“Um, Miss Spencer?” It was a measly girl tugging at her skirt, timidly waving a sheet of paper at her. She had long brown hair to her knees and beautiful green eyes that contrasted her olive skin.

“Yes, dear?” she knelt slowly and smiled hopefully at the girl. “What’s this?”

“I made it for you, Miss. Do you like it?”

Miss Spencer took the paper from her lightly and held it up. It was a picture of two stick figures standing in haphazardly drawn green lines (that she assumed to be grass) – one tall figure with neon yellow lines as hair. That must be herself. The other figure was about a centimeter long, with long brown ‘hair’  and a smiley face. There were red blotches on both the figures’ cheeks, which Ms. Spencer assumed were blushing faces.

“Oh, this is lovely, Olive. When did you make this?”

“Yesterday night. Do you like it?”

“I love it.” she smiled down at Olive, who grinned back at her. She had been in the teaching profession for a couple of months by then, and honestly? She’d never been happier. If there was one thing she loved most in the world, it was kids. To her, the way a child’s smile lit up any room she was in – no matter how grave her life seemed just then – was the most amazing thing.

Miss Spencer with her tiny tots.

“Miss Spencer?”

“Yes, honey?”

“Do you mind walking me home? I think my mommy forgot to pick me up again.” Olive shifted awkwardly. It was pretty evident that she was embarrassed. 

“Oh…”, Miss Spencer paused. “Well, I’ve got some work later on, but I’m sure I can squeeze in the time. How far do you live?”

“Ten hours…” Olive froze. “… oops, no- I meant ten minutes – by walking.”

“Okay, well if we go really fast, maybe I can help you.” she smiled at Olive again, who nodded obediently. 

“Sure, Miss Spencer, thank you so much!”

They walked in silence as they turned a street until Olive spoke again. “So what work do you have now, Miss Spencer?”

“Oh, nothing much. I just have to get to my employer’s house soon.”

Olive wrinkled her nose and frowned. “What’s an – em-ploo-ya?”

Miss Spencer laughed and patted Olive’s head. “Employer. It means the person who gives you a job, and pays you money.”

“But isn’t your job teaching us?” Olive was with no doubt the smartest 5 year old in Spencer’s class.

“Well technically, yes. But I have two jobs.”

“What’s the second one?”

“I’m also a nanny. I take care of this sweet little boy while his parents work all day.”

“Is that where you have to go now? To the sweet boy’s house?”

“Yes, Olive.” Spencer rounded the last turn and stopped gingerly, gently letting Olive’s hand go. “Well, we’re here. Go on in, and don’t forget to do your homework!”

18-year-old Miss Spencer, in front of Young England School in Pimlico (the kindergarten that she worked at)

“Okay, Miss Spencer. I won’t! Thank you so much for helping me. See you tomorrow!” Olive gave her a quick but tight squeeze and pranced up her doorstep, as Spencer turned back around – raising her wrist to check her watch. Shoot! I’m late! She prayed Mrs. Robertson wouldn’t deduct from her pay. She didn’t exactly receive a bountiful salary from the preschool; little Patrick’s babysitting job helped her get by.

As she ascended the marble white porch of the Robertsons’ – she realized she’d forgotten her wallet at school. Oh well! It was going to have to wait! If she was a minute later – she’d most definitely be fired. She inhaled deeply and rang the doorbell without exhaling.

“Who is it? That better be you, Spencer!”

“Um, yes – Mrs. Robertson!”

“What do you mean, ‘yes’?” A misshapen blob of a woman appeared behind the tinted glass door until it swung open to reveal a beautiful – but livid – lady in a scarlet button-down coat. “Spencer! You do realize how late you are?”

“Y-yes, Mrs. Robertson. I’m really sorry, it’s just-”

“I don’t care.” she cut off Spencer and ushered her in hurriedly before closing the door swiftly. “Now I’m terribly late – all because of you!” she spared Spencer a quick frown and rushed off to the living room.

“I-I’m sorry.”

“Patrick! Oh, Patty dear! Miss Spencer has arrived!” Mrs. Robertson yelled up at the stairs and turned back to a nervous Spencer. “Same rules as always – bedtime at 8, dinner at 7:30 – and no sweets after dinner, alright?”

“Done, and done.”

“I’m glad.” Mrs. Robertson eyed Spencer. “I expect you to be right on time from now on, Spencer. You know how I feel about this kind of behavior. Am I clear?”

