Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Prompt: Can you really just walk away?

Sarah paused outside the door. She wasn’t supposed to knock, wasn’t supposed to see anything, or say anything. Bring in the cart, set the breakfast on the table, and leave. Over the years, she hadn’t followed the rules very well. Trouble was, she never knew what she would find.

She opened the door and wheeled the cart inside, closing the door gently behind her before she glanced over at the bed. It was empty. And made. She looked around, and there She was, sitting at the table. Dressed. Dressed? Sarah blinked.

She was wearing regular clothes. A dark green tunic and black pants and a long blue silk scarf, twisted like Sarah used to wear when she first came here, so long ago. She dressed Herself? Sarah had dressed Her for years, after the babies were born and She wouldn’t see anyone, let anyone else in.

She smiled as Sarah moved the cart closer to the table. She stood up and reached for Sarah’s hand, leading her to a chair. “Here, sit down, my dear. Allow me.”

Sarah sat, silent. She set the table, laying each piece in its proper place with careful precision. Setting Sarah’s first, and then Her own. Twisting the napkin into a delicate swan and setting it on Sarah’s top plate. Sarah watched, as She had watched, all these years. Sitting in silence, observing. Sarah had wondered how much She ever really saw. Everything, apparently.

She sat and reached again for Sarah’s hand. Bowing Her head, she sang in a soft voice, “We are grateful for these and all blessings.” Sarah joined Her in harmony, and their voices drifted to silence. Sarah squeezed Her hand, and She squeezed back.

They ate in comfortable silence. She poured tea, and juice, and sliced cheese, and peeled an apple in a long thin ribbon that didn’t break once. She cut the first slice and held it out on the flat of the knife. Sarah held up her hand in acceptance, and She turned the knife over, sliding the apple into her palm. Sarah lifted it to her lips and bit. Never had an apple tasted so sweet, so crisp and bright. She closed her eyes and savored the slice.

The sound of china and silver brought her back to her senses. “Please, Milady—”

“Sarah, we’ve known each other for a very long time.” She put the last of the breakfast back on the tray and rested Her hand on Sarah’s shoulder. Sarah reached up and touched Her fingers. Hands clasped, like friends. She knew. “Milady—”

“Sarah, will you say goodbye to me as my friend?”

“Goodbye?” Sarah faltered. By the door, she saw the small black bag. “Oh, no…” She looked up, tears welling. “Where will you—”

She put a finger on Sarah’s lips. “It’s best you don’t know anything, my dear. Thank you. Thank so much.”

“For what?” Sarah felt a tightness in her chest. Panic. What would happen when She left?

“For being my friend, when there was no one else,” She said, with more calm in Her brilliant blue eyes than Sarah had seen since the last baby was born. She searched. No sadness. She nodded.

The Princess of the Realm, brought to the Palace at sixteen, wed at eighteen, burying Her first child at nineteen, her fourth at 22. Secluded for ten years. Sarah had served and tended Her every day. Broken the rules. Broken bread with Her. Sang to Her when She could not, would not speak.

It was Sarah who could not speak now. Sarah watched with tear-filled eyes as She walked to the door and picked up the small black bag. All the beautiful things around Her, trappings of the Palace prison. Sarah could guess what the bag held. Tunic, scarf, cloak. Four locks of hair in a small silver box.

She looked back and smiled. Blew a kiss. Walked out the door and closed it gently behind Her. 

Today is the day Her life begins.

Dogs in house
Houdini, Brindle

Time writing:
~35 minutes

October word count:

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