NOTE: this story is unfinished. I will probably never finish it.
This is the Story of a Girl...
sits with her hands neatly folded in her lap, intense eyes locked on the image
of her nurse in the mirror before her. She doesn't realize how expensive the
expanse of glass is, just as she has never realized the value of the world she
lives in. She's rich, draped in velvets and silks, but all she can feel about it
is smothered. She dreams of taking off all the clothes, as if in doing so she
could be free of the rules and regulations of her station in life, but would
never dare. She's afraid of being naked.
This particular day, as she watches her nurse brush her reflection's hair, a
small frown touches this girl's lips, replacing her normal sober expression. The
nurse, startled even by this sign of displeasure, drops the brush on her toes,
and the girl mutters an apology as if she is somehow responsible.
Perhaps this wouldn't be surprising, if one didn't understand the ways of our
protagonist. The last time she frowned was three months, two weeks, three days,
seven hours, eleven minutes and two...no, three seconds before this moment. The
last time she smiled was exactly three point four seconds after that. And now,
three point four seconds after her frown shocked her nurse, she allows a glimmer
of a smile to appear.
circumstances of that last flux in her mask were even more interesting; the
frown came as she paused at the bottom of a winding staircase, deep eyes lifting
to the ceiling above. The smile came soon after, when a piece of plaster came
crashing down not too far away.
Better sooner than later that it is mentioned that this girl's name came to her
parents in a flash of inspiration. It is a name that destroys her secret, pulls
away the mystery of these odd moments. It suffices to say that even her parents
have long forgotten the title given to their only daughter. None of the servants
ever heard it. It's been written down somewhere, locked in room after room, a
record that will be found generations later by someone who will never really
understand the humor of it properly.
is the only one who really remembers it, and she laughs inwardly, with an
unflinching expression, whenever she thinks of it. She keeps it to herself, and
gives them all the nickname she pulled from it at a young age.
that many call her this. Her mother, when her eyes wander to the girl, always
refers to her as my dear. Her father hasn't spoken to her in all the
years she can remember [though he was actually rather affectionate with her when
she was just a baby, scooping her up in his arms and tickling her, babies don't
truly understand their surroundings, so she has no knowledge of this.] Her
nurses and servants - as well as the rare other child - who have always seemed
to be filled by a sort of wide-eyed dread when they are forced to speak with her
at all, just call her miss. This doesn't happen often.
for her friends...well, it's a bit clichéd to say that her only true friends are
the horses in her father's stable. Less typical for this sort of story is the
fact that she's always been so terrified by heights, in her quiet way, that
she's never even sat on one of the mares. Nor does she speak with them, nor
touch them. She likes to sit with her hands folded neatly in her lap and watch
and listen and record their every movement in her memory with all the other
things that might, someday, do her some good. She's listened to them so much
that she imagines she can understand their conversations.
Similarly, no one knows poor Voya's birthday. So, on the day in question, when
she's sitting and apologizing to the nurse with an injured toe, no one has yet
noticed she's almost an adult. Fourteen is still a child, but fifteen is a
peculiar state. Old enough to be married, but yet considered too young to make
decisions. All the same, this day is a step in the right direction for her, and
she is whirling with something like drunken excitement beneath her calm facade.
Unlike most, she doesn't hope for material gifts. There's no one who would give
her those. She waits for something else, something that's she's not even sure
Voya leans down and picks up the brush herself, setting it on the counter before
her. With an impossibly lady-like smoothing of her skirts, she slips past the
nurse. She is heading toward the winding staircase where, approximately three
months ago, the ceiling had to be repaired. She much prefers the area now; due
to the disaster, it's been repainted and the walls are fresh and clean. Like a
crisp sheet of paper.
Lingering there, examining a familiar tapestry on the walls for the hundredth
time, she doesn't notice the slim boy tucked halfway behind the door, watching
her with bright and fascinated eyes. He thinks she must be the most beautiful
girl he's ever seen, and perhaps she is. There are very few women in his life.
