Le Petit Prince

Written by Jia Zhang

Once upon a time, in a land of white and pink cherry blossoms that was so unlike any particular fairy tale, there lived a little prince with a bright Cherubian head and eyes of pure sunshine gold. As a child, the little prince was just an ordinary boy in an unordinary circumstance—everyone held him special; a porcelain carved doll decorated with lovely fabrics of blue and white.

But, like every child, the prince would grow up and forget the trappings of his youth. Soon, one day in the distant future, the little prince would be a prince no longer—but just a porcelain toy that was wretched and ruined, handled much too roughly at the hands of his owner. Soon, the little prince would be a hermit, cast into the shadows of his own bitter soul—too afraid of the Sun of which he was a metaphor. On the outside, everyone still saw a prince—a handsome boy in the guise of a handsome man. But over the years, the little prince had learned to play the jester's part. And for a long time, that mask was his only refuge.

For a long time the little prince was very scarred, and very lost.

"On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur, l'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux."

Young Eiri Uesugi had a favourite book; about a young prince who goes around the universe to see what it was like, and on his journey meets many strange people. In his childhood, Eiri had some strange affinity for the prince, admired his kindness and empathy. He would ask his elder sister to read the book to him over and over again, till the pages were torn and the edges in shambles, especially since his parents had little time for him.

Kyoto was a wonderful place for a child to grow up; it always beautiful, full of lush green and bright browns, trees that seemed to reach the sky, and water that always sung of some mysterious melody—it was a magical, imaginary place. As a child, young Eiri Uesugi had few companions; his brother was much too young to play with, and his sister was always too busy. Sometimes his sister's friend, Tohma, would come to play, but not often. Eiri had few friends; many thought him strange because of his hair and eyes—but his mother always told him not to mind, and if people cared of such trivial things, then they were not friends.

So, Eiri amused himself with his own thoughts, and the mystifying atmosphere of Kyoto was the perfect chrysalis for his childish games and dreams to come alive. Sometimes, he would imagine he was a mighty shogun living in some grand castle, fighting away his enemies with a single blow. Sometimes, he would imagine that he was a talented ninja on secret missions for the Emperor. Sometimes, he would simply sit and fancy the clouds that passed over the large ocean of blue above.

But one day, when young Eiri was a brave samurai on a journey to save a beautiful princess from some horrible demon, he met a young boy named Shu, a child with sparkling raven tresses and bright violet eyes, who always seemed to have this lingering fragrance of strawberries. Shu seemed to Eiri a very happy person, constantly smiling. When they met, he told Eiri that his family was on vacation to see the cherry blossoms and he had no one to play with; the two became friends instantly, and Shu spent the rest of his vacation playing games in the gardens of Kyoto with Eiri under the rainfall of pink and white hues.

As a child, Eiri thought that Shu reminded him very much of the prince in his book, a happy and compassionate person. Shu was very kind; even when he fell and split his skin, he would simply laugh, those amethyst eyes glittering like two bright gems. Eiri liked his friend very much, and he was very sad when Shu had to go away. He lived very far, and Eiri wasn't sure if they would meet again. So Shu made him promise that they would always be friends, and that they would surely meet each other again in the future—maybe when the cherry blossoms were in bloom again.

They made a pinky-promise, and as a child that was all one could depend on.

But Eiri never saw Shu again; he waited the next year, and then the next, always when pink snow fell from the sky—but Shu never came back. Soon, Eiri grew up, and forgot all about the little prince he befriended once upon a time. He forgot Kyoto, and his childhood—Eiri grew up; was forced to grow up.

As Eiri held the small, frayed pages of Le Petit Prince, he could not help but somehow remember the fragments of his childhood—the ice cream, the clouds, games of pretend, red balloons, and the perfume of sunflowers. It was a childhood lost too early to ten dollars, and sometimes Eiri could barely remember if he had one at all. But this tattered book, with its pages torn and colours lost, spoke to Eiri in a language he no longer recognized—and it rekindled something in his heart.

And quietly, secretly, on a dark star-filled night with his lover at his side, he remembered the story of the little prince and his journeys. He remembered the friend he met one bright season—the colour amethyst stones, the smell of strawberries, and the sound of laughter.

One hand in pink tresses, caressing soft skin; the other cradling a childish story—Eiri rubbed his thumb against the cover of the book, and smiled privately.

For a long time, the little prince was very much alone.

Then one day, he met a little bird. The little bird sung, "There's so much in the world! It's a big beautiful place! You should go see!"

But the prince shook his head and said, "What is there to see? I am a prince; I have seen all."

And the little bird smiled, "You've seen the world by yourself; with only your eyes, beautiful as they are. Let me show you what I see, the world that I have lived and imagined—it is a wonderful place."

And the little bird took the prince to all the edges of the world, to see the oceans of sand in Arabia, the deserts of water in the Mediterranean, the mountains of snow in the Himalayas, the green jungle of South America, and the pink hues of cherry blossoms of Asia.

The little prince saw the world, and he could not help but smile at the little bird that journeyed with him everywhere.

And suddenly, that wicked spell was gone. He wasn't alone; he wasn't frightened.

The little prince was very happy.

"On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur, l'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux."

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.

Author's Note

I had this idea for a while now, but it took me a while to work it out. I still don't essentially like how it is, but I enjoy the melancholically childish atmosphere of the fic, as well as the serendipitous plot. I will probably rewrite this eventually.

The fic is inspired by the French children's novel Le Petit Prince (1943) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The story is roughly about a prince's journeys across the universe and all the people he meets; the story has often been thought of as a general juxtaposition between childhood and adulthood. The phrase "On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur, l'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux" means "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye" and is the general message of Le Petit Prince. The italicized story about the "little prince" is not the actual story of Le Petit Prince, but a malformation of my own brain.

(Suggested music to listen to when reading fic: "Like Blood, Like Honey" by Holly Brook)

Anyways, any reviews and comments are welcomed. It has been a while since I wrote a Gravi fic.

Jia Zhang