“But… but he left me,” Joyanne the Jellyfish wailed in despair. “He doesn’t love me anymore.”
“Well that just means he is an idiot,” Princess Jemma said viciously. “A stupid idiot who doesn’t know what he’s let go of.”
Joyanne still sniffled. “I loved him so much. It hurts.”
“Don’t worry, Joyzie. You just keep your head up and we’ll show that lousy jelloboy where he can stick his tentacles.”
“Jem!” Joyanne stared at her with shock all over her face. “You’re swearing!”
“What? Can’t a princess swear?”
A smile spread across Princess Jemma’s face. “There. Now you don’t look so sad. Come, forget about Liam for a while. We’ll go to the spa and the salon and then you’ll feel much, much better. I guarantee it.”
After getting all her tentacles massaged, Joyanne did feel much better. She smiled gratefully at her friend.
Princess Jemma smiled back. “Feeling much better?”
“Very much, Jem.” A few moments later, she sighed again. “It still hurts, though. Being jilted really hurts.”
The jellyfish looked at her skeptically. “You do? You’ve never been jilted in your life.”
“True. But I do know what it feels like to always be rejected. To be the odd one out. I think… I think it’s kinda the same, though maybe it doesn’t have quite the same intensity.”
“Who would dare—” Joyanne didn’t finish the sentence as realisation hit her. It was true. She’d always thought Princess Jemma, beloved of the merkingdom, had everything an aquatic creature could ever want. But she didn’t. In school, Jemma had always been alone. She hadn’t been dazzling enough to be part of the popular crowd—her status hadn’t mattered because they’d enjoyed the power of being able to turn a princess away—and the “normal” students had kept out of her way in hopes of not drawing unwanted attention to themselves. Joyanne and Jemma had become friends because… because Jemma had looked lonely and Joyanne was an extroverted jellyfish who couldn’t bear swimming alone.
“Have you… have you ever had a boyfriend?” Joyanne asked, not because she didn’t know, but because she wanted Jemma to confirm.
The princess shook her head. “I won’t even have the chance to be jilted, Joyzie, because no one even wants me.”
“But you’re the princess.” She said it as if it should matter, as if it should make a difference.
“A princess. One of many. And why should any poor merman come and court me only to be told no by my father?”
Joyanne stared at her in horror for a long time. “Oh, my dear Jemma,” she finally said, nuzzling the mermaid princess as she murmured, “You’ll be fine, dear.”
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