Written by Andrew Jensen / Artwork by Holly Eddy
The Princess and the Reality Check
Once upon a time there was a princess. She was
beautiful, with smooth skin, tiny, pearl-like teeth,
and long, golden hair. Her father was a king, of
course, but being a modern princess, he was a
King of Finance.

A King of Finance? Does the princess know
about all his subjects, whose sub-prime
mortgages have financed her lifestyle?

What? That's not part of the story. She has
accountants to deal with those messy details.
She's a princess, and she has so many “friends”
that she needs a special accountant to keep
track of them all. Not only that, but she has a
whole bevy of princes seeking her hand in
marriage.

Let me guess. She rejects them all, and some
young prince in disguise shows up and wins her
heart through his cleverness. He's the third son,
and his two older brothers have already failed,
so he has to rescue them as well. Am I right?

Maybe. Listen, it works, and it's very romantic.
Why mess with a winning formula?

Except that rich families don’t want more than
two children anymore. They’ve known about
birth control for decades now. You just don’t
get third sons who are also princes these days.

What about the Queen of England? She has
three sons! And they’re all real princes. So there.

Queen Elizabeth is from an older generation. Notice that Charles and Diana stopped at two sons. And now that
William and Kate have a son and daughter, I bet they stop too. It’s just realistic.

Come on, it’s way too early to give up on William and Kate. I bet they’ll have a palace full of little princes and
princesses. They’re the perfect fairy-tale couple.

Except that Kate wasn’t a princess. She still isn’t: first she was a commoner, now she’s a duchess.

Close enough for a fairy-tale. Haven’t you ever heard of artistic license? Besides, what's so unbelievable about a
beautiful princess being wooed by a handsome prince?

That part of your story I believe. If his father is a King of E-Commerce, he probably has had the best in
orthodontics, cosmetic surgery and hormone therapy to combat his receding hairline. Just like I'm sure the
princess has the most golden hair money can buy, and teeth that glow in a disco. Hey, you could call her the
Princess of the Pearly Whites.

You are so cynical! People can’t help it: they need to dream, to hope, to imagine the perfect life.

Sure, and reality can’t help but intrude. That's just the way real life is. For example, do you know why your
princess keeps rejecting her suitors? Because she doesn't like princes.

That's okay. She can fall for a common boy, as long as he is clever and good.

No, I mean she's not into boys. She's a lesbian.

That's not how the story is supposed to go!

Tough! Why should she live a lie? If it makes you feel any better, the “common” idea is good. She hasn't been
impressed with the other princesses she's met. Set her up with someone who isn't in the one percent.

Okay, I can work with that. I could go with a match-girl. Are there any of those still around? Wait! I know! How
about a milk-maid, with rosy cheeks and creamy skin?

Are you going to add any “farmer's daughter” jokes?

There's no need to be crude.

Who's being crude? I'm just pointing out that there aren't any milk-maids anymore. You're lucky if you can find a
family farm at all. It's all agri-business these days.

You can't blame me for distrusting your motives. How often has “realism” been used as an excuse to wallow in the
sordid details of someone's depraved fantasy? Next you're going to suggest some nasty “milking” jokes for the
two women, aren't you? You're disgusting!

That's so unfair! Realistically, there are two major problems with that idea. First, those milking machines look like
they'd be incredibly uncomfortable. There's nothing sexy about that. Second, it would be unhygienic.

Since when have you cared about hygiene? You’re renowned for wallowing.

I have to care. The story has moved to a dairy operation. There are regulations, you know. The teats have to be
smeared with disinfectant before they can…

Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! I can't handle this. How can I tell a decent fairy-tale if you keep intruding? You keep
puncturing people's dreams.

Okay, sometimes I'm a bit harsh, but if your tale is totally unrealistic no one will read it. Why should they? It
won’t matter.

What are you suggesting? A partnership? Do you want to be my co-author? I suppose I could do that. There have
been some great writing teams in the past, haven't there? The brothers Grimm, Lennon and McCartney…




Don't get all excited. Writing fairy-tales really isn't my thing. But I am prepared to offer advice from time to
time. A kind of reality check, you could say.

Okay, I'm willing to try. How does this sound? Once upon a time there was a beautiful modern princess, who fell in
love with a lovely dairy marketing executive whose skin was creamy smooth because she always used SPF thirty
sunscreen when she went outdoors.

I can live with that.

It's not going to be the same, you know.

I know. Trust me, I know.
THE LORELEI SIGNAL
Andrew Jensen lives near Ottawa, Canada. Despite having many
Danish relatives, he is not related to Hans Christian Andersen.
Andrew's publishing credits include stories in “Midnight Zoo”
Magazine, “The Flash Fiction Press” webzine, and another coming
soon in “Triptych Tales.”