“Absolutely, Mrs. Robertson.”

“Good.” 

The two women looked up the stairs as a small curly-haired boy emerged at the top. He had a face full of freckles and was wearing a little white cardigan on shorts.

Miss Spencer with little Patrick Robertson (3 years old at that time)

“Patrick, dear. Come down here.”

“Okay, mommy.” Patrick descended the stairs carefully – as he held onto the handrail for dear life.

Mrs. Robertson leaned into Spencer’s ear and said, “He had a little accident on the stairs a couple of weeks ago – so he’s been extra careful ever since.”

“Oh.”

“Hi, Miss Spencer!” Patrick wrapped his arms around Spencer’s feet – in an embrace that she responded to with an awkward pat on his head.

“Hey, Patty. How’ve you been?”

“Great, Miss Spencer!” He stepped back but didn’t let go of Spencer’s hand. “Come on, I have to show you something!”

“Wait,” Mrs Robertson gave Patrick a quick kiss on his little forehead, and waved goodbye to him. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.” she motioned sternly towards Patrick, her eyes bearing deeply into Spencer’s.

Spencer dances to Uptown Girl, by Billy Joel.

“Yes ma’am.” With that, Mrs Robertson was out the door.

For a long time, Spencer sat – poring through the pages of her special ballet picture book. She had always had a passion for ballet – because she believed that was what would ultimately help her reach her real dream – to become famous. She simply adored ballet. The curves, the movements, the grace, the fullness of the dance form – it all intrigued her. It fascinated her. There was nothing she’d rather do than watch graceful ballerinas point their dainty feet as they spun.

RING! RING! A couple of minutes later, as she browsed an image of poised women in a ballet leotard (frozen mid-pirouette), the doorbell rang.

She sighed lightly and rose to open it.

“Miss Spencer?”

“Um, yes?”

“You’re Miss Spencer?” It was a teenage boy with ratty brown hair and small, pixie-like ears.

“Yes, why?”

“The school security told me to call you. You left a wallet at the pre-school. They’ve kept it at the lost-and-found beside the auditorium. You have to go retrieve it now, as I can’t guarantee they won’t confiscate it.”

“Oh.” Spencer nodded. “Yes, I am aware. I was just on my way to get it.”

“Okay, good. Just had to inform you.” the boy saluted and traipsed away, leaving Spencer on the doorstep. She sighed and closed the front door; the cold draft that she’d let in vanished completely.

I can’t go to the preschool now! She thought, her mind spinning. But if I leave my wallet there, they will most probably confiscate it. We aren’t allowed to use the school as a place to keep our property. What should she do? She walked back to the couch – but didn’t sit down. She simply stood, with her hands on her hips as she pondered – her eyes fixated on the smooth hardcover picture book.

Oh, who cares? Better to risk one little night of rebelliousness than risk my wallet getting stolen – or worse – my job at the preschool being taken away. With that thought, she pushed all the concerns out of her mind and grabbed her purse and coat from the coat rack.

She was almost out the door when suddenly, realisation dawned on her. What about Patrick? He was a mere boy of 4; she couldn’t leave him by himself at night! Suddenly, her mind lit up with an idea – that despite being the most foolish, dangerous thought ever – could potentially work!

“Patrick? Where are you?”

“Oh, I’m in the living room, Miss Spencer!” She marched into the room – to see the boy sitting eagerly in front of the television – on which a bunch of decorative cats pranced about.

“Patrick.” she switched off the TV, plunging the room into darkness for a moment – until she flicked on the main light switch.

“Hey! What’d you do that for?!” The kid looked up at her, distressed. Spencer smiled down at him for a second – then grabbed his hand.

“Put on your coat, Pat. We’re going on a little adventure!”

“Are we almost there?” Patrick whined. They’d been walking for almost half an hour by then – but didn’t seem to be anywhere near the preschool where Spencer worked. She looked down at his exhausted little face and felt bad. She shouldn’t have dragged him out all the way here in the cold weather – especially not so long past his curfew. But now that it was done, she didn’t have much choice, did she?

“Ah, there it is!” she whisper-shouted to Patrick – as the preschool came into focus. It was hard to imagine – such a lively, colorful building would become a lifeless, bland block of nothingness the minute the sun went down. “This is where I work, Pat. The preschool I work in.”

“Oh.” She felt his small hand clutch hers tighter. “I don’t like it. It’s scary.”

