspiration from Fantasy tales, particularly The Lord of the Rings and the Bio shock series.  For this piece, I created a short story inspired by his style and body of work, and he in turn created an image inspired by my short story.  If you like his work as much as I do, head over and follow him on Instagram, and if you are an artist who would like to collaborate with me, get in touch.  In the meantime, happy reading…

Onions and Fairy Folk image

Onions and Fairy Folk

The world is like an onion, well that’s how I like to think of it anyway.  It’s built up of layers you see, layer after layer of lives and creatures and worlds within worlds…plus it stinks and it makes you cry, but that’s for another day.  Today, we discuss the layers.  I can see them all you see and move between them.  I was little when I first realised it, maybe four or five, and my mum asked me who I was talking to.  “Them.” I pointed to the space occupied by a small grey creature with two heads having an argument with itself over one of my toys. I wasn’t aware at such a young age, that Dimions, for that’s what the creature was, are in fact spoken about in the singular not plural, but I was only little, so my ignorance can be excused. “There’s no one there sweetie.” I was perplexed.  Of course, there was, I could see it with my own two eyes, a tiny human with grey skin and silver wings and it’s two heads, with three black, oval shaped eyes on each, which blinked one after the other rather than in unison.  “Them, the fairies.”  I remember the look on her face, a mixture of bemusement and concern.

 I didn’t know then, that you shouldn’t tell people what you see.  If you reveal the true nature of the world to people, even if you simplify it, say with an onion analogy, they still look at you like you’re bat shit crazy.  At first, I talked to them, I played with them, I befriended them.  There is the Allgones, small and lilac with large lavender coloured wings speckled with gold.  They steal socks to sleep in, and for some reason, only ever steal one from each pair, leaving mankind scratching their heads over a pile of odd socks.  There is the Briglotts, bright pink in colour with rows and rows of tiny sharp teeth and little sharp claws.  They look like the grand prize at some terrifying fairground attraction, but in reality, they’re harmless.  They mostly eat fish and live inside hollow trees.  Then there are the Tragoys, my personal favourites.  They are dark, forest green with wings like magpie feathers. They live underground, eat earth worms and make marvellous pets.  I have one called Trillock.  That’s not her real name of course, I can’t speak her language, but that’s what it sounds like when she sneezes.  Trillock sleeps in my bed and gives me warm, earth scented cuddles in exchange for a healthy supply of worms from the local bait shop.

 Trillock also has another important function…she’s my guard Tragoy.  Not all of the beings which coexist with us do so peacefully.  Some feed on the misery of human kind, and so they manipulate the world from their layer, unseen but definitely sensed.  The worst are the Dragnauts, small, black shadow like creatures who move and snake together like a murmation of starlings. Whenever one is around, they cause whichever humans are nearby, to feel sad and lost.  They emanate sorrow like a gas, and feed of our tears.  We’ve all been there haven’t we?  Those moments when we feel down for no reason at all, blaming it on hormones or drink, but it’s them.  They have a cousin, whose name I have never found out, so I call them the Ragers for that’s what they do.  They cause sporadic anger in those nearby, bringing hate and bile to the surface before gorging themselves on the rage which follows.  They look like flames, they feel like steam.

I know what you’re thinking. You think I’m nuts, cuckoo, insane in the membrane.  There’s no such thing as fairies.  They were made up as a bed time story, or a cautionary tale for children.  They are myth and legend and fiction all rolled into one.  But they’re very much real.  Children can see them and dogs and cats can see them.  They try to tell us, by pointing at nothing or barking at thin air, but we never listen.  We have a habit, us humans, of ignoring the odd and unusual, of pretending it doesn’t exist until it goes away.  I suppose, people are like onions too, layers of complicated emotions and psychological issues, it’s a wonder we’ve survived as long as we have.

 Regardless of whether you believe me or not, the fairy folk exist.  They live in one of the many layers of our onion world, and they affect us and our onion lives, whether you believe they do or not.  So next time you can’t work out why you have so many odd socks or you feel sad or angry for no reason at all, you can tell them you don’t believe they’re there, and see how far that gets you.

