Day 159 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Modernize a princess story.
Erin: My manager told me that to be a part of the top 100 list I would need to be a different person. He said this because every woman singer who was passing me up was prettier than me. So, the second my 18th birthday came I went straight to the plastic surgeon.
“What work are we looking to do,” he asked.
“I want to look like a different person,” was my response. He was shocked and thought I was overexaggerating, but I was serious.
I invested all of the money I had currently made off of my music. I sucked out my fat, plumped up my boobs, re-sculpted my nose, and lifted my face. After I had my majors I had a hair appointment, waxing and tanning on the schedule. In my transformation storm, I had not time to evaluate my evolution.
There were so many scars. In that time frame, I was isolated from my potential fans and the current ones I had. I used the time for writing and recording my new album. Once all of my healing was done and my release date hit I made my first awards show performance. It was a hit and I was accepted into the world of mega fame.
For a long time, I thought I had lost my loyal fans I had won over as my old self. Eventually though they realized I was the same artist. I managed to be a part of both worlds and I even hit number one. I felt like I was getting my happy ending, but only time would tell how my life was about to change.
Shannon: “I know you’re going through a tough time right now, but you have to stop acting out like this Al,” my foster mom scolded me as we walked to the car.
“How are you so sure I actually did it? They found it in Abu’s vest, anyone could have put it there,” I reached down to ruffle the golden retriever’s head.
“So you’re saying people completely ignored the bright red vest that says please do not pet me I’m working,” she quickly foiled my lie.
I shrugged, “You know how it is. They see a dog and they just have to touch it,” I joked but didn’t get a laugh.
“You’re just lucky they didn’t press charges,” she spoke sternly over the top of the car before getting inside and slamming her door. I always felt bad making her life harder, she was doing the best she could for all of us, but her heart was bigger than her wallet. There were things I needed that I didn’t want to burden her with, so I tried to find another way. Especially since it turned out to be harder than expected to find a minimum wage job that that could accommodate a kid with a service dog, but I’d keep looking.
She grounded me for the next two weeks, giving me plenty of time to apply for more jobs I probably wouldn’t get. What I really needed was win a lottery, but I was still to young to enter. That got me thinking of contests. I couldn’t be too young for all of them, and what could it hurt? I did a quick search and that’s when I found one called Magic Lamp.
Take an old fashioned tale and bring it to this decade.
Winter’s Bend had a strange tradition of hosting dances at the beginning and end of each semester with different themes for each and, while it was certainly a relief to not have packed my prom dress in vain, I was nervous to promenade in front of the entire university before I’d met any of the students or faculty. But after talking to my roommate for a while, she convinced me that heading out to the dance wasn’t worth the effort of getting out of bed. Apparently only students who were already in relationships went to these things to rub their romance in everyone else’ faces. Of course, I didn’t know where she was getting her information; this was her first term at the school as well, but I believed her.
When I arrived in our dorm room a few weeks ago, this strange woman had ghosted into the room, followed immediately by her twin sister, and had begun complaining loudly about having to be split up for the first time in years. They made quite the show of having separation anxiety and my roommate even pretended to be having a fit when her sister first left, but I’d seen that kind of behaviour before. For most of my life I’d been trampled upon by twins exactly like these ridiculous girls; my father had remarried after my mother passed away, but the woman had two daughters. Last year, when my father went missing while working as a lumberjack up north, my stepmother was forced to take care of the three of us. Even though we had money to spare and I always did my share of the chores, those harpies managed to get my share of the money while I got saddled with all the work, as though I deserved it. Suffice it to say, I understood these girl’s plans.
I refused to trade rooms with the sister mostly because her dorm was on the far end of the campus and a good half hour walk further from the main building, but also because I felt they shared a certain disregard for others that my step sisters would have understood. While they weren’t pleased in the slightest with my decision, I had decided they couldn’t do anything about it. Oh, how wrong I was.
Indeed, the next morning I woke to my roommate’s personal items scattered all over the room, including on my bedside tables and desk, and my things nowhere to be seen. It took me a few moments of deep breathing exercises to gain enough composure to not tear her blond head from her slender shoulders. Outside the window, a sudden storm had begun to roil through the air, thunder booming across the manicured grounds. Holding my fists steady, I stalked to the adjacent bed and cleared my throat louder than I meant, rousing my roommate from her sleep. “Yes, Audra? Is there a problem?” she purred, setting a bedazzled sleeping mask daintily on her bedside table and giving a feminine yawn.
Seething in my torn plaid night clothes, I clenched my jaw and replied in an overly-cheerful tone, “Where did all my stuff go, you-” I cut myself off just in time, cocking my head and letting my painful smile widen, “-you light sleeper, you?” There was a peaceful moment where the sun shone crookedly through the window and a sudden calm took hold, releasing me from the horrifying grin and letting my fingers straighten.