“Don’t worry, Pat. Nothing’s going to happen. We’re just going to go inside, grab my wallet – and get back home as quickly as possible, alright?”

“Okay.”

“Oh, and – don’t mention this to your mum, okay? I’ll buy you ice cream if you don’t!”

That seemed to cheer the little boy up a bit. He smiled slightly and loosened his grip on her hand. “Okay!”

Spencer looked back at the school and exhaled loudly – before pushing open the double doors at the entrance. They walked, as Patrick gripped her fingers tighter than ever – through the dark corridors until they finally reached the lost and found.

“-Here it is!” Spencer pulled her purse out of the desk and scanned through it quickly to make sure she had everything. Phew, she thought. At least nothing was stolen.

“Come on Patrick. We have to leave now.” She tiptoed through the halls, Patrick at her heels. But alas – little did she know ‘leaving’ wouldn’t be as easy as she thought…

BANG! “Oh. My. God.” Spencer felt her feet going cold. It was locked. The front doors were locked. This was the worst possible situation she could imagine herself in. How could they lock her in? Who even did lock her in? It didn’t make any sense.

“What’s wrong, Miss Spencer?”

“It’s locked. Patrick, we’re locked in!”

The boy’s silhouette of a face contorted in fear. “B-but m-m-”

“Sh, now Patrick. I’ll find a way out, don’t worry. Stay strong.”

His lower lip continued to tremble, but he nodded and slumped against the wall, waiting for Spencer to come up with something.

What if I use something heavy to break the glass door? No, I couldn’t. We might get hurt- and damage school property. What should I do?

The next couple of minutes were a slur of options. Terrible, panicked ideas ran through Spencer’s head- as she dismissed each one frantically, searching and searching for the right way. That is, until…

“Who’s there?”

Both Spencer and Patrick’s heads jerked upwards. It was a strong male voice – undoubtedly coming from the two lumpy shadows that could be seen through the foggy glass door.

“I-It’s Miss Spencer. I came to g-get my wallet, and the d-d-oor was locked.”

“Spencer? Oh, it’s my sister! Dee dee! What are you doing?” This time, it was a female voice. But not just any female voice. It was the one and only Sarah Spencer! 

“Sarah! Oh, my god! Please, get us out of here!”

“Charles – unlock the door, will you? Here – take the keys.” There was a jingling sound – then a click! The door swung open, as Spencer and Patrick rushed out – hand in hand.

“Oh, my god – Thank you so much!” Spencer flew into Sarah’s arms – totally unaware of the other person who was with them. “Oh.” she sheepishly pulled away, to get a better look at the man. He was tall, and pale – with neatly combed dark brown hair pushed away from his face, and daring blue eyes. His face was long – as was his nose. Although that should have looked intimidating, Spencer thought he was one of the kindest faces she had ever seen. She couldn’t help but shake the feeling that she had seen him somewhere before. His face was just too familiar.

“Thank you too, Mister.” she smiled at him. 

“No problem. Anything for Sarah’s sister.” he smiled back at her. His voice was familiar too. Spencer was sure she’d heard it somewhere. On TV? No, that couldn’t be.

Prince Charles (left) and Sarah Spencer (right).

“Oh, forgive me! Where are my manners? I completely forgot to introduce myself.” the man exclaimed suddenly – and held his long hand out towards Spencer. “Charles. Prince Charles.”

The world went still. Spencer couldn’t believe her ears. Prince Charles? Of course! That’s where she’d seen him! On the face of newspapers, and on TV channels. She was really meeting ‘the’ Prince Charles!

“Your Majesty.” she bowed, only to receive a good-humored chuckle from him.

“You really don’t have to do that. You’re Sarah’s sister. We’re already friends!”

Spencer smiled at him. “Pleasure to meet you then, Your Majesty.”

“Ditto.” He took her hand and shook it. “Something tells me we’ll be very well acquainted pretty soon!”

2 Years Later

“Are you ready?” Sarah stood aside from the mirror as Spencer eyed her reflection. She could barely recognize herself. White powdery face, bold red lipstick, and straight black mascara. She looked gorgeous. Her blond hair was up in a bouffant on the top of her head – from which her long puffy bridal train flowed.

