Prologue: Part 5

I DO NOT HAVE AN EDITOR–There will be errors


Part 4

 

Aestha language:

Papiee- Father

Naimee- Mother

 

*Triggers

Miscarriage, mentioning of self-harm, depression


{Tareriae, the Capitol of Mycea}

 

Anayissa

I tried to recollect a time when I actually loved my father but those few memories were sparse. And even the memories I did possess, were from the perspective of a young, trusting child. Can I trust those memories when I could have been effortlessly led astray?

Those few memories are from before I reached adolescence. I was an easily impressionable child and had been desperate to please my stately father. Everything appeared to be larger than life when you are young but when I looked up to the king, I believed him to be more than human.

So powerful he was as he when sat at his throne. Lounging on his golden throne like a god, he did not flinch, he did not cower, he took every challenge head on.

As a child, I was small and able to sneak into places I was not permitted. There was a room adjacent to the throne room that had a undetectable hole. Claiming that spot for spying, I would peer into the hole and watch my father hold court. He was always magnificent. Mother would sit at his side, looking cold and beautiful as always. She did not speak during the sessions and as I child, I did not know why. I naively believed that she preferred to watch her father talk, who did so with a natural charisma. The richly dressed courtiers and the aristocrats gathered around would gaze at my father as if they too were spellbound with his every word.

“A Daddy’s girl”, that is the term I once adhered to. I aspired to be labeled so. When I would pass by people throughout the castle, I strained my ears hoping to hear the term. How would others describe the relationship I shared with my father?

But as I grew into my womanly body, my maturity, and my mind, I inevitably learned that my father, my Papiee, was not a good man.

Right until my mother, my Naimee’s, second miscarriage, I possessed more tomboyish qualities than what was recommended. In Mycea, there are regimented rules of etiquette girls are expected to follow and playing in the mud to make “mud cakes” and playing balls with the castle worker’s sons, were unquestionably not approved of.

Surprisingly, my father did not mind. He was indulgent of my inquisitive nature and encouraged me to play. His decision met disapproval from others but with the news of the Queen’s pregnancy and that the midwife conviction that she was a carrying a boy, he had shown such leniency that he did not listen to their reproof.

As I look back into that time, I believed that was the last few times I have ever seen my father truly smile.

He was elated. His booming laughter filled the halls with mirth. And the King took his daughter riding. It was hard not to picture the King as a young man before the mantle of regency weighed heavy on his shoulders. Maybe he would be brimming with vitality. Maybe the lack of responsibility would have his light brown eyes shining with merriment once again.

I loved my father so much that summer but after that one night, when my mother’s blood made the floor sticky and her tears splashed across my face like summer rain, I began to hate him. Loathe him. And inevitably, fear him. Something broke within me. Shattered. Jagged, sharp pieces that never truly healed but still punctured my lungs, suffocated me until I could see dark spots. I had yet to fully recover from then and I dread that I will always bear this pain. Writing had become my savior in many ways–a life-line that I cling to when the world around me is tepid and calm like the surface of water but underneath, I was drowning.

 

***

It was raining outside. A violent rain that beat at my bedroom window. Each raindrop splattered across the glass, dripping down slowly, like blood. The rhythmic, soft slap of the rain almost drowned out my incessant scribbling. My journal splayed before me wantonly and I wrote as if had been taken with a fever. There was a fire in my blood and the only cure was to write; to write away the pain that caused my head to throb and my fingers to burrow into the soft, meaty part in my palms.

Writing allowed me to make sense of the chaos inside of my mind. Memories bled into words, words rearranged themselves into thread, and with my pen, I wove a quilt etched with stories and fantasies within my head.

Neat script had been long forgotten. Pages and pages had been stained with my passionate words. The ink bled so deeply that it followed me from each page. A bruise. A mark. A reminder of what once plagued me. Spelling errors had become common and freckled within the pages. Unattractive doodles bordered the header of the pages and I traced the tail of a toothy dragon I drew when I struggled to find a more flavorful word for “melancholy.”

I placed my pen down as my hand began to cramp. Cracking my fingers, I rolled my neck from side to side, satisfied as I heard a satisfying crack. Peering down at the journal, I smiled in pleasure.

“A masterpiece,” I said. Rubbing my thumb across the words, I traced the waves of emotions that protruded from the book. Raw, unfettered chunks of emotional verses that howl from the lines, I sat back and was almost alarmed that I could write so viscerally.

A tempest had taken full effect by then. The bitter winds peeled back the bark from trees, exposing the vulnerable belly. A harbinger, the storm was a manifestation of rage; a deadly promise of what was to come. As if sensing my wandering mind, the howling storm demanded my attention. Branches curling like atrophic fingers, clawed at the window and the stray debris pelted the castle’s outer walls with a brutal force.

