The Contest

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: All Star Story Writers

Chapter 7 (v.1) - PREPARATIONS

Submitted: October 13, 2016

Reads: 244

Comments: 2

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Submitted: October 13, 2016

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Part of the vast sum of money received from Incyte magazine was us to redecorate the ballroom in readiness for the great event. Consequently, the palace was a hive of activity, painters and decorators were applying their finishing touches, florists were busy with their flower arrangements and musicians fine-tuning their instruments. A team of hired cleaners were frantically mopping and polishing every surface, whilst others had been tasked with cleaning the cutlery and glasses. I desperately wanted to make sure that everything was perfect, and seemed to be annoying everyone by following them around, and finding fault with their work.

“You've missed a bit here,” I informed the floor cleaners. “Those glasses are smeared,” I pointed out to the wine glass washers. “I think those flowers would look better over there,” I advised the florists. They glared at me with angry eyes, huffing and puffing, wielding floor mops like deadly weapons and slapping wet dishcloths with menace.

Feeling guilty, I tried to explain. “Look, I’m really sorry to be so picky it’s just that I want everything to be perfect, please don’t take it personally.”

I finally admitted defeat when I thought the florist might be tempted to pour a vase of water over my head. “OK, I get the message, it’s all yours,” I conceded, and left them to it.

Vanessa Vandetta arrived with an army of helpers to set up her marketing display. She wheeled in racks of her latest designer gowns and cocktail dresses, while her assistants struggled with heavy boxes of catalogues, posters, life sized photographs and electrical equipment. I watched in disbelief as she instructed them to drop it all in the middle of the ballroom.

Not long after, Barry, the Marketing Manager from Buffet Boffins arrived with boxes full of promotional pamphlets, banners and several portable advertising screens, which he proceeded to dump right next to Vanessa's stuff. As a result, strong words were being exchanged as they both tried to claim the same area of floor space, from which to advertise their products to maximum effect.

“I arrived first,” shouted an outraged Vanessa, fiercely guarding her collection of ball gowns like a lioness protecting her cubs.

“But surely you don’t need all that space?” argued Barry, giving Vanessa’s rack of gowns a mighty shove and sending it spinning across the floor on its wheels. In retaliation Vanessa picked up a pile of Barry’s leaflets and hurled them like confetti into the air. A furious argument followed, attracting a crowd of rowdy spectators from among the team of workers in the ballroom.

“Stop it,” I shouted, but my demand went unheard over the deafening noise and the mayhem continued, gathering momentum by the second.

Pop arrived just in time, yelling above the commotion. “What on earth is going on?”

Everything went deathly quiet. Vanessa and Barry stood facing each other, glaring eyeball to eyeball, in seething angry silence.

“It’s her fault, she’s trying to hog all the space.”

“But I was here first.”

Pop took out a stick of chalk from his pocket and carefully drew two rectangles on the wood panelled floor at opposite ends of the ballroom floor, with the initials VV in one and BB in the other, in great big letters.

“There, no more arguing!”

----------------

It was the eve of the grand ball. Mum was sitting hunched over her lap-tab in the office, methodically ticking off her check list to make sure everything would take place, when it should and how it should, when Pop entered in a state of great excitement, with a self-satisfied, smug look on his face.

“The scores are in, and from all the questionnaires received and analysed there are six exact matches.”

A wave of panic instantly washed over me as the reality dawned, this is really happening!

Mum looked up at him over her glasses and frowned. “I do hope Emmy will find her prince charming from among them, you know as well as I do how fussy she can be.”

“I have every confidence that she will be delighted, it simply cannot fail.”

“I wish I had your confidence, Franklin.”

“Please stop talking about me as if I’m not here,” I snapped. “Don’t be surprised if I hate them all.”

Pop’s face took on his familiar sickly, patronising expression. “Calm down Eemay, how can it possibly go wrong when they have all been matched to you so carefully?”

Mum stood up and wrapped her arms around me. “Don’t worry Emmy, it will all work out, you’ll see. Come on, cheer up, it’s your birthday and I’m sure we are all going to have a fantastic time.”

“Right Eemay, this is how the draw will take place,” Pop interrupted. “I will put all six names into a hat and at exactly eight o’clock tomorrow evening, in front of all the guests present, you will randomly pick three names from it, and I will announce the winners. At this point the Ball will be officially declared open, and you will have until midnight to socialise with each of the top three princes. At the stroke of midnight you must reject one of them. The remaining two will go through to the final stage.

To help you decide, the final stage will involve spending some individual time with both finalists. I suggest we invite them to stay at the palace, until you’re absolutely sure of the prince you will finally choose as your prince charming.”

“What have I let myself in for?” I cried, wishing I had never agreed to it in the first place.

Mum put her glasses back on and returned to her check list. “Well it’s too late now, Eemay.”

 


© Copyright 2020 Sue Harris. All rights reserved.

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