“Yeah. I hope so.” she smiled up at her sister. Would she ever be ready for this day? She didn’t know. Would she ever accept the fact that she was really going to be a member of royalty? She had no idea. People considered her lucky – ‘teacher to the princess!’, they’d say as if she had it planned all along. They told her she should be grateful that she’d found such a fantastic opportunity to achieve her dream; to become famous. But that was all people did. They told her. Not once did they ask her how she felt about all these enormous changes happening in her life. She was getting married to Prince Charles, for heaven’s sake!

Princess Diana (left)(20 years old) on her wedding day with Prince Charles (right)(30 years old)

But as she walked down the aisle, trying to focus on nothing but getting her breathing and walking pattern correctly – ignoring the fascinated gasps from the crowd – she felt a sense of foreboding – one she didn’t want to feel. She tried to push it deep inside the pit of her stomach – plastering a huge smile across her face. To become royalty – it would be any common woman’s dream. To marry a prince? Which woman could possibly reject? This was the happiest day of her life! So then why wasn’t she feeling happy?

“Do you, Prince Charles Philip Arthur George, take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?”

“I do.” the minute those words escaped Charles’ lips – Spencer knew it was done. She wasn’t Spencer anymore. No longer the school teacher, the nanny – the clumsy teenager who was practically invisible to the whole neighborhood. Oh, no. That life did have its problems, but whatever it was – it was hers. Nobody had any sort of claim over it. It was her life – and only hers. But now? Was this really what she wanted? Was royalty really what she had imagined for herself? Not that it mattered – the decision was final. 

As she walked up to the red carpet leading to a brand new white Rolls Royce – Prince Charles by her side – she felt a strange – but dangerous calm settle over her. Like her life was over – like there was nothing left for her to control. As if her own life’s reins had been snatched from her hands. But if she no longer was the little old Spencer she knew herself to be – then who was she now?

A man in a black top hat walked to the podium beside them and began to announce animatedly. “We could not be happier to see that old Charles has finally settled down and found himself the perfect Princess – who is as perfect to us as she is to her husband! We’re so excited to welcome our Princess to her new life, that she will undoubtedly love!”

With that, the man straightened his tie, and said in a loud, clear voice- “Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Prince Charles, and his lovely new wife – Princess Diana Spencer!”

–Srinika Mukherjee, a ninth-grade student, is a budding author with two published books and a fervent passion for music.

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Once Upon a Time – A Princess’ Tale

“Um, Miss Spencer?” It was a measly girl tugging at her skirt, timidly waving a sheet of paper at her. She had long brown hair to her knees and beautiful green eyes that contrasted her olive skin.

“Yes, dear?” she knelt slowly and smiled hopefully at the girl. “What’s this?”

“I made it for you, Miss. Do you like it?”

Miss Spencer took the paper from her lightly and held it up. It was a picture of two stick figures standing in haphazardly drawn green lines (that she assumed to be grass) – one tall figure with neon yellow lines as hair. That must be herself. The other figure was about a centimeter long, with long brown ‘hair’  and a smiley face. There were red blotches on both the figures’ cheeks, which Ms. Spencer assumed were blushing faces.

“Oh, this is lovely, Olive. When did you make this?”

“Yesterday night. Do you like it?”

“I love it.” she smiled down at Olive, who grinned back at her. She had been in the teaching profession for a couple of months by then, and honestly? She’d never been happier. If there was one thing she loved most in the world, it was kids. To her, the way a child’s smile lit up any room she was in – no matter how grave her life seemed just then – was the most amazing thing.

Miss Spencer with her tiny tots.

“Miss Spencer?”

“Yes, honey?”

“Do you mind walking me home? I think my mommy forgot to pick me up again.” Olive shifted awkwardly. It was pretty evident that she was embarrassed. 

“Oh…”, Miss Spencer paused. “Well, I’ve got some work later on, but I’m sure I can squeeze in the time. How far do you live?”

“Ten hours…” Olive froze. “… oops, no- I meant ten minutes – by walking.”

“Okay, well if we go really fast, maybe I can help you.” she smiled at Olive again, who nodded obediently. 

“Sure, Miss Spencer, thank you so much!”

They walked in silence as they turned a street until Olive spoke again. “So what work do you have now, Miss Spencer?”

“Oh, nothing much. I just have to get to my employer’s house soon.”

Olive wrinkled her nose and frowned. “What’s an – em-ploo-ya?”

Miss Spencer laughed and patted Olive’s head. “Employer. It means the person who gives you a job, and pays you money.”

“But isn’t your job teaching us?” Olive was with no doubt the smartest 5 year old in Spencer’s class.