But even if the world split in half and the clouds fell from the sky, I would still look down at my journal, my words, the harrowing pain transcribed, and try to find reasons to hope for better days.

Each day became more challenging to remain optimistic. The unrelenting voices in my head had become louder and more wicked. These voices become cleverer with each failing and rejoice after every victory. I have tried to make sense of this illness inside of my head and even as I reflect and study medical texts, I could only surmise that any chance for recovery was futile.

I turned my head and looked out into the night sky. This time of year, the nights were a thick, dense gray that covered the radiance of the moon like a velvet cloak. Soon, far too soon, the brush of snow will spread across the landscape like a frothy paste. And when the heavy snow bowed the stems of every flower and fashioned every tree with a cap of snowflakes and drooping icicles, I will watch from my lone spire, unruffled and removed as snowflakes stylishly flutter from the opaque, formidable sky.

Leaning closer to the window, I am greeted by my translucent figure. With the flickering candlelight, the auburn highlights in my hair from the sun stood out. My eyes, identified as “exotic” because of the almond-shape and catlike tilt, were the same light brown as my father’s. Almost gold, almost umber, almost special. I also shared the same famed de Cliousa golden skin. In the Hall of Portraits, rows and rows of portraits of my ancestors soberly glared into me–all of those of the de Cliousa bloodline sharing the same healthy, faultless golden-brown skin and light brown eyes. My Papiee’s bloodline originated from a country that had been overtaken by the sea and eventually, their own greed. Skilled fishermen who rode their small boats like magic, my ancestors were a people content with the surf and balmy summers that never truly left. Until the fish net’s came back sparser with each haul and the people turned on one another and denounced their many gods.

My Naimee’s ancestors enslaved the weak and monopolized on their greed. And when their country rebelled against their mining and deforestation, they turned their sails to the unnamed Aestha, where they wreaked havoc on the natives until every child bore blue eyes and all the women’s faces were lined with defeat and resentment.

I wish I looked more like my mother than him. I could never truly escape my father. His image chased me in every mirror and his words invaded my sleep. Naimee’s eyes are blue like glaciers and her hair was so blonde it appeared white. People have said that I have her stubborn jaw and too-full lips. Nonetheless, I have only retained my mother’s considered less desirable qualities.

Frowning at my reflection, I did notice that my mother and I both share the same, schooled expression on our faces: severe politeness masking layers and layers of misery.

“Princess? May we enter?”

The fuzzy head of my bipolar terrier poked out from underneath my bed then. Shaking it’s small body, the dog trotted to the door to greet my two best friends Julia and Laura with a growl.

“Oh, Ringa,” I sighed. True to her breed, Ringa had always been peculiarly aggressive and averse to strangers, friends, other animals, and just about everyone. In a strange way, I admired her sprit. She could not be tamed, this ten-pound dog who stands upright and proud like a lioness. “Come in ladies.”

Laura entered first, giving a disgruntled glare at my dog. “When are you going to put down this beast, princess?”

“Laura!” Julia exclaimed behind her. Standing beside Laura, Julia smiled weakly at my pet. “Ringa has personality, Laura. Don’t mind her.”

“Humph,” Laura sneered down, “Dogs are not supposed to have personality, Julia.”

Ringa glared back at the blonde girl, her eyes beginning to gloss over with territorial rage.

I sighed. I can already imagine how this transaction will occur: Laura and Ringa at a standoff, Julia trying to intervene, Ringa attacking Julia, and Laura wrestling with the dog until the whole castle came in to investigate the sounds.

“Ladies!” I beamed as I went over to greet my friends.

My ladies-in-waiting were opposite of each other. Julia was a prim picture in her green morning dress. Dark hair curling at her ears, Julia’s summer blue eyes glow with compassion and warmth. Laura, in contrast, dress was wrinkled and bore a brown spot at the hem that was hopefully coffee. Her hair a halo of spun gold, it defiantly fell an inch past her collarbones.

In Mycea, there was a silly tradition that only the royals could wear their hair long. The purpose was for the royals to be clearly discernable between them and the people, as if the jewelry and fine clothes were not their own indicator of who was royalty and who was not. Girls were allowed to grow their hair long until puberty but after their first cycle, were forced to cut their hair to their shoulders. Still, the aristocracy also wanted to be easily distinguished from the commoners, so they used their wealth to purchase elaborate headpieces, bejeweled nets, and frothy hats to adorn their hair. Julia and Laura both sported jeweled pieces in their hair, both a Name Day present from me.

“Good morning, princess,” they both chime. Giving one last glare to my dog, Laura stepped past to give me a quick kiss on the cheek. Julia followed behind.

