Okay, over at Anne-girl's Blog, she is having a short story fiction contest, for her story that she wrote, called "Queen Mother." She wants to see how we would write the beginning to her story. And I am entering. You can see the details by clicking here. Here is the prompt.
And here I go!
Sunlight came flooding in at the window, pooling in a sheet of warmth across her face. Dust twitched its way inside her nose, making her sneeze. Her eyes opened with a jolt and she sat up, rubbing the sleepiness out of them. Nicoletta yawned. It was a huge yawn, filling all of her face and pushing all the sleepy wrinkles that still lingered there out of the way.
She swung her feet down from off the bed and onto the polished marble floor. It was slick and smooth to the touch, and she wobbled a little, trying to find her footing. Pierre leaped from his perch by the window onto her shoulder, and she gently reached up and touched his soft fur. He squeaked quietly and tugged at her earlobe, telling her he wanted breakfast.
She pulled him off her shoulders and into her arms to she could see his bright, curious eyes blinking at her. “What do you say, Pierre?” she asked solemnly, tapping the side of her chin.
The little monkey cocked his head. Then he slowly opened his mouth and squeaked out “Please!” At least, it was very close ot a please, but with a spider monkey, you never could tell. But it was the best he could do after three months of training.
Nicolette kissed him of the nose and let him jump back onto his perch. “Good boy. Now wait there and Lailie will give you your breakfast.”
She hurried to her dressing room to change, breathing in the smell of breakfast; coffee, buns, and bacon. Above all the normal smells lingered the smell of lilacs, perfuming the air like a heavy carpet.
Nicoletta scampered out of her rooms into the vast hallway. The great marble halls stretched out on either side of her, like never-ending rows of glass and silk. The whole palace had a rich, brocaded air to it, and made Nicoletta want to scream. Who on earth could have designed so much frippery and lace and marble? A little at a time was nice, but who would want to much of it?
Her mother, of course. Nicoletta leaned her head against the wall. She dreamed of her other day and night. She had never seen her to remember her, and thinking and imagining up a picture for herself was the best comfort she could think of the fill the dull ache inside of her.
Of course, Lailie, her nanny, was very kind, but it wasn't the same. It was a mother’s touch for which Nicoletta yearned, for a mother’s love that she desperately dreamed of.
In her mind’s eye, her mother wore a plain satin dress of cool green. Her hair was jet black, and came rippling over her shoulders in a mass of ringlets. Her face was tiny, as were her hands and feet, and her lips were small and pink. And she smelled like roses. Deep, red roses, like the ones that grew up the side of the wall beneath Nicoletta’s window.
Nicoletta never asked Lailie about her mother. She had asked once if her mother loved her and wanted to see her as much as she wanted to see her mother, but Lailie had gotten a strange, almost bitter, and yet very sad, look on her face and had laid a finger against her own lips, as if there was a baby sleeping nearby that they should not disturb. “Hush now, Nicoletta,” she had murmured, laying a cool hand against the princess’s forehead. “Go to sleep, and don’t ask about her again. Please, for my and your own sake, don’t ask me about her again.”
Nicoletta had never even mentioned her mother’s name again. But the hungry, wondering feeling never left her. Even in her sleep visions of the conjured face of her mother appeared before her eyes. She knew her mother was in the palace, for she had heard the servants whispering about her. But whenever she came near them they stopped talking and with fearful expressions darted away into the maze of hallways.
Nicoletta threw back her head and peered up into the spirally tower that made up the ceiling of the hallway. It wasn’t actually a tower, but it was at least twenty feet tall, and reminded Nicoletta of one.
It’s like a prison tower, she though sadly, a prison that I shall never get out of, and that the keeper of will never come and see me. A lump filled her throat and he slid down the wall until she was sitting on the floor. The plush carpet pooled around her, giving her legs tiny pricks form the soft, yet scratchy material. Her stomach growled with hunger, but she did not get up and go back into her rooms, where a bell hung for Lailie. She was so tired of relying on others to help her.
One of these days, I’ll go off down the hallway and find the kitchen myself! she told herself, running her fingers over the intricate patterns on the carpet. Then a thought struck her. Why didn’t she go today?
