When the credits roll

When+the+credits+roll

Susanne Jutzeler

The glass coffin lid was lifted. The apple was vanquished. True love was discovered. She was a princess once more.

But every night, as she desperately tries to quiet her mind, visions dance across her eyelids. She can’t let go of the fear—of every time death’s fingertips brushed over her. 

The knife, poised over her heart. The comb, tangled in her curls, effusing poison into the air. The laces, taut against her skin, forcing gasping breaths to escape her lips. The apple, sickly sweet with venom, juices destined to stop her heart. 

She thinks the all-encompassing fear will abate in her dreams, but the nightmares are just as bad. She jolts awake shaking. 

What if I die? What if I die? 

Every time that her life has flashed before her eyes, it hasn’t been enough. What if it never is? What if the fear never fades? What if she spends her remaining years hiding in the shadows, paralyzed by fear that it will all be over too soon? Is that any life to live at all?

She is Snow White, and she is broken. 

***

The search was over. The shoe fit. Midnight didn’t matter anymore. Freedom was forever. 

But she can’t shake the feeling of worthlessness. She can’t let go of the creeping thought that she doesn’t deserve any of this. That she’s an impostor, a fraud, not at all who everyone tells her she can be. 

This opulent palace, these lavish, flowing dresses, a prince who loves her unconditionally and without pause. None of it is fit to be given to a poor servant girl who should probably go back to scrubbing the floors until they shine. 

Worthless

Her stepmother’s words echo in her head, bouncing off the walls and filling the empty space. She is nothing; she is just an orphan whose parents couldn’t find the strength within them to carry on. 

You’ll be just like them. A weak, little girl who should thank her lucky stars I’m gracious enough to give you a place in my home. 

Is it really freedom, she wonders, if it could all be taken away with the snap of a finger because you don’t deserve it?

She’s a liar, a hollow shell of a person in princess’s clothes, living a life she did absolutely nothing to earn. 

She is Cinderella, and she is broken.

***

One hundred years have found their end. The forest of thorns has fallen. The kingdom is awake. True love broke the curse. 

But she’s lost now. She had a future ahead of her once, but it’s all changed. The whole world has changed in what was barely a second for her. 

She feels like she’s trapped beneath a boulder, still trying to wake up. The world is a haze, and every step is a battle because one hundred years passed, and she missed it all. 

Now she’s expected to press forward, to not look back. But there’s so much to look back on. So much time wasted, gone, slipped between her fingers. 

There may be a lifetime stretched out ahead of her, but it’s not the lifetime she anticipated. She knows she shouldn’t be so tangled up in what could have been—what was supposed to be. Logically, she knows none of that matters anymore. 

But she can’t cope with this much change in such a short time. She can’t just pick herself up and rule a kingdom as everyone expects her too. 

She never wants to sleep again, and simultaneously, she wants to go back to sleep and never wake up, never have to face the overwhelming pressures of a life she was never supposed to live. 

She is Sleeping Beauty, and she is broken. 

***

As it turns out, they’re all broken. Shattered, destroyed, ruined. Their stories aren’t as perfect as they once seemed. Their happy endings aren’t without their faults, their fractures. 

But perhaps that’s because they’re not happy endings at all. They’re complicated beginnings. And there’s a journey between here and the end. A prolonged and arduous journey. 

They’re all broken. But they will all heal.