I hope to become my normal, horribly long-winded self soon.
Anyway, I'm going to post a bit of the work I've done lately on my "novel-writing practice".
I feel old beyond my years. I am only twenty, but there seems to be finality about my existence. My life ended when his did, just a year ago. Yet this couple, their life is just beginning. I hate it. But I am too reserved, too shy to do anything about it. Why should I try to sabotage their wedding anyway? Aaron and Reyna. His death wasn’t Aaron’s fault, I know that. So I should not punish him for the fact that his twin is dead and he is not. That I am alive, while my lover lies cold in the marble tomb they made for him, out in the family morgue.
Thinking of death at a marriage is not appropriate, so I will try and turn my mind from it. It is inconsiderate and, for his sake, I will be happy at Aaron’s wedding. But I cannot shake the image from my mind. Aaron’s form seems to distort a little, and my mind, shaken from the past year, asks me: “Why is Noah marrying Reyna?” But he isn’t. Noah is dead, cold, and far from everyone’s memory but mine at this moment. His face cannot leave my memory. I will have the torture of seeing Aaron grow old with Reyna, knowing what Noah would look like, but not having him here by my side.
The music playing, filler music, and Aaron looks nervous, pulling at his clothing. Is there a chance that he doesn’t want to marry this woman? He’s a prince. He was never like Noah, quiet and reserved, always rambunctious and looking for attention. He is always in the spotlight. So why should he be nervous? It doesn’t make any sense to my muddled mind, and I turn the thought over and over in my head until it is as jumbled and fragmented as everything else I store there. Except my memories of the earlier years.
The only reason I live is due to the fact that I am a container of memories. I hold memories of events that no one knows about. As long as I live, these still exist, and Noah still exists, as he was with me. This thought brings me comfort. It is the fact that he is alive, though not in body, due to me. I wonder; would this have been a double wedding, had my lover not been killed? I would not have minded Aaron’s courtship of Reyna, had that been so. It still seems wrong to me that, in the year after his brother’s death, he would have seen it as alright to court and marry a woman.
Sudden warmth on my hand, and I realize that the appendage is fisted in the skirt of my gown, wrinkling the silk. I look to my left, wondering who it is, and I find Cordella, the brothers’ mother, smiling at me, though there are tears in her eyes. She is another reason I live. I tell her stories of her son and I, and we comfort each other. But I cannot tell if she is crying due to happiness, or the bittersweet feeling I have, the ashy taste in my mouth. When I met Noah, I was accepted into the family, even with my position in society as it is. I will never forget that, or ever be able to repay the act of kindness. I love him, love his family. Would I have done anything differently in my life, if I could go back? Or would I leave it to end up here, in this place, better off than I was when I started.
I was a dancer. Not one of those that dance the tango, or the other dances like the waltz, but I can do those too. No, I danced in a troupe, with colorful outfits of silk and damask, golden coins strung like a tiara on my head, sewn to the bottom of my dress. A gypsy, you could call me. It wasn’t a job I particularly liked, but I was good at it. I almost fit the part, too. My hair, though blonde and wavy, had a bronze sheen to it in certain light that made it seem exotic. My skin was tanned, not too much, due to our travels through the desert. Usually it was pale, as most blondes are, but with a healthy glow.
Exotic, something new. That’s what I was. Yet at the same time, that hint of the normal, I suppose, which made me stand out to him. All of the other girls had dark eyes, dark skin, and dark hair. They also had thick lashes and the innate ability to dance, to sway with music gracefully, which I hadn’t had until I was taught. I was a burden at first, I felt, to the troupe who had taken me in on a rainy day and raised me, providing me with food and shelter and what I assumed was a stable household. That would be leaving out the fact that we lived in a large, traveling caravan and six other girls who looked nothing like the people who sheltered them.
We had normal meals, though sometimes they were strained and we went to bed being less than full on most nights. The Madame, as we called the eldest woman, was somewhat portly, her dark, fairly frizzy hair had streaks of silver running through it. Her chubby, stout fingers had golden, jeweled rings on each of them. Her skin was a dark brown, crows feet starting from her black eyes and ending an inch or two away. She insisted upon wearing a dancer’s outfit, not one that showed her belly, thank goodness, but she said it was more comfortable for her. Some of the girls joked that, on the full moon, she would sneak away from the caravan to an empty space and dance the night away. I never believed them.
The Mistress, as the younger of the two women was called, was in her late teens when I was picked up, her early twenties while I was mastering “the art”. Bronze skin, auburn hair with natural red highlights, almond shaped eyes. She had high cheek bones and a habit of thrusting her chin out stubbornly when she wasn’t getting her way, or when she was angry. This was a habit that I developed early on, watching her fights with Madame. They were usually about bangles, or food, or silly teenager things that I had not yet come to comprehend.