Nicoletta got to her feet and scurried back into her rooms. She reached for Pierre and scratched his stubbly head, letting the monkey explore her hair. He would take a lock of hair and run his little fingers over it, then let if fall back into place while he grabbed the next lock.
Nicoletta kissed him on the nose and set him down. “Stay here and be good,” she instructed softly. “Lailie will be by soon to feed you. I”m going on an adventure. I’d take you with me but you're too noisy and would give me away. I have to be really quiet, you see.” He whimpered quietly, looking up at her with mournful little eyes. She kissed him one more time and hurried out of the room, ignoring his pitiful whimpers. If she listened to him, she would give in and not be able to go out on her adventure.
The hallway seemed vast and dangerous as Nicoletta slipped out of her room. Listening and looking about carefully, she finally determined that no one was nearby. She headed off down the hall.
She had not gone 200 feet when she heard voices. A sudden panic, though she didn’t know why she was scared, came over her and she ducked behind a heavy velvet curtain.
Voices floated down the hallway and two maids appeared, carrying her own breakfast on steaming trays. Nicoletta’s stomach roared and she felt surprised the maids did not hear it. But they were too busy laughing and chattering.
“Isn’t Princess Nicoletta a dreamy thing?” clucked the one maid, named Lena, pausing at a mirror to tuck at her hair with her free hand.
The other maid, Carlotta, nodded emphatically. “Yes indeed, but so pale and thin! Nothing at all like her mother!”
Nicoletta perked up her ears, Maybe they would say more about her mother! She held very still, trying to not even breathe loudly.
“Shhh!” Lena hissed, casting a careful glance around. “We’re not supposed to talk about Queen Katherine in public!”
Katherine. Of course her mother had a name. Why hadn't she known it?
“True, but we’re not in public, Lena, there is no one even in the hallway!” Carlotta shot back, but she lowered her voice. “Oh Lena! Queen Katherine is so beautiful, isn't she? Like a fairy, almost!”
Lena nodded. “Yes! With those dainty hands and all the long, golden hair!”
There went one of her fancies. But she had been right about her mother being small! Oh, I hope they’ll keep talking, Nicoletta though anxiously, clutching the curtain tightly.
“Mmmm. But you know, isn’t it awful what happened? I mean, I never would have believed it if I hadn’t seen it!”
“You mean you saw what happened?” Lena asked breathlessly, setting her tray down on a table. “I wasn’t working here then!”
“I was,” Carlotta said, almost proudly. “It was... oh....... 13 years ago last month, actually!”
13 years. Nicoletta was 13. What had happened that long ago? Did have something to do with her mother? Her dead father? She listened harder, her palms slick with sweat.
“Anyway,” Carlotta went on, also setting her tray down, “I think that he was unhappy. She never seemed to love him much. At least, she never showed it. I think that was what drove him to it. I’ve heard they fought like cats and dogs at times! No wonder he was unhappy. That and all the wars going on.”
“But she must have loved him! Why else would she have hidden away her baby, Nicoletta, and refused to see her? Nicoletta looks so much like her father that she reminds the queen of him, that’s what I think!” Lena folded her arms resolutely.
Carlotta shrugged. ‘Well, I was only giving an opinion. And it isn’t like he is going to come back from the dead and tell us why. But I would like to know what drove him to kill himself. He jumped from the turret, you know. And after it happened, Queen Katherine wouldn’t come out for weeks! And when she did, her baby was never seen again. The public thought she had killed it, but we all knew better! The truth was that he hid it and has never seen it since!”
Lena tossed her head. I know all that. You don’t have to tell me. But I wish I could know why he jumped.” She scooped up her breakfast tray and headed down the hall. “Come on, we don’t want to keep Princess Nicoletta from getting a hot breakfast.”
Nicoletta leaned her head against the wall. Herm idn was spinning. Her father had killed himself? Her parents had fought? Her mother had hidden her away? No wonder she had never seen her mother! But why? Why didn't her mother want her?
Nicoletta slipped out from behind the curtain. Her mission was more than finding the kitchen now. Her mission was to find the queen, her mother, and find out what had happened to make her life the way it was now.