“Ladies, how are you both fairing this morning,” I said.

“Starving,” Laura yawned while stretching, “ I already called for food. I saw that annoying red-headed servant–what’s her name again–and told her to bring those pasties Cook has been experimenting with.”

I laughed. “Fiercely hungry as always, Laura.” I turned to the brunette, “And you?”

“Fine as always, princess. And you are thinking of Bernadette, Laura. Let’s go to the other room as we wait for the food.”

“Capitol idea,” I smiled at her. She was the water to Laura’s fire. Sweet as a ripe pear and even-tempered, Julia was the perfect mediator between Laura and I whenever we disagreed, which was fairly often. Laura, though at times slovenly, was cunning and tenacious. Her frankness was absolutely refreshing, especially at the castle where courtiers and guests treated gossip as currency, but there were also times where the blonde girl’s candor borders into the side of rudeness. I myself must admit to having a wide stubborn streak and maybe a tad of high-handiness, which resulted in Laura reproaching a controversial subject, I trying in vain to sway her opinion, and thus resulting in her telling me to mind my “royal arse.”

Julia, the more sensitive of the trio, would of course be horrified and try to appease everyone. It always started quite comical until Laura spewed out more coarse insults.

“Oh, right,” Laura mused as she took her seat closets to the window. I sat across from her and Julia in the middle. “Bernadette, the stonemason’s niece?”

“Yes, I do believe so,” Julia murmured before checking the contents of the porcelain tea cup.

“I imagine the tea was still warm. The new servant girl was quite deft at leaving the kettle without waking me.”

“Of course. Let me pour for you, Ana.” Julia leaned over and poured the contents of the tea into my cup. Waves of heat hit my face.  Peaches. Smiling, I grabbed the honey. “Thank you, Julia.”

“And you Laura?” Julia held the pot over the blonde’s teacup.

But it appeared that my lady-in-waiting was still mulling over the red-haired servant. After a pointed noise from Julia, Laura nodded her head absentmindedly.

The clink of fine china as we lifted our cups was the only sound in the room until Laura blurted, “Oh! The girl who made it with Viscount Dalphine’s son! Ha! I knew the girl sounded familiar.”

“Laura!” Julia sputtered her tea in shock. I hid my smile behind the teacup.

A knock on the door before a small team of servants enter. A warm, buttery smell wafted through the air and I heard Laura sighing in relief. My stomach growled in agreement. I forced myself to sit politely and wait for the servants to set down the food instead of pounce from my seat and ripping apart the fluffy pastries. It felt like a millennial transpired as I watched the servants hands as they also placed a woven basket of blueberry scones, thin pastries with cranberries and almonds, and a fresh kettle of tea to replace the old one with honey, sugar cubes, and sliced lemons placed meticulously on the side.

“Thank you. That will be all,” I said to the tart.

Laura needed no formality to begin and loaded her plate.

“Oh, Laura,” Julia sighed in defeat.

“What?” She mouthed around a bite. “Oh, about Bernadette. Yes, she was caught fooling around with the aristo boy in the back gardens a few nights ago. Juicy gossip I imagine since all of the castle is talking about it.

“For shame!” Laura sighed dramatically. “How dare the Viscount’s son sully himself with a mere commoner!”

Julia and I giggled at her dramatics. “Maybe you should try out for the theater trope, Laura. You have a knack for such theatrics.”

“They couldn’t afford me,” Laura grumbled into her eggs.

I laughed again.

Julia began to lecture Laura on eating etiquette but my wandering mind tuned out their discussion.

This was my favorite room in my bedchambers–bold dashes of emerald green and cream-colored walls, fashioned with dark, wooden furniture, imposing candelabras etched with a whimsical design of birds and woodland creatures, and a handcrafted dining table bearing an arrangement of chrysanthemums flowers in a glass, transparent vase. The thick green drapes were wantonly spread, revealing the terror of the howling winds outside. When the days were less…harrowing, the picturesque scene of the manicured lawns and the musk of the flowers greeted me. Now, I could only see devastation.

Days like these, the girls and I will later retire to my boudoirs and nibble on Frysessan imported sweets as the stormed raged on. Lessons were most likely cancelled due to my tutor’s aversion to getting wet. His words, not mine. So today, instead of dwelling on my mood and writing, I will plaster a smile on my face, eat sweet, dark candies until they melted in our mouths, and discuss the latest castle gossip.

As a princess, it was normal for me to be close to my ladies-in-waiting. In actuality, I was expected to have more than two; a throng of lovely, social-climbing doves at her disposal. Princesses were supposed to be surrounded by her ladies-in-waiting but I was unconventional in every way, much to my father’s constant dismay.

Other than Julia and Laura, I was practically friendless.