My Novel ‘Broken Mirrors’ Official Release!

My Novel ‘Broken Mirrors’ Official Release!

my book IG picHey everyone!  This blog post is a very special one, because it is not a review of someone else’s book, but information about my own!  That’s right, I wrote a novel and it has officially been released today Friday the 13th.  I wanted to thank all of my lovely followers, because your support has been so wonderful.  Putting yourself and your writing out there is a very scary thing, and you guys have been nothing but lovely every step of the way.  In fact, it was the support and encouragement from my followers here and on Instagram, that gave me the courage to put my book into the world, so thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I would really appreciate your continued support now, as my book goes on sale worldwide…if you could buy it, that would be amazing!  If you read it, even better, and if you review it, well ten gold stars for you!!  You are the bloggers and reviewers and social influencers, and your opinion means the world to me.  It has got great reviews so far from some of the people who received ARCS, so grab a copy now and let me know what you think!!  Buy your copy on Amazon now by clicking here!

About ‘Broken Mirrors’:

When Marie moves from Belfast to London, she envisions a fresh start and an escape book IG picfrom a broken home. Once there, she meets Malcolm Carter, a charming, handsome man who sweeps her off her feet and gives her a life she could only have imagined. But Malcolm isn’t all he seems; he’s a criminal, a mobster and a murderer. Detective Fraser Duncan knows what he is, and he’s determined to take him down, but things get more complex when a rival and brutal gang leader appears on the scene, setting his sights on Malcolm’s empire. When Marie chooses to stay with Malcolm, regardless of what he is and what he has done, she starts down a path from which she can never return, and now she has been taken, Detective Duncan and Malcolm must set their differences aside and join forces in a race against time to save the woman they love.

Broken Mirrors explores the fragility of our own sense of self and the moral code by which we live our lives and hold ourselves to account.

Badass Women: Celebrating a century since the beginning of women’s Suffrage.

suffragetteIt’s been a century this month since the Suffragettes won their first battle, with some women being granted the right to vote, and in honour of that huge achievement and the women who made it happen, I just wanted to right a quick post dedicated to all of them, as well as the women continuing their fight one hundred years on.  Women from all walks of life, all classes, united under a common cause, stood up and fought for their right to be heard.  They fought, they bled, they were beaten and jailed, tortured and force fed, and some even died for what they believed in, so that you and I could have our say in how our country is run.  I think of them every time I vote.

I think if they saw how far things have come since those days, they would be pleased.  There are women Prime ministers and politicians, women astronauts, Police officers and scientists, women in every kind of job rocking at what they do.  But sadly, there is still some way to go.  Women are still paid less than men, the glass ceiling most certainly exists with the CEO positions in the biggest corporations being overwhelmingly male, and as the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the subsequent #metoo movement shows, there are still instances where inappropriate and even violent or abusive behaviour towards women, is merely accepted as part of that job/industry/culture.

So as well as dedicating this post to the women fighters of the past, I dedicate this to every woman out there who has stood up and said, ‘No.  That is not acceptable.’  This is dedicated to the working women, showing the world we can do it just as good as men.  The women soldiers, Doctors, politicians and teachers, and every one in between.  This is dedicated to the stay at home mums fighting for the respect they deserve.  This is dedicated to every woman who has had to utter those words #metoo, and the women made to feel like they aren’t good enough.

You are all badasses….every single one of you!!

The Mermaid’s Promise: A Short Story and Artist Collaboration.

