Golden Sunshine

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
Not really a short story (4542 words!), but a story ready for ears...

Submitted: January 17, 2010

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Submitted: January 17, 2010

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My mother would always tell me that I was special. My mother told me of when I was born and my eyes were the tell-tale colour of the Summer Princess – golden, flecked with green leaves and tiny flowers. Magical, she told me. My hair grew so long, golden swirls, always filled with flowers and leaves, followed by butterflies. That is why she named me Vera, meaning Summer. Then, she tells me of when she ran away from my father, to escape my destiny. She didn’t want me to have that life. She was so scared.
 
She didn’t need to tell me the rest though. The rest I remember.
 
***
 
I was playing in the garden. The sun was high in the sky, the bees buzzing. The flowers were swaying, dancing for me in the slight breeze. I loved the garden. My mother didn’t. She would sit a distance away and watch me with a pained expression on her face. I didn’t give it much thought at the time, but I now realise how much she must have worried for me.
 
I would talk to the butterflies and make the flowers grow, strong and healthy. Everywhere I went, flowers would appear in my footsteps and I was always followed by butterflies. I never harmed a creature and cared for everyone. I would pretend to rule the garden, as though I were its queen. This troubled my mother, but I only thought that I wasn’t being a good monarch and I tried harder to be fair and just.
 
One beautiful sunny Summer’s day, I was reigning the gorgeous garden under my mother’s careful eyes. Then, I heard voices coming from the other side of the wall, therefore on the sidewalk that I was forbidden to explore. They were male voices and I was filled with a strange feeling. I recognised the one.
 
My mother was absolutely terrified. She ran towards me as the gate opened and five men walked into the garden. One was as beautiful as golden sunshine. He seemed to glow and his face lit up when he saw me, but crinkled at my mother’s protective stance. He was my father.
 
He walked slowly, speaking calmly to my mother, reassuring her, telling her that it was time and that she could come too. Come? Where were they going, I remember thinking. His voice was like honey and my mother was soon entranced. It was bizarre and I was confused, but I looked up at him in awe.
 
He enveloped us in sunshine. He whispered in my ear that all would be better now that I had been found. He called me little princess and filled me with comforts of my new life. He said that he was saving me. I was happy. But, I was lulled to sleep, despite my efforts and my thoughts were forgotten.
 
***
 
I woke up with the day, as I had done forever. I was lying on a mossy bed, outside, in a meadow abundant with flowers. I was surrounded by faces, peering at me. They scattered, though, when my father appeared. His face lit up again at the sight of me and his smile was radiating. I was filled with a strange feeling of belonging. I was home.
 
My father sat down next to me on the mossy bed and gazed at the sunrise. The people gathered around again and sat down. He then began to tell the story – the story that would change me.
 
As the people sat in awe, I listened to the honey words. The words that told the story of how I had been born the Summer Princess, born to rule Summer, partnered with the Spring Prince. My father was the Summer King, my mother just an ordinary human. They had fallen in love and had me. My mother was frightened when she found out about my father’s legacy and ran away with me. My father and his most trusted subjects had been searching for us ever since.
 
My mother was being kept in a little cottage on the other side of the meadow. She had willing servants and helpers, but would stay there until she faced the future that her daughter was destined to have. My father was old and needed his heir to take over.
 
The Summer Court and the Winter Court were dominant and that was why the Spring Prince could not rule; there was no Spring Court. I could not take the Summer Court by myself, as a female (!), so I was to marry him and we were to rule together. My father told me not to worry though. He told me that there was still much time before I had to think seriously of such things. I still had my childhood and I should enjoy the pleasures of the Summer Court while I grew up. Then he stood up and I followed.
 
He took me to a little Village, filled with happy faces. Everyone glowed and smiled and I was comforted in my young age and innocence. I was offered sweet cakes and biscuits, fresh from the oven, honey-like drinks and warm caramel. I was blissful and my father smiled.
 
???
 
