“Why did he have to walk out like that? she thought as a tear rolled down her cheek. Why? After a while, Ella fell asleep, and the darkness of night fell upon the town.”
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess named Helen. She was married to a prince named Connor. They had lived a happy life together, but they wished for something more. A child. They had a child but couldn’t agree on a name. Princess Helen wanted to name her Ella. Prince Connor wanted to name her Rose. But the prince gave in, and so they named her Ella, but then decided her middle name would be Rose. Though, the prince and princess drifted apart over the years. Connor thought the princess was too selfish, his reasoning always being that they had chosen Ella as their daughter’s name instead of Rose. Princess Helen always said that Connor gave in in the end, and he agreed so it was fair. And, she said they had given her the middle name he wanted.
By the time Ella was two, Princess Helen and Prince Connor couldn’t stand each other. They would do everything separately. They also would fight over who would get to take Ella somewhere. For example, if Princess Helen went shopping, she would want to take Ella with her, but then Prince Connor would want to take Ella to an amusement park. Of course, he did this so that Ella would want to be with him instead of her mother. Ella would’ve wanted to go to the amusement park with her dad, because that would be fun, but she wouldn’t want to disappoint her mom. Even though she was little, she was very smart. Ella understood why her parents were fighting, but she didn’t understand why they got together in the first place. Why would they decide to marry each other in the first place, she thought, if they’re constantly fighting? She didn’t really remember anything from when she was little, so she didn’t remember how her parents acted before they started fighting.
It was the day before Ella’s fourth birthday, and she was super excited. She was playing with her dolls in her room when she heard her parents fighting. She peeked into the living room where her mom was yelling at her dad.
“You can’t just walk out before Ella’s fourth birthday!” Princess Helen looked furious.
“It’ll be better for Ella if I leave! How do you think Ella feels about us fighting all the time?”
Princess Helen paused. Ella held her breath. Prince Connor picked up a suitcase from the floor and walked to the door. He opened it. Ella ran out of her room and went to where her father was standing.
“Y-you can’t leave!” she cried.
Her father looked back at her with his watery blue eyes. He didn’t say anything at first.
He gave her a hug and said, ”I love you. I will never forget you.”
And with that, he walked out and shut the door behind them. Ella stared at the door for a moment, tears in her eyes. Then she ran past her mother and into her bedroom. She flopped onto her bed and pushed her face into the pillow. She started to cry. Why did he have to leave? she thought. At least he understood what it was like for me to be in this situation, but there were other ways to solve the problem!
Princess Helen came into Ella’s room and sat on her bed.
Her face pale, she said, almost in a whisper, “I’m sorry.”
She couldn’t think of any words to comfort Ella, so she just sat on her bed for a while, until it was time for dinner. It was a very grim night that night. Neither Ella nor her mother said much. Princess Helen asked Ella if she wanted to sleep with her that night, but Ella refused. She didn’t want to think about what happened. She hugged her bear stuffed animal and tried to fall asleep. Why did he have to walk out like that? she thought as a tear rolled down her cheek. Why? After a while, Ella fell asleep, and the darkness of night fell upon the town.
December 28, 2006
It was Ella’s first day of sixth grade. Ella sat at her desk in class. She was taking a math test. Even though Ella had just started going to this school, at her elementary school, a few people recognized her and would follow her around and try to be her friend. But of course, none of her “admirers” understood what she was going through. It was also hard for her to make real friends because people might just want her for her fame. She had had a “friend” the year before at the beginning of fifth grade named Ashley who had seemed nice enough, but then one day, Ella saw Ashley on her phone. Here, let’s rewind. It was the end of the day, and Ella and Ashley were walking home together.
“What are you doing?” asked Ella.
“Just posting pictures on my story,” said Ashley.
“Your story?” Ella asked.
“On Instagram,” Ashley explained.
Ashley showed Ella her phone. She was posting a picture of her and Ella.
“Don’t post those on your story!” Ella said.
“Why not?” said Ashley.
She paused and thought for a moment.
