The Issues

April 16, 2011
PROLOGUE:
My favorite time of day was tea time. Four times a day in my house, but whenever you wanted it really. The time of day was afternoon and the breeze whispered softly through the trees as I sipped my tea. The sun shone a beautiful light on the man across from me at the table. His eyes demonstrated the right amount of green and yellow to create the perfect mixture of hazel that reminded me of American’s favorite pleasure drink. Often times they were blue but only when the light bounced off of his eyes in just the right way. Everything was perfect. He was talking to me, but I didn’t hear him. I should have heard him, but I didn’t hear him. He reached over to touch the top of my hand, still saying something I couldn’t hear. I sipped my tea some more as if it was the last time I was ever going to get to sit in the palace gardens on his and I’s favorite, picnic blanket just like in the movies. My frock was blown to the side and I snapped out of my trance to hear him call my name, “Melissa? Melissa? Are you listening to me?”
“Oh, yes, Dear, pardon, I seemed to have gotten a bit distracted.”
“Very well, it’s all right,” he said with a laugh, “Would you like some more tea?”
I laughed in spite of myself, getting distracted by tea, “No, I’m rather full from it.” I said with a smile left over from my laughter.
“Well, then I guess we could do something..else…?” He said it like a question, but I knew what he was getting at as he placed his plate of bread aside, leaned towards me with that familiar, sly, seductive smile and took my plate away.
“I wouldn’t dare to say no,” I told him as I leaned my head down to kiss him sweetly on the lips. His lips on mine had started out soft and gentle and quickly turned into hard and passionate. That was just how it should have been. Perfect and beautiful, clear and simple. “I love you, Melinda.” He said pulling away with his head on mine.


CHAPTER 1:
The bumpy road on the way to Loi’seau Palace was making me tiresome. I missed my family, yes, but to have to go back to this place of torment and unfairness was what made it more unfortunate for me to leave the beautiful sights of Africa. I missed my hut already, not having to go through my lessons each day but, as I was nearly seventeen, I would be required to do so at Father’s palace, I didn’t want the option he would give me most times. I did not want the option because I knew Father would hit me with that hard glare of his and say, “Darling, ‘tis for your own good,” and I would be sent to my school chambers to learn more about what makes me a lady and how I should and shouldn’t act which entitles me to no real option at all. Father was always looking for something to fix in me. “No matter how much I learn,” I mumbled as I looked out the carriage window, “no man shall I ever please.”
The palace gates we came upon suddenly and I was jerked to the front of my seat. I sat up and pulled out my glass to touch up my hair. I caught my eyes and looked at the light brown color, like an endless desert my mother would say if she were here. Then I looked at my nose, small and my nostrils did not flare out like most of the people of my race. Most of my features didn’t match my tan skin, darker than most tan people, but not all the way black. My lips were full which was a good thing I had been told. I started when I heard a knock on the door, “Madam, are you ready?” yelled the carriage driver through the door. I put down the glass and grabbed my cloak.
Loi’seau Palace was more unwelcoming than the last time I had been there. I vowed not to come back, but I had come for a specific purpose. Father must know. I was just beginning my womanhood then. A girl of only fourteen but this time Daddy didn’t greet me at the gate. Daddy didn’t even greet me at the doors to my wing. He’d been away on business for a while and I knew he was back because Bucky, his horse, was in his stable neighing at me to ride him. The servants told me he was resting from a “terribly long journey” to see his friend, Thomas Whot. After unloading, I changed into one of my more comfortable dresses, my favorite one. It was green and had a train with a circular dip in the front and in the back, long sleeved, but the fabric was thin so I wouldn’t get too hot. I walked down the winding staircase and through the master library to see my father as I doubted he was asleep. I approached his door and knocked lightly. No one from the other side shouted for me to come in, so I let myself enter. “Father, I have arrived to see you this season,” I said this as I walked through the winding hallways to his bed room.
“Papa? Pa—,” I stopped in my tracks as I saw his wine glass nearly empty on his bedside table; he was standing looking out his window at the field. He could not have known already.
“Ah, hello, Darling. What can I do for you?” he asked as he turned around to face me. “Father, I—I came to see you because y—you didn’t come to greet me at the gate or my wing.” I said this with my head down and my hands interlocked in front of me.
There was silence and I waited for him to say something, an apology maybe. He groaned, “How old are you now, hm?”
It hurt me that he didn’t remember… “Not yet seventeen.” I said fighting wet eyes.
“Ah,” he started, but did not finish. “I wished you to welcome me, Papa,” I started, “and I was told you were resting from your long journey but I can see you are not tired in the least bit as the servants told me.” The color rose in my cheeks and I felt it.
“I see. I must make it my goal to talk to the servants this week. There will be no more lying, now you have my word.”
All I could manage was a feeble “Yes,” and then there was silence. “Papa, I am hurt you did not come to greet me when it was announced that I had arrived.”
“This makes you angry? Pft, you are nearly a grown woman, Melinda Raeford, time to grow up, yes? I did not send for you to come, you came on your own, Darling.”
I stopped, breathless. I had to tell him. “Papa, I am sick with worry about you. I came down to see you. Mum says no..she says no.” Tears formed, but I hadn’t let them fall.
Father turned just slightly towards me, “She..said no..did she?” He turned back to the window. “Go to your wing, Melinda.”
“Yes, Papa.” I hung my head. I saw the sadness in his face before he turned the rejection in his voice. There was no other way. “I shall never please you enough.” I thought as I leaned against the cold, wood door to his room.





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