In fact, there's only one he's ever noticed - his mother - and she is by no
means beautiful. It's miraculous that she gave birth to such a charming looking
boy. By coincidence, this wide-eyed youth is just fifteen himself; his birthday
was four days ago. If he knew that today was Voya's, he'd be shocked, possibly
even angry, but the lack of celebration or even notice of the wonderful event.
Perhaps he is still sore from the 'gifts' his brother gave him, and perhaps
there was no cake or strawberries to honor his growth, but at least it was
recognized that he is a year older.
is convinced that he is a year wiser, too. That is why he's been creeping about
the castle halls all day, pausing in rooms that catch his attention for a short
while. That is why he stumbled upon a secret of his own, one he will cherish and
keep until someone has need of it. It's just a small secret, for now, but it's
the largest he's ever been in charge of. He cherishes it and would protect it
with everything he has, if it came to that, and he doesn’t have much. A subdued
courage, an avid imagination, and immense curiosity. Some common sense, that is
at the moment battling with the other three over the issue of whether to let
himself be seen or not.
Voya isn’t leaving. Something about the thought of sitting with the horses isn’t
appealing to her, today. She doesn’t want to have to keep herself unseen as she
creeps past the grooms and stable hands. She doesn’t have to sneak in, but she
doesn’t want anyone to offer a hand in saddling the horse for her to ride.
Neither does she want to go and work on sums with her tutor, or read a book, or
any other activity she can think on. There is too much extra energy sprung from
the wonders of being a year older. Instead, she plans on touring as much of the
castle as possible, so she can know it better. There are whole wings she has
never even set foot in, and she feels compelled to find them, as if one contains
the gift she wants so much.
Suddenly, another frown flashes across her lips – the second one in less than an
hour. She spins about, as if startled by a loud sound, just in time to see a
huge round shield come clattering down to the ground, and the boy leap away from
it with a guilty expression on his face. It rolls forward for a moment, filling
the whole room with a ringing sound before it falls flat.
it is very quiet. Voya stares silently at the boy, who shifts his weight from
one foot to another, not looking up from the shield on the floor. He is
terrified, now that the moment’s bravado has faded. The courage that caused him
to step out has faded to a faint ringing in his ears. He would probably feel
better if he’d seen the smile that touched her face, but not it’s gone and he’s
is not afraid so much as amused. She doesn’t even think of the boy. In fact, for
come reason, she can’t tear her mind from her name, and she almost laughs out
loud. Twice in one hour; Voya is beginning to believe she has found the gift she
wanted. All at once she remembers she is not alone, and brings herself to focus
on the events at hand. Lips moving to murmur a word before she can stop herself.
finally risks a glance up to her, the most baffled expression on his face. For
the first time, she notices how interesting a boy’s eyes can be. His are a dark
green, like the canopy of leaves in the orchard at night. He stares back at her,
for the moment forgetting everything in the beauty of her eyes. He sees a summer
sky, pale, pale blue, and imagines he can pick out the bright shape of a kite soaring through it. He’s afraid he’ll never be able to look away from her again,
so he speaks, trying to break this spell. He wants to know why she said that,
and what it means. He’d been about to ask her name, but she’d interrupted.
It’s her turn to be startled. He doesn’t know this, but Voya is certain he did
ask what her name is. He’d looked like he’d wanted to, even if he hadn’t lifted
his face to her. Not that this explains why she said that name, as
apposed to Voya. She’s not even sure where the word came from, but apparently he
hadn’t asked and doesn’t’ understand the significance of this all. A patient
sigh escaping, she tells him that it’s her name. Even if it isn’t, not quite.
Then she asks his in a town that is more order than request, sounding much like
Automatically, he bows to her. It’s not mocking in the slightest – he merely
responds to shows of rank, and sometimes pretends to know his place. She
deserves a bow, even an amateurish one like this. He offers his name, floating
in a sea of my lady’s, in the same soft murmur she spoke hers in.
doesn’t know why his parents named him that. No one in his family has had the
name before; in fact, he thinks no one in the world has had the name before. He
doesn’t know what it means, has never tried to find out what it means because it
sounds so meaningless to him. Not that he’d understand if he did know what it
meant. There’s no reason for it; his mother heard the word once and liked the
way it sounded.