Image of Long Story Short Award - 2022
Image of Short Fiction
Once upon a time, there was a princess called Belleza. The princess was gorgeous, with her long dark hair, large topaz eyes, and warm honey skin. She always wore the most extravagant clothes to highlight her features, thus adding to her looks. In this way, her name shone through, but she was also bossy, mean, inconsiderate, and spent her time doing pointless, shallow things. She was always yelling, and whoever was unlucky enough to spend time with her, left feeling worthless. She was cruel to her servants and citizens, which led her to be known as 'The Scary Princess.'
As in most fairytales, we have our dragon. Now, this dragon was quite handsome as well. He was gigantic and had pearly emerald green scales that, in the sunlight, seemed to change from turquoise to green to purple. His massive wings, horns, and tail were tipped with a red hue, and his teeth looked as if they had been painted with the whitest white. The dragon was very wise and kind and spent his days flying whichever way the wind blew, meeting new people, and doing all he could to help them.
When he heard about Belleza, he knew he needed to do something about it and began to head her way. He planned to teach her something she'd never forget.
When the dragon reached the castle, he tore the roof off of Belleza's tower, swooped in, and snatched the princess in his claws. He flew off with her, while she screamed and kicked the whole way.
When they finally landed, they were at the dragon's home. The dragon went inside for a moment, and when he returned, he had a simple peasant's dress.
"Here." he said as he handed Belleza the dress, "You'll need to change into this."
Shocked, the princess began, "If you think that I'll be wearing that, then..."
"I've brought you here for a reason" the dragon cut in. "You live and rule in an amazing kingdom, but you are a problem. As a leader, you have the responsibility to set an example for your people and you are failing. Everyone you go, you spread a trail of misery."
Belleza was at a loss for words. No one had ever spoken to her that way. Then again, she didn't dare talk back to something who could swallow her up in a second.
The first task that was given to Belleza was to clean the dragon's entire house. Now, this was an extremely large task given the size of the dragon, not to mention the fact that she had never worked a day in her life. Nevertheless, she worked tirelessly to mop the floors, scrub the mountains of dishes, wipe the greasy walls, do days of laundry, and clean the dingy windows. No matter how well, hard, or fast she was working, the dragon always seemed to be yelling for her to work better, harder, and faster. Her mind was turned to all her servants and maids she had always mistreated. Not a single one of them had deserved the type of cruelty she gave. After the third day, she was finished! This had not been an easy or enjoyable experience, but Beleza couldn't help but feel a sense of pride in the work she had done.
After a good night's sleep, the dragon didn't waste a moment to bring them to their next stop. They landed by a little stream in the middle of a forest, and Belleza was left with only the instruction to "Go and explore."
She spent hours wandering, not sure of what to do, but what she saw was wondrous. The forest was so amazing and vast. She saw birds flying, and when she was really quiet, other animals would find their way out of the brush as well. She stumbled upon a field of wildflowers, containing every color imaginable. Belleza smiled and used her time to make a flower crown for herself and necklace for the dragon for when he was to return.
The stream was fabulous. The misty air was so cool, and the princess laughed as she jumped from rock to rock over the bubbling water. For the first time in a long time, she felt at peace. Belleza recognized that this simple day in the forest had brought more joy than anything she ever did in the castle.
As the sun began to set, the dragon returned, and Belleza presented the flower necklace to him, while they flew away, she thought she saw him smile.
The following day, Belleza and the dragon traveled nearly half the day to get to a faraway land called Incumplido. Everyone living in the land had blue skin - the color of the ocean. Their hair and eyes ranged from red to yellow to purple, and everything in-between, but to Belleza, this place seemed very similar to her home. She saw modest cottage homes, farm animals, gardens, little markets selling fabrics, foods, jewelry, pottery, tools. The people and the village were so lovely, but as she began to look more closely, she noticed that not a soul was happy. In fact, it stunned the princess to see the people look so angry and unkind. Belleza was given her task. "Find someone happy."
"Easy," she said to herself, "someone must be happy here," but as she continued to walk through the town, she began to doubt her earlier statement. It seemed everywhere she went, the people were yelling and arguing, scowling, and pushing people out of their way as they went.
Frustrated, Belleza turned the corner to see a group of poor, tired-looking villagers sitting against a wall, while a man passed bread to them. This man seemed to be glowing with happiness. She had found him! Belleza walked up to him, and before she could say a thing, he introduced himself. "Hello, my name is Armonio. It is so fantastic to meet you!"
"Hi, I'm Belleza. It's great to meet you, too." The princess looked around again before asking, "Why is everyone so angry?"
"That's how they were born," he answered. "They believe that because they have always been that way, they have to be that way, but I've learned a secret."
"What is it?" she asked eagerly.
"It's never too late to change. You can always be better. Being angry and mean didn't make me happy, so I changed. I worked hard to be kind even when it was hard because my happiness was dependent on what I made of my situation."
"Wow," she whispered in awe.
"We should be going, Belleza," the dragon said from behind her. And after saying goodbye to Armonio, Belleza and the dragon left Incumplido.
The dragon landed near the village where her people lived. "Thank you for taking this journey with me," he said.
"No," Belleza started, "thank you for showing me how to live." The dragon flew away and the princess began her trek to the castle. She looked around and saw her people for the first time outside her tower. They were so pleasant and happy. They were so kind, and some even offered her some food on her way.
How grateful the princess felt that her people were like Armonio, but she needed to be a better leader for them. From then on, she was going to strive to be kinder, more considerate, compassionate, and hard-working. As she reached the front gates, she smiled. Belleza finally understood what her name really meant, and because of that, she became truly beautiful.