I walked towards my mother’s cottage. I was nervous. Would she recognise me, after all these years? Would she still love me? Would she even speak to me? I worried the whole way through the flowers and when I reached the small wooden door, I breathed in deeply. It’s going to be okay, I told myself. I lifted me hand cautiously. Knock knock.
 
I heard footsteps, then silence. Then, slowly, the door inched open until my mother’s familiar face peeped round. Her eyes grew huge, her mouth dropped open. Then, all at once and far too quickly, she was crying and I was in her arms. I began to cry too, I couldn’t believe that I had spent so long away from her!
 
She then released me and beckoned for me to come inside. I followed her into the little house that could barely contain the artwork that filled it. My mother had been drawing all these years. Beautiful flowers and butterflies filled the canvases, but more than that was my childhood face. It was everywhere.
 
My mother smiled. She touched my arm and I followed her to the little sitting room. A fairy came in with a pot of tea and two cups with saucers. We sat down as the tea was poured. Then the fairy returned with sweet cakes and other delights. Together, we sipped our tea and nibbled on the sweet cakes, discussing the parts of my life that she had missed. How I was half-fairy and destined to rule the Summer Court; how I was going to marry the Spring Prince and together we would reign. My mother continuously told me how beautiful I was; how my eyes sparkled and my hair swirled. She told me of how she had missed me and how she had longed just to catch a glimpse of her only child.
 
I spoke with her until the stars crept out and the sun was sleeping. She said softly that I should go and I did, but not without the promise of many more visits, now that I was old enough to understand my future.
As I left, she whispered in my ear that I was special. That she always knew and always would. That I was going to be a wonderful queen. That I was beautiful. That I was all she had ever dreamed I would be. That I was more than she had ever thought I would be. That I was a true Summer Princess.
 
***
 
I felt strange, leaving my mother. So many years had gone past and even though I would go and see her again, I wanted to just turn around and crawl on to her lap and cry or laugh or something! She was what I needed these past few months. I had needed her love and care. My father was too busy most of the time to listen to my wonderings and thoughts. I do think that he should listen though, because they reflect what time of monarch I shall be and I imagine it wise to know exactly which hands you are leaving the Court in, not just trustful of your heir as it is your daughter. I could be evil, for all he knows!
 
But, I’m sure that I will rule successfully, even though I have to marry someone that is not of my choice. My father never had to marry anyone to become King, because he was born into the Summer Court, as his parents were the Summer King and Queen, but he had to marry to bear a child. He fell in love with my mother, however. I feel that this is very romantic, but I never say so, because it was wrong of him, even though it was his duty to his heart. I often wonder though, will I do that? Will I refuse to marry someone I don’t love and run away from the court? Will I do that to my father? Could I ever leave my mother here?
 
I was so troubled that I was unaware of where I was going. Before I knew it I was wading into the stream at the edge of the meadow, far from sight and desolate. Decorated with boulders and tall reeds, the stream was secluded. Hmmm… my subconscious must be working just fine, because all I really want right now is peace and quiet. The stream was perfect, so serene and tranquil.
 
“It’s so serene and tranquil, isn’t it?”
 
I turned around quickly. Who had said that? Then I saw him.
Leaning against a boulder, a young man smiled at me. His hair was light brown and his eyes were a brilliant green, like new growth.
 
“My name is Jarek. I like to come down here when I’m confused and need time to think,” he stepped forward, walked towards me and took my hand to his lips and whispered, “It is a pleasure to share this night with a lady as lovely as you.”
 
I must have been blushing, because his hand then brushed my cheek lightly and he laughed, “Are you going to give me your name, or must I suffer in agony?”
 
I blushed even harder, I could feel the blood rush to my cheeks. I flustered, “I’m Vera.”
 
“Vera. Exquisite.” He spoke softly and then turned to face the moon.
 
“What did you need to think about? If you don’t mind me asking…”
 
He faced me again and chuckled. “Just my future. Nothing special.”
 
