That was the only time she’d seen the King, until much later. After his first appearance, it was announced that a new group of dancers would be selected in three months. In the meantime, there was no news from anywhere. Phoebe lived near the lake where she could see the moon every night, where she could be secluded from the rest of the town. Every night, she gazed into the water, and every night, she saw no reflection. At times, she thought she was really disappearing, since her presence couldn’t be easily felt anyhow.
Every month, she moved to a new place. Life in this kingdom was freer than she’d anticipated. And while this land knew nothing of her, she was beginning to learn about it.
Once, she ran into the King himself.
She was walking barefoot on the damp grass that night when she spotted a figure glimmering in the moonlight, a few feet in front of her. From behind, she recognized the long white braid. Phoebe stepped up to him. “Hey,” she said. I’m going to keep my cool this time, she told herself.
“Hey.” was his instinctive reply, but when he turned around and saw who it was, he exclaimed, “Whoa!”
“?!” Startled–again–she jumped back.
“Am I really talking to you? It’s been so long!”
“Yes you are, don’t you see me?” She spun around once, as if showing that she existed. Like the first time, her pretense never even had the chance to be activated.
“I see you.” A grin spread across the King’s face when she spun. “Aren’t you like a ghost?”
“Maybe I am one,” she said, strolling to the lake. She lowered her eyes to the surface of the water. As expected, there was nothing looking back at her except the King’s widened eyes, which only remained widened for a moment. “Why did I show you that?” she shrugged and backed off again.
The King seemed satisfied. “You showed me because your heart knows you are meant for me.”
“How can you be so sure? You’ve never tried.”
“I’m sure. No.”
He sighed. “Do you ever say yes?”
The King laughed again. In her mind, he was always laughing, ever since the first day.