Aria's POV

Well Mom and Dad are fussing over Astin as usual. The Selection, his birthday. Astin hasn't been himself lately. I think he is terribly nervous. It's understandable, though. I would be nervous too, and probably angry because I have to do it. I cannot find love by myself.

I wonder if I will have the chance to find love on my own, or if I will have to go through a Selection, or if I will have to be married off to some foreign man I don't even know, just to tie up relations in that country.

I'm walking down the stairs, thinking this over when I bump into a guard. The guard is so strong he knocks me to the floor and I land on my bottom, quite flustered. OOF!

"Oh, your majesty! Are you alright?" The guard says and sweeps me up. "I will take you to the hospital wing!" And he's about to bring me down the stairs when I stop him.

"No sir, I'm quite alright. If you'd just put me down I'm sure I'll be fine." I explain.

"Oh of course," he sets me down slowly. He then grabs my hand so I can walk.

"I'm fine Officer…uh…" I look at his badge. "Robinson. Thank you Officer Robinson, but I'm fine." And I turn to walk away.

"Your majesty!" Officer Robinson calls. I turn back and see he is holding my purse. As I look at the purse I can finally get a good look of his face. He looks fairly old with some wrinkles, but has a knowing and comforting smile. I walk back and grab my purse.

"Thank you, Officer. Have a nice day!" I say brightly and walk off for good.

I've reached my bedroom door when I see mom walking down the hall. I decide to walk over and meet her halfway.

"Hi Mom!" I say cheerfully, although I am still in pain from my encounter before.

"Hello, sweetie. How are you? All ready for The Report tonight?" Mom asks, ever so gracefully. I don't know how she does it. She is so graceful and ladylike sometimes, but then so goofy.

I nod. "Yes. But I'm quite hungry, I hope the program doesn't last long." I see Mom tense up a bit as she looks for an answer.

"They always run long sweetie." She finally says, relaxing a bit. I giggle lightly.

"So do you want to play piano for me, and I will sing along?" I ask hopefully. I haven't been able to spend much time with her recently.

"Aria," she sighs. "I was just about to see your father and discuss some things. Maybe tomorrow darling." Mom says and kisses my cheek before heading off.

So I'm back in my room, too disappointed to play or sing. I just lie on my bed. I wonder what it's like for normal people. I wonder what Officer Robinson's family usually does, what they do when he's away. I wonder if he has a daughter my age, at a school, with friends, maybe even a boyfriend. I sit upright, abruptly. It has suddenly occurred to me that I am 16 and have never had a boyfriend, not even a real friend. I sigh as I lie back down. My life is caged. My life is annoying; sure it comes with brilliant privileges, but never have I had the chance to be a normal girl living in Illea.

Suddenly my palace is a cage; a trap. Like a mouse being drawn in by the cheese, I am not drawn in, but pushed in.

Not in a million years would anyone let the Princess of Illea leave the palace grounds. It is far too dangerous. Far too real. For she will not be able to handle real life.

"Yes I can!" I say to the air, defending myself from my own thoughts. My mother, I know, has not told me everything about her previous life, her life before the Selection. But I do know she was a five. She was poor. She was normal. And she handled it. So why couldn't I?