“Nothing special? That’s not true! Everyone’s future is special and important. You should know that. Anyway, it’s funny you should say your future. I’m also here to think about that.” I calmed towards the end of my little outrage. He was looking at me funny, like he had never expected I could have a temper, something I must admit has never done me any good.
 
He smiled. “Futures involve so much thinking, so does the past. Whatever happened to the importance of the present?”
 
“The present isn’t important. It is all about what you have to do and what you have done, not what you are doing.”
 
“That is not true! Someone once said: ‘Having spent the better part of my life trying to either relive the past or experience the future before it arrives, I have come to believe that in between these two extremes is peace.” I believe that they are right! Why should we actually have to waste our youth, thinking about the future and what we have to do when we are older?” He was in a rage now, but I was calm and moved by his words. He was right. Since when did I actually have to think about being a monarch and why did I have to worry all the time if I was going to be good enough? I was wasting the precious moments of my life in which I didn’t have to rule a Court or live with someone I barely knew!
 
I reached out to him and wrapped my arms around him. My head rested on his shoulder and I whispered, “It’s alright. I understand now. It’s frustrating, I know. Sometimes I just want to run away from the future, but it’s there and we have to be strong to face it. We have to strive in the present, use the past to learn from and be ready for the future.” I patted his back slowly. Rubbing, making circles with my fingers, then I brought my fingers to the nape of his neck and tilted his head back slightly, so that he was facing me. Then, on my tip-toes, I leaned forward slowly and kissed him. His arms tightened and brought me closer, his strong hands on my lower back. The kiss got deeper and I drifted into a happy world of bliss.
 
***
 
I spent nearly every single day after that with Jarek. We told each other everything, except that I never told him that I was the Summer Princess and destined to marry the Spring Prince. I learnt all about his childhood and how he grew up with the Spring fairies. I never told anyone about him though, because then I would be forbidden to see him by my father. No one meddled in other Courts or kingdoms and I, especially, should not be seeing a man that was not my destined to be.
 
I was thinking about this all as I was walking to the stream to meet Jarek. We had to meet in secret, so that nobody found out. I knew how much trouble I would get in if we were discovered and even though Jarek’s friendship was special to me, I couldn’t bear to lose it.
 
I was so engrossed in my thoughts that I did not realise that I was being followed until Jarek asked, “Who is your friend?”
Friend?
I turned around to find Milt, one of my father’s ‘followers’, peering at us from behind one of the nearby boulder. When he saw us looking he fled.
I sighed. It was so over. “He’s not my friend, Jarek.” I looked at him and I saw in his eyes that he knew what I meant.
Recognition softened his face as he said, “It’s going to be okay. We will find a way. I won’t lose you!”
 
His arms enclosed me and I closed my eyes. This was it. I was never going to see him again. The tears came slowly at first then faster and faster. Soon I was sobbing and through his comforting words I could feel his tears in my hair. We loved each other. We were meant to be together.
 
I fell asleep in his arms, as we sat against a boulder. I felt so safe and protected. I was exhausted and even though I knew that I was wasting precious time with Jarek, my eyelids were too heavy for my worn emotions to fight any longer. I dreamed of all our times together. Sunshine and growth. Spring and Summer.
 
***
 
I woke up in a beautifully decorated room, filled with sunshine and comfortable, but not the same place as where I went to sleep – under a boulder in Jarek’s arms. I sat bolt upright and examined the room. I must be in my father’s palace, everything was too fancy for my liking.
 
Just then, a small fairy walked into the room quietly. “Good morning, princess. I am Midi. Did you sleep well?”
“I don’t remember.” I was still waking up and everything was so strange.
“Well I suppose you must have slept well, as you seem to have been asleep the whole night. Your gown is in the cupboard, washed and pressed. Your father requested that you should wear it for when you attend the throne room. Do you need anything? May I bring your breakfast in?”
“Breakfast would be nice, thank you. Sorry, but is there a bath here?”
“Of course! Already run and hot, hot, hot! Eat up and then go. Your father is awaiting your attention, but don’t rush yourself. Enjoy your breakfast!”
“Thank you, Midi.”
 
