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Autumn Wishes

I look out the window. It is autumn, the red and orange leaves have already fallen to the ground, though
there are a few who stubbornly cling to the branches of trees. I see the tables covered in lacy white
table-cloths, which hold mouth-watering food that the cooks have been preparing for months. I see the
handmade wooden benches that have been sanded until they were smooth, so when the guests sit, they
will not be pricked by a splinter.
    I see the two thrones that are also handmade and made out of wood, carved with the symbols of my
country and kingdom, garlands of flowers draped over the tops, making the thrones look woodsy yet
elegant at the same time.
    And I see the area where my fiancé and I will stand. Orange and red flowers have been purposely
dropped upon the ground, forming a square where we will stand along with the preacher.  As I
gaze at the beautiful décor, noting that everything is so perfect, I feel a twinge of despair in my stomach.
    I do not want this wedding. I do not want to marry Prince Roman. This is all my parents’ careful
planning. They have been planning this wedding for years, from the day I was born.
    My kingdom has wanted a union with the kingdom of Daemeon for a long time, and my being a
girl perfected their wish. All they had needed to do was convince the king of Daemeon to allow me
to marry his son, Prince Roman.
    It had not been long before we received the acceptance letter, declaring that the king of Daemeon
agreed to a marriage between the two kingdoms.
    And that is when I became engaged.
    It is not like I have not expected this. I know that being a princess and the heir to the kingdom
makes this marriage a priority; something I cannot escape from. But everything will be better if I
actually know Prince Roman.
    Yes, of course, we have met each other a few times. Before the engagement, when we were younger,
we would occasionally visit one another. And after the engagement, we saw
each other once again, though the circumstances were much different than the last times.
    So, yes, I know who Prince Roman is. A handsome man who is heir to the throne. A regular prince.
Yet, I know nothing about him besides the basics. What’s his favorite color? What does he like to do
with his spare time? What are his hopes and dreams? What would he do if he had not been born a
prince? So many little things that I wish I know.
    I briefly wonder if Prince Roman thinks the same thing. Does he wish to know the real me, the one
that is hidden behind makeup and fake smiles? Does he wish to know the wild, reckless Arianne? The
one who does not follow the rules, the one who acts like an utter fool?
    I wish I knew her, too. All my life, I have been taught to do things correctly, to never fail, to always
be the perfect daughter, the perfect princess, even if it means living a life of lies and depression. I
have never had actual fun, have never let loose, and release all the tension that weighs me down.
    I have never been truly free.
    And I never expect to be.
    Despite my worry and regret, I realize that this is my last day. My last day to prove to my parents that
I am worthy. All my life, I feel like I have failed them, have disappointed them. I feel like they did not
truly trust me, did not truly believe in me, did not truly accept the fact that I am an obedient, perfect
daughter. All my life, I tried to prove to them that there was no reason to be ashamed of me.
    It’s all my brother’s fault.
    I grip the windowsill tightly, hard enough that my fingers go white from the lack of blood, from the
intense pressure I am pressing against the windowsill.
    When my older brother was sixteen, I had been thirteen. I will not go into grave detail, but let us just
say, my brother was rebellious, and defied my parents, and then disappeared without a trace. I have
not seen or heard from him since, and it has been four years.
    When my brother rebelliously left, my parents did not want anyone to know of such a scandalous act.
So they lied—they said he had died. An accident. Everyone had been shocked, but willingly mourned for
the loss of the prince. To continue the deceit, my parents crowned me heir.
    I feel like that is why my parents do not trust me, do not truly care for me—because of my brother.
Because he earned their trust, and then he just lost it, just embarrassed and humiliated them. And now
he has left me unloved.
    I had been so close to my brother. He was my best friend. So when he disappeared, I was a mixture—
hate and fear. Hate, because he had to go and act so stupid, and fear, because he was my brother, and
I worried for his safety and wellbeing.
    I do not know if he is alive, or dead—yet, despite my hatred for him that has steadily grown over the
years, I still miss and think of him often.
    I suck in a deep breath. The dress I wear is white and heavy, it drags against the ground. My arms
and shoulders are bare, and though the rest of me is covered, I feel exposed. The bodice is so tight,
purposely done so to show how slim I am, though I fear I will faint from lack of oxygen.
