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By Heba Elassar

age 14

     Once Upon A Time, In a village far away, in a palace under the hill, there lived a beautiful girl who had all one would ask for. Her mother and father lived off the wealth her beauty brought them, and all the girls of the village, including her seven sisters, envied her looks. However, this girl, Penelope, longed for one thing almost impossible to have. All Penelope wanted was to be with a man who saw through her beauty and love her for who she really was.
      Day in and day out, Penelope was courted be self-centered men of all kinds who wooed and whistled at her window. Her father encouraged her that these sons of princes and dukes had potential, so he arranged meetings with them by the hours and days. Her best and only true friend, one of her maids, Heather, and her mother always told her the best man would wait for her and take her away to her forever after. She believed them.
      It came to the day her parents told her she must hurry and get married to do away with all the men and the annoyances they came with. One day her mother came to her door and told her about the return of her friend along with her son, whom Penelope always turned a blind eye towards. This son, ironically, was in fact blind. His name was Robert.
Then came the day Robert and his mother came to visit Penelope’s home, Penelope was in her room and heard the carriage pull up with all the horses. She scurried reluctantly down the steps and brought Heather so both could greet the guests.
      First to enter was the mother, so graceful and in peace. And behind her was an olive-toned young man, white in the eyes. He was completely and utterly changed from when Penelope last remembers. Penelope glanced at Heather at her side and found her also, gazing at the remarkable change.
      Robert approached Penelope using the lead of his mothers arm. Once he was finally in front of her, he carefully put his hand to her cheek and smiled mimicking an angel. His smile left Penelope awestruck. She couldn’t help but put her hand on top of his and smile as if he could see.
Penelope again looked at Heather and found her, too, jaw-dropped. Robert removed his touch and went next to Heather, whom had almost fainted.
      After Robert left, Penelope thought of him day and night, but was not sure how she felt for him. She’d always beckon Heather for advice while she’d clean, but Heather was dazed as well.
The month of festivals started in town and every week there was a party. The third party of the month, Penelope, Heather, and Robert were invited. Penelope wore a long blue silk gown, as she dragged Heather along-whom also wore blue- with a more wealthy false identity. In the beginning, Penelope was bored while Heather had met up with and old friend she had met earlier in the year, Tom, who was Robert’s good friend.
      While Tom and Heather conversed, Penelope approached the couple. At the same time Robert was now drawing near to the trio. The original couple stopped talking as Robert came to embrace Penelope’s cheek. He whispered her name and grinned brilliantly. He next briefly patted Heathers arm, who was now filled with disappointment also because Tom was heading off.
      Moreover, another disappointment was the fact that behind Robert was a mob of girls of every age awaiting the touch of his hand to each and every one of their faces and, of course, the superb smile that followed.
      Penelope and Heather were intended to leave at the strike of midnight, for fear they would miss curfew and be scolded by the housekeeper. However, a change of plans led them to stay until dawn. During these extra four hours, Robert had escaped his wretched mob of girls and Penelope-along with Heather- from hers of princes.
They met on the roof and had an amazing time. They laughed, talked, and shivered in the brisk midnight air, excluding the numerous aggravating times when the night watch came up and Robert had to hide. But he always came back for Penelope. Always had, Always will.
After this night, Penelope always thought of Robert. His smile, his laugh, and always the way he looked at her. It was like he could actually see her beauty. It was like a blind man seeing light, a man lost at sea seeing land. This always made Penelope think.
      Penelope had to start classes and she found out Robert would be with her. On the first day of classes, Penelope was very pleased to see Robert, but there was a tall, good-looking man in her class whom interested Penelope.
      When she went home that day, Penelope told Heather about this mysterious man. The man turned out to be Joseph, Heather’s former fiancé. Heather hated Joseph since he had used her so she ended their relationship.
      Heather was crushed to hear Penelope was still interested in the man, so when she saw Robert in the market the next day, she told him Penelope was engaged to Joseph. Robert was heartbroken, for he too loved Penelope and so he went out to take care of this Joseph.
Before Robert could do anything, Penelope found out what was now happening. She wrote Robert a letter for the first time that said she never had any interest towards Joseph. Only mere looks, like any ordinary young woman. Robert replied in his letter by saying he loved her and would like to take her hand in marriage.
      Penelope, however, was sickly stubborn to believe such matters. She replied by telling him she does not believe what he was saying and told Heather to take the closed letter down to the mail carrier. Heather, nosy as she was, opened the heavy-stock letter and read it.
Instead of heading to the mail carrier, she visited Robert in his little cottage a short distance away. Heather told Robert about Penelope’s stubbornness and he understood. She told him to meet Penelope at the garden the next day at sunset. She went back to Penelope to tell her the same, but without the fact that Robert would be there.
      The next day at the garden, Robert waited. Penelope arrived and spotted Robert who was now sitting in the millions of flower he couldn’t see. She approached him naturally but stuttered shyly when she offered to take a stroll with him as he gently caressed her face with a smile plastered on his.
      As they walked, they rested in front of a fountain. Robert encouraged Penelope to make a wish. Penelope wished for what she’d wanted for all her life, a man who would see through her beauty. What Penelope didn’t know was that this man was right in front of her.
They continued walking as Penelope confessed how she felt, that she loved him in return. Then suddenly, Edward stopped. He held Penelope’s arms gently and worked his way up to her face. He pulled her in closer as their lips met.
      Robert’s eyes were closed, but as they opened, he held Penelope close in his arms for the first time as he took in his first beautiful image. Her.
      Robert whispered Penelope’s name one more time, as he closed his eyes yet again and held her through their forever.




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