There once was a little girl whose father told her she was a beautiful fairy princess and she believed. She lived in a cottage at the edge of the woods at the outskirts of a small village. She, her mother, and her father lived happily as a family, together, content.
Then one day a terrible accident occurred and the little girl was struck by a van while riding her bicycle home. The driver of the car, who was a powerful man about town, was a known alcoholic, and he was heavily intoxicated when he plowed into the little girl.
Her father blamed himself for his daughter's injuries. He had been following her in his patrol car and saw the powerful man swerving down the road. The same powerful man who her father had pulled over for driving erratically the week before and yet had not arrested—despite the open container of Jim Bean in the backseat of the blue van and the strong smell of alcohol emanating from the man's breath.
The little girl thought she was going to die. And she was sad she was going to leave her mother and father. She tried to be brave and ignore the pain. But it hurt so much. She was vaguely aware of being placed gently on a stretcher and then her next memory was of Forks County Hospital. Glaring lights. Incessant beeping. Her father crying hysterically. Then her fairy prince came and saved her. He was beautiful, with reddish brown hair and yellow eyes. He smiled at her, and she knew that she the fairies had sent their prince come to rescue their princess. She tried to protest as darkness took her once more.
After she awoke again, she found her father and mother staring at her. Relief and joy etched on their faces because she opened her eyes.
She was glad to see her parents but so sad that her prince was not there.
Then he entered her room, clad in the long white coat doctor's used, and she knew her fairy princess was hiding his true identity so as not to scare her parents.
She was disappointed that her fairy prince had not whisked her away to their fairy world but she knew that she was still just a child and that it would kill her parents if she disappeared suddenly.
"Izzy," said her prince. "My name is Edward Masen, and I am your doctor," he said with a mischievous smile. Then he winked at her.
She blushed in response, so captivated was she by his every movement, the rest of the world faded away. She didn't bother to hear the conversation between her parents and her prince so absorbed was she on the movement of his beautiful full lips, the thick lashes that framed his soulful eyes, and the messy hair that he incessantly drove his long elegant fingers through.
"Izzy, you're making great progress," he said with a wonderfully wide grin. "You'll be out of here in no time."
Then he grabbed his chart and turned toward the door.
"No," cried Isabella. "Don't leave me. You can't go…. You can't. It's not fair." Hot tears ran down her cheeks and she tried to move, but her poor little body was held tightly in the unforgiving embrace of white plaster casts.
"Izzy," her mother protested, embarrassed and surprised that her sweet child was acting so bratty.
"Now, Izzy, Dr. Masen is a very busy person…" started her father in the patronizing voice that would one day grate on her nerves terribly as a teenager.
"And will definitely be here later on tonight to check on my favorite patient,' said her prince. He waved goodbye and left quickly.
Her heart ached but she consoled herself with the fact that he would return.
And he did. Twice, sometimes three times a day, she would see her prince. Or Edward, as he insisted she call him.
He watched her eat lunch, scratched her nose when it itched terribly and listened to all her childish musings. He was her first true friend besides her parents.
And then weeks later, he began to cut off pieces of her cast and she was freed from her cocoon little by little. He applauded her as she learned to wiggle her toes again, swung her about after her first step, and hugged her when she rose from her bed solely without help for the first time.
And the more she spoke with him, the more she knew he truly was a prince. How else could you explain the iciness of his touch or the way his skin sparkled in the sunlight? Secrets she kept to herself and told no one about.
And when she was well enough, he permitted her to follow him around the hospital on his rounds. She listened attentively as he treated everyone with kindness and respect.
And then came the sad day when she had to leave the hospital. She would miss all the nurses and doctors who she'd come to know over the nine and a half month since the accident.
But leaving Dr. Masen was more than she could bare, and she cried the entire ride home.
After that Izzy became a renowned klutz. Constantly ending up in one accident or another, which caused her to be whisked away to the hospital emergency room where her gorgeous prince awaited, eager to treat her every bump and bruise.
