Paramount own the characters Ė all hail. But the story is mine.
The Fate of Fairy Tales
I used to believe in a white knight, in being swept off my feet by someone dashing and handsome. And Ė although my logic, my very identity told me it was ridiculous to even entertain such foolish, romantic notions, still I think a little part of me yearned that.
It certainly explains why I fell in love with Justin. He was very much an archetypal, brooding hero. Even if I wasnít exactly your stereotypical damsel in distress Ė their hair is always perfect for one thing. It didnít help that his grand rescue went a little awry, that I ended up rescuing him after he had rescued me, which is hardly the stuff of fairy tales. But, it was the gesture that struck me, along with the way he looked at me afterwards. As though I were indeed a Princess, altogether too perfect and unblemished to be sacrificed to the dragon.
Poor Justin, perhaps he was a little too much a romantic hero. Certainly, it didnít occur to me when I agreed to marry him that he might be required to die a distinctly unromantic death.
When Mark started to become more than simply someone Iíd known forever, it was a very different kind of relationship. He saw me as someone strong, someone who had fought her way back from tragedy and survived. I fell in love with his idea of who I was just as much as I feel in love with him.
Since he thought of me as strong, how could I possibly allow myself to appear as weak? It was all right for him to worry about me when I was away, but I couldnít allow myself the same luxury. If I did my crying and my screaming out of his sight, well Iím sure it was for the best. Mark replaced my father as the person I didnít want to disappoint. I never let him down, at least, but in retrospect Iím not sure how much of a challenge my life was then.
Of course, my romantic notions had completely dried up and I was rather scornful of friends who expressed any similar ideas. I mean it was ridiculous in this day and age to think that someone could just look at you and instinctively know you, your real self, your secret self, without being a telepath. I was so caught up in my act of invincibility I even developed vulnerabilities to give Mark some reason to care for me, so he could know he must really love me. Nothing too challenging or serious, idiosyncrasies more than anything else, a little insomnia here, a touch of overwork there, Ďoh my prophetic soul.í
I donít know how Mark would have coped if he had glimpsed the real me, but of course at that stage I didnít know that there was a real me, I was as caught up by my act as anyone else. Then, I didnít know that I needed to be understood, to be reminded that I am fallible, human. I didnít realise how desperately my self imposed barriers needed to be pulled down. Which was unfortunate Ė because that was the point at which I met Chakotay.
Chakotay isnít telepathic, far from it. Sometimes his judgement about people is less than impressive. But he is betrayed only because he hazards, because he gives his trust and despite this he is extraordinarily sensitive about people. I think he fell for my invulnerable image a little, but I also think he saw aspects of me, things I hadnít even seen myself. Talk about through a glass darkly.
Unfortunately his timing was off and I was a little too grown up to come face to face with my fairy tale Prince. Tall, dark and handsome I probably could have handled, but did he have to come equipped with some secret key to my psyche that even I didnít possess?
Which was why I ran of course. Not that I had much chance of a clean getaway when we were both stranded in the Delta Quadrant. I didnít think I could be the person he seemed to see and it was easier not to try than to try and fail. Failure has always been easier for me to face in theory.
Had I been more together I might have appreciated what he truly offers, a chance to step down from my pedestal, to become involved in a relationship with someone who sees me for who I am, not who I want people to believe I am.
So, this is how it feels to come full circle. This is the story of a little girl with romantic notions who grew up to learn that her foolish ideas were well Ė foolish and then, just in time, who realised that she had been right all along.
What is the fate of fairy tales in the twenty forth century? They are, Iím afraid, sadly out of fashion. Deemed not realistic enough and guilty of perpetuating antiquated notions about relations between the sexes. Princesses might have looked pretty but they werenít much fun Iím afraid, no swashbuckling for them and certainly no rescuing Prince Charming from the ugly monster.
But then, Iím not exactly a traditional fairy tale Princess. I am far from perfect and I have so many ghosts and flaws that Iím hardly an attractive proposition. Iíve been pretty hard on Prince Charming as well, now I can see that Iíve been punishing him for knowing me too well, for seeing all my imperfections too clearly and not being frightened away by them.
Living happily ever after seems quite a stretch under the circumstances, you have to be either a lover or a lunatic to even consider it. And Iím not prepared to leave things to chance, there has been a little too much of that in our lives. Lets just say when I leave my glass slipper lying in his path, it will be clearly labelled.