“Well technically, yes. But I have two jobs.”

“What’s the second one?”

“I’m also a nanny. I take care of this sweet little boy while his parents work all day.”

“Is that where you have to go now? To the sweet boy’s house?”

“Yes, Olive.” Spencer rounded the last turn and stopped gingerly, gently letting Olive’s hand go. “Well, we’re here. Go on in, and don’t forget to do your homework!”

18-year-old Miss Spencer, in front of Young England School in Pimlico (the kindergarten that she worked at)

“Okay, Miss Spencer. I won’t! Thank you so much for helping me. See you tomorrow!” Olive gave her a quick but tight squeeze and pranced up her doorstep, as Spencer turned back around – raising her wrist to check her watch. Shoot! I’m late! She prayed Mrs. Robertson wouldn’t deduct from her pay. She didn’t exactly receive a bountiful salary from the preschool; little Patrick’s babysitting job helped her get by.

As she ascended the marble white porch of the Robertsons’ – she realized she’d forgotten her wallet at school. Oh well! It was going to have to wait! If she was a minute later – she’d most definitely be fired. She inhaled deeply and rang the doorbell without exhaling.

“Who is it? That better be you, Spencer!”

“Um, yes – Mrs. Robertson!”

“What do you mean, ‘yes’?” A misshapen blob of a woman appeared behind the tinted glass door until it swung open to reveal a beautiful – but livid – lady in a scarlet button-down coat. “Spencer! You do realize how late you are?”

“Y-yes, Mrs. Robertson. I’m really sorry, it’s just-”

“I don’t care.” she cut off Spencer and ushered her in hurriedly before closing the door swiftly. “Now I’m terribly late – all because of you!” she spared Spencer a quick frown and rushed off to the living room.

“I-I’m sorry.”

“Patrick! Oh, Patty dear! Miss Spencer has arrived!” Mrs. Robertson yelled up at the stairs and turned back to a nervous Spencer. “Same rules as always – bedtime at 8, dinner at 7:30 – and no sweets after dinner, alright?”

“Done, and done.”

“I’m glad.” Mrs. Robertson eyed Spencer. “I expect you to be right on time from now on, Spencer. You know how I feel about this kind of behavior. Am I clear?”

“Absolutely, Mrs. Robertson.”

“Good.” 

The two women looked up the stairs as a small curly-haired boy emerged at the top. He had a face full of freckles and was wearing a little white cardigan on shorts.

Miss Spencer with little Patrick Robertson (3 years old at that time)

“Patrick, dear. Come down here.”

“Okay, mommy.” Patrick descended the stairs carefully – as he held onto the handrail for dear life.

Mrs. Robertson leaned into Spencer’s ear and said, “He had a little accident on the stairs a couple of weeks ago – so he’s been extra careful ever since.”

“Oh.”

“Hi, Miss Spencer!” Patrick wrapped his arms around Spencer’s feet – in an embrace that she responded to with an awkward pat on his head.

“Hey, Patty. How’ve you been?”

“Great, Miss Spencer!” He stepped back but didn’t let go of Spencer’s hand. “Come on, I have to show you something!”

“Wait,” Mrs Robertson gave Patrick a quick kiss on his little forehead, and waved goodbye to him. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.” she motioned sternly towards Patrick, her eyes bearing deeply into Spencer’s.

Spencer dances to Uptown Girl, by Billy Joel.

“Yes ma’am.” With that, Mrs Robertson was out the door.

For a long time, Spencer sat – poring through the pages of her special ballet picture book. She had always had a passion for ballet – because she believed that was what would ultimately help her reach her real dream – to become famous. She simply adored ballet. The curves, the movements, the grace, the fullness of the dance form – it all intrigued her. It fascinated her. There was nothing she’d rather do than watch graceful ballerinas point their dainty feet as they spun.

RING! RING! A couple of minutes later, as she browsed an image of poised women in a ballet leotard (frozen mid-pirouette), the doorbell rang.

She sighed lightly and rose to open it.

“Miss Spencer?”

“Um, yes?”

“You’re Miss Spencer?” It was a teenage boy with ratty brown hair and small, pixie-like ears.

“Yes, why?”

“The school security told me to call you. You left a wallet at the pre-school. They’ve kept it at the lost-and-found beside the auditorium. You have to go retrieve it now, as I can’t guarantee they won’t confiscate it.”