They were good people, the Madame and the Mistress. I am ashamed to admit that I never knew their names. They went hungry some nights, giving most of their food to us, and Mistress bitterly complained, though that never stopped her from heaping the food generously on our plates anyway and taking what was left, the bits no one ever fought over getting, for themselves.
So, that was the life I grew up with, happy with what I had, never knowing I was missing anything. In fact, we were fairly lucky, compared to a lot of people. The majority of people in the country were paid little money and ate smaller portioned meals than we did. The minority of the population were up there at the top: royalty, merchants, bankers, and aristocrats. At the time, I did not know about this. Neither did I care, in particular. At age three, when I had first learned to walk, I had been consumed with a passion for dance. It held onto me through the ages, still has its claws dug deep into my soul, my habits, now.
At age sixteen, that rule still applied to me. All I wanted to do was dance, make money, and go out onto the towns we went to during the festivals, which we were always wanted to dance at, and make eyes at any man we thought was acceptably good-looking. Being dancers, each pretty in our own ways and wearing silky outfits that showed skin, we usually ended up traipsing about the town or city with the man of our choosing. I don’t know how far the other girls went, but I was always chaste in my actions, leaving the man at the end of the night with one kiss, or a small charm to remember the day by.
I was happy with my life. I didn’t need a home that stayed in one place. When I stayed in bed, awake at night, basking in the calm, I thought. The rumble of the caravan moving, the horses’ hooves hitting the hard-packed dirt of the trail that stretched on for miles ahead of us. I liked listening to the rhythmic sound of my friends’ breathing, the soft, rumbling snore of Mistress. Madame usually slept at the head, her wrinkled hands holding firmly onto the reins so the horses stayed on track. Then the crickets, and usually the long grass outside on either side of the path, rustling in the wind.
I thought about how happy I was to be living like this, with the wagon swaying gently back and forth on its large wheels, which was comforting. If I lived in a house that stayed still all the time, I thought that I would never survive. I would miss these sounds, I thought, if I ever moved to some house built with a foundation on the ground, with stone and brick and a thatched roof. If I lived in a house like that, I wouldn’t be able to dance as I did. I knew that for a fact. People who lived in one place and worked the same job every day with the same faces and same things happening, they got bored. Even though our dancing entertained them, any “good” parents wouldn’t let their own children do it.
It was on one of those nights that I decided to go outside. The wagon was actually stopped, along with the rest of the caravan, as the horses needed a rest. Unlike richer troupes, we didn’t have a change of the animals, and they were too expensive to ride continuously without a care for their life or death. Dressed in an old, thin gown that was handed down to me from Mistress, my bare feet touched the cool, solid ground and healthy grass bent under my weight.
An eerie, haunting tune met my ears, accompanied by the sound of a lone tambourine. It was a full moon, I noted, looking up to the sky, a bit confused as I remembered the tale the girls had told me, seemingly joking, about full moons. I turned to the head of the wagon, where the driver usually sat to guide the wagon, and was perplexed to see that Madame’s familiar form was not slumped over in the wooden seat installed there, holding the horses to their places. Instead, the ropes were tied to a post driven into the ground.
The melody guided me towards the middle of the grassy plains and I began to get nervous. The long grass was starting to irritate my skin as I walked. It was dryer the taller it was, green and healthy closer to the soil. There were wild animals to consider as well. Wolves often ventured from the nearby woods to the plains to do their hunting, as deer fed mostly on grass and grass didn’t grow in forests and woods due to the thick foliage and constantly falling leaves. Not to mention snakes that hid in the tall grass, killing small animals with their poison. Since I was not a small animal, it wouldn’t be a quick death for me. The thought made me start to tread lightly, watching my steps.
Finally, I found the source. Madame was dancing, singing the haunting tune which had pulled me out to this empty place, devoid of everything except her, myself, and the moon shining down on us. Her feet beat the ground in a rhythm not unlike the dances we did, but somehow different. She didn’t seem to be an elderly lady when she danced and swayed with the music she was creating with her voice, the beat she was creating with the stamp of her feet against the earth and the tambourine. In fact, it did not even seem to me to be a dance, more like a prayer in motion, offered up to the moon every time her hands flew gracefully up into the air.
And I found myself dancing with her, somehow knowing all of the steps. I think that was my passage into adulthood for me. Being at ease with myself and my body enough to let the music and rhythm flow me to the right steps, surrounded by nature. After that moment, I started looking at men a bit differently. I no longer took nights on the towns, in the cities we went to with handsome men, strangers who were looking for a good time. I flirted, as it helped increase the tips we received, but I also watched, waiting.