Happy hump day folks!  I hope your week is going well so far.  For this blog post, I will be featuring the next instalment of my collaborative series I call, ‘Inspired.’  For those of my readers unfamiliar with the series, I collaborate with artists and crafty people from all over the world, writing a short story, which they bring to life by creating a piece of art inspired by that story.  For this piece, I am so excited to have collaborated with the incredibly talented Amaryah, the artist behind the Easy shop ‘The House of Worry Dolls.’  Amaryah takes all of our favourite characters from page and screen, and meticulously recreates them in worry doll form.  She can even personalise the dolls to look like you, your family and your pets to create the ultimate unique family portrait.  Her dolls are incredible, and you can see more of them on her Instagram.  For our collaboration, I wrote a short story inspired by her beautiful dolls, and she took my story and created two unique dolls just for me!  This one was a really fun one to work on, so I hope you like it!  As always, leave me a comment to let me know what you thought, and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to stay up to date with all my latest posts.  Happy reading…

The Mermaid’s promise

mermaid 2She is a stealer of hearts. That is how she controls the ocean, with unspoken promises never fulfilled. Her whispers are carried on the winds, and her songs on the beating of the waves against ships. All who listen falter, turning their vessels into shallow waters or crashing against jagged rocks; a watery grave, welcomed with a smile, the spell unwavering even in death. It is said, that she can take the form of desire itself, changing her hair colour or face to appeal to the souls she subdues. One thing always remains true however, her tail. The scales are the colour of the clearest skies, but change with the moving sun, becoming navy or perhaps silver depending on the weather. They reflect the light with every movement and lead men to their deaths, a lighthouse beacon born of flesh and skin, a diamond in the rough.

I saw her once, when I was a just a lad. I was just a deck hand then, given the menial and unlikeable tasks. I remember it like it was yesterday. We were on our way to the Americas. The men were singing and joking, laughing or brawling, the noise of their chatter mixing with the cry of seagulls and the ocean’s sleepy drawl. I was peeling potatoes, when suddenly I realised it had become deathly quiet. I made my way on deck to find all the men aboard standing stock still, the tasks which they had been doing, becoming an after thought to whatever now consumed their minds. They stared, all of them, into the horizon, with wide eyes and calm smiles, as the ship simply drifted, as lost and submissive as the sailors.

I followed their gaze, squinting in the early morning light, when I saw her tail rise and fall amongst the waves, sending flashes of light all around her. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, with deep red hair, and bright green eyes, the colour of the sea after a storm. I too was momentarily agape, watching her beckon us towards her, enticing us with a tender smile and parted lips. But my gaze soon fell upon the jagged rocks protruding from the ocean like a hand, grasping for the surface. It was then I knew her beauty to be only skin deep, a lure for her prey.mermaid 1

I began to shout and scream at the men, even resorting to slapping them or throwing water over their heads, but nothing stirred them from their blissful ignorance. The ship was slowly drifting towards its destruction, and these men were welcoming it with open arms. The ship’s wheel was also trying to get the attention of her passengers, swinging and turning wildly, causing our vessel to shift and jolt, but even her efforts went unheeded. I grabbed the wheel, using all of my strength to turn the ship away from the rocks, away from danger, before securing it with a yard of rope. And then I simply waited, for I knew that senses would not return to my crew until we had distanced ourselves from the siren’s call, her promises and seductions carried on the sea breeze.

I could hear her screaming as the vessel moved away, a terrible, guttural scream like a dying animal. It pierced my ears, and stabbed at my chest, and seemed to surround me, or perhaps it was inside my head. I must have lost consciousness, for when I woke, I was in the Captain’s room, the ship’s medic tending to me, my wrist in one hand, a pocket watch in the other. I felt cold, as if all heat had been drained from my body, and my head thumped to the beat of my heart.

“He’s awake.”

The Captain approached my bedside, and placed my hand in his.

“How do you feel boy?”
“Alright, cold, tired.”
“We’ll soon warm you up. Are you hungry? Thirsty?”
“Thirsty sir.”
“No sirs or Captains, not today.”

It was as if my senses had suddenly returned to me in a flash, my knowledge of the creature and the danger she posed. I jolted upright, as if awaking from a nightmare.

“The sea witch…”
“Shhh calm yourself boy. She’s gone, and danger has passed, thanks to you.”

