How I Became Bad

I guess it started when I was eleven. My mother, my little sister Anne, and I went into Aarville. The villagers had some…problem. One of their houses collapsed, or a well was broken—I forget. Whatever it was, as the queen it was my mother’s job to do something about it. My father, the king, was away on a diplomatic mission. My mother decided to take Anne and me to Aarville with her so that we, as princesses, could learn how to help the citizens of the kingdom.

All I did was ask one simple question. That’s it.

“Why should we help them?”

My mother looked at me like I had sprouted wings. 

“I mean, it’s not our problem.”

My mother sighed. “We are the leaders, Esther. We are royals. If any citizen has an issue or is unhappy, it’s ALWAYS our problem,” my mother said.

“Yeah, but they don’t matter. We are royals; they’re peasants. Our happiness is more important than theirs. We are more important than them because we’re royals.”

I expected her to be proud of me for realizing this. We didn’t have to help peasants with all their silly, insignificant problems! Instead, she looked mad. Just as she was about to say something, my little sister spoke.

“A royal’s job is to lead and protect their subjects. Everything we do is for the people,” she recited, just as Mother had taught us. 

And there it was: the look of pride on my mother’s face that I had been waiting for. But she wasn’t proud of me. She was beaming at Anne, practically glowing with pride. I’d say that that was the moment I started resenting Anne.

I stopped playing with her. I spent most of my time locked in my room. When I spoke to her, my voice was filled with hatred and jealousy. Ever since that moment in Aarville, Anne had been my mother’s favorite. It was obvious. Whenever the villagers had a problem, my mother would always take Anne with her. It was very clear that I was not invited. 

I consoled myself with the knowledge that one day, I would be queen. One day, I would be in charge. Queen Esther! And I knew that the first thing I would do as queen was banish my perfect, beloved little sister. The entire kingdom loved her. Princess Anne is beautiful! Princess Anne is kind! They didn’t dare insult me, the future queen, out loud or to my face, but there were whispers. Princess Esther isn’t like her sister…Princess Esther is dark. It’s one thing for a bunch of villagers to dislike you, but when your own parents like your sister more than you…it hurts.

I got angrier and angrier. Then one day, I walked past my parents’ room. Their door was open a crack, and I could just make out what they were saying. 

“She worries me. She wants power and doesn’t care about other people,” I heard my mother say.

I remember wondering if they were talking about me. 

“Then we’re agreed,” said my father. “Anne and Esther will both be queens! They will rule together and share the power. We can’t trust Esther alone.”

If they said anything else, I didn’t hear it. My ears were ringing. I was numb. I walked slowly to my room. I was supposed to be queen. Me! Alone, not having to share the power. This was supposed to be mine. It was my birthright! I was born first. I was oldest! But I had to share the throne with my little sister. It wasn’t fair.

But that night, I came up with a plan. My parents made the announcement the next day. First to Anne and me in private, then to the entire kingdom. When they told us privately, I pretended to be surprised by their decision, as if I hadn’t already known about it. 

After they told us, Anne kept glancing at me. She looked nervous. She expected me to get mad, but I didn’t. I pretended to understand and agree with my parents’ decision. My father looked shocked that I hadn’t even protested. For a second, I thought I saw a hint of suspicion in my mother’s eyes, but it passed as quickly as it came. 

Later that day, Anne came into my room and sat down on my bed. She opened her mouth, then closed it. She looked like she wanted to say something, but she kept hesitating. It irritated me.

“Spit it out, Anne,” I snapped.

She took a deep breath before asking, “Are you mad at me? Do you blame me for having to share the throne?”

“Of course not, Anne. I would never blame you,” I lied. Of course, I blamed her. I hated her. This was all her fault. 

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