At eight years old, Louisa Jenkins had her whole life sorted out. It was reading a book that brought the epiphany she could hardly contain in her little body, or even in her dreamer mind. Everything was so clear inside her head, how her life would turn out. First off all, she would marry a prince. You know, those from the storybooks, the ones who lived in big, fancy castles, with gardens full of flowers, trees and little forest animals. Squirrels!!! She’d always loved squirrels, their little fluffy tails, the front teeth bigger than the rest and their little almond shaped eyes reminded her of herself. She could envision her days, walking around her property, enjoying everything had life so kindly handed on to her. She felt flattered, that life would actually consider her to take charge of such magnitude of wonders. She knew she had to have done something good to deserve such honor and she planned to take better care of her treasures than anyone ever had.
“Excuse me, sweetheart?” Louisa looked up to see an older woman smiling at her, trying to push passed the grocery cart she’d distractedly left blocking the passage.
“I’m sorry, ma’am.” Louisa smiled, her little heart beating faster in her chest, a tingle of happiness coming up her spine. Someone had actually talked to her.
The woman pushed her cart by, but the happiness in Louisa’s chest lingered longer, the giddiness of someone having noticed her making her feel alive and complete.
“You can come live in my castle,” Louisa whispered as the woman disappeared in the canned soup isle.
That’s when she remembered! Her life would never be complete without her favorite thing in the whole world: cereal. She pushed her cart through the aisle, deviating an alligator and a giant snake on the way (weren’t they practically the same thing?), running fast, crossing the bridge and, whoa, was that dinosaur? She needed to have a serious talk with her guards about allowing dinosaurs into her property. Then, she saw it. The Cereal Aisle. One of her very favorite places in the whole wide world. She started for the boxes: fuity, sweet, marshmallows, and… just why were the chocolate boxes so up high? Didn’t they understand that children needed to be able to reach them? Maybe she should have a talk with the grocery store manager as well. She tried the tip of her toes, but she couldn’t reach it. She jumped, again, unsuccessfully. Then, a gentleman walked by and stopped.
“Can I help you, Miss?” he asked and she smiled widely.
“Thank you, sir,” she said. “I want that one.” She pointed to the brown box with the dinosaur in the front. For some weird reason, she was in a dinosaur mood.
The man reached for the box and placed it in her hands, a smile on his face.
“Thank you, sir.” She grabbed the box and placed it in the cart, aligning it with all the other things she had carefully chosen. They would look so great in her kitchen.
As the man was walking away, Louisa called, “Sir?”
“Yes?” He turned back and his eyes met hers.
“Do you want to be my friend?” she asked, feeling her heart beat faster, her hands sweating a little, feeling anxious and expectant about the answer.
The man smiled down at her, and nodded, “Of course, my dear.”
Delight coursed through her body, and she was about to…
“Louisa Jenkins!!!” She heard the voice, and the lump came instantly up her throat as her hopes fell to the floor. She saw the man walk away as her mother walked closer, grabbing her arm, turning her around, demanding attention.
“What on earth do you think you’re doing?” she asked, her eyes dark, angry, mean.
“I was…” Louisa stammered. “Just… getting some… supplies,” she finished with a sob.
“Oh, just leave the crap behind. I’ve looked all over for you.” The grip tightened around Louisa’s arm and the sharp pain sent a tear down her cheek.
“You insolent child.” Her mother dragged her down the aisles, and Louisa watched the cart with the cereal boxes, so carefully aligned, stay behind.
At eight years old, Louisa Jenkins had her whole life sorted out. She just needed to wait, maybe a day or two, until she met her prince, and he’d take her away from the dragon who kept her locked up in the tower. Then she’d have her sanctuary, her castle, her dreams. And she’d be finally safe.