My name is Olivia, and I grew up listening to fairytales. My mother would tuck the six-year-old little me in bed and take me into a magical world where a handsome prince on a white horse finds his way to the beautiful princess and sweeps her off her feet.
“Mom, when will I ever find my prince?” Little me curiously asked mother one night.
“Soon, darling. You will grow into a beautiful princess, and the prince will find you. He will love you, and you will live happily ever after.” My mother assured me with a goodnight’s kiss.
Years passed and I grew. At 18, I came to what I felt was the realization that fairytales were just mere illusions given to kids. I felt that my mother’s stories were tales to make me dream sweet fantasies so I wouldn’t hate the world that never liked me, but every time that I look in the mirror, I felt that reality slaps me. I did not grow up to be a beautiful princess. My skin is like that of my mother, pale as paper. My face is full of red spots and bumps. I tried so hard to get rid of my pimples, but I could not. I have a set of hair like my father, curly, unlike the perfectly straight hair the other girls in town have. Thick glasses hide my pair of almond eyes. My body is slender and shapeless. The boys in my classes used to throw paper balls at me every day and they would call me “ugly” and “gross”. I felt as if no man has ever looked me in the eyes and found beauty in me.
But deep down, the idea of a prince falling for me never left my mind. I knew that everything I was told was fiction, but I so very much wanted someone to love me. I wanted someone to accept me as the woman that I am – flaws and all.
Sadly, more years have passed and I’m now 26. Still, no one has come for me. As the years pass, my hope is gently, but painfully fading. “Maybe, love isn’t for everyone” I tell myself. Maybe, I can only be happy watching the people around me fall in love and settle down. Maybe mine is to be a vicarious life, I can only dream and write about myself finding love in the books that I write. Nothing more.
One night, I went inside my room early with a heavy heart and planned to drown my sorrows and my self-doubts in my writing. People admired me only for one thing – the words I wove into perfect love stories for romantic hearts. As I wrote and as words freely flowed from my hands, I saw a notification from Facebook about my publisher, who recently posted a photo of herself showing an engagement ring with her beau. It was captioned with, “I said YES!”. I felt that familiar painful and somewhat hurt feeling again. Is it jealousy? Maybe. Is it regrets? Probably. I felt that being this ugly, no one sees me as me. I am happy for my publisher friend, but I cannot deny that whenever I see posts like hers, my heart feels heavy, knowing that that will never be my experience. That I will forever be alone.
I just sent a simple “Congratulations” message to her. I did not wait for a reply, but my publisher thanked me and joked if I wanted to know her secret.
I jokingly said, “What’s the secret?” Giggling as I sent it.
My giggles were cut short when my publisher sent me a link. No explanations, no regular teases. Just a link to FindAMateForFree.com (or FAMFF.COM as she called it). Curious about what that meant, I clicked the link and found myself registering for an account on FAMFF.COM and filling out my preferences for my imaginary prince.
It was simple, but I saw that no one was online. Just like in my world, no one wanted to talk to me. I thus thought, “no one wants me – not even on FAMFF.com, so what else is new?” I laughed the thought off and continued typing. Just when I was already near writing the climax of my new story, who would have thought that mine was only getting started.
A tab showed a notification. Someone named “Justin” wants to connect with me on FAMFF.COM. I forgot to close the tab, and it probably stayed online throughout the time when I returned to my writing.
Curious about what the website might have to offer; I accepted the invite. We began small talk. Justin is 28, a teacher, and a football coach. He sent me his picture, but he did not push me to send him one of me. My heart fluttered for the first time. Our small talk became long hours of getting to know each other. No dreamy lines, just calm, warm conversation, but everything felt like a dream. Finally, someone is talking to me and telling me little details no one has ever cared to say to me.
Our conversations went on for days. Whenever I came home from work, I could barely wait to log on to FAMFF.com to see if Justin had written. He became a part of my every day. He would often write and greet me in the morning before he left for work and make me laugh at his antics. I’d wish him well on his way to work, and we would finish the day catching up on each other’s happenings. He would send me pictures of the beautiful places he has visited, his dog “Lucho”, or his cute selfies.
I felt happy. For what feels like the first time ever I feel as if I am in love. I am in a complete fairytale, and I do not want it to end.
One day, Justin blurted out what I longed to hear all my life, “Olivia, I know that we only met here on FAMFF.COM, but it doesn’t matter. I fell for you. . .hard enough that I cannot picture a day without you. I love you, Olivia. Please be my girl.”
Finally, a prince found me, only that I cannot say yes. A prince like him is no match for an ugly girl like me.
And so, I told him a lie, “I can’t. We haven’t met yet. What if you don’t love me at all? What if I am not enough for you?” I told him my worries. I told him what was in my heart, but I could not tell him the truth, that I am no match for him. Not now, when I’m still flying in romance and love.
“Then let’s meet. Come to Canada. Visit me here. I know you’ve wanted to travel outside Australia, then be here. We’ll get to know each other. Love each other better. Yes?”
I was hesitant, but he was right. I have always wanted to travel and see the world outside the bounds of this harsh reality. I agreed to meet him. To see him one last time before he runs away from me; before he stops believing he is in love with me.
I flew to Canada the following week. We agreed to meet at a coffee shop, so I prepared myself to lose the only guy who had talked to me for months. My love. My life.
He was there. He was busy with his phone, as if calling someone, his face showing worry. I knew it was me because I could hear my phone ringing softly. I stayed at a distance staring at him. Memorizing his features. Making memories and imaginations of what my life could be if only I were beautiful.
But in a few minutes, I saw him walking towards me. His face showed a perfect smile that reached his eyes. I was expecting to see that beautiful smile fade the same way that everyone reacts when they see me, but his smile stayed. It did not go away.
“Olivia? Olivia, right?” His voice exuded excitement.
I was stunned. Justin has never seen my face before.
“How did you know it was me?” I asked.
He smiled again. He held my hand to pull me closer to him and reached for my face. He planted a soft and tender kiss on my cheek.
With so much affection, he said,” I could tell it was you. I just knew! You were staring at me for so long as if memorizing me. But you don’t have to memorize me as if I am losing you anytime. We have so many tomorrows to be with each other.”
I looked at his eyes and tears fell from mine.
“But I am ugly. I am no princess. I love you, but you deserve a beautiful girl who is a perfect match for you. You deserve the best, and I know I will never be the best.”
He pulled me again for an embrace. His hands were on my back, comforting me as if telling me I will never lose him.
“Hush, love. I love you, and I love you for all your flaws and imperfections. You may not be perfect, but neither am I. I have loved you from the moment we first talked on FAMFF.COM. I love you because I have never talked so deeply to anyone but you. I love you for your beautiful soul and kind heart. I love you because you are you.” He said with so much promise in his voice.
It was a dream come true. A fairytale in real world; only that love did not come from a prince on a white horse who is ready to save me. It came from a wonderful guy I met online who embraced me for who I am. A love that accepts you for who you are and stays no matter what, is more than any “happily ever after” in a kid’s storybook.