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You Are Not the Hero of This Story

Caroline M. Yoachim lives in Seattle and loves cold, cloudy weather. She is the author of dozens of short stories, appearing in Lightspeed, Asimov's, and Clarkesworld, among other places (such as Daily Science Fiction, of course). For more about Caroline, check out her website at carolineyoachim.com.

This is a story everyone has heard many times before. It begins with a dragon. You are not the dragon. Dragons are scaly creatures that breathe fire, and you have soft skin and breathe air that smells like whatever you ate for lunch.
The dragon--which is definitely not you--is coiled around the base of a tower. (You are not the tower, because it is an inanimate object. I shouldn't have to tell you this.)
Inside the tower is a princess. As you might have guessed, you are not the princess. She conforms to some societal construct of what it means to be a perfect woman. You're too masculine, or too fat, or your skin is too dark. If you are looking for yourself in this story, you'll need to look elsewhere. Besides, you don't want to be the princess anyway. All she does is wait to be rescued, and how boring is that?
Somewhere in the kingdom there's a hero. You'd like to be the hero so you can have adventures and help people. It would be nice to be admired for your bravery. But, obviously, you are not the hero of this story. The standard characteristics of a hero are different than those required to be a princess, but you definitely do not have them.
The hero--who is absolutely, positively not you--kills the dragon and saves the princess. No one is surprised; they've heard it all before. They don't notice that you aren't in the story. It will never occur to them to ask why.
You are the hero of another story, and it is a far more interesting story.
I hope you tell it, and that people will listen.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, March 31st, 2016
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