Until one day, when she was twelve and at the cusp of her womanhood, she discovered she could volunteer as a candy striper. This meant she could still be near her prince, while avoiding pain.
Life was good.
Edward took his little shadow to dinner in the hospital cafeteria every Friday night after her hospital chores were done, and she weekly ignored the fact that he never ate. Fairy princes didn't have to eat real food after all.
"Izzy Bitsy, eat!" he would say, encouraging her. "You need food so you can grow."
"When I grow up I want to be a doctor just like you," she confided in him, as she ate her apple. (The first time he handed her an apple, she'd instinctively thrown it away: she did NOT want to keep the doctor away.)
"You're going to be a great doctor, Izzy," he'd respond. "You are smart as a whip and you love helping people."
She loved it when he forgot himself and used phrases that she was more comfortable hearing come out of her grandfather or grandmother's mouth. As if he was much older than the 28 years of age he claimed.
"I want to be a doctor and work here with you in the hospital!" she'd declare.
"That's a wonderful goal, Izzy! The community of Forks really needs more doctors, especially homegrown ones who can appreciate the locals' needs."
Will you wait for me, my prince? She always wanted to ask but never had the courage to utter out loud.
Then one day, on the cusp of her thirteenth birthday, her prince left her. Without a word or phone call or letter, Dr. Masen joined Doctors Without Borders and disappeared into the wilds of Iraq. Never to be heard from again.
Izzy couldn't understand why he'd left. Why hadn't he revealed himself to her? Told her when he was coming back?
She would have waited forever for him.
The woman child poured over every conversation and every gesture he made and concluded it must be her fault. She must have done something to push her fairy prince away. So horrid was she, so tired of her was he, that he had to escape in the middle of the night without so much as a "Bye".
The child's world continued to crumble. Her parents divorced and she was forced to leave her beloved father and move with her mother first to Phoenix, Arizona, the land with no water, and then to Jacksonville, Florida, the land with too much water. And too many mosquitoes. Fucking bloodsuckers.
And as she became a woman, she realized many truths. Fairies didn't exist, she wasn't a princess, and her father wasn't perfect.
Hell, she even realized how weird Dr. Masen was, letting her hang around him so much. What in the blue blazes had her parents thinking? He was a single male with a huge Peter Pan complex, fitting pretty accurately into a pedophile's profile.
How could she have been so stupid and naïve?
Just as she once was so proud of herself, Izzy now despised all that she was in only the way a teenager can. She contemplated on more than one occasion ridding the world of her hideous existence.
But then a true miracle occurred. A small, pixie like girl walked to where Izzy was sitting in the library during lunch, hiding from the world.
"Hello," said the pixie. "Do you mind if I join you?"
Izzy looked around to see who the girl was speaking to. No one on either side of me… Strange…Who is she talking to?
"No, silly, I want to talk to you," said the pixie. "I noticed you're reading one of my favorite books by Madeleine L' Engle."
Izzy squirmed uncomfortably. Although she'd done her best to squash the child she'd once been, she hadn't been able to completely give up on her need for fantasy.
"I love that book," the girl said brightly. "I'm Alice and you must be Isabella. You're new to this school like I am."
Alice cocked her head to one side and said, "You don't look like an Izzy. You're so elegant and pretty. I think I'll call you Bella."
And Izzy learned some new truths that year.
First, Alice loved to talk. Even if you didn't talk back, she'd talk to you. Incessantly, until you broke down.
Two, Alice had chosen Izzy and had wanted Izzy. Therefore, Izzy had worth.
Third, no matter how she might fight against it, Alice was an act of nature to be reckoned with and by the time she started college everyone, including her parents, called her Bella.
Fourth, Bella was smart, caring, and worthy. She might not be a princess but that was ok. She didn't need a prince to rescue her.
She was going to be the one rescuing from now on. She'd make her own destiny.
And I still really wanted to be a doctor.