“Actually, good point. They only stay for 24 hours. I’ll just post it regularly.”
Ashley tapped something on her phone. Then Ella realized something.
“Why do you need to post those on your story?” asked Ella.
“Uhhhh… ” said Ashley. “‘Cause we’re friends?”
“Let me see your phone!” Ella demanded.
They stopped walking. Ella scrolled through Ashley’s Instagram posts. Almost all of them were of her and Ella. Ella quickly scrolled down to the bottom where the first picture Ashley had posted was. Ashley looked worried. The first picture Ashley had posted was a selfie of her and Ella. It was also the day she had started the account. Ella knew this because Ella had asked Ashley what she was doing on her phone and Ashley had said she was setting up an Instagram account. And Ella also remembered that that picture was taken on the first day of fifth grade, which was when Ashley started the account. When Ashley had asked to take a picture with Ella, Ella had just thought, Eh, whatever, it can’t hurt. I’ll let her take a picture with me. But after seeing Ashley’s Instagram posts, Ella knew that Ashley had only been using her for her fame and popularity. Ella handed back Ashley’s phone and walked over to her limo driver’s car. Because of people like Ashley, Ella moved to a new school to get a fresh start. There she met Hannah. Hannah became Ella’s real and true friend. She was always there for Ella when she needed her. Coincidently, they got into the same middle school. But anyway, back to the math test. Ella looked at her paper. X=15-10. Solve for X. Ugh, what’s the point of these tests? Ella thought. She answered the question, then moved on to the next.
When Ella and the class was done with the test, everyone filed out of the classroom. They had a free period.
As Ella walked out, a girl named Jessica from her class caught up to her and said, hurriedly, “Are you Ella Rose Welton?”
“Umm, yes?” answered Ella awkwardly.
Jessica gasped and ran over to her friends, Elizabeth and Bridget. “It’s true!” she said excitedly.
Elizabeth and Bridget squealed.
“Eeeeeeeee!!!” they screeched.
What the heck is wrong with them? thought Ella. They sound like dying pigs!
Jessica, Elizabeth, and Bridget talked together for a few seconds and then came over.
Elizabeth asked, “Want to be friends with us?”
“Oops, I’m late for class, gotta go,” said Ella, pretending to check her watch.
She quickly walked away.
“But it’s free period!” said Bridget, but it was too late.
Ella was gone.
When Ella was walking with Hannah to have lunch later that day, Jessica, Elizabeth, and Bridget walked over.
“Hey, want to have lunch with us?” asked Bridget, looking hopeful.
“Sorry, I’m having lunch with Hannah,” said Ella, trying to be polite.
“Ugh, whatever,” said Jessica. “Let’s go, girls.”
They walked away.
“What is up with them?” said Hannah.
“They asked me if I wanted to be their friend after the math test was over,” said Ella. “I said I had to go to class.”
“Ha,” said Hannah.
Ella and Hannah could tell that Jessica, Elizabeth, and Bridget were not the types of girls they would want to be friends with. They started to walk towards Pizza Hut together.
Then, another girl from Ella’s class (Emily) walked up to Ella and Hannah and said, “Can I eat lunch with you guys?”
She seemed nice enough, so Ella said, “Sure! We’re going to Pizza Hut!”
Hannah smiled. Ella and Hannah looked at each other and nodded.
Ella, Hannah, and Emily walked into pizza hut together. They had lunch together and had a really good time. As they walked back to school, Emily skipped ahead.
“Want to come over for dinner?” asked Hannah.
“Sure!” said Ella excitedly.
One and a half hours later…
It was the end of school, and Ella and Hannah were walking home together.
“Hey, want to stop at the pastry shop?” asked Hannah.
They walked to the pastry shop and got their pastries.
“Oh my gosh, these are so good!!” said Ella, eating her pastry.
“I know, right?” said Hannah.
They stayed in the pastry shop for a while and then headed to Hannah’s house.
“Will your mom be mad that we’re a bit late?” asked Ella.
“Nah, I texted her, it’s fine.”
