The clock tower rang on as it hit midnight. Everyone knew that the fairy tale always ends at midnight. The girl returns to her normal self. The prince scours the Earth for his one true love. That’s the beauty of the story. Love lost then found. That is not my story.
My story began on a wet April afternoon waiting for the bus to come around the corner. Instead of a bus, I saw a man. A man on a horse. I knew that a knight in shining armor was a stretch for me to be seeing on the city streets of Manhattan, but none the less, there he was. The sun glancing off of the silver metal protecting the rider from whatever delusional dangers he thought he might face.
I looked up at him from the damp bench I had been trying to avoid touching. He reached out his hand and extended an envelope.
“Please m’lady. Do me the honor of your presence.” His voice echoed around his helmet before it escaped through the slots on the front. He was definitely and Englishman.
I reached out and grasped the envelope and pulled it from his fingers.
“Who are you?” Part of me was thinking this was some large practical joke put on by her friends.
“I would be greatly honored to see you tomorrow evening. Until then m’lady.” He gave a small bow, then continued trotting down the road.
Other people had stopped and watched the odd scene unfold before them. I think some kid even recorded the encounter, but I could care less about what they were thinking or doing. I was processing what had just happened. Who was that man? And what did he want with me?
I was so lost in thought that I almost didn’t realize the bus had pulled up.
“Jenna are you riding today?”
Bill had been the morning driver for as long as I had been in New York. I saw him every morning on my way to work.
“Yeah….” I stepped on to the bus staring at the direction the mysterious man had rounded the corner.
“Are you ok?” Bill leaned forward trying to catch my face.
“Yeah. Yeah I’m good.” I shook my head forcing myself to reconnect with reality.
I gave him my fare and found a seat.
This was the first time I had really looked at the envelope. The front was blank, but the back had a red wax seal on it. The seal looked to be of a family crest, but not one that looked familiar.
I slid my finger under the seal and ripped the envelope open. Seeing the invitation inside, I pulled it out. It was the most elegant invite I had ever seen. There was gold leafing around the edges. The words all looked like they were hand written with the most beautiful caligraphy I had ever seen.
The invitation was dated for tomorrow at 6pm and the dress was formal, but there was no location. No address or directions to get to wherever this party was happening. It didn’t even have the name of the host.
Laughing at myself, I shoved the invite back into its envelope and slid that into my bag. I didn’t have time to deal with this right now. I had a big deal to close at work today, and this strange morning was not going to distract me from my job.
That was six months ago. If I knew then what I know now, I would have never taken that envelope from the strange man on the horse. I would have laughed at him and called the cops. I would have ran the other way. Anything but take that invitation. That was the beginning of the end. That was my midnight. The day my fairy tale ended.