Refusing to accept the invitations from any of the daughters in the nobility, I have nobly accepted my label of “snobbishness” rather than the less glamorous moniker “indifferent.” Though it was not law, many have complained that I should not keep such close company with my two ladies-in-waiting, despite Julia and Laura’s own valued statuses in society.

I tried to keep the crushing tides of loneliness at bay. It is not that Laura and Julia are not enough, it is just that undeniable and unnamed yearning that begs for more. A constant companion. A person I can bury my seeds of fears into and watch them blossom into a floweret of trust.

My earlier mood began to overwhelm me until my heart felt heavy and the throbbing pain reached every orifice of my body. I could never distinguish myself from any emotion I felt. I was that emotion. I was not merely happy, I was dancing in a bubble of bliss. I was not merely sad, I was so depressed I could not physically get up. it was both curse and blessing to be as emotional as I am. I take offense quickly and I am highly defensive, which, a dark thought, was probably another reason why I have such few friends.

“Ana?” Julia’s soft voice broke my brooding.

“She’s brooding again,” Laura warned.

I glared at my friend. See, highly defensive. “I am not.”

“Yes, you are. Your face is very easy to read. You are like an open book.”

Another side effect of feeling too much; every emotion was on my face.

My hackles going up, I retorted hotly, “No one asked you, Laura.”

Laura smirked and glanced to her friend, “Oh, the princess got offended, Julia. What’s new?”

My face was burning with anger by then. “Laura, why do you have to be such a bitch?”

Julia looked like she was going to expire. I ignored her. So did Laura.

Equally angry, Laura suddenly stood up and pointed to my bed. “Because it is not fucking easy watching you tear yourself apart, Ana. Do you think we cannot see the twisted sheets? That you had more nightmares and another night of no sleep. Olliah’s beard, your eyes are bruised!

“We know you the best, Ana,” she continued passionately. Putting her hand down, she leaned across the table, “We know your smiles are fake. And we cannot pretend the scars on your arms are not there–”

I saw red. My chest was hot with embarrassment. My mind went blank. It was too much. I could not handle it. I pushed down the panic attack that threatened to take over my body.

A voice in my bed told me to deny everything and blame her.

“Get out!”

Laura pushed back from her seat and turned to leave.

Julia was crying. “Laura! How could you? Ana, I am so sorry. We just worry.”

“Leave me,” my voice was deadpanned. I no longer felt any emotion. Only numbness. It was if there was a film over my senses and if I was wading through mist.

The sudden silence was stifling. I do not know how long I sat there staring at the floor. My ass was stiff and my back protested. They must have left because the air was heavy with accusations and hard-truths. The ominous winds continued to shriek, beating at the castle walls with the tenacity of a vindictive lover.

I never felt more alone or so hollow.

My mouth was dry and stale from the tea. Across the room, the fireplace was crackling and the fire danced with my shadow. The yellow-orange flames appeared like grasping hands, returning empty-handed each time.

I forgotten Ringa’s presence until her fuzzy head butted the back of my knee. On instinct, I reached down and dug my fingers into her soft, sleek fur. The tangible act calmed me. So much, that I collapsed to the floor and dedicated both hands to the task.

My mind still felt far away but I felt tethered to this reality as I petted my dog. Even though Ringa can be an absolute monster, she knew when I needed her the most. When I would cry in bed, she would force herself into the crook of my arms and offer her small body for support. And that is why, despite all the bite marks and scars, I treasured her.

I wanted to call out for help but I did not know how. I wanted to cry out for my Namieé, who I loved unconditionally–the love for her almost desperate and reckless in some ways– but I was aware that even Suzette can sometimes be swept up in her own pain and grief to comfort her daughter who also suffers. If I were to bring up my worries, the misery heavy in my Namieé eyes would be staggering. For Suzette to know that her snow cub was this unhappy, was to acknowledge that she has failed to protect her.

The dark emotions had been winning more these days. Each day has become a challenge for me to even leave my bed. Laura and Julia–their names caused me to flinch–had resulted to begging me to arise to dress and eat and to perform the simplest of tasks. I know they want to help–their intentions were pure but how can I burden them with the chaos inside of me? How can they understand that dying seems easier than living with this pain?

            If I scream, will my cries be heard? I wondered as I watched the shadows from the fire swell and expand on the ceiling.

I must have been crying for a while now because my cheeks were sticky and hard.

Remembering my journal, I dragged my body to my desk. Reaching for the leather covering, as if it were a panacea, I forced my mind miles away as I escaped into the pages.

A private beach where footsteps faded beneath the warm, turquoise waves and the full moon rests on her throne in the sky made of shades of purple and indigo–I wrote until my fingers ached and I could feel white sand crunching underneath my toes…

       

 

 

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