She wears white leather kid gloves, a pillbox hat over her blonde coiffure. The time is April 1956 on the newsreel on the classic movie channel I’ve left running. She has freshly stepped from a boat—A luxury liner packed with 300 festive guests! announces the disembodied announcer, a man who enunciates with enthusiasm in accent-neutral English.
Grace Kelly, clad in a spring green Dior suit with matching kitten heels and evening bag!, waves and waves. She is glitteringly silent.
And there is Prince Rainier come to greet his fiancée!, with his pencil-smudge mustache,
medals, a sash. Two cheek kisses. And there, the welcoming parade of the Principality. Banners and hoorays! And worldwide media on foot and in dinghies cramming the dock—square flashbulbs kshh-kshh-kshh.
Look at the happy couple strolling the seafront, her arm tucked in his!
I remember reading once: they met when one of Grace’s loves told her at Cannes that she couldn’t stand up The Prince she didn’t feel like meeting. What did royalty mean for a bricklayer-turned-millionaire’s enterprising daughter of Philly?
The couple smiles like a fairytale topper on a buttercream cake.
It is the middle of the night. I pull the covers tighter over my yoga pants and hoodie I fell asleep in after final exam delirium. My hair pulling loose from a gaudy pink elastic. My blue daisy pillowcase bleached and buffeted. Books belch from my nightstand. I could be no less glamorous. Grace is one of my greatest fears: abandonment of purpose at the height of accomplishment.
Cut to Grace and Rainier in the civil ceremony. Close up of the chunky sparkling rock. Grace Kelly later admitted to her hairdresser that Rainier’s affairs made her terribly sad.
Cut to Grace alone with a dozen cameramen traversing the two-hundred room palace, through an enormous drafty study. On the dark-paneled Mahogany walls, a portrait—Rainier’s grandfather Louis II! Stern eyes bear into her as she advances.
This could be any one of her movies. The next jewel-box scene with the priest in the Medieval stone cathedral. This could be scripted: the night before the religious nuptials. The cool, lonely blonde. Acceptance, nerves. Except—it isn’t.
You’re better than this, I think as I watch the scenes unfurl. You’ve played opposite Cary Grant.
You’re Hitchcock’s ideal woman. Take the boat back. Or a jet! America’s waiting for you in their theaters and living rooms.
The problem is that they are. There’s no escape hatch.
Well-wishing crowds greet the new Mrs.! Grace Kelly arrived Hollywood royalty and departed St. Nicholas’ Church Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco! A day we’ll always remember!
And I cannot tear myself away even at 3:30 when the castle attendants draw window shutters tight as coffin lids.
Whatever happened next: already sealed in.
Melanie Faith holds an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte, NC. Her writing has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize. She is a writing tutor at a college preparatory high school in rural Pennsylvania and an online creative writing instructor. Her WWII-themed poetry chapbook, Catching the Send-off Train, was published by Wordrunner eChapbooks as their summer 2013 selection. Her poems, essays, and fiction have been published in the past year at Vermillion Literary Project, Linden Avenue, Aldrich Press, The New Writer, Foliate Oak, Origami Poems Project, Star 82 Review, and Words Dance. She’s written two children’s picture books in 2013.