Every year, at the castle of the King of our country, there was an annual festival. Actually, there were many, but this one was particularly special to the people. It was the birth day of their princes, the twins Noah and Aaron. They were turning seventeen, the age of adulthood, so that made the day even more special. We had always performed on the day in the city, but were never noticed much by the royal family. At least, that is what we had thought, until we were requested to perform in the castle by the King for his sons. Or, being more specific, by Noah, the eldest of the twins. I didn’t learn this until a few years later.
Some days, staying in bed is the only option for me. I wake up and turn over to find that the left side of the bed is empty and cold. This happens every day, but some days it shocks me into immobility. My hand will stretch to the space where his face would have been. My fingers, so used to coming into contact with warm skin, tiny bristles that sprouted from the night before, or dark curls resting against his cheek, freeze. Nothing, just air, stale with lack of circulation from his steady breathing moving it at night. No warm, strong arms to hold me close at night. No mumbled words in my ear, lips touching the base of my neck. His soft hair wouldn’t brush against my forehead when he kissed me. In fact, he wouldn’t kiss me, ever again. He’s dead. I just cannot seem to move past that.
People tell me that, after a year, mourning should be fairly done with, not obvious to the public. Every couple of days, it is alright to break down occasionally when something reminds you of that person, but otherwise it just ruins everyone else’s day. Maybe someday it will be like that for me, but I am not as strong as everyone else. Or at least not as cold as the courtiers here are. They have to be. There is so much intrigue, schemes being made, sly lies and plots. You have to be cold to survive here. But somehow, I and the rest of the royal family seemed not to have a need to be that way. It stills feels like it was just yesterday to me, that he was whispering sweet nothings into my ear until I fell asleep. How can I ever stop mourning, when I begin again each day? When my lover has died the day before today, every day?
At the same time, I wonder when it became their right to judge what a person should feel, when and where they should feel it, and for how long.
I was never very bold. That contradicts my earlier life, when I would flounce around with various boys, but that was only because I knew I could get them. They would flirt, do silly things to catch my attention. But otherwise, with people in daily life, I was at a loss. Since we moved around from place to place, this was never a very big problem for me. Whenever we needed to buy anything, Madame always went to the stores or the booths because she got the best deals on everything. When I was younger, I used to think that the reason was that the poor clerks thought she would knock them out with her large chest if they resisted her bargaining. The only time I ever talked to people, it was to my adopted family, or when people greeted me on the streets on nice days while we were traveling through populated areas. Sometimes after performances I would get praised by strangers, and I would smile prettily and dash away. Most probably thought that I was used to compliments and did not care at all for them, that I was snobby, but I had no idea how to answer farther than “thank you”. They always started small talk, and that left me feeling embarrassed and awkward.
On that note, it is obvious why I was not happy when the royal family invited all of us to eat at their table before we were to perform. It was apparently an honor, as when I opened my mouth to protest, Ambardine stepped on my foot, thankfully she had her silk slippers on, which made me yelp and close my mouth. Ambardine was as bold as I was shy, as dark as I was pale. Her skin was brown like rich soil, her eyes black and deep. Her hair, not silky like the other girls’, was black and stayed slicked back into a ponytail for all performances, ponytail branching into four or five braids. She was a very good friend to me, like all of my “sisters”, but she was the one I was closest to. I envied her sometimes. Her boldness attracted people to her and enabled her to be able to deal with them for long periods of time, her sensual movements attracted men to her like flies. When she walked, her hips went side-to-side. When she danced… Well, she was put in the front.
I suppose I must have been almost as good as her, as I was frequently in the front with her. I knew my hips moved too, that I was pretty, but I always felt that Ardy outshone me. It was funny to me that she thought the same thing.
From what I could gather at that dinner, the King and his family were nice, down-to-earth people. I had heard something of the like. Stories that ranged from “the King and his family are sharing their food stores with everyone and eating less than normal during the famine” to “my boy was injured but I didn’t have enough money to pay for the doctor, and the Queen paid for it herself”. It was a normal thing, apparently, but people from middle class to homeless poor people always seemed surprised by it. I felt so awkward, sitting at the large table with the family who ruled our country. I ate their food without really noticing what it was and kept me eyes on my plate. Sometimes Ardy would speak to me, she was on my left, and I would laugh and respond, talking to her until the conversation died down between us and she turned to someone else to speak about another subject that interested her.
Iris, on my other side, would wait until I was drinking to remark on something in that cynical way of hers, and I would snort, unattractively I’m sure, into my drink. It didn’t help the fact that I felt unbearably rude for not even looking at the ruling family who had invited us to their table, asked us to perform, were letting us eat and drink from their stores. It was completely embarrassing for me. What was I going to tell my children, if I ever had any? “I met the kindest people to ever rule our country. Well, met isn’t quite the word. I ate and drank their food without a word to them, danced, and ran away from any conversation with them afterwards, ruining future opportunities for my adopted family.” Well, that had not happened yet, but it was bound to. I viciously stabbed the poor roasted bird on my plate and shoved it into my mouth, disgusted with myself.
