The Cowgirl and the King of Drama
Once upon a time there was a vibrant and vivacious Cowgirl with fiery red hair who rode freely from valley to valley on her majestic white horse, Flame, whose mane and tail were the same color as her hair. The Cowgirl came from a valley that caused her much pain and she went to new valleys always in search of true happiness. She had not yet found the valley that made her truly happy as there was always something that made her want to continue on her journey. Flame adored the Cowgirl and took her wherever she wanted to go next. Flame didn’t understand her human ways and didn’t always agree with her choices but was immensely loyal to her even though he was born with an innate sense of freedom to be wild. The Cowgirl loved Flame and the way she felt totally free and happy when they rode together. They were a stunning pair when seen galloping along appearing as if they were one being.
One day while riding along a mountain ridge they came across a beautiful pristine valley below. The valley was immaculate and lush with forests, green pastures, a beautiful big pond, and a town in the center. It reminded her slightly of the valley she grew up in, yet this place had a very orderly vibe to it. The valley she grew up in was not orderly and chaos was more the norm, yet it was also gloriously beautiful. Something about the sense of order below drew her to want to take a closer look, so down the mountain they rode. It was indeed a beautiful place and she had a strange feeling that something special was waiting for her. They rode into the town that bore the name Drama. Drama was as orderly as anything she had ever seen before. The townspeople stopped to watch as she and Flame rode into town and through the streets. She immediately noticed she looked very different than the other women, who stared at her hair and cowgirl clothes with an odd sense of curiosity. She noticed how mannerly and tidy they all appeared and didn’t get a sense she would make a lot of women friends in the town, but that suited her fine. They rode through town with no real sense of where they were going and then she noticed a glorious castle set off in the distance and stopped to ask someone what the castle was. She was told it was where the King of Drama lived. “Oh, of course” she said to Flame, “and what a beautiful castle it is – let’s go take a closer look”. “As you wish” replied Flame and they went in the direction of the castle. The castle was exquisite and she wondered what the King must be like – she figured he must be a great man because just look at what a beautiful castle he lived in and how lovely his kingdom is. The Cowgirl felt she was being watched, and when she looked up to the far corner of the castle, she saw a balcony where a man stood staring down at her. Their eyes met and it was as if time stood still. “Is that the King?” she wondered “He is so handsome and he was staring at me” she said with a giddy gleam in her eye (Yes, it was indeed the King of Drama). He had walked out onto the balcony because the sun had just broken through the clouds after a long period of rain and the King wanted to feel its warmth on his face. The moment he stepped out and looked around he noticed the Cowgirl and her gorgeous horse right away. “Who is that?” said the King to himself. “Just look at her and her fiery red hair.” After their eyes met, the King felt something stir inside him that he had not felt in years and this sense scared him so he went back inside the confined walls of his castle.
You see, three years earlier while he was still a Prince he was going to marry a woman he loved, but the marriage never took place and the Prince had been devastated. Although no one knew the real story because it was covered up so well, it was rumored that the woman had run off to become the Queen of another kingdom. His mother, the Queen, had never approved of the woman he was going to marry and kept telling him she would not make a good Queen but the Prince loved her and thought she loved him. The Prince’s parents had died shortly after, and before she died, his mother told him to find a woman next time that would prove herself to him and love him more than he loved her and this would ensure she would be a good Queen (like she had been) and not leave and humiliate him or the kingdom again. So, in order to cope with his sadness and all his losses, he had made himself a mask to wear in public, because, after all, he was now the King of Drama and he had a kingdom to run and protect.
