Let's Tell Our Story

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


All of us are telling different sides of the same story.

Submitted: October 20, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: October 20, 2017

A A A

A A A


 

 

 

Let’s Tell Our Story

 

 

*Hushabyyyyeee… rockabyeeee… Little Aaaa-naa-lie…

Close your eyes a-and rest sweet darling with me…*

 

I buried my face on her chest and smelled a hint of lavender. I tried to look up, but I couldn’t see her face. I couldn’t see anything clearly. Just bosom, sweat, and lavender. Where am I? Who are you? Why am I always going back to this place?

 

She looked at me and said, “Anna. Anna, wake up.”

 

But I just started nodding off.

 

“Anna. Hurry up and fix your bed.”

 

What bed?

 

“Anna, Madame’s here!” Louder this time.

 

*Knock. Knock. Knock.*

 

I jumped up to the sound of steady footsteps. Madame Ruth is standing close to my nightstand and Catherine’s smoothing out the crease on her bedsheet. It’s still dark outside but there’s a shimmer of light sipping through the crack in our window. I was looking through that crack last night. It’s like a different world out there.

 

We’ve been here since we were four. I can’t remember much of our lives before arriving here at the chateau. When I’m trying to sleep at night, staring through the crack on my window, I try to remember but all I see are blurry faces in my memory. I’m always seeing this woman, well…just her chest, in my dreams. I can’t see her face, but I know it’s not Madame Ruth. For one, she has a different smell.

 

It’s always been me, Catherine, and Madame Ruth. Our daily schedule includes a morning prayer, dressing up, going downstairs for breakfast, and then our classes start. There are also other kids in the chateau and we have breakfast altogether. They have their own Madame although we don’t know their names. I don’t know. It’s like an unwritten rule that we cannot talk to each other that much. Just the usual niceties and then we go along to our places at the table. I tried talking to a girl over breakfast once. Her name was Claire. Then this guard went towards our table and their own Madame took her and her roommate outside to finish their breakfast. The guard stood beside me all throughout breakfast and Madame Ruth glared at me for the whole day. The bacon and pancakes, which are my favorite, tasted bland. I never pulled something like that ever again, so I can always enjoy my bacon and pancakes.

 

The lessons always start with the submission of a 5-page essay on the story that Madame Ruth told us the night before. It’s always about the Emperor, how he makes fair decisions and what benefits are offered to the constituents of the Empire. Except for the strict atmosphere in the chateau, I really can’t complain. We’re so comfortable here, well, physically comfortable but it’s like they’re watching our every move and every word.

 

“Why Catherine, this is an excellent essay. You were able to list down everything that was provided for the Empire last week. You also discussed about the new law that will keep everyone safe at night,” said Madame marveling over Catherine’s essay like it was a piece of artwork.

 

“Let’s see yours, Anna. Hmm…well done! You even mentioned about the Emperor’s trip overseas for the expansion of the Empire. Well done girls, your conviction in writing and the flow in your thoughts are really improving! Future historians of the Empire should possess these qualities. You’ll be able publish your books in no time.”

 

“Thank you, Madame” I looked down on my lap and fiddled my fingers “but can I ask a question?”

 

Catherine tried to step on my foot. I moved quickly and crossed my legs so she just kind of stomped her feet and brush my leg with it.

 

“Yes? I’d rather you don’t but please. If you feel it’s important.” Her face looked stern.

 

“Well…I get scared at night because of all the fireworks. I don’t get it. There aren’t any pretty lights like the fireworks I see in the pictures of our books. Also, I saw men sleeping in the curb last night. Don’t they get scared of all the fireworks? It’s freezing co----”

 

“Enough. Anna, what did I tell you about important questions? You should only concern yourself with the real issues of the Empire. How can you be a historian if instead of focusing on you books and essays, you spend your time looking at bums on the curb and searching for fireworks. As we discussed last night, there is a new law to make the streets safer and so people feel it’s safe enough to sleep on the curb. Haven’t I told you enough? Asking too many questions is bad. Now let’s start with our language lessons.”

 

That night, Catherine and I were talking about the essays to be submitted next morning. We do this so we’re not going to write about the same things. The conversations always start with the essays and end up with me asking questions about the stories. There’s just a lot of loopholes, like Madame’s not telling the whole story. Why aren’t we going to a regular school? Why do we need to write the essays in different languages? If they know about the history of the Empire so much, why won’t they write the books themselves? Why do they need kids to do it? Whenever I get to this stage where there’s just too much questions in my head, Catherine just stops talking and lets me blabber. She’s not concerned with these things. She just wants to get an A in the essays. I wish I was like her. She just seems so much happier and calmer.