“Oh, you know,” she began innocently, stretching her shoulders and turning to get out of her bed, “I think I do recall, vaguely, seeing some hideously mundane clothing in a mountain, along with some books and strange gizmos. Hmmm, I just can’t seem to put my finger on where that was,” seeing my expression, her face contorted into some kind of pained, pitiful mask. “You know, Audra? I think there was even some herbal teas for relaxation and alertness, although, they may have been somewhere else,” she murmured in a predatorily silky voice, stalking gracefully to the window and throwing open the second set of blinds. “Oh! There they are, hon!”
I didn’t need to see where she was referring, because my stomache had begun to twist into painful knots, wiping the false happiness from my lips and bringing back the rolling thunder in my heart. Without a second glance at the witch, I stormed from the room, key gripped so tightly in my frozen fingers I could feel a few drops of white-hot blood dripping from them. Down the hallway I paced, out the front doors with vengeance in my heart and out to the grounds where all my things were piled in mounds of like items. It must have taken them ten trips to get it all out there without my suitcase or bags; I wanted to feel at least a little awe with their feat, just to give the boiling hatred a break, but I couldn’t manage to calm my raging pulse.
It took me nearly two hours to lug everything back in a torrential downpour that didn’t cool my fury, but gave the twins even more reason to snigger as they drank some kind of clear liquid from a hidden cabinet. Every once in a while I would come back up with my arms full of sweatpants or books to find my things strewn across the hallway again, but I’d just move them back into the room and continue with my work. I’d already learned that it did no good to fight this kind of inherent hatred and meanness that was breed bone-deep; all you could do was keep your head up and nose clean. It took a lot of swallowed pride and a fair number of trips to the laundry room to get my reputation and clothes clean.
Everyone in our building had seen the little stunt, but no one offered to help me move my stuff back or laughed at me, so I’d call it a draw. My stepsisters had done worse to me anyway; these brats had another thing coming if they thought they could embarrass me. But I realized I needed to be careful if I was going to stay out of their way, though I wasn’t going to give in to their request to change roommates, of course.
I suppose that’s why, on the night of the first school dance, I found myself cleaning the spotless carpets in the room and dusting all surfaces, on both sides of the border, with a duster one of my stepsister’s had added to my bag last-minute. Even if the twins were wrong about the dances being for couples, I didn’t really want to be anywhere they were anyway. Besides, I’d finally found my mood bracelet and was feeling a lot better; the weather had always had a strong pull on my mood, but this special magnetic bracelet helped to stabilize me. When the twins realized I wore it twenty-four-seven, they stole it and hid it in a bush for a week while I went through rollercoaster mood swings and internally plotted my vicious revenge on them.
As I was bent over to vacuum under the other bed, which was piled high with discarded clothing and half-eaten food, a quiet knock came to the door, startling me into bashing my elbow on the bedframe. Sucking in the pain, I turned to watch a pale girl in an extravagant, yet imperfect aqua dress glide gracefully into the dim room. She curtsied low enough for me to see intricate vines of ink snaking their way up her back through the straps at her neck and I was lost for words. “Hi Audra, it’s nice to meet you,” she giggled, offering me her gloved hand, which I gripped loosely as I got to my feet.
“It’s nice to meet you too, and you are?” I asked, wiping stray dust off my hands and setting this strange woman a staunch stare.
Giggling bubbly, she gave a twinkling smile and laughed, “Oh, sorry, I’m Mira. I always mean to lead with that part, but it gets lost somewhere in my head. Anyway,” she glanced around at my cleaning supplies and the staggered line between my roommate’s personal items and mine before continuing, “I just came to see why you weren’t going to the dance.” When I looked wary, she grimaced a bit and clarified, “I’m the one who wanders around checking on people with their lights on; the dances are really fun and traditional so we encourage everyone to attend. Swear to you, I’m not a stalker or anything,” she sighed. With a glance at my desk, she became intrigued with some of my mood-stabilizing items like stress balls and worry stones.
“Well, Mira, sorry to disappoint, but my roommate said they were for couples and I don’t wanna be anywhere she, or her twin sister, are at the moment,” I muttered, getting back to fishing a pair of what appeared to be boxers out from under the bed.
When I emerged from the bed triumphantly throwing the dirty laundry in the mounting pile, I was shocked to find Mira still admiring my stuff, “Audra, I am going to take you to this party, and you’re going to find your prince; I just know it. Come on, what’s that dress doing in your closet? What good’s that?” she cooed, stroking the silky fabric of the night-sky dress that flared out from the waist so I could twirl. “Audra, it hasn’t started yet and I bet you look like a princess in this fantastic dress.”
Twenty minutes later I had my hair done up in a messy bun, the dress hugging my chest flatteringly and a few dashes of makeup to let the clouds in my eyes sparkle with lightning. We sauntered down the two-storey hall leading to the gymnasium as twinkle lights glinted overhead and gold-gilded banners hung from invisible wires. With Mira beside me going on about some kind of enchantment, I guess figurative, they’d put on the dancefloor to ensure everyone had a good time, I felt light-headed and nervous. I hadn’t been to a dance in ages and that one had ended with my date dancing with my stepsister, hugging her curves in a vivacious scarlet dress. After that, I’d lost my taste for the fun, but Mira seemed convinced I would find my prince charming there; yeah, right.
