Aida’s Princes

Bryana Lorenzo

          The owl prince was dead. Long live the prince. God save his princess.
          As was customary for such funerals, Aida invited her wicked drunk foster mother and no one else because everybody was tired of attending the funerals of her poor “pets”. But Cheryl came because Cheryl was easily bribed with booze. This was the tenth funeral she’d attended in the last six months.
          This one, however, felt more personal. God was laughing at her.
          “I was found as a baby abandoned in a Tallahassee park, being cared for by an owl,” Aida said. “This should have been fate! It was a match made in heaven? How could it all have gone so wrong?”
          Cheryl took a cigarette out of her left pocket. “Well, your dinky little kidnapper certainly doesn’t help.”
          Aida had been kidnapped by a local meth dealer who came from a rich family in Winter Park who also had severe Daddy Issues and hated women. Inspired by r/incel, he decided to kidnap Aida. Raise her into the “perfect wife”. Just to be nice, he gave her free roam of the old two-story Victorian with all the paint chipped off they lived in that also smelled like a crack house because it was one.
          She also got free roam of the neighborhood during the weekdays because she still had to go to school and he didn’t want OPD attention. He was also lucky Cheryl was a better meth dealer than he was, because she refused to call the cops and possibly let the Feds sniff around her house.
          “It’s incredible how he can be so jealous of a frog, a hamster, a dilapidated goldfish, and a puppy,” Aida said, crossing her arms. “And it was a golden retriever too! How could he be so heartless?”
          He’d single handedly killed each and every one of her princes with a pizza cutter and dental floss. The single hardest part of each funeral was making the corpses look presentable. Luckily, there was a lovely taxidermist who lived in town who offered help in exchange for cleaning up her shop after school. Each of her darlings looked like snapshots, still alive but frozen in time. She never cried when she found them torn apart, but she came asunder when she saw them put back together. They were eternal, should have been eternal in life.
          “Which sinkhole-turned-fake-lake are you sending them off to this time?” Cheryl asked.
          Aida sighed. “I wanted to go downtown, but I almost got in trouble last time.”
          “Gee, I wonder why?”
          “Well, they deserve a proper sendoff!” Aida huffed. “They did what you and every other asshole in this town refused to do!”
          “And what was that?”
          Aida hugged her taxidermized owl tightly. “They gave a damn about me, obviously.”
          Aida lived in the Magic Kingdom. The Sunshine State. The happiest place on Earth. Squirrels and pigeons approached her even without food. A pit bull violent to all others but friendly to her. She was a Disney protagonist stuck outside her film.
          Except instead of ending up in the arms of a hot eligible bachelor like in Enchanted, she lived in the Orlando pits. She didn’t know which sewer she crawled out of to get back home. She existed almost for existence’s sake.
          “They may have given a damn,” Cheryl said. “But they’re still pretty shit at actually saving you from this hellhole. Or even saving themselves.”
          “We don’t live in a hellhole. We’d have to go to the panhandle for that,” Aida sighed. “Besides, at least they tried. Which is more than I can say for most of you.”
          Her teachers hadn’t believed her when she said she’d been kidnapped. The taxidermist looked the other way because she got a kickback from her kidnapper’s father to not report him. The rest of Orlando didn’t even know she existed.
          Her princes, on the other hand…
          Her frog had taken a fork from the “Nice Guy” for her, the hamster brought her bits of bread and stale crackers when she was locked in the basement for three days, and the owl… the owl had nearly pecked her kidnapper’s eyes out when he gave her a beating.
          “Why do you keep bringing animals home for them to die, Aida?” Cheryl asked. “Seems that, if you really care about them so much, you wouldn’t leave them in the gooey hands of the Walter White wannabe.”
          “You’re right,” Aida said. “But I can’t resist bringing an animal home when I find it hurt. And besides, maybe the next one will be the one to save me.”
          Cheryl chuckled. “If the next prince you bring home is a panther, maybe it will be.”
          Then, silence, as the old owl was buried under a Florida Maple, supposedly the same type of tree Aida had been discovered under alongside her owl guardian. Other than the lakes, it was a perfect final resting place. She prayed there would never be another.
          The princes were dead. Long live the princes. God save their princess.

Pushcart Prize nominee Bryana Lorenzo is a Junior at Boone High School in Orlando, Florida, a Junior Editor at Polyphony Lit, and a storyteller at An Insipid Board of Ideas—a storytelling blog and nonprofit dedicated to spreading awareness of social issues through short stories. Her fiction has been featured in Outlander Zine, The Graveyard Zine, Rhodora Magazine, Le Château Magazine, The Literary Canteen, and Pile Press, and is forthcoming in Agapanthus Collective, Novus Literary Arts Journal, io Lit, and White Wall Review. She has critical essays published with Youth Be Heard, Cordelia Magazine, and Blue Blood International, as well as a creative nonfiction piece published in Ninetenths Quarterly. She recently had a poem featured in Irshaad Poetry. You can find her on Instagram @bryanastarwrites or on Tumblr at