She left just as quietly and I was left with my breakfast. It was delicious and I felt very satisfied as I went to the washroom. The bath did look inviting and I was soon relaxed and feeling clean. I knew that now was not the time to worry about Jarek and stress myself. I needed to be clear-headed and rational for when I faced my father.
 
***
 
My steps echoed, even and prominent, as I walked towards the throne wear my father awaited my presence. His eyes met mine and my steady gaze seemed to surprise him slightly. Whether he had expected to see me weak and crying or screaming and angry, I do not know, but he had definitely not expected to see me level-headed. When I reached an acceptable distant from him, I stopped, curtsied and raised my gaze to his eyes again.
 
“Vera.”
“Father.”
“How did you sleep?”
“Let us not waste time on chit-chat. I presume you have something important to tell me, considering you wished for my presence in the throne room, only used for important audiences, but I see that no one else is here. What is it that you wish to tell me?”
“Vera. I’m your father. Don’t speak to me in such a way; like I am another thing to tick off the list.”
“Aren’t you?”
“No. Now, stop pressing buttons. I do have a matter of great importance to discuss with you. I need to talk to you about this ‘boy’ that Milt has seen you with on numerous occasions. Are you unaware that you are to be married in due time?”
“Father! Of course I am aware, but I don’t care!”
“Well, you should. Vera. This is no small business. If the Court finds out, what will they think of their future queen? I do not want you to ever see him again and you are to be heavily guarded. You may return to your cottage, but only under strict supervision and –”
“Father! You cannot do such a thing; I am your daughter! You don’t understand, I love him!”
“That is quite enough Vera. I will see you in due time. GUARDS! Take her to the cottage. Goodbye, daughter.”
I collapsed into the strong arms of many guards, my body suddenly heavy and my cheeks tear-stained.
 
***
 
My life was now filled with secrets. I kept my mouth shut and hardly said a word. I forgot what my voice sounded like. I wrote secret notes to Jarek and waited eagerly for a return. His letters were all I had to keep on going. My father did not speak with me and my mother was forbidden. I was isolated and my whole world changed. I had always thought of my father as a kind man, gentle and fair. Now? That thought was very marred and I was unsure of whether I was going to be a good queen with the role model that I had. My mother seemed so weak, when I had always imagined her strong and ready to rescue me. Only Jarek put the world back in perspective, by reminding me that things change like the seasons and that I would be free one day and how we would be together somehow.
 
I never told him that I was Summer Princess, destined to be married, so he couldn’t know that there really was no way, but I let the thought comfort me and I managed to sleep a little at night, knowing that I still had him.
 
When I woke, a letter was waiting for me from Jarek. I opened it eagerly and couldn’t believe it. He wanted me to sneak out and meet him and our secret place by the boulders! I replied that I would and waited for the night to come. When it finally arrived, I tiptoed out the house, surprised at how easy it was to leave. If I had known this I would have done this long before now!
 
I approached the boulders cautiously until I saw Jarek waiting for me. I rushed into his arms and his lips were on mine in a frenzy of passion. I had missed him so much more than I had ever realized and I kissed him back, equally adoring. He whispered my name in between breaths and his hands explored me. I felt so alive, after all the dead days locked up in the cottage and blood coursed through my veins with my energy. Eventually his hands held my face and with one last kiss he whispered, “I love you, Vera.”
 
I smiled at him. I knew it and he knew what I was going to say next. “I love you, Jarek.” I buried my face in his shoulders and allowed myself the illusion that everything would be alright. We danced under the moonlight, whispering sweet nothings and believing that the future would not come just yet.
 
 But, of course, we were terribly wrong. No sooner had we stopped dancing, then there were about near ten guards surrounding us. They had followed me. That was why it had been so easy to get out. They knew; they had wanted me to betray my father. Urgh, the bitter minds of others sicken me. They began to advance, moving towards us. I closed my eyes. “Jarek. Run.”
 
He ran.
 