“Oh.” Spencer nodded. “Yes, I am aware. I was just on my way to get it.”

“Okay, good. Just had to inform you.” the boy saluted and traipsed away, leaving Spencer on the doorstep. She sighed and closed the front door; the cold draft that she’d let in vanished completely.

I can’t go to the preschool now! She thought, her mind spinning. But if I leave my wallet there, they will most probably confiscate it. We aren’t allowed to use the school as a place to keep our property. What should she do? She walked back to the couch – but didn’t sit down. She simply stood, with her hands on her hips as she pondered – her eyes fixated on the smooth hardcover picture book.

Oh, who cares? Better to risk one little night of rebelliousness than risk my wallet getting stolen – or worse – my job at the preschool being taken away. With that thought, she pushed all the concerns out of her mind and grabbed her purse and coat from the coat rack.

She was almost out the door when suddenly, realisation dawned on her. What about Patrick? He was a mere boy of 4; she couldn’t leave him by himself at night! Suddenly, her mind lit up with an idea – that despite being the most foolish, dangerous thought ever – could potentially work!

“Patrick? Where are you?”

“Oh, I’m in the living room, Miss Spencer!” She marched into the room – to see the boy sitting eagerly in front of the television – on which a bunch of decorative cats pranced about.

“Patrick.” she switched off the TV, plunging the room into darkness for a moment – until she flicked on the main light switch.

“Hey! What’d you do that for?!” The kid looked up at her, distressed. Spencer smiled down at him for a second – then grabbed his hand.

“Put on your coat, Pat. We’re going on a little adventure!”

“Are we almost there?” Patrick whined. They’d been walking for almost half an hour by then – but didn’t seem to be anywhere near the preschool where Spencer worked. She looked down at his exhausted little face and felt bad. She shouldn’t have dragged him out all the way here in the cold weather – especially not so long past his curfew. But now that it was done, she didn’t have much choice, did she?

“Ah, there it is!” she whisper-shouted to Patrick – as the preschool came into focus. It was hard to imagine – such a lively, colorful building would become a lifeless, bland block of nothingness the minute the sun went down. “This is where I work, Pat. The preschool I work in.”

“Oh.” She felt his small hand clutch hers tighter. “I don’t like it. It’s scary.”

“Don’t worry, Pat. Nothing’s going to happen. We’re just going to go inside, grab my wallet – and get back home as quickly as possible, alright?”

“Okay.”

“Oh, and – don’t mention this to your mum, okay? I’ll buy you ice cream if you don’t!”

That seemed to cheer the little boy up a bit. He smiled slightly and loosened his grip on her hand. “Okay!”

Spencer looked back at the school and exhaled loudly – before pushing open the double doors at the entrance. They walked, as Patrick gripped her fingers tighter than ever – through the dark corridors until they finally reached the lost and found.

“-Here it is!” Spencer pulled her purse out of the desk and scanned through it quickly to make sure she had everything. Phew, she thought. At least nothing was stolen.

“Come on Patrick. We have to leave now.” She tiptoed through the halls, Patrick at her heels. But alas – little did she know ‘leaving’ wouldn’t be as easy as she thought…

BANG! “Oh. My. God.” Spencer felt her feet going cold. It was locked. The front doors were locked. This was the worst possible situation she could imagine herself in. How could they lock her in? Who even did lock her in? It didn’t make any sense.

“What’s wrong, Miss Spencer?”

“It’s locked. Patrick, we’re locked in!”

The boy’s silhouette of a face contorted in fear. “B-but m-m-”

“Sh, now Patrick. I’ll find a way out, don’t worry. Stay strong.”

His lower lip continued to tremble, but he nodded and slumped against the wall, waiting for Spencer to come up with something.

What if I use something heavy to break the glass door? No, I couldn’t. We might get hurt- and damage school property. What should I do?

The next couple of minutes were a slur of options. Terrible, panicked ideas ran through Spencer’s head- as she dismissed each one frantically, searching and searching for the right way. That is, until…

“Who’s there?”

Both Spencer and Patrick’s heads jerked upwards. It was a strong male voice – undoubtedly coming from the two lumpy shadows that could be seen through the foggy glass door.

“I-It’s Miss Spencer. I came to g-get my wallet, and the d-d-oor was locked.”

“Spencer? Oh, it’s my sister! Dee dee! What are you doing?” This time, it was a female voice. But not just any female voice. It was the one and only Sarah Spencer! 