I lay back down, the pillow clammy against my skin. The cook brought me water, and they even gave me a dram of whiskey, to help my senses return to me. I regaled them with the day’s events, leaving no detail out, lest I convince myself of my own insanity. They nodded and listened, and finally, after a pause, the Captain spoke.

“I could hear a voice, more beautiful and tender than any I have ever heard before. It was like liquid gold. She whispered promises and declarations of love to me, asking me to join her forever, offering her heart and her breast. I became enamoured, besotted, overwhelmed. Suddenly, she was the only thing of importance in my life, and I yearned to be with her with every fibre of my being. I am embarrassed to say, I would have gladly given my life, for one kiss.”

Now it was the cook’s turn.

“Aye, I heard the same thing. Her voice rang ’round me head and I could not think of anything but her. I could not, would not, go on without her hand.”

Finally, the Doctor confirmed he too had experienced the same song, and felt the same overwhelming desire to be with the creature, whatever the consequences.

“It was as if, in an instant, she had become my everything, my very reason for existence. I truly felt that, without her breast to rest my weary head, and without the kiss of her lips upon mine, my life would not be worth living. She enchanted me, she possessed my very soul.”

I mulled their words over in my mind. At such a young age, I had no understanding of such things. I had not yet felt the grip of love, nor felt the sting of heart break. I could not imagine losing my head in such a way over a woman, even one as beautiful and magical as the Mermaid. I suppose that’s why I was immune to her song. My youth and inexperience saved me from the Mermaid’s promise, yet to this day, I dream of her red hair spreading on the surface of a clear sea, and I hear her voice beckoning my return. Perhaps one day, I’ll answer.

Finding Time: A Short Story & Unique Jord Watch Collaboration.

Hello readers! It’s nearly Valentines day, my first as a blogger and social media addict, and I wanted to do something special. As this is the time of year when we show our loved ones how special they are to us, I have been lucky enough to collaborate with Jord Watches in order to show you all how much I love and appreciate your support! If you are unfamiliar with Jord, they make the most stunning watches, craved from wood. As a lover of nature as well as classic minimalist design, these watches are right up my street. watch 1I am partnering up with them to offer one lucky person $100 off one of their stunning timepieces- to enter, just click here. Not only can you win this amazing prize, but everyone who enters also gets 10% off any Jord watch.

To celebrate the collaboration, I have also written a short story entitled, ‘Finding Time’ and I sincerely hope you can find the time to read it and to enter this aweseom giveaway. As always, I would love to hear from you guys, so leave me a comment or head to my social media and follow me! In the mean time, happy reading…

Finding Time

This was to be a year of firsts for them; their first house together, their first anniversary, and coming up, their first Valentines day in their new home. But more notably, it was also their first fight. Robert had been working a lot lately. In fact Beth felt like she saw less of him now than when they lived apart. Last night had been the last straw; not only was he late coming home, with no message or phone call to stop her from worrying, but he had very casually dropped into conversation the fact that he would be working late on Valentines day.

The conversation had went something like this:
“I can’t wait to spend our first valentines day together in the house…maybe we could get a takeaway and have a romantic dinner in, just the two of us?’
“Sounds good, but may need to postpone it a day or two after, maybe the 16th of 17th. I have a meeting on Valentines day, so won’t be home until late. Could you pass me the soy sauce?”
“What? But it’s our first Valentines in the new house. In fact, it’s our first any kind of holiday since moving in together. I wanted to make it special. Can’t the meeting be moved?”
“Not really Love.”
“Don’t you ‘Love’ me…”
And then the drama. She had told him he was spending too much time at work, that he had his priorities skewed, that he wasn’t making enough time for them, for her. He told her she was his priority but things were temporarily hectic at the office due to some people leaving, and that it would all calm down once they recruited some new staff. He said she made him feel guilty about his job, something he couldn’t help, and he called her a drama queen. She called him a rather choice word, too explicit to repeat, and that was the end of that.