When the doors swung open, I stepped onto a dancefloor made of molten gold, under a night-sky ceiling with metallic stars twinkling across it as though they were alive. The room was packed with groups and couples swaying to the classical music that was blaring, high and whiny, from hidden speakers. Everyone was wearing masks that covered their likely-flattering faces and I felt out-of-place with my bare face and dark dress. Mira arrived at my elbow just as I’d decided to give up, holding a spectacular glitter-encrusted mask that would hide my entire face from everyone. Without being able to hear her over the din, I slipped it on and she nodded encouragingly, twisting me around to glimpse a man in a starry suit leaning against the far wall, his demeanor as nervous as I felt.
Shoving me, Mira disappeared in a flash of seafoam fabric, leaving me to make my way across the writhing dancefloor. I was almost there when I got a pang of horror in my heart; above us, the ceiling became cloudy with the occasional crack of yellow lightning shooting across the murky surface. Quickly closing my eyes and gripping the bracelet, I finally made it to the wall, sliding down to the floor, breathing harder than I thought possible with the comforting metal around my wrist. Though I wanted to blame the shivering ceiling on my sudden emotions, I knew some kind of digital trickery like that couldn’t trigger an attack this bad.
As I cowered with my head cradled in my arms, the guy Mira had pointed out tapped my shoulder gently, leaning down for our eyes to be level. His molten silver irises glistened and the storm above us cleared away instantly, calming my racing heart and some horrifying thought came to my mind; perhaps just seeing clouds was going to send me into a tailspin. “Hey, I’m Brennan,” he whispered, taking a seat beside me and grinning up at the stars, “I saw you come in with Mira, so I guess I can let you in on a little secret; I’m doing the magickal show up on the ceiling. Clouds don’t agree with you, eh?” he asked, a boyish grin lifting up the corner of his lips.
I woke up the next morning with a massive headache and my heart thundering in my ears. Blinking wildly in the sudden sunshine, I squinted attempting to recall what had happened the night before to give me such an emotional hangover; Brennan and I had danced the night away without actually seeing each other’s faces. As it turned out, Brennan could actually control storms, well, the clouds that hold storms. He wasn’t able to manipulate them into precipitating or anything, but he could make a cloudy day sunny, or a sunny day cloudy, in a pinch.
Stretching, I nearly screamed when I noticed my bracelet was gone; that explained the pained heart and head. I jumped out of bed and began rifling through anything that could be hiding my bracelet on either side of the room. When I saw the flashy envelope resting pristinely on the desk, I passed it over without a second thought, but when I’d gone through everything else my gaze fell on it. Slitting the classical seal, I read through the contents in a hurry.
Audra, this is a note requesting your presence at our meeting this evening, the first of the term, where we shall give back the mood-stabilizing bracelet you are likely missing right about now. To put your mind at ease, it wasn’t that blubbering idiot who stole it; one of our many members believed you would be an integral piece of the society this year, but thought you’d likely need a little push. Your prince charming wanted to ask you politely, but his idea was shot down. At any rate, you’ll receive a second letter this evening with instructions.
I stared at the letter for a long moment, grasping at the reality that my perfect fairy tale story of true love might have hit a bump in the road that even prince charming wouldn’t brave.
On a slow day, Josh took out his mother’s journals, eager to read more of her fancy script. He finishes another page, then comes to one dated the next week. It also is written in a different script than his mothers. It’s more messy, and doesn’t always follow the lines.
Tiana has been working on her novel for a long time. She puts all her effort into it, so it is the very best. But, in doing so, she neglects other needs. She stays at her desk for hours, standing up to write on her chalk board, not leaving her writing nook unless she really needs to pee. Her stomach growls and she gets some toast, and the moon is high long before she tries to close her computer.
She’s even neglected this here journal. Tiana doesn’t need anyone to depend on, but sometimes, she could use a little reminders. So, when her prince sees she’s pushing herself, saving every little penny of time, he closes her computer, scoops her up, and sets her in the kitchen. He puts food in front of her, listening to her ramble in her exhausted and pretty voice. He sets out her recording device so she won’t lose anything.
As she eats, he asks her questions. She answers then, or stares a long time as she thinks about it. When she’s done eating, her prince coaxes her to the bathroom as she complains. He even has to peel her from the computer when he thought she was getting ready for bed.
Finally, she’s under the covers, muttering to herself how she won’t be able to sleep unless she gets one more chapter out. Her prince assures her she’ll get it done, but she needs a break. And with that, hard-working Tiana gets the rest she needs.
Love you, sweetheart! -Robin
Josh turns the page to find a picture glued to the back. It’s a bit dark, but he can clearly see the image of a bedroom. In the bed is his mother, younger than he remembers her to be and curled up in sleep.