Image via Bravo.

When it comes to the children of the Real Housewives franchise, many are adored and some are despised, but none are as feared and respected as Milania Giudice of New Jersey. Welcome to Catching Up with Milania, where (almost) every week, we—as tribute—will be checking in with my hero, Bravo’s dreaded daughter

It had been centuries since the last time she slept, which is why—when she startled awake underneath the family sofa—Milania was shocked to realize she’d been dreaming. Stranger still were the contents of the dream itself, a memory from over one thousand years ago, before the curse, when she was but a mortal girl living with her mother and father on a farm along the Appian Way.

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It was a boiling afternoon. As her mother and father labored over their barley crop, Milania sat in their home, weaving a mat from straw and stoking the fire. The heat from the flames had become unbearable so she she went outside in the hope of catching the rare breeze.

She must have nodded off in the shade of the olive tree that grew twisting in their yard because suddenly she was being shaken awake by sharp hard fingers. At first she thought it was her mother, come to scold her for leaving the fire unattended, but no. A woman not much taller than Milania was crouched in front of her, her hair tied high on top of her head. She smiled, face splitting like a melon, but it did not make her seem kinder. If anything, it made her seem...not human.

“Fool me once, shame on me,” she said—her voice both a scream and a whisper. “Fool me twice, you better run.”

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“Who are you,” Miliania stammered—though her gut told her everything she needed to know. It was Error, beast of the hills, the one that stole children from their beds at night and used their bones to pick her sharp teeth.

“Fear not, child,” the beast replied, as though she could read Milania’s thoughts. “For I am not the monster they say I am. Those who know me call me Jacqueline and I’ll hope you’ll come to do the same, my dreaded daughter.”

“No,” Milania began, but her attempt to call for her real mother was strangled as her entire body was seized by a spell.

“You’re parents owe me a tremendous debt,” the monster Jacqueline said. “Fortunate for them, I see something very special in you.”

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Milania felt her heart begin to turn to ice. Her organs were shriveling inside her chest and she was gasping for breath. But then—nothing.

She sat up in dust, no longer afraid and eyes clear for what felt like the very first time. Jacqueline was nowhere to be seen, but Milania—veins that once pumped blood now pumping power—knew she had been there and that everything had changed.

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Standing up, she smiled. I am the Dreaded Milania, she thought for the very first time. On steady feet, she ran for the hills, away from the mortal concept called “home,” amd didn’t stop running for a long long time. 

Later that day, her mother and father would come home to find their daughter gone forever. “She’s been taken,” her mother would scream. And yes, in many ways, she was right. The child called Milania was gone. Only the Dreaded Milania remained.

Or so she thought. Still panting from the dream, Milania tried to steady herself with evil thoughts. I know no love, I only know hate. I cannot miss my mother and father when they go to prison because I have no mother and father. Touching her eyes, she realized she’d been crying and it made her feel sick inside.

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From the other room, Joe—the mortal man who named “Dad”—called her to dinner. He had ordered Chinese because he knew it was Milania’s favorite.