It must have shown on my face. I heard a voice, a nice one I remember thinking, and lifted my eyes from my plate. “What?” I hadn’t heard him, it was a male voice, and responded thusly. Like a rude idiot. It was one of the princes, I couldn’t tell which. He had a head of dark hair, black or a very deep brown that curled at the ends. Not like some cuts, where it curled outward from their heads, but it did half-curls, sticking to his head. Some went against the pattern, which was to have the ends facing away from his face, but other, the ones closest, rested lightly on his cheeks, feathery. Green eyes, dark in the light… I blinked and they changed color. Looking closer, it was just the irises. They swirled, changing shades every second. It was captivating to me.
“Do you not like your food, I said,” the teen responded. Oh no, a conversation I had to face. His voice must have had a soothing effect on me, as I wasn’t as nervous as I normally would have been.
“It’s not that,” I responded with a small smile, “I was just thinking, majesty.”
“Not about anything pleasant, apparently,” he teased lightly, flashing me a smile of his own. Dimples, straight teeth, wide lips. I suppose they were a little big, but they were perfect for me, to me. Kissable.
“No it wasn’t, majesty,” I agreed, my nose wrinkling again. He chuckled and placed his fork neatly on his plate, shoved it away carefully, and clasped his hands under his chin, using his elbows to prop them there.
“My name is Noah,” he told me, looking very amused when I flushed. Calling a prince by his first name? Absurd for someone from my class. “Please refrain from calling me “majesty” or “highness”.” He was probably tired of being called that. Or that is what I thought. I do not recall him offering that to anyone else at the time. Although I wasn’t paying much attention to anything but my food and my thoughts.
“Igraine,” I offered him, clamping my mouth shut before I added on anything stupid. Not stupid in the way of those romance novels, heroines blurting out how handsome the man is before they can stop themselves, of how sexy their eyes are… I find those to be the stupidest books in existence. And yet people hole themselves away, writing them out. I meant stupid in the way of calling him by a title he seemed not to want me to use.
Noah smiled and nodded and took a sip of water from his glass, eyes on me for a few very awkward seconds (for me.) until he took them off of me when his mother nudged him, asking about something. She’s a pretty woman, looks nothing like her two sons except for her eyes. Dark green, penetrating, red hair falling in soft waves past her shoulders. Her golden crown went perfectly with it. I’ve always thought red and gold were good together, and it was proven by her.
After that moment, the prince and I did not talk for the rest of the dinner, or for the retreat to one of the castle’s spacious rooms either. So I assumed that it was just small talk and shrugged it off, settling myself comfortably on a couch between Ambardine and Erin, drifting off into a state of mindlessness, which was actually very calming, and the next thing I knew, I was in a luxurious canopy bed, in a room by myself and in a nightgown I did not recognize, blinking. I recall now a giggly trip through the hallways with the rest of the girls, but I must have been so tired then after the dancing and from talking so much that it seemed as if I had woken up from a very long dream which seemed real. A candle flickered beside my bed, thick so it would hold for many hours if I wanted or needed it to. The bed was very comfortable, and I sank into it, ready for a deep sleep.
But I could not relax. I missed the swaying movement of the wagon, the noises from the horses, and the gentle snoring of the other girls. The wind was present, but not as gentle as it was for a thing lower to the ground, and there were no crickets. Just dead silence. I had blown out the candle and had no way of lighting it again. I felt nervous, constrained in the darkness and quiet. It felt like my personal hell.
Jolted out of my thoughts by something wet falling on my hand. Cordella is crying, watching as people continue to file into the chapel for the wedding ceremony. “He doesn’t love her,” she mumbles, her voice cracking. “I cannot stop him from marrying her. What do you say to the headstrong son?” I stay silent, my lips pressed tightly together. I don’t know. What does she want me to say? I know Aaron, and I know that there must be a reason he is doing this, going through with it. He thinks it is right, even if it is not, and he will stubbornly see it through unless something drastically changes his view on the subject.
Noah was never like that. All I know, all I ever knew was Noah. I knew exactly how to please him, how to act around him with his different moods, what his different tones of voice meant. And that took me a year to pick up. How am I supposed to pick things like that up from his brother, whom I hardly paid attention to, in an hour? I don’t know. I don’t know anything anymore.
So, I stay silent.
It's still the rough draft of the rough draft of the rough draft, so don't take it as completely the real thing. And I hate how livejournal formatted this..
Well, I have succeeded in getting SOME inspiration back. It came back in a flood, but not for the stories I need it to be flooding in for. WHAT IS WITH ME AND DRABBLES LATELY?