“Sarah! Oh, my god! Please, get us out of here!”

“Charles – unlock the door, will you? Here – take the keys.” There was a jingling sound – then a click! The door swung open, as Spencer and Patrick rushed out – hand in hand.

“Oh, my god – Thank you so much!” Spencer flew into Sarah’s arms – totally unaware of the other person who was with them. “Oh.” she sheepishly pulled away, to get a better look at the man. He was tall, and pale – with neatly combed dark brown hair pushed away from his face, and daring blue eyes. His face was long – as was his nose. Although that should have looked intimidating, Spencer thought he was one of the kindest faces she had ever seen. She couldn’t help but shake the feeling that she had seen him somewhere before. His face was just too familiar.

“Thank you too, Mister.” she smiled at him. 

“No problem. Anything for Sarah’s sister.” he smiled back at her. His voice was familiar too. Spencer was sure she’d heard it somewhere. On TV? No, that couldn’t be.

Prince Charles (left) and Sarah Spencer (right).

“Oh, forgive me! Where are my manners? I completely forgot to introduce myself.” the man exclaimed suddenly – and held his long hand out towards Spencer. “Charles. Prince Charles.”

The world went still. Spencer couldn’t believe her ears. Prince Charles? Of course! That’s where she’d seen him! On the face of newspapers, and on TV channels. She was really meeting ‘the’ Prince Charles!

“Your Majesty.” she bowed, only to receive a good-humored chuckle from him.

“You really don’t have to do that. You’re Sarah’s sister. We’re already friends!”

Spencer smiled at him. “Pleasure to meet you then, Your Majesty.”

“Ditto.” He took her hand and shook it. “Something tells me we’ll be very well acquainted pretty soon!”

2 Years Later

“Are you ready?” Sarah stood aside from the mirror as Spencer eyed her reflection. She could barely recognize herself. White powdery face, bold red lipstick, and straight black mascara. She looked gorgeous. Her blond hair was up in a bouffant on the top of her head – from which her long puffy bridal train flowed.

“Yeah. I hope so.” she smiled up at her sister. Would she ever be ready for this day? She didn’t know. Would she ever accept the fact that she was really going to be a member of royalty? She had no idea. People considered her lucky – ‘teacher to the princess!’, they’d say as if she had it planned all along. They told her she should be grateful that she’d found such a fantastic opportunity to achieve her dream; to become famous. But that was all people did. They told her. Not once did they ask her how she felt about all these enormous changes happening in her life. She was getting married to Prince Charles, for heaven’s sake!

Princess Diana (left)(20 years old) on her wedding day with Prince Charles (right)(30 years old)

But as she walked down the aisle, trying to focus on nothing but getting her breathing and walking pattern correctly – ignoring the fascinated gasps from the crowd – she felt a sense of foreboding – one she didn’t want to feel. She tried to push it deep inside the pit of her stomach – plastering a huge smile across her face. To become royalty – it would be any common woman’s dream. To marry a prince? Which woman could possibly reject? This was the happiest day of her life! So then why wasn’t she feeling happy?

“Do you, Prince Charles Philip Arthur George, take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?”

“I do.” the minute those words escaped Charles’ lips – Spencer knew it was done. She wasn’t Spencer anymore. No longer the school teacher, the nanny – the clumsy teenager who was practically invisible to the whole neighborhood. Oh, no. That life did have its problems, but whatever it was – it was hers. Nobody had any sort of claim over it. It was her life – and only hers. But now? Was this really what she wanted? Was royalty really what she had imagined for herself? Not that it mattered – the decision was final. 

As she walked up to the red carpet leading to a brand new white Rolls Royce – Prince Charles by her side – she felt a strange – but dangerous calm settle over her. Like her life was over – like there was nothing left for her to control. As if her own life’s reins had been snatched from her hands. But if she no longer was the little old Spencer she knew herself to be – then who was she now?

A man in a black top hat walked to the podium beside them and began to announce animatedly. “We could not be happier to see that old Charles has finally settled down and found himself the perfect Princess – who is as perfect to us as she is to her husband! We’re so excited to welcome our Princess to her new life, that she will undoubtedly love!”

With that, the man straightened his tie, and said in a loud, clear voice- “Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Prince Charles, and his lovely new wife – Princess Diana Spencer!”

–Srinika Mukherjee, a ninth-grade student, is a budding author with two published books and a fervent passion for music.