Sunday Stories: Sleeping Beauty – Part Five
So last week, I may or may not have left you hanging a bit, cutting it off right in the middle of a chapter. Sorry about that! I’ll finish off the chapter this week, just to satisfy your curiosity. 😉 For your reading enjoyment, here is part four of my “Sleeping Beauty” story that I wrote when I was twelve. You can read the earlier installments here!
“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.”
“Oh, and Valerie, I almost forgot.” She turned and motioned to the girl who had entered earlier. “This is Lady Hannah,” Mother said, pushing Hannah toward me as if she were a gift I should squeal over. “Hannah is to be your lady-in-waiting, now that you are almost grown.”
Hannah was smaller than me, yet she looked to be about the same age. I was grand and she was dainty. Her light brown hair was pulled back into a single braid, and her green eyes were framed by long thick eyelashes. Her lips curled into a lovely smile as she curtsied, revealing straight white teeth. “Hello, your highness.”
“Call me Valerie.”
“Call her Princess Valerie,” Mother said with a smile.
Hannah’s light purple gown made her look as delicate as a china doll. She was very pretty, almost as pretty as I had been ten minutes ago. But then again, I had the gift of beauty. Hannah did not. So that had to count for something.
“Well, I must go now, Valerie,” Mother cooed. “I will see you soon, since you will now be expected to attend royal affairs with your father and me. My, you’re growing up so quickly.” She patted my cheek fondly. “I’ll have to start looking for that prince to break the spell soon,” she muttered. I made a face, but ducked my head so she couldn’t see. “Well, well, well…” She patted my cheek one last time before leaving.
Gowns, lace, satin shoes, ladies-in-waiting, Mother… It was all too much. I sat on my bed, dizzy with thoughts. Then I remembered Daniel.
“Daniel!” I rushed to the stable. People stopped and stared. I’d forgotten to change out of my lace gown.
I held the gown up to keep anything from harming it. Suddenly, I felt ashamed that I’d gotten so excited over a dress, regardless of how pretty it was.
“Daniel!” There he was, standing by his horse, feeding her an apple. He turned and froze when he saw me, his mouth hanging open.
I ran up and threw my arms around him. “Daniel!” I sobbed. “Mother says you’re leaving. She said you’re going away for a whole year!”
He held me at arms’ length and looked me up and down again. As if in a daze he replied, “Yes, I’m leaving. Say, Valerie, where’d you get that dress?”
Aaargh! I wish I had thought to change. I just hugged him again and cried on his shoulder.
After a few minutes, he seemed to snap back to the present, and I heard him sniffing a bit, also. “I’ve got to leave tomorrow morning, Val.” He stroked my hair for a moment before pulling away. “Come with me,” he said. Daniel pulled me by the arm and led me to a small shack right outside the palace walls.
“This is my home,” he announced. I frowned slightly. The roof looked patched and the door didn’t exactly fit the doorway. It didn’t seem fair that I should live in a palace while he lived in this little shack.
He must not have seen my frown, because he grabbed my arm and led me inside. “Ma!” he called. He smiled at me reassuringly. “Ma! I’ve got someone for you to meet.”
A middle-aged woman with slightly graying blonde hair walked in and then took a step back, her hand flying to her mouth in shock. “Your highness,” she said, falling to the ground in a bow.
Ugh. I was really starting to hate that dress. I took a deep breath before lifting the woman’s chin and looking into her hazel eyes. “Please, call me Valerie.” I smiled kindly, and slowly her lips turned upward, too.
Two young children peeked out from a doorway. A boy and a girl with sandy blonde curls and bright blue eyes.
“Hello,” I said, extending my hand to them. Timidly, they shook it.
“Don’t be frightened.” I smiled. “I don’t dress like this every day, believe it or not. This dress was a gift from my mother, who only visits me once a year. I was going to change until I heard about Daniel leaving. Then I forgot all about it.” I looked up at Daniel. He was leaning against the doorpost with a sad smile on his face.
“Come,” he said. “I have someone special I want you to meet.” He led me into a darkened room. There was a little girl lying in a bed. She had Daniel’s light brown curls and long eyelashes. She blinked open her blue eyes and smiled. “Hello,” she whispered, her voice soft as a cloud. “You must be an angel.”
I felt some of my reservations about the white lace gown melting away.
“Ruth,” Daniel smiled at his little sister. “This is Princess Valerie. Valerie, this is Ruth. She’s been waiting to meet you.”
Ruth’s pale lips lifted in a smile. “I wondered when you were coming.” Her blue eyes closed and she drifted back off into a peaceful sleep.
As soon as Daniel and I were back outside, he sighed. “Ruth’s been sick for a long time,” he explained. “We don’t know when she’ll leave us.” His eyes pierced mine. “Please take care of her while I’m gone. I’ll miss you, Val.” He gave me one last hug before walking back into the shack.
I wondered when I’d see him again. “Goodbye, Daniel,” I whispered, even though he couldn’t hear me anymore. “I’ll miss you, too.”
Then I walked back home.
To be continued…