Christmas in the woods.

Fairy tales

The princess sat alone in the forest, at the foot of a large oak tree. It was nighttime. An occasional owl called mysteriously and solemnly in the distance.

It was cold. She felt snow falling but she couldn't see it in the dark. She wrapped her arms around her knees, trying to keep warm.

A nocturnal mouse scurried by. "Christmas is coming!" he squeaked. The princess half-heartedly threw a stone at him, but he ran off busily, paying no notice.

"I hate Christmas," the princess mumbled to herself. "Hoo," said a particularly sympathetic owl a few trees over.

You see, the princess was lost. She knew these woods well, but she had been walking alone in them too long, and sadness had undone her thoughts and her ability to find her way. She tried asking for help, but the squirrels, rabbits, birds, and all the other creatures of the forest, could not stop and give her directions for very long. They were busy tending to their own, or finding food for the winter. Some, like the mighty eagles, tried guiding her with bits of wisdom, but wisdom was lost on the princess.

For she was alone. Wisdom is only helpful when one has a hand to hold. And the princess had lost the one who knew how to walk beside her, how to hold her hand. He had run off in search of freedom, and had dropped his sword along the way. The princess had found it the other day, covered in weeds and leaves, rusting.

"Where are you?" she called out to the world, shivering. The only response was the sound of snowflakes gently landing on the ground beside her. "Where are you..." she whispered, without hope.

This is an important question. A fairy tale can only continue without a prince for so long. Eventually, the princess will fade, along with her forest, her magical animals. The very essence of her story will disappear like mist. Narrators can only wait, keeping vigil for the princess as she waits for her companion to return.

Well, perhaps we can do one last thing for her.

A passing eagle noticed the shivering princess, now sleeping, and went to retrieve something it had seen lying on the forest floor. It flew over to the princess and gently let fall from its beak, over her shoulders, a warm cloak, and flew away.

The princess stirred in her sleep, for she recognized his scent. And she dreamed.

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