Two days had since passed, and bar small talk and the occasional necessary conversation about bills or furniture, they had barely spoken a word never mind made up from the fight. She knew it was stupid, but that’s the funny thing about hurt and anger, they are so easy to hold on to even when you know how ridiculous you are being. The truth was, Valentines day wasn’t exactly a monumental holiday. It wasn’t their anniversary or a birthday, but she had had this idea, an image of the two of them eating takeaway out of the boxes because they still hadn’t bothered to unpack the plates, candles lit, a cosy night in just the two of them. She had waited for so long to have a place they could call theirs, and she wanted to christen it. Now, it seemed as if it would just be another date in the calender, February 14th, nothing special. She sighed.

On the day itself, she didn’t even hear him leave for work he had got up so early. She was off that day, using it to unpack and clean, a list of jobs which no matter how long she spent on them, never seemed to decrease in length. After several hours, becoming more and more sick of the sight of newspaper and packing peanuts, she had unpacked a framed photgraph taken at the beginning of their relationship. Robert was standing behind her, arms wrapped around her waist, both smiling widely at the camera. One look at that picture and she realised what a daft idiot she was being. She had complained about hardly seeing him, about spending so little time together, yet in the days since their argument she had spoken to him even less, BY CHOICE. It was time to make amends.

She knew he was working a double and wouldn’t be home until very late, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t make the day special. She gathered the discarded pieces of newspaper and made a Valentines day banner with red sharpie and string. She set out all the candles she could find to light when he got home, and after a trip to the local card shop, placed some red heart shaped balloons around the room. She also bought a card, nothing too soppy, just a simple ‘Be my Valentine.’ Inside she inscribed, “My dearest Robert, I love you more than words can express. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me, and selfishly, I want to keep you all to myself. I’m sorry, Beth.”

She placed it front and centre on the fireplace. Normally, she would make a meal or order them in something special, but given how late he would get home, this wasn’t exactly practical. So instead, she baked. At the local shop, she bought the ingredients she needed to make her Grandmother’s shortbread recipe, and she spent the afternoon making heart shaped biscuits. When she was done, placing them down with the card, she looked around at her handy work and smiled. If this didn’t put an end to the silent treatment, nothing would.

She yawned. Checking the time on her phone, it was just after five pm, she realised Robert wouldn’t be home for hours. Beth put her head down on the sofa, and decided to close her eyes for half an hour, but exhaustion took over and she fell fast asleep.

“Beth? Sleeping beauty?”

She awoke to a gentle kiss on her forehead. The room which had been bright when she lay down, was now pitch black. She wondered what time it was.

“It’s late, about eleven.”

She had no idea how he managed to read her mind the way he did, but she loved him for it. He reached beside the sofa and turned on the lamp, revealing her hard days work. He smiled.

“You’ve been busy.”
“I have indeed. I wanted it to be special. Do you like it?”
“Of course I do. You didn’t have to go to so much trouble.”
“I wanted to…look, I’m sorry about the fight.”
“No, I’m sorry. You’re right. I’ve barely seen you these past few weeks and it’s not fair. I told them tonight I would be scaling back, new staff or not.”
“You did?”
“I did. I had to get my priorities in order.”

They both laughed, and she threw her arms around his neck and breathed him in, relief washing over her. Fights always create a distance between two people, and every time, there is the chance it may become too great a space to close.

“I have something for you.”

He reached inside his brown leather satchell, papers and books filling the majority of the watch 2space, and removed a wooden box. The box itself was beautiful, just able to fit in one hand, it was smooth and cool to the touch.

“What’s this?”
“Open it and see.”

She pulled off the lid, to reveal a watch inside. It was made of a dark, rich wood, with an emerald green face. She held it into the light, the wood smooth in her hands.

“It’s beautiful, I love it.”
“Check out the inscription.”

She excitedly turned it over, revealing the words etched on the smooth, wooden disc, ‘I will always find time for you.’ She could feel tears fill her eyes as she once again embraced him, and there they sat a while, just holding each other, the only sounds in the room was their quiet contented breathing, and the ticking of the watch.

