Once upon a time, there was a small princess who loved big words. In actuality (and the princess knew that this mysterious word actuality actually meant “the state of really existing rather than being imagined,” which to her sounded extraordinarily beautiful), and so, in actuality, she loved small words too. She loved words so much that each day she would eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. She consumed them in a greedy, hungrily way. And soon, the princess was not so small anymore. In fact, she was growing quite round and plump. Beyond the castle walls, where the peasants and serfs lived in tiny wooden cottages, whispering rumors began to circulate about the princess’ health. “She’s plumped up a bit hasn’t she?” said one woman washing by the pond. “Plumped up? I wouldn’t say, plumped up. She’s more like the size of a very large and sturdy cow,” replied her husband, who was trying to be nice.

And as the princess grew in size, her personal seamstress busily sewed larger and larger skirts and shirts and dresses. The hum of the sewing machine whirled late into the night as the seamstress pulled her hair in frustration, up to her ears in alterations. The local newspaper put out front-page headlines: “STORE SHELVES WIPED CLEAN. Fabric shortages have hit the land!” But despite all this, the princess could not stop consuming, devouring words.

At last, the princess sat on her throne, filled and contented with so many spectacular and beautiful words stuffed deep down inside that she felt peace. Never had she been so happy. She said, “Never have I been so happy. Today, I decree that these gorgeous, amazing words that I have tucked inside my soul, will be shared with 100 various suitors from across the kingdom. I will arrange the best of the best of my word compositions to be presented to them, and the suitor who is worthy of my words will become my prince.”

At once, the entire kingdom became a stir with the news. “The princess is to be married. A suitor worthy of her words will become the prince. Who will this suitor be?”

In a flower field beside the castle walls, the princess sat on a hand carved marble throne, lilies and daffodils and wild roses waving in a breeze. A long scroll of her most cherished words, hand copied by her most trusted scribes, lay out on a long white marble table that matched her marble throne, for the parade of suitors to appraise.

Ten suitors approached the throne, each of them replying similarly. “I’m sorry to inform you, but your words do not suit my needs.”

The princess began to perspire. “Really? These are the finest words in the land. The best of the best. Ok, fine. Be gone with you.”

Twenty more suitors approached the throne. “Thank you for reaching out, but unfortunately I already have similar words in my kingdom. If you have any other words to share, I’d be happy to take a look at them.”

The princess took off her crown and wiped her forehead. “Are you certain? You really have all of these magnificent and irresistible words in your kingdom. Every one of them? Ok, fine. Be gone with you.”

The next 20 suitors said, “I’ve examined your words with great interest, but in this current market, I’m not certain these words will bode well in our land. Have a nice day.”

With a great flourish, the princess heaved over the side of the throne. After vomiting her lunch, she sat up. Speaking to her favorite scribe, she said, “Gather the scroll. We must reevaluate. We must rearrange my beautiful words. We must make them more appetizing.”

“Yes, yes, my princess,” said the scribe.

And with that, the scroll of clean, fine parchment was re-written with even more eloquent and stunning words. Words that were so astounding, the princess wept all night.

Though the following morning, while sitting on her marble throne, the princess was stunned to hear 20 more suitors say, “Due to the volume of words I receive, I only respond to words I am interested in. If you don’t hear from me within six to eight weeks, rest assured I’m not interested in your words. I’m sure another suitor will feel differently.”

The princess saw the flower field spinning. To steady herself, she grasped the arm of her throne. “But these words are worthy of tears. Filled with the light of a thousand suns.” And with that, she stood up from her throne to make a grand announcement. “The remaining 30 suitors are dismissed! I will NOT marry. Thank you for coming.”

And so, that night in her bed chamber, the princess cried into her pillow. Her lady’s maid approached, saying softly, “Don’t despair, my sweet princess. It only takes one. Just one suitor must be worthy of your words. Don’t give up.”

Through teary eyes, the princess looked up at her. “You think so?”

“Yes, I truly do.”

The princess stood beside her bed, tossing the pillow on a chair. “Call my scribes. Let the remaining suitors know I have changed my mind. In two days, I will present the truest words of my heart, the words of my soul. I will bare them all.”

Two days later, sitting on her marble throne amongst the wildflowers, the princess listened as 20 of the remaining suitors said, “I’ve really enjoyed these words. They are beautiful.” The princess exhaled in relief, whispering under her breath, “Ok, now we’re getting somewhere.” The suitors went on, “But unfortunately, I’m not feeling them in my gut the way I’d like to have. Please know this is subjective. We are extremely sorry to disappoint you, but we wish you the very best of luck.”

The princess clutched her chest in dismay as 10 suitors spoke up, “We love your words. May we take them back to our kingdom to look at them further?” Through her severe disappointment, the princess anchored her hope on, “We love your words,” and they carried her through the long days and nights to come.