 

The years went on as we read books, learned different languages, and wrote essays. I looked at the crack on my window while listening to the fireworks each night and woke up to the sound of Madame’s footsteps every morning.

 

One morning, though, the world turned upside down. This morning, I woke up to the sound of fireworks instead of footsteps. They’re inside the chateau this time and there’s this shrieking sound that I haven’t heard before. It might have been a scream of a child or the sound produced by friction of two metals. A cloud of smoke or dust was everywhere. People are coming in and firing the barrels which the guards usually carry. I didn’t know what to do. My instinct was to look for Catherine. I saw her hiding inside the closet trying to muffle her voice, but her hiccups will give her away from a mile.

 

 

We waited for Madame. It felt like days inside the closet. Finally, the door in our room opened. I didn’t realize I was crying too and breathing heavily so I tried my best to hold it in. Catherine was rocking and breathing so hard that I had to cup her head with my two hands to stop her from rocking the whole closet.

 

“Is someone in here? We won’t hurt you. Come out now.” A man said while the slits of light coming through the closet gets blocked by a shadow. I hugged Catherine with all my strength. I can hear my heart beating. My temples seemed to have their own hearts too and we were both whimpering. Breathing has gotten a lot harder. The closet door opened.

 

Everything happened in a flash. The man separated me and Catherine. He dragged us out of the chateau and shoved us inside a truck with all the other children. We heard a loud boom after the truck’s engine got ignited. The whole chateau crumbled before our eyes. Inside the truck, me and Catherine still held on to each other partly because we’re scared and partly because we’ll both collapse if we don’t. There were some soldiers inside and they were treating the wounds of other children. They also gave us masks, so we could breathe a lot better. I don’t know how long we were inside that truck.

 

*Hushabyyyyeee… rockabyeeee… Little Aaaa-naa-lie..

Close your eyes a-and rest sweet darling with me

Come along, sing a song, let you voice be heard

Keep the fire in your heart and be brave.*

 

The smell of lavender fills the room. Someone’s crying. Who are you? Catherine? Where are you?

 

“Hush now, Anna.” She said while hugging me close to her chest. The smell of sweat and lavender now becomes stronger. I looked up as I always do but we’re not in the same room. Everything is white, and people are also dressed in white. Except for this woman. She’s wearing a knee-length floral dress and she covers her shoulders with a purple shawl. I gazed up her face and foolishly expected the blurry one that I always see in my dream. Instead, I saw a shoulder length wavy-dark hair, a cute pointed nose, heart-shaped face, and a warm smile. But what struck me the most was her eyes. She has dark brown eyes framed with dark lashes. Her mascara was smudged and wet with tears. Despite that, her eyes exuded happiness and fierceness. They’re strong eyes. They’re MY eyes.

 

Now the queries that have been keeping me awake staring through the crack of my window are all answered, and part of me says ‘I wish I listened to Catherine.’ I wish I hadn’t known the answers because it led me to ask another thousand more. It’s just not right to know too much. Worse, it’s unfair to know too much of something while looking at it at a narcissistic and perverse angle. It’s a waste to know everything about the Empire and not being able to tell the world about it. Where can I start? What should I do?

 

I tried reaching out to Catherine. We know the stories from Madame. It’s just that we were looking at one side of the coin. Now is our time to use all those knowledge that we learned and make a grand essay with the right perspective. She’s always been a better writer than I am. I need her help for this.

 

I saw her again during my brother’s graduation. She’s moving with such finesse that was imposed on us by Madame. I flashed my widest smile when she turned my way. I told her about my plan and asked for her help.

 

“Let’s write a book about this. I have all these ideas in my head, but I need your help to put them into writing. We know all the details about the Empire and the Emperor, don’t we?

 

Now we also know the loopholes of the stories too! We can figure out the real story and we can write the book with the correct perspective, finally! The questions I once asked are now answered. We can use this knowledge to encourage others to join the revolution.

 

Where do you think we should start? My mom is a writer, too. Maybe she’ll help us.

 

What do you think? Do you have a typewriter? Will you help me, please?”

 

 

She smiled tenderly and tucked my hair behind my ear.

 

“Shhh. What did I tell you about asking too many questions?”

 

 


© Copyright 2018 Maia Stone. All rights reserved.

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