The Cowgirl thought of the man on the balcony and roamed the area and when it got dark there was a spectacular full moon to light her way. She marveled at the stars above and the crispness of the night air. She and Flame rode through the forest and came upon a clearing where there was a stone table and two stone chairs. It seemed so out of place in the forest and she got off Flame to take a closer look. It was a chess table. The Cowgirl had won many chess competitions in the past and thought maybe she could find someone to play with her. Flame suddenly became jumpy and that is when the Cowgirl heard a noise behind her and she turned to see a man coming and she got scared. “Don’t be scared, I was taking a walk and saw you and came to introduce myself”. She knew right away it was the man she saw earlier on the balcony. He said “I am the King of Drama and I want to welcome you to my kingdom”. He stared at her and told her how lovely she was and he went to Flame and gave him an apple he pulled from his pocket. The Cowgirl was so taken with the King that she could barely speak at first. He was handsome and as charming as she imagined him to be (and he smelled unbelievably good). He asked how long she would be staying and the Cowgirl told him she wasn’t sure yet. “Ah, yes, I was right, another wild and free soul” he said quietly to himself. He told the Cowgirl he liked to take walks at night and especially when the moon was full and that this had been one of his favorite spots because he used to play chess when he was still a Prince. “Really? Well I play chess and I would love to play a game someday”. The King told her she reminded him of his former chess partner and that playing a game could be dangerous for him but nonetheless would meet her the following night for a game, but not to tell anyone because he didn’t want to draw a crowd. The Cowgirl wasn’t quite sure what he meant but agreed and knew she was in love with the King of Drama the minute he walked away and could not wait for the following night. She had loved others before but, this was a King! The King of Drama knew he would not be able to stop himself from going to play a game of chess with her even though he was afraid for certain reasons and he dreamed of the following night just as she had (yes folks, these are the feelings fairytales are made of). They met at the table the following evening and he suggested they take a walk first. They held hands while they walked and were clearly smitten with one another. The Cowgirl couldn’t help but fantasize about being a Queen (I mean what girl wouldn’t, right?). The King asked about the past valleys she had been to but she was not comfortable telling him as she had just met him and was afraid he would not understand, because again, this was a King and his life must be perfect and hers had been anything but.
The King of Drama won the first chess game and was smiling and happy. The Cowgirl, however, won the second game and the King became upset, abruptly got up and told her he had to go. He mumbled something about “losing power” and off he went without even saying goodnight. “Well, that was odd, maybe I should have let him win” she thought and was sad to see him leave but slightly annoyed at the way he just walked off in a huff and didn’t say goodbye. This bothered her very much and she rode to town the next day to ride past the castle in hopes of seeing the King. It was a very foggy day and she barely saw a chariot coming from the other direction of the castle until it was upon her. Inside the chariot was the King and a woman who looked very proper and groomed. The Cowgirl from that moment on referred to her as “The Groomed One”. The King saw the Cowgirl and turned away when she rode past. The Cowgirl was crushed to see the King with a woman next to him and assumed she would be his Queen. Needing some time to think, the Cowgirl and Flame rode out of the town to the edge of the valley and came upon the beautiful tranquil pond with water as smooth as glass. A nice man who owned the town feed store was riding in the opposite direction and they stopped to talk for a bit. He told her the pond had magical powers and when you looked in the water the reflection you saw was yourself in the past. She asked if people came here often and remarked at how lovely the pond and its surroundings were. He said “No, people don’t come here often … they are too afraid of what lies beneath”. And then they parted ways and she and Flame found an open pasture where they rode for hours feeling free. Yet she kept thinking of the King. And suddenly the King of Drama appeared out of nowhere on his horse and said he had been watching her from his balcony and came to see if she wanted some company. The Cowgirl was blunt and asked who the woman in the chariot was. The King of Drama told her the woman was to be his Queen and that he was to be married the following month. “She will be a good Queen, she loves me, we are friends, and everyone in the kingdom finds her warm and welcoming”. “But do you love her, this groomed looking woman?” the Cowgirl asked. He replied “I love you, you make me feel alive and you are more special than any woman I’ve known, but I am to marry her.” This made no sense to the Cowgirl and she and Flame galloped off as fast as they could. The King caught up to her when she and Flame were resting by a brook and he asked her to come to his castle at midnight. “Why?” asked the Cowgirl. He replied “Because I can not resist you, you have a power over me and I want to show you my castle”. The Cowgirl found hope in this invitation and went to the castle that evening. No one but the King was there and he was delighted to see her. He had told her that he let all his servants have the evening off. When she stepped inside he said “Stop! You can not come inside with your muddy boots on! Take them off now!” The Cowgirl did as he asked and told him she was sorry for tracking mud inside. The King showed her around the castle, which was as neat and orderly as the valley itself. The Cowgirl asked a lot of questions about the history of the castle, etc. and the King told her she asked too many questions and told her to stop being so annoying. The King was thirsty and asked the Cowgirl if she would go the kitchen and get him a glass of milk. He told her not to turn any lights on in the halls. Finding his request odd, she nonetheless set off for the kitchen, and just thought maybe this is what Kings do when they are alone in their castles. The Cowgirl felt her way along the walls to the kitchen and got his glass of milk. On her way back she tripped in the hall and spilled his milk. The King was clearly upset and told the Cowgirl to clean the mess as quickly as possible. He said “Couldn’t you feel where you were going? What is wrong with you? She never spills anything!” The Cowgirl exploded in anger and said “Can’t you see that I am not her! What is wrong with YOU? You are not a King, you are a frog just like all the other frogs I’ve known in my life!” and she stomped out and she and Flame, who had been patiently waiting outside the castle, rode off into the darkness. The King whined to himself about his spilt milk and went to his room to sulk.