About my watch

watch 3If you like my watch, and fancy it for yourself, it’s called the ‘Frankie’ watch, and mine is made of dark sandalwood with an emerald face.  You can buy it here.  Or you can click to have a look at their women’s collection and men’s collections.  Don’t forget, every entry into the giveaway also gets you 10% off, so get shopping for that perfect Valentine’s day gift!


Wooden Wrist Watch

The Letters Lit: Official Unboxing, or should I say un-enveloping? And a poem inspired by my letter!

Happy New Year everyone!  One of my resolutions, is to write more and read more, so hopefully you will see an increase in my posts!  I am lucky to be completely spoiled this month, with lots of wonderful bookish goodies arriving through the mail, giving me inspiration for writing as well as new books to read.  On Sunday, you may have seen my post about unboxing my fabulous Bookish Box, and tonight I get to unbox (or should that be un-envelope?) my fabulous Letters Lit package.

letters lit 2If you are unfamiliar with The Letters Lit, they are a company which offer you book letters as opposed to boxes, thus giving you the experience of a book box subscription, at a fraction of the cost.  Every month, you receive a stunning wax sealed envelope, containing a selection of beautiful goodies themed around that month’s book.  This months book is ‘Season’ by Sarah Maclean, which I am very much looking forward to reading and reviewing (keep an eye out for the full review here on my blog).

Inside my package, I received some beautiful classic prints, which would look beautiful on any wall or notice board, some beautiful ribbon, some orange wedge post-it notes (as a list maker, this particular gift makes me very happy!), a heart shaped tea diffuser as well as a Twinings Earl grey tea bag (which I fully intend to sip as I read), a Letters Lit inspired page mark/paperclip and finally, my personal favourite, a bath tea bag (I wish I could add scent to my images, because wow does it smell divine).  The whole letter is just bursting with joy, and I love every little detail!  You can feel the care and consideration that goes into choosing each item and as a lover of all things vintage, I adore the classic vibes.

I have been following this company since their launch, and am so pleased to see them thriving and growing!  Subsequently, I was inspired to write a poem- I hope you like it!!

What joy to read,
to turn a page.
To fight and bleed,
explore an age.
To love or hate,
to shed a tear,
challenge fate
or face your fear

What joy to explore
a world unknown,
where dragons soar
and banshee moan.
Where ogres hide
amongst the fae
and vampire brides
escape the day.

What joy to share
a world in hand.
To cry and care
to understand.
To find yourself
through printed word,
where hearts they dwell
and lines are blurred.

What joy a book,
how knowledge spreads,
where wise men look
and brave ones tread.
But what of ends,
of final words?
When all is done?
That land preferred.

There is a way
to make it last
to steal away,
into the past.
A gift through door,
where book worms sit
waiting for
The letters lit.

Instructions simple,
there is but one:
Open seal with letter knife
A gift to bring a book to life.

The Bookish Box: Official Unboxing.

Happy New years Eve everyone!  I hope you all have a wonderful evening ahead of you, including a glass of bubbly and a kiss at midnight.  To celebrate the end of December, and 2017, as well as the beginning of a new year, I thought I would share with you the unboxing of The Bookish Box’s December edition, which is the perfect theme for the coming of a new year: Destined.  I have had the honour of recently becoming a rep for this amazing company, and I was so excited to receive my first box, I simply couldn’t wait to share it with you all.  If you love it as much as me, you can get 15% off at the Bookish Shop and $3.00 off your first subscription at The Bookish Box  by using my exclusive discount code MARIE.

And to celebrate December’s theme of Destined, I have written a short story in the same theme, which is at the end of the unboxing!  Enjoy the unboxing, enjoy my story and enjoy your New Year’s Eve…it’s destined to be a good one!!

bookish box 1Just look at this selection of bookish goodies!  I practically squealed when I opened it.  The first thing I came upon was this gorgeous Throne of Glass mug, featuring a fabulous watercolour illustration by Aelin Fireheart.  As if this wasn’t amazing enough, inside I found the most beautiful wooden Christmas ornament created by Hello World Paper Co.

