Christopher sits facing a lovely, imposing woman with her hair braided up into a golden coronet upon her head, carefully arranged around a crown. She’s dressed in purple ermine, concealing her body within the folds of the robe.
Christopher: You look very different than when we last met…Your Majesty.
Oriana: Don’t expect a queen to recall every person she ever met, child. (She lifts her nose.) Even if that person considers himself so beyond the reach of queens that he dares to sit in one’s presence. (She gives Christopher a longer look, her blue eyes widening.) That’s exactly what you are, aren’t you? Like the magic mirror reflecting all, showing…what? Visions offering insight? Our heart’s desire?
Christopher: (leaning forward to meet her gaze, his eyes shimmering with unearthly colors we don’t usually see in irises) What do you see?
For a moment, the boy and the queen stare in each other eyes until Oriana’s grow unfocused, swimming with tears.
Oriana: Tell me, am I beautiful? I’ve tried so hard to be beautiful. For my king, for my people. For myself. I am beautiful, am I not? Tell me how beautiful, no, show me. Show me I’m the fairest of them all. I don’t need her to be the fairest. I don’t need to miss her. I can be my own woman. Please show me that I am.
Christopher: I’m sorry. I have no control over what I reflect back. You’re the one who determines what you see. (His voice becomes gentle.) Yes, I see a beautiful woman who’s struggled to be beautiful, who’s living a life she gave up much to live. Only you’ve discovered you don’t want it. (His eyes shimmer with light.) You look at yourself, hoping to see only yourself, not what haunts you. (The color diminishes in his irises.) I’m sorry. I’m sorry I can’t give you what you want.
Oriana: No! (She claps her hands to her cheeks.) Please. Please, you were once Happily Ever After. Yes, you were. I was right in saying you were beyond the reach of queens. Most of us never find happiness.
Christopher: I’m not out of reach. You’ve found me. You’re speaking to me now. Your Happily Ever After is within your grasp.
Oriana: No! (She digs her hands into her cheeks.) I rejected my happiness for power and she ran from me, reducing me to something less than a monster. The sight of her transformed my heart into a sour, bitter little apple she wanted nothing to do with!
Christopher: I’m guessing this she is Princess Blanche. Are you sure your happiness lies with her?
Oriana: How could it be anywhere else? She was everything and she ran from me! She rejected me!
Christopher: Didn’t you reject her first?
Oriana: I embraced everything desirable in her. Power. Beauty. Royalty. Wealth. I thought she realized in rejecting her, I was trying to get closer to her in the only way I could! My rejection was nothing like hers. Not the way she looked into my heart and diminished it.
Christopher: Maybe you and she can’t be happy together, not now. Maybe you should let her go.
Oriana: Could you ever let the one you love go? Could you just look for your happiness elsewhere?
Christopher: (looking away) He wanted me to.
Oriana: Doesn’t that make it worse? Knowing your beloved wants you to look elsewhere for happiness, to have another life without you?
Christopher stares at his feet, not speaking.
Oriana: Everything you once you had, all your memories, they’re like a poison. A sweet, addictive poison you taste and cannot escape from. She’s poisoned everything. (She pauses, considering her words.) Maybe I should do the same to her.
Christopher: I’d tell you to stop but there’s no point, is there? Whatever you’re planning to do is an addictive poison as well. It’s seeped through your heart and will, coloring everything. Do you really think the outcome will make you happy?
Oriana: Happiness means getting what I want when I want it. I want what I’ve always wanted. Power. Beauty. Grace. A certain something which has always eluded me. She’s the embodiment of all these qualities. Only she threw them away along with me. I’ll show her, I’ll give her a taste of her own poison. Just one bite and she won’t be able to run. She’ll be mine forever.
Christopher: Do you really think she will?
Oriana: Doubt me all you wish, Happily Ever After. I’m done begging for your favor, done pleading with anyone to make me happy. I’ll take my happiness myself, take it back. Just try and stop me.
Christopher: I wish you’d stop yourself before it’s too late.
Oriana: Did you stop yourself? Or did you do something to get your love back? Tell me, Happily Ever After, how right have your actions been to seize your happiness?
Christopher: They’ve often been wrong but they’re part of the story. I can sometimes see things, know how they’ll turn out. Your story may have a happy ending. I’m just not sure if you’re the one who’ll be happy.
Oriana: At least I’m doing something. I’m done with crying and pleading with a mirror to help me. I need to take action.
Christopher: All very well and good except when it’s the wrong action.
Oriana: Better to act wrongly than to not act at all.
Christopher: That’s a dangerous way to think.
Oriana: Life is dangerous. The very concept of safety is an illusion. She’s about to discover this.
Christopher: Teaching her this won’t make you happy.
Oriana: Nothing will make me happy. She is my happiness. If she rejects me, there is no happiness.
Christopher gazes at Oriana for a long moment before fading away. The queen is left alone in the mists.
Oriana: That’s right, you’re an illusion, too, Happily Ever After. None of this is real. Fine. I don’t need you. I’m about to get what I need.
She turns her back and disappears into the mist, becoming one shadow among many.