Days went by and the Cowgirl decided she would go to town and ride past the castle. She was angry at the King of Drama for his rude behavior and wanted to get back at him by riding by with the owner of the feed store. She wanted to make the King of Drama jealous (You see, the Cowgirl, herself, had made a mask years ago that she put on when needed). A fog had rolled in and it was hard to see where she was going but she and Flame made their way into town and she made certain the King saw her and the man as they rode by. She glared at him and he glared at her. She repeated this for days until the fog was so thick she couldn’t find her way into town and then she took her mask off and was sad and cried. One evening shortly thereafter she and Flame went for a moonlit walk and rode by the chess table. The Cowgirl wanted to stop for a moment and sit in the stone chair. She sat staring at the stars thinking of the King when suddenly she took a deep breath and that is when she smelled him and felt his breath on her neck behind her. She turned to see the King of Drama standing there and they fell into each other’s arms. He told her how much he missed her and that he wanted to make her a proposal.
The King proceeded to tell the Cowgirl that he was enamored with her even though she had annoyed him by asking too many questions, was clumsy, and most importantly had yelled at him in his castle, but that she was perfect for him in many ways but that he was set to be married to The Groomed One. BUT, he would throw caution to the wind, leave the kingdom forever and ride off into the sunset with the Cowgirl, but first she had to prove herself to him. The Cowgirl asked simply why he just didn’t tell The Groomed One that he loved someone else. The King scoffed at her and said “Don’t be silly, I can’t do that, because if you don’t do as I ask and prove yourself to me, then I will need her to be Queen. So you see, I am giving you a chance, but if you fail I can not run the risk of having no Queen, and besides she is fragile and she should not suffer because I desire someone else who evokes feelings in me she never can”. When the Cowgirl opened her mouth again to speak the King said “No more questions! Here is my proposal”. He told her that there was an old race track on a far end of the valley where they used to hold steeple chases. The King said if she could beat the time of The Groomed One that he would make her his Queen. The Cowgirl thought for sure he was joking and said “You made her do this also?” and he said “Yes, but she did not ask questions as to why and she simply did as I asked. Why do you have to complicate everything?” The Cowgirl felt like an alien in a spaceship but she felt happy that he was giving her a second chance so she agreed to run the steeple chase course (Boy, this King is an odd one she thought). Then he told her about some other course rules. He told her that she could not run the course on Flame bareback as they always rode and that Flame would have to wear a proper saddle and bridle and then he pulled out a corset and told her she would have to wear it. “A corset? Are you serious?” she asked. He replied “If you want to be with me, you won’t ask why I am asking you to wear it and you will just do so” (The King did not tell the Cowgirl that he made the corset himself following a pattern of the one his mother used to wear). The Cowgirl thought his rules for running the course were a bit insane, but she agreed. She was to run the course the following week. So the Cowgirl and Flame began preparing to run the course. Flame was very unhappy about having to wear a saddle and bridle but because he loved the Cowgirl so much he did as she asked of him. The Cowgirl hated the corset, it was too tight and she could not properly ride Flame with it on but she tried and tried to adjust to it. The day before the Cowgirl was to run the course, she brought the saddle and bridle to Flame to get him ready to practice, and he looked at her with sad eyes and told her he would not put them on again. He said “I can not allow you to put those chains on me today or ever again … just look at me … my mane and tail have faded in color, I am miserable and feel so constricted wearing the saddle and bridle … it is not my nature and I am not happy … but what is worse, my dear Cowgirl, is what has happened to you and how you look. You were once a gorgeous rose, but you have wilted … you will do anything to please this man, the King, even wearing that corset … you can barely breathe and when you ride on my back you feel so confined and not comfortable and free as you always have before. This King asks ridiculous things of you, and he is not a good man, but you can not see this! I am instinctually a free animal, but I have stayed with you because you are most important to me but I do not know you anymore, you are so wrapped up in pleasing this King that you have lost sight of your true nature. And … by the way … you look ridiculous in that corset”. And then with tears in his eyes, he bucked onto his hind legs and galloped off leaving nothing but dust behind. The Cowgirl stood in shock for the longest time … she didn’t cry … she just stood there staring in the direction Flame had run off in. She was so confused as to how he could desert her that way and then she became angry at him for leaving her and especially the day before they were to run the course. Now how in the world was she going to become Queen! She envisioned what the King would say if she told him Flame had left. He would get mad at her and tell her he knew she didn’t love him and that if she did she would not have let this happen, that he was disappointed in her and that he had given her a chance but she failed him and he would stay with The Groomed One! She was convinced that is how he would act (and she was right!).