    My hair that is as black as midnight itself is in a tight bun. During the ceremony, Prince Roman will
undo my hair, and my tresses will fall down upon my back.
    I finger the necklace I wear. It is an odd choice, and does not match my gown at all, but I refuse to
wear any other necklace. You see, the old key had been tossed aside as unimportant, no one had
wanted, no one even knew what it went to. I took it, it became mine, and I now have a fondness for
the ancient-looking key, rusted and old.
    My mother and her flocks of maids pretty much despaired when they saw the necklace I chose, and
tried to convince me to wear pearls, or diamonds. “That old key is simple, whereas your gown is just
exquisite!” my mother had declared. I knew that. “I am marrying a complete stranger, the least you
can do is allow me to wear a necklace of my choosing,” I had hissed, and that quieted her. She and
her maids know how stubborn I am, and dropped the subject.
    I watch as the guests arrive. Slowly, one by one, everyone on the lists arrive, settling down on the
benches, talking conversationally, not a worry in their mind. Unlike me, a jumble of nerves. I force
myself to stop trembling. When I marry Prince Roman, I intend to do it perfectly, not a single mishap,
and perhaps that will please my parents, make them proud, since this is my last chance to show them
that.
    I need to show them that I am nothing like their son—I am nothing like my brother.
    I see that everyone has arrived. I count the people, recall most of the names, and when I spot the
preacher wearing his robes, I know that the time has come. Prince Roman, and his parents, and some
of the people from his kingdom—most likely the important people—have already arrived, and are just
waiting for all of this to begin.
    When I hear a knock on the door, I jump, startled, and turn around. The door opens, not waiting for
a response from me.
    I see that it is my Godmother Susieanne. You see, every royal child is given a Godmother—someone
to help them, guide them, they do many things. Apparently, my brother’s Godmother did a terrible job
of teaching respect and responsibility.
    Her lips are in a straight line, her expression firm, blank, emotionless. Some Godmother’s are secretly
kind and considerate. I had been hoping for one like that, for someone who would tuck me in bed,
would tell me bedtime stories, would just be there for me, since most kings and queens were never
there for their children.
    But I have been burdened with a grumpy one who seems to have no emotion besides anger and
firmness.
    Her hands are clasped in front of her, and seeing her hands makes me wince. Whenever I slump,
she would slap me hard. Whenever I do something wrong, I receive a punishment of some kind.
Godmother Susieanne is strict, stern—she isn’t about to stop being rough just because of me sobbing.
She would slap me and say, “Princesses do not cry when one is around. They do so in private, for Royals
are supposed to be perfect—no one can see them imperfect.”
    Sadly, that is true. Everyone believes someone of royalty to be perfect, no worries at all, living a
dream-life. Yet those sayings are so untrue. We grieve, we are burdened with stress and depression,
we are often tired, tired of our worries and problems, tired of our difficult lives.
    But just as Godmother Susieanne says, no one can see a Royal imperfect.
    As I stand there, uncomfortable under her scrutiny, I think, no “It’s going to be okay?” no, “Don’t you
worry.”
Nothing comforting. No words of reassurance. All I receive is, “It is time.” At her announcement
that the time has come, my stomach is suddenly a tight ball of nerves.
    I run my sweaty palms down my dress, and nod, staring at my gown, not meeting my Godmother’s
gaze. She walks over to the table which holds my veil. It is tradition for the Godmother to place the
veil.  The veil is white and lacy, with a red and orange flower pushed together on the side.
An odd choice, but I am having a fall wedding. Everything has to be the same colors as the season.
    I bend down slightly, because I am taller than Godmother Susieanne. She places the veil upon my
head, adjusting it, her fingers brushing against my hair. I wait until she steps back, before straightening.
She squints at me, before handing me a bouquet of red and orange flowers, including some colorful
leaves that match the theme. She moves towards the door. “Come,” she beckons me to follow her.
    I look over my shoulder, gazing at my reflection in the mirror one last time. My lips have been painted
a bright pink—my eyelids have been brushed with beautiful colors. I really do look beautiful, I admit.
“Princess Arianne, come,” Godmother Susieanne says sharply. I look away, and obey, keeping my head
down.
