She used to be a princess, straight out of a fairytale, trailing spun gold and winged butterflies behind her. She ruled her kingdom from her Daddy's shoulders, beautiful and resplendent in her youth. Perhaps it would have been simpler to watch her run free with innocence draped on her shoulders like a superhero's cape. Simpler. Easier. Kinder to shield this tiny girl-child from the world and its inherent evil. Her fall from grace was a beautiful disaster. There is some sad poetry in the slow tumble of limbs and the tangled waterfall of honey blonde hair. There is something untouchably lyrical in the transformation from child into something not quite adult. She no longer perched on her father's strong torso with his hands clasped tightly around her ankles, protection of the highest form. Daddy was otherwise preoccupied. With work, with her mother (and later, his girlfriends, some of whom asked to be called "Mom"), with his own life. No time for a forgotten princess of a forgotten land. Her cape lay abandoned on the crumbling stone steps of her once grand palace. She looked at the ruin surrounding her, trapping her, binding her to her beautiful, beautiful past and ugly present. She sunk to the earth that lay barren, rippled with cracks before her feet. She did what any princess without her prince would do she cried. She grabbed at the sparse grass that had somehow managed to free itself from the dying, shattered earth. She changed, grew her hair long to cover her hardened eyes, then coated it in the same charcoal black color as the remains of a fire. Daddy took no notice not of hair and not of the eyes. Baby (or perhaps it was Chrissy, Janet, or Karen) ate up his time on a solid silver spoon. So she pierced her nose and tattooed a single word on her neck (it was "princess"). When he saw the tattoo, he smacked her once, took away her phone, and sent to her room like she was a petulant child whining about dessert. Daddy turned his back once both the cries of shock and the red handprint had faded to memory. She took off her gown, put back on much less, and found a boyfriend with a shaved head, at least five tattoos (she hadn't counted) and a motorcycle. She didn't say no and hoped that he would let her cry on his shoulder when the test was positive. Instead, he called her names and slammed the car door. Now, her own little daughter builds castles out of sand and weaves color around her, shimmering like the sun. When her own daddy sweeps her up onto his shoulders (he still comes around sometimes, it turns out), she squeals with delight. All her mother wants to do is yank her off and hold her close. Because it is simpler, easier, kinder, to protect her from the world.