The Story Finder

Voices in Fairy Tales

by Michelle Tocher

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Reluctant King

I looked all around the world in search of fear, because I didn’t know what fear was. I wasn’t afraid of the living or the dead.

One day, I came into a large town square crowded with people. A pigeon had been set loose over the crowd and he landed on my head.

The people thronged to me, shouting, “King! King!”

A vision as fierce as lightning shot through my brain. I saw myself seated on a throne, spending my life there, growing old there, trying (but not succeeding) to make poor people rich, miserable people happy, bad people good, and never doing what I wished to do. I wouldn’t even get to marry the girl of my dreams.

“No! No!” I cried, but my protests went unheard. The people raised me up and carried me through the crowd. Then the voice of my heart spoke and said, “This is the fear you have sought for so long.”

I understood, and accepted my doom.

The Reluctant King in The Boy Who Found Fear at Last, Olive Fairy Book