    “Keep your head up while your father leads you to Prince Roman,” Godmother Susieanne instructs
me, though I have already heard this. She has told me what to do, what to expect. I am tired of her
reviews, and I just wish she will be quiet, so I can listen to my sorrowful thoughts.
    “Princess Arianne, are you listening?” Godmother Susieanne snaps, and I look up. “Yes?” She
sighs impatiently, as if my ignoring her is just the end of the world. There are worse things in life
than someone not listening to you, I think, irritated.
    I clasp my sweaty hands together, and I cannot wait until we are outside in the cool weather, where
the air can caress my sweaty skin. My heels click against the floor. When we reach the heavy two-double
doors, Godmother Susieanne turns to face me. Her face contorts into a frown as she scans my sweaty
figure.
    She mumbles under her breath as she pulls a handkerchief out of her pocket, and begins to dab at my
damp skin. I am blushing, because there are two guards by the doors. They respectfully keep their gaze
elsewhere, yet I am still mortified.
    When Godmother Susieanne is satisfied, she steps back. “Are you ready?” she asks me, and I nod
mutely. I do not think I will ever be ready.
    Godmother Susieanne nods to the two guards, and they push open the doors. Immediately, a trumpet
blows one note, before violins take over, playing a beautiful melody that slightly calm down my shot
nerves.
    The guests stand, and all eyes turn upon me. Godmother Susieanne nudges me, reminding me to
move, and I do so, keeping my head tall. Godmother Susieanne walks beside me, until we reach my
father, who is waiting for me.
    I see mother standing near the preacher, and my fiancé, but I do not look at Prince Roman. I keep my
eyes on father, who holds out his arm. I place my arm through the crook of his elbow, and we begin to
walk past the benches, towards the square of flowers.
    The decorations of red and orange flowers, and leaves, really do fit the theme.
    All of this is beautiful—yet I am too nervous to enjoy it. I glance at my father—his posture is stiff, and
he is staring straight ahead of him. Here I am, about to marry, and I will be gone to a different kingdom,
a different country. Is he sad to see me go? I am his little girl. I am the one who took my brother’s place
after he left.
    Can he and mother not be proud of me, at least for just this one day?
    I keep my emotions bottled inside of me, hold back the tears of disappointment.
    I feel like a failure—yet my mind says encouragingly, you did not fail them. Your bother did, and then
they immediately thought the same of you. They knew that you and your brother were close, and that
made them think you were going to be rebellious. And even though you never did, they never allowed
themselves to care for you, to be proud of you.

    Right. This is all my brother’s fault.
    I have been so lost in thought, I do not realize we have stopped until I feel lips press stiffly against my
cheek.  Mother is standing beside him now and she kisses my other cheek. Tradition. This entire
wedding is full of traditions.
    I look at them both. Is mother sad to see me go? I am her only daughter, after all. But I see no sadness
in her eyes. In fact, she and father’s faces are blank, emotionless. The masks they wear, the walls they
have built up, keep me locked out of their true emotions.
    I turn away from them. If they are going to treat me cruelly, why can I not do the same for them?
    I hand the bouquet to my mother, without looking at her. I can give them the cold treatment.
She takes it. She and father then walk over to their assigned seats, the beautiful thrones. I feel a hand
lightly touch mine, and I turn to look at Prince Roman. “It’s okay,” he whispers to me, taking my hand
in his. At least someone will tell me comforting, reassuring things.
    As I face him, I realize that Prince Roman is not that bad. Yes, he is a complete stranger, but, he is
nice. Every time I meet him, he is polite and considerate, and thoughtful. I cannot see him as an angry
man who will hurt me. His blonde hair shines, his eyes sparkle, and I realize that he is very handsome
with a muscular body. Charm seems to radiate off of him.
    He smiles at me, as if he knows I am studying him, and I cannot stop the blush that overcomes me.
“You may be seated,” he tells the guests, and they all sit, their clothing making rustling sounds. 
    Prince Roman holds both of my hands, and we listen to the preacher as he begins to the ceremony.
Well, I half-way listen. Whenever he wants me to say or do something, I obediently do so. But when my
name is not mentioned, I go into a daze.