Ella and Hannah turned the corner and walked up the steps to Hannah’s house. Hannah walked in first, then held the door open for Ella.
“What are we having for dinner?” asked Ella.
“Probably spaghetti and meatballs again,” said Hannah, chuckling.
“If we keep having spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, I’m going to stop coming over,” Ella joked as she walked in.
Hannah rolled her eyes, smiling.
“I’ll have to — ” Ella stopped mid-sentence.
“What is it?” asked Hannah.
Ella ran out of the house as fast as she could and went down the road.
“Ella!!” yelled Hannah. “What the heck?!”
Hannah slammed the door behind her and ran to where Ella was crouching at the end of the street. She sat down next to her.
“What happened, Ella?”
“M-my dad,” said Ella quietly.
“What about your dad?” said Hannah.
“He was there,” said Ella even more quietly than she had before.
“I’m so sorry,” said Hannah.
“What?” said Ella, looking up at Hannah.
“Well, I… I kind of… knew before… ” Hannah trailed off.
Ella stood up, anger in her eyes.
“I… I couldn’t tell you!” said Hannah, backing away slowly. “It’s just… he’s my mom and dad’s friend, and… ”
Dark clouds came into the sky. It became dark out. It started to rain. Hannah could see tears in her friend’s eyes. Hannah had never seen Ella cry before. Hannah met Ella after her father had left, and after her father left, Ella didn’t believe that there was anything else worth crying for. Ella started to cry, and she crouched down on the ground again. Hannah crouched down too.
“Ella, let’s sit on my stoop, and I’ll tell you what happened,” said Hannah gently. They walked over and sat on the front steps of Hannah’s house. Hannah started to explain. “Okay, so my parents have a lot of money, right? They’re pretty wealthy. So, my mom and dad were invited to this cocktail party. My mom’s friend hosted it and invited her and my dad to it. At the party, my mom and dad met your dad, Prince Connor. They quickly became friends. And this was when you and me were already friends.
“Go on,” said Ella.
“The night my parents came home from the party, they didn’t say anything to me about meeting your dad there. But, when I was in bed, I heard them talking in their room, and I heard my mom say ‘Connor.’ I ignored it and went to bed thinking that it couldn’t possibly be your dad. But the next day my mom told me how she and my dad met your dad at the cocktail party. Now I understood why she had said ‘Connor’ the night before. I guess my parents were talking about how they met your dad.”
“Oh,” said Ella. She wiped her tears. “How come you didn’t tell me?”
“Well,” said Hannah. “It’s complicated.”
“Tell me about it,” said Ella.
“Okay,” said Hannah. “For one thing, I didn’t really see why you had to know. But, also, one day, your dad came over for dinner like he did tonight, and my mom told him I was friends with you. I guess she hadn’t told him before, because he had no idea. Just like you had no idea that my mom and dad knew your dad. Well, anyway, after my mom told him that, he told me not to tell you. He said it was because he knew if you knew, you would tell your mom and she would be mad at him for leaving, or something like that.”
“Oh,” said Ella. “Well, does my dad even want to see me now if he didn’t want you to tell me that he was here? And did he see me when I started to walk in?”
“Relax,” said Hannah. “I’m sure he’ll want to see you. Are you sure you’re not mad at me for not telling you?”
“It’s complicated,” said Ella.
She smiled. Hannah could tell Ella was back to her old self.
“Actually, Ella, I asked my mom and dad to invite your dad over for dinner tonight so that I could bring you over and you could see him.”
“Aww, Hannah, that’s so sweet,” said Ella. “I haven’t seen my dad in seven years.”
Her eyes brimmed with tears. She smiled, but it was a sad smile.
“Well, enough sitting around,” said Hannah. “Go in and see your dad.”
Ella got up from where she was sitting, walked up the rest of the steps, and put her hand on the doorknob. She hesitated for a moment.
“Go on,” said Hannah.
Ella twisted the doorknob and opened the door. Her dad was sitting at the table. He got up. Ella and Prince Connor looked at each other.