Next, I came upon the sweetest Harry Potter candle, created by Whiskey Diamond Candle bb3Co. and decorated with a hint of gold.  I wish I had the ability to capture scents in my images, because it smells heavenly!! And to match my candle, a badass Harry Potter tee from The Bookish Shop, with one of my favourite quotes, ‘When in doubt, go to the library.’ Wise words!!

Beneath this, a stunning Game of Thrones print by @DaniMarieDraws, featuring the Queen of Dragons herself, as well as the monthly theme doodle created by Doodles by Christina, because who doesn’t love a bit of colouring in?

bb4Finally, the final finishing touch, a new read: Roomies by the New York Times bestselling author Christina Lauren- keep an eye out on my blog for the upcoming review!

I honestly think it might be the best thing I have ever received through the mail!

 

Running from Destiny

When Helena was born, she was told, “You are destined to be a great leader.” It had been written in the stars they said, and foretold by the elders of the kingdom. As she grew, they told her almost every day of her life, “Take your lessons Helena, so you can grow up to be the great leader you are destined to become.” “Eat your vegetables Helena, so you grow up to be the strong leader you are destined to become.” If she heard her nanny say it once, she heard it a million times, until Helena decided she didn’t want to be a great leader anymore. She decided she wanted to be something else, anything else, somewhere else, away from here. And so, on her sixteenth birthday, under the cover of darkness, she packed a bag and left the kingdom, turning her back on the destiny everyone else had picked and choosing her own.

When the people awoke the next day, and discovered their beloved Princess gone, they wept, for they knew that darkness lay in wait within their boundaries, poised to strike at any moment, and without Helena, their great and brave leader, they were surely doomed.

Helena walked through the most treacherous mountain paths, and faced the worst of all weather. She hunted and climbed and swam and ran, and grew tall and strong. Her life time of training kicked it, almost automatically, and she did not simply survive, she thrived and grew stronger than ever, for now she breathed free air, and could choose her own path.

Sadly, the kingdom grew weaker, as fear took hold. Those amongst them, with greedy intentions and selfish inclinations, took advantage of the climate of uncertainty, and anointed themselves leaders and governors, tearing the kingdom into pieces to rule as their own, fighting to rule the biggest piece, until it lay in wreck and ruin, unrecognisable to any who had known her in happier times.

A decade came and went, and Helena, now strong and fierce, never tiring of her adventures, hurried onwards until she came upon a town in the dark woods. The people were fearful, cowering at the slightest sound. Every time Helena tried to speak with them, to buy a loaf of bread or enquire as to the name of the town, they would run and hide, locking their doors. Only one would talk with her, the eldest of the residents, and therefore the one with the least to lose. She told Helena of a great and mighty kingdom, filled with happy people, who after losing their Princess, found themselves torn apart by greedy, selfish men, who decided to fill the void left behind with their own version of leadership. And so, under the shadow of such corruption and deceit, the kingdom fell apart, and it’s people now feared their own shadows, and struggled with the daily chore of survival.

Helena was touched by this tale of woe, and after seeing how poor the people were, and how even the children were worked as slaves so the men in charge could live in wealth and luxury, she made it her mission to help them. One by one, she faced these men, and one by one they fell on her sword. She freed the enslaved, and opened the castle doors to the poor and the starving, ensuring all were fed and clothed and had a roof over their head. She restored the light to the darkened woods, and the kingdom once again united, began to prosper, it’s people happy for the first time in so many years.

One day, as Helena was helping the villagers rebuild their school, the old woman came to her with a smile on her face, “I told you you would be a great leader one day. I’m glad I made you take your lessons and eat your vegetables.” Helena cried with joy as she hugged her old Nanny, and the people rejoiced at the return of their beloved Princess. Although she had left, she returned stronger, having lived her life her own way on her own terms, and discovered that often, we meet our destinies on the paths we take in order to avoid them.