Author's note: This is probably Studio Ghibli's fault, or whoever it was that made Utena, when you come right down to it. But I really, honestly, do not believe that it's possible to become a starship captain from behind a white picket fence.

Disclaimer: Jim isn't mine, even if his scary Sioux alter-ego lives in my back pocket. If he belongs to anyone but himself, it's Spock. -I mean, Admiral Nogura. No, ick. I mean, Gene Roddenberry. Or his estate. Or Paramount. Someone who isn't me.

Myths Like That By Nightfall

This is what they would make me. An ogre in their image, a justification. A stepsister, craving the vile touch because it's all I'll get, all there is to be had.

No. Bastards. Bullies and bastards. I have a future and a choice and I will not submit.

We pass over the plank bridge, my painted pony and I, and I rise from her back in a smooth surge, diving into the water. It slips over my straining hands, my closed eyes, my bare feet. It will wash away the blood and the dirt, and I will fear no trolls, for my horse waits on the bank, patient and unsurprised, idly mouthing the new grass. She is well trained, and I have done this before.

No. This is not all there is. I will not go mad, as others have, from strain and surprise and inconsistency. I know what is coming, and when, and who it will come from, and who not. I will not lose my outrage and submit, as others do, because they have no right. The ones who do this... I have never given them love, never given trust, never consent. Never to them, never to those. They have no right, and they are wrong to take what is not given. They will never fool me into thinking otherwise.

Oh, it would be nice to be a maiden, and be salvaged. But I am not a pretty, precious white doll to be rescued. I am a boy, sun-scorched, with yellow hawk-eyes, and my horse is no dainty-ankled thoroughbred but a swift sturdy, spotted Plains runner, and when I stretch out my arm it is not for a happy little bluebird but the living thunder that is Eagle. No one will save me.

Because my horse can run. Because my bird can rend. Because I am not exotic, not fragile. If I were a princess, I would wake up one day and realize I could have stolen my dowry and been miles away before dawn, and then I would have to kill myself from pure mortification.

I will have to be my own prince.

I cannot be a prince. They lurk their halls and wear fine silks and gold chains around their mothers' ankles and slay dragons and do nothing, nothing, nothing with a vapid smile at the mirror. At least the witch tries. At least the witch warns.

The prince has a place to bring his bride. I have nothing. I know nothing, see nothing, feel nothing but the moving water on my skin and the stars burning down on me, taunting me with their distant fire, and the blackness of night unknown, uncharted. I have no castle, only shifting sand.

Maybe I should be Superman.

Superman is a liar. Superman is a super-prince. He doesn't even stay long enough to return his princesses to the misery they breathe. He takes them from the lava and puts them on the ledge, and if it crumbles, he'll never know. At least the villains keep in touch. They always know what's going on.

Superman is just like my father. Maybe I'll tell him that, and he'll be flattered, and I'll smile with sweet eyes and perfect lips.

It's not fair. That it isn't fair, I mean; that's what's not fair. I want to be Buddhist, and believe in karma. I want to believe that endurance will save you, that virtue will make you bright, that evil will condemn you, and that there is redemption.

It's not true. You get stepped on if you're weak or small, whether you're virtuous or not, and ground into the dirt. Evil rewards lavishly, and filth is engrained in the skin.

I've been told to take comfort in the unfairness of the world. They say, wouldn't it be awful if the awful things happened because you deserved them? That's fuzzy thinking-and worse, it's lazy. If you deserved them, there'd be penance and atonement and if you learned, the future would be better. If the world was fair, your life would be what you made it. If the world was fair, fate would give way to destiny.

I want the world to be fair. There is no justice, and I want it. I want a quiet revolution that doesn't end at the bottom of the same old cycle, rusting and stinking and corrupt again.

I want no more kids like me, and no women, either, and no ethereal men. I want no hungry wolves and no blind fathers. I want that bracketed 'the end' at the bottom of the page, where the book closes and you get a chaste and loving kiss goodnight and the nightlight goes on, and in the morning you get on with your quiet, everyday life.

I want to cradle the stars, cradle heaven, cradle the moon in my hand and shield it. But you can't touch the moon from here, and there never was an Eden. Or if there was, it's long since rotted. If you handed it to me, I couldn't trust it. Not anymore.

I hate fairy tales. They pretend that light exists, pretend it isn't just black that's been whitewashed. Press your hand to heaven, and the concealing powder will come off on your fingers, smooth and clinging, like oil.

I'm thirteen years old, and innocence is a lost dream to me, the barest remembrance in a waking glare of morning. That's not right. I should have softball and blue skies and cut grass and sweet apples in summer, sweet corn under the sun. These things should be real to me, not the props I use to convince the world I'm shining and whole, that I don't almost need my horse to walk.

Isn't there supposed to be someone to make sure this doesn't happen? Not a witch to give warning, not a prince to make an end, but someone to prevent? Some figure on a horse that's both witch and prince and neither, someone who doesn't so much as look at the princesses themselves but warns and stops the stepmothers?

Where are the Watch? Where are the takers, the constables on patrol? Where are the polis-men, to protect the city, when the sheriffs become shady or as ghostly as their towns?

They're a lie.

We need a new lie.

They say everyone has a story. It's not true: everyone is a story, with a thousand subplots. To break out of someone else's subplot, you must write yourself new.

I will be a new story. I swear I will save myself, and I will become a protector of the people, a contemptible copper, a servant of civilization, slaved only by my own will, and aware that I can walk away. There will be no more like me. No more. Not on my beat, not on my watch. And someday I will touch each one of those teasing stars, expose each lying, stagnant Eden and each possessive, abusive stepmother. I will demand no princes and keep no maidens, and if I die alone, I will dive willingly into that candle, and watch the shadows draw back from my flaming hair.

I will ride the night on my medicine horse, writing endings, until I find a world without stories and a love without lies. Finally, when that truth engraves me with loving and uncaring lips, with a sweet and rending kiss, I will close my own book and get on with my life.

[End two of two of one)