Sunday Stories: Sleeping Beauty – Part Four
Sorry I missed my weekly story installment last week, but with Thanksgiving and being out of town and everything, I just never got around to typing it up! But here is this weeks section, for your reading pleasure. For those of you who need a reminder, Sunday Stories is a blog feature where I share parts of old stories and short novellas that I wrote when I was first dipping my toes in to the fiction world. If you need to refresh your memory on our current story, a retelling of Sleeping Beauty that I wrote when I was twelve, then check out the last three installments here. Here is part one of the third chapter. Enjoy!
When I turned fourteen is when my story really began. Ever since my first birthday party two years earlier, I’d shied away from the thought of celebrating with anyone besides Daniel and Flora.
The morning of my fourteenth birthday, Flora waltzed in the room and thrust open the curtains. “Good morning, Princess!” She spun happily and pulled my blankets back
I grunted from the sudden bust of sunlight. But Flora rubbed my arm sweetly and began, “I remember the day you were born like it was yesterday, Valerie. Once upon a time, actually, about fourteen years ago…”
I smiled with my eyes closed and listened to her rich voice, sweet as honey, tell my favorite story. “There was much rejoicing in all of Caledonia,” she finished. “Happy fourteenth birthday, honey!” She wrapped me up in a hug and I savored her spicy sweet scent. The mother I’d always wanted.
Flora broke apart and winked at me. “Guess who’s coming to see you in about an hour? The queen!”
Shock numbed me for a whole twenty seconds. Mother hadn’t seen me in at least a year. On my last birthday she’d been in Thoriland, negotiating taxes. “What?” I finally managed.
“Your mother, the Queen! You must get ready!”
Instantly, I jumped out of bed. “No breakfast for me this morning, Flora!” I said, pulling on my robe. “I haven’t the time!”
“Oh, you must eat something.” Celina, the serving maid, had just entered with a silver plate of eggs, muffins, and fruit, and little china cups.
“No, no, Celina! Mother’s coming!”
“The Queen!” The plate she was holding fell and shattered. “China!” She was immediately on the floor picking up shards of teacups and egg.
“Oh, honey, let me help you.” Floral was soon crawling about on her hands and knees also.
“Oh, do I look alright? The Queen!” Celina’s face was flushed with a mixture of embarrassment and excitement.
In the midst of all the chaos, I was staring out the window, wondering why Mother needed to see me. Though I was her only child, ever since I was seven I’d been living at the forest manor alone. Mother and Father resided either at the seaside castle or the palace in the mountains. I visited them once a year, but hardly ever saw them.
Flora must have spotted me gazing out at the blooming trees surrounding us. “Valerie,” she whispered. “You must prepare for your visitor.”
“Of course.” I opened my wardrobe doors and stared at the rows of dresses.
“Wear the dark blue one, your highness.” Celina whispered.
I pulled out the blue gown and held it up in the mirror. It looked perfect. I loved my simple, comfortable gowns. “It will do.”
“Announcing, Her Majesty Queen Marissa Valentina Charlottetine, Queen of Caledonia.” The page bowed and stepped aside as my bedroom doors opened.
I gave my dark braid one last pat before my mother glided in. Her gown was a dazzling emerald green, trailing behind her elegantly. Her black curls were piled up on top of her head and her golden crown sparkled.
“Hello, Valerie Antonia Clarisse. Happy fourteenth birthday.” The Queen held her hand out to me daintily, and I kissed it as I sunk into a deep bow.
“Thank you, Your Majesty.”
“Please,” she said, pulling me up with her beautiful green eyes. “Call me, ‘Mother’.”
Mother looked about the room before sweeping over to my wardrobe. “Your gowns are quite simple,” she remarked. For the first time, I noticed the pure gold thread weaving through her gown.
“Yes, ma’am.” I bowed my head, the picture of reverence and obedience.
Mother gave me a dazzling smile. “You are a lady now, Valerie. Believe it or not, I must require you to behave like one. No more romping about with this servant boy I’ve heard reports of. In fact, the King and I have decided to send him to Moravia for a year or so. When he returns, hopefully you will be more mature.”
What? She can’t send Daniel away as if he were a dog! My blood began to boil.
“Oh, and darling, I must give you my gift.” She turned to the page. “Send in Hannah and the dress.”
A girl about my age entered the room along with the most beautiful gown I’d ever seen.
The gown was long and white, glistening in the sun with lace woven into the fabric. The sleeves were wide enough to brush the floor, but the skirt was simple and full.
“Try it on,” Mother urged. Wordlessly, I slipped out of the blue dress and pulled the lace gown over my head. It fit like something out of a dream. The front was lower than anything I’d ever worn before, yet not revealing. The sleeves ended at my wrist, flowing to the floor, and the bodice fit me perfectly.
Mother placed a strand of pearls on my neck and turned me toward the mirror. I was radiant. Beautiful. Lovely beyond words. Yet not a tinge of vanity nipped at me. It was more like awe.
“Your braids ruin the effect,” Mother was saying, pulling out the braids so that my black curls fell down my back. “Sir Edward,” she said to the hairdresser who had just entered the room. “Please do something with Princess Valerie’s hair. Darling, you mustn’t wear it in braids any longer, it’s simply not ladylike.”
Sir Edward stepped forward and sat me in a chair. I watched in a daze as he piled my hair up into an elegant twist. He wove a strand of pearls through the dark tresses and let two curls frame my face. It was unbelievable. Within fifteen minutes, I had been transformed from a simple little girl to a dazzlingly elegant princess.
“And for the finishing touch.” Mother pulled out a pair of white satin slippers from behind her dress. She slipped them onto my feet and stepped back to admire me. “My curls, your father’s eyes,” she murmured, eyeing me from head to toe. “Definitely a princess.”
To be continued….