***
 
I walked back to the cottage slow with defeat. The guards teased me as they walked all around me. “The King won’t be happy with this, now will he?” “Fancy that, betraying your own father. Tsk, tsk.” “Didn’t think about that too much did you?” “What type of queen are we getting, hmm?”
 
I was sick to the bone with their stupid mimicking and it was irritating me. But I didn’t give them the response they were dying for, screaming, kicking, anger. I was filled with silence and began to numb my thoughts until I didn’t feel or hear anything at all.
 
***
 
The days went by even more slowly than before. I didn’t receive any letters from Jarek and didn’t send any either. I had a feeling that there was no point. The guards had known the whole time before, so why wouldn’t they discover it this time? They would. That was the problem.
 
I was sitting in the sitting room, gazing at a blank spot in the wall, when my father’s assistant, Moll, arrived at the door in a frenzy. He told me that my father was very ill and I would need to take over the throne while he was dying. He wanted to be alive for my wedding, so that would have to happen first. Then, I would attend to all the royal duties that were being neglected.
 
I nodded as he spoke. I had prepared for this moment. My heart belonged to Jarek, but I would pretend for as long as I could that I cared for my new husband. I agreed to Milt as my assistance in preparing for the wedding and accompanied Moll to his carriage outside the cottage. I went to my father’s bed and smiled at him, but there was no sparkle in my eyes and not in his either. We were equal, at last.
 
I stayed at the palace until it was time for me to wed. That morning, when I woke up, I felt strange; almost as though it was okay and everything would be alright. I sat through all the stylists and artists and applied my make-up and did my hair. Then, I slipped on my shoes and my beautiful dress that made me look so beautiful and made me think that it was all going to be okay. I stared at myself in the mirror until Milt came in and told me that it was time. I walked down the stairs into the grand foyer, now empty as all the guests were seated. The wedding was to take place in the throne room as we were to be crowned as well. Butterflies fluttered in my knotted stomach as I tried to hush the nerves.
 
I was level-headed by the time Moll ran towards Milt and I. Then, I was dizzy.
“The Spring Prince escaped and has left the premises. Guards have been sent off to find him, but we are all quite sure that the wedding will not take place today. I am terribly sorry, your Highness. Please do not take offence at his unwillingness to marry you.”
“No offence taken. Thank you, Moll. You have been very kind.”
I turned on my hill and left the foyer to climb the stairs. I felt dignified at my exit and I reached the landing with my shoulders back and chin high as my ear caught the whisper of the words, “She will make a great queen.”
 
I went straight to my father’s bedside, where I knew I would watch him die. I didn’t cry, though. Firstly, because I had expected it and was still slightly angry with him, but secondly, I must admit, because I could not bear for my make-up to be smeared.
 
***
 
After gazing at the palace grounds for a while, still clothed in my wedding dress, unwilling to take it off, I saw guards running up the steps shouting, “We found him! We found him!”
Moll replied joyously, “Good, good! The guests are all still here and I shall go check on her Highness to see if she is ready. Oh, this is wonderful news! Tidy him up in his chamber whilst the princess gets ready and descends the stairs!”
 
I hurried out the room and across the landing, taking the steps too quickly for a lady, as I was meant to be! Moll had not even reached the steps get by the time I was standing in front of him, slightly out of breath. He looked surprised, but happy. “Why so eager to wed, all of a sudden, princess?” He chuckled to himself. I let him, though. He didn’t know what I had glimpsed from my balcony.
 
***
 
I walked down the aisle with a steady pace, trying hard not to run to the figure by the alter that refused to turn around and face his bride. I laughed silently. The guests looked at me in awe and I could feel their gaze on me. I breathed in the sweet scent of the flowers in my hand and took in the beautiful atmosphere around me. I was ready for all of this; the audience, the commitment, the duty. I neared the figure and leaned so that my lips touched his ear, “I love you.” Jarek turned around and I was lost in his eyes. He kissed me softly and whispered back, “I love you, Vera.”


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