So the Cowgirl walked and walked for hours to clear her mind and try to decide what to do next. She had walked so far that she found herself by the reflection pond, and as usual, no one was there and so almost as if drawn by a magnet she went and sat at the edge of the pond. She did not know if she believed in these magical reflection powers but as she looked into the water she saw herself as a little girl. It was amazing that these powers were real. Her childhood flashed by as she stared at her reflection. She could not believe what she was seeing and then she started to cry and she cried as she watched her reflections change through all the phases of her life thus far. She saw the good times, the bad times, and all the valleys she had visited in the past. Many things she saw made her sad about the past valleys she’d been to and that she’d never really dealt with them. Each time your reflection passed to another part of your life, the water would change colors. The Cowgirl struggled to keep looking into the pond and she was saddened most by how strong she had been at many times in her life, even when things went wrong. She had been a free spirit in her past even with all the pain, and now all she felt was trapped and confused. She thought of what Flame had said to her and that he deserted her when she needed him most. She sat at the water’s edge until she heard something. She saw through the trees that a chariot was coming and she quickly went to hide behind a tree. She could not believe what she was seeing, but the King had come to the pond as well. She was surprised he would be there and she sat and watched as he also walked to the edge of the water and sat down. He stared into the water for a while but the Cowgirl did not notice the water change color so she didn’t know if he was seeing his past reflections or not. And then he did something surprising to her. He reached up to his face, tugged at it and removed a mask. “Oh my” said the Cowgirl “He wears a mask … I had no idea”. When the King looked back into the water he started to cry and the Cowgirl watched as the water changed colors so she knew he was seeing many past reflections. And he never stopped crying. The Cowgirl wondered what he could be seeing and what his past had been like to make him cry that way. For the first time she felt a sense of compassion for him and knew that the mask he wore was a mask of defense and hiding–this she knew because she had worn her own mask when it was necessary. She had thought since he was the King that his life would not have contained sadness and anything to make him cry, but here he was crying at what he was seeing from his past. She began to understand why he needed his mask so he could cover his sadness and be a good King.
Snow started falling and the Cowgirl watched the King put his mask back on his face and leave in his chariot. What she did not know (or hear) was him speaking quietly to himself saying “Goodbye Cowgirl … I still have immense feelings for you and in my thoughts and dreams you will always make me feel alive. I have a passion for you like I’ve felt for no other, but I am not a free soul as you are and tomorrow is my wedding day. And while I may not have what I want, I have what I need according to the rules and confines of my castle and kingdom, and I don’t expect you to understand, but I’ve learned to work with it and it is enough for me”. And he wiped yet another tear from his eye.
The Cowgirl walked away from the pond in the direction that would lead her out of Drama since there was no longer any reason to stay. She would not become Queen, and her heart was broken. But she felt a “pull” towards the clearing where the chess table was. She wound her way through the snowy woods under the light of the beautiful full moon and still falling snow, and finally there again, she stood at the same clearing where she had first met the King of Drama.
For hours she sat on a chair at the chess table and cried and couldn’t stop thinking of him. She spoke aloud as to how much she missed him and wished for one more chance because she knew in her heart that if he came back to her that she would never make the same mistakes again because she understood so much more now. “But” she thought to herself “My life is not a fairy tale and my wishes never come true”. Then … she heard steps behind her … and she took a deep breath and smelled him. She smiled to herself as she felt his presence and the warmth of his breath on her neck. Before she could turn, he said “Hello my Queen, I’ve missed you too. Now how about I take you away from Drama and we’ll live happily ever after as the free souls we were meant to be. Your chariot awaits”. She turned to face him and softly said “You came back … I didn’t think you would … and just look at you … you are more handsome than ever”. She shed a tear of joy, and then with abundant laughter drew herself onto Flame’s back and said “Yes, my King, let’s get out of here!” “But first” she said and took out two items from her pockets and left them on the chess table and then she and Flame galloped off leaving only a trail of glorious snowy tracks in the beauty of the rising morning sun.
A month following the King’s wedding he was taking a walk alone through the clearing and on the chess table he found her mask and the corset he had given her. He looked up at the full moon and began to cry.
The Cowgirl and Flame lived happily ever after.