    Prince Roman wraps lace around my wrists gently, holding them together. Tradition. He then slides
the ring on my finger, while repeating what the preacher tells him to repeat. I look at the ring. It is
very pretty, golden with three diamonds pressed together.
    When Prince Roman then unwraps the lace from my wrists, and it is my turn. But instead of girly
lace, I wrap leather around his wrists. As I bind them, he jerks, as if trying to release his wrists from
the leather. I look up, startled, and see his cheery smile. I cannot help but smile back at his teasing.
I slide the ring on his finger, and repeat what I am to say.
    Then, I unwrap the leather from his wrists. The preacher talks some more, and I hear Prince Roman’s
voice a few times, and then the preacher says. “Princess Arianne?” I look up. “Y-yes?” I stammer. He
gives me a raised eyebrow, and I realize. “Oh, yes,” I say. It is time for me to say “I do.” After I do,
Prince Roman will take off my veil, and will undo my bun. And then, he will kiss me. And we will be married. As I look up at
Prince Roman’s face, I realize that though we do not know one another, but we have a lifetime to get to
know one another. 
       I open my mouth, but no words come out. I clear my throat several times, before whispering. “I… I”
An arrow whizzes past, hitting Prince Roman in the shoulder. He gasps and then grips his wounded
shoulder. He then pushes me down to the ground, laying down on me to protect me from the arrows
that are whizzing around.
    I am breathing heavy, because his extra weight on my tight dress isn’t helping my lungs.
    He is very close to me, and when we look at each other, I feel something inside of me spark. “Your—
your shoulder,” I stammer, to break the intense trance we are in. He looks to examine his wounded
shoulder. Blood is dripping, and some lands on my white dress. “Oh, I’m sorry,” he says, and rolls off of
me, though he stays near. “Why are you apologizing? It’s not your fault you are bleeding,” I say.
    I can distantly hear the screams of the guests, can see everyone running around in a mad dash.
    Prince Roman laughs breathlessly.
    One of Daemeon’s soldier’s rushes up to Prince Roman, and crouches beside him. “Sir, we must get
to safety,” he says. Prince Roman nods in agreement. “But we must bring Arianne with us,” he adds.
He didn’t call me “Princess Arianne.” Just Arianne. I like that.
    The soldier briefly glances at me, but nods. He calls out, and another soldier arrives, and helps me
up. “Are you injured?” he asks me, and I shake my head. He glances at the drops of blood on my dress,
and I explain, “It’s Princ—It’s Roman’s,” I say. Since he calls me Arianne, I feel like I need to call him
Roman. I see him grin at my choice of words.
    The soldier is helping me get to safety, Prince Roman and his guard beside us, when suddenly, the
soldier besides me drops with a grunt. With horror, I see an arrow protruding out of him. I can barely
move before arms wrap around my waist, and begin to haul me away.
    “Help!” I scream. I see Prince Roman turn, and he begins to walk towards us, but his guard holds him
back. He fights against him, but arrows are whizzing towards him, threatening to hit him, and Prince
Roman cannot get to us without being injured.
    He stares at me, and I can see it in his eyes. I will find you, his eyes say.
    My guards are too busy helping get my parents’ to safety, are trying to help the frightened guests,
and trying to fight the enemy. No one really notices me being taken away, except Roman.
    I struggle. With the weight of my heavy gown, it should be an advantage, but my captor seems to
show no struggle at all. But I kick and claw. I am not about to go down without a fight. But when I
realize my struggling is useless, I stop, for now, to save my energy.
     I am dragged away from everyone, and everything. Surely Roman will send guards to find me. I saw
it in his eyes—he cares enough for me to find me.
    That warms my heart.
    Suddenly, I am being tossed into a horse, and I grip the reins tightly so I won’t fall off. My captor
sits behind me, and sends the horse into a run. Trees whiz past us as we race at a fast pace. I turn
around to see who my captor is, and notices that he wears a mask. “Who are you?” I hiss, angry. I am
angry that he has taken me away from my wedding—I have become a little happy marrying Roman,
and this man has ruined that.
    He pulls the mask off. His hair is black, his eyes are dark, and with his dark mood, I know that he is one
of those bad boys. I inhale sharply. He smiles evilly and says, “Your hero—yet your worst nightmare, as
well.”




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