Debra Sue Brice
The pink glow of the setting sun cast a warm hue over Princess Arabell as she sat anxiously on her lavish bed. She didn’t care if she wrinkled the delicate folds of white taffeta that had been hand sewn just for this occasion. Arabell gripped the layers of her dress and wrung her hands mindlessly as she waited.
The coronation taking place just below her bedroom suite was solely in her honor, but Princess Arabell felt nothing for the people or the community in which she was to rule as of midnight tonight.
She stared intently at the deep purple drapes blowing gently in the evening air. On any given night the drapes were usually drawn at precisely 5pm. Tonight, they stood wide open as she awaited the signal.
“Princess?” came the voice of her maidservant Sylvianna as she gently opened the bedroom door. Sylvianna had been with Arabell since the princess was born. Now, twenty years later, Sylvianna and Arabell were like mother and daughter.
“Everyone is waiting for you downstairs in the ballroom,” Sylvianna said softly as she sat on the bed next to Arabell.
“I know,” the princess dropped her head as she held back the tears. She knew this day was coming. She had prepared and anticipated this day since childhood, knowing she was the only heir to the throne. Difficulties in childbirth left her twin brother stillborn, permanently compromising the queen’s ability to have more children leaving Arabell the only child.
Part of Arabell desperately wanted to take charge of her country and turn things around while the other part wanted to flee and start a new life doing something she truly loved.
“This is a very difficult decision,” Sylvianna started, clasping her hands over those of the princess. “And know that I fully stand behind whatever decision you choose to make.”
Arabell looked over at her dear friend and confidant. Sylvianna’s eyes were glistening as her tears fought to spill over and down her cheeks.
Arabell wouldn’t just be leaving her country behind, she would be leaving Sylvianna as well. She rested her head on Sylvianna’s shoulder as she had done so many times in the past. There was an unmeasurable comfort she found when in Sylvianna’s presence, one that made her feel almost normal.
But she wasn’t normal. She was the Princess.
“Come with me,” Arabell begged as a hopeful smile pulled across her face. This wasn’t the first time the princess tried to coerce Sylvianna to come away with her and escape the royal life under the king and queen.
“You know I could never do that,” Sylvianna shook her head. “I could never leave my king and queen.”
“Yes,” Arabell jumped up from the bed, pulling Sylvianna with her. “Yes you can! We will be together and happy, you and me,” her smile grew bigger.
“Oh, sweet Arabell. There is no one I would rather spend my time with than you, dear child. But I have a life here. It’s the only one I have ever known,” Sylvianna tried to smile to show strength, but she knew her commitment was to the castle and to those who lived within its walls.
Deep in her heart, Arabell knew Sylvianna was right. She was indebted to the royal family for saving her life so long ago. She was the most loyal and faithful person Arabell had ever known which was why she desperately wanted this remarkable woman at her side as she ventured into this new life.
Sylvianna pulled her hands away from the princess and bowed her head, a sign of respect and reverence in her kingdom. This brought tears to Arabell’