“The Princess and Her Tears of Fire” by Bob Rich

A Monarch butterfly rested upon the staff of a tired monarch king wearing an orange and black robe. The king decided to migrate south in late summer to rest for awhile, and to return north in the spring. The king’s daughter reclined in a silken chair of gold within the castle’s jeweled and lonely chrysalis room, her silver crown hung upon the wall like a forgotten halo as she studied from books about the magic and sorrow of a royal life.

Then, a halo softly materialized next to her crown’s halo, and, within the second halo, an angel. “Lonely princess,” said the angel, “why do you cry? A chalice filled with sunlight awaits you, and it will catch all of your scalding tears in their watery heat. You will serve the hungry and the suffering. Are you not honored by your noble station?”

“I am honored, angel,” said the princess, turning toward the messenger’s blazing gown. “That is why I am sad. I fear that, when I take the throne, I will become arrogant, so much so that I could not even bear the sight of myself in the mirror. Even now, I am filled with anger at the imperfection of my heart.”

“You know the cure for this malady, my lady,” replied the angel. “Remove the velvet robe from off your shoulders. You will see that you already know the antidote for a prideful heart.” The princess took the velvet robe from off her blue-green dress of flowing satin, and she handed the robe to the angel. The angel then draped the robe over his staff and cast the robe into the fireplace. The princess, unflinching, stared into the fireplace’s cove and watched the robe as it bathed in red and purple flames. While she kept watching the glowing embers beneath the robe, the angel softly declared, “In three questions, you will know that you are ready to assume the throne, my lady.” “Do you think so, love?” she replied, looking back toward the angel while wiping her tear-stained face with a silver cloth handkerchief.

“Where does all power come from?” asked the angel, its face alight. She looked out through the castle’s window and gazed wearily and deeply into the blue haze of the daytime sky.

“From heaven is correct,” the angel replied. “Now, how can a human soul remember the source of all power?”

The princess kneeled upon one knee and reverently bowed her head. “Correct again,” the angel replied. “Finally, my lady, tell me what kind of heart can always remain humble?”

“Oh, give me the heart of a child, Father God,” prayed the princess, her head still bowed low, and she felt the angel gently placing her crown upon her head.

The angel then took his staff and removed the robe from the fire, telling the princess with comforting solace, “Just as this robe’s fabric is unburned, unheated, untouched by the flames, your heart will remain safe, sound, unscorched by the fatal fires of pride if you remember the one shield that protects a soul from vanity.”

And the princess gazed up, beaming with a tearful smile of hope, just in time to see the angel radiating away into rippling light while the Monarch butterfly rushed up into the angel’s blinding farewell to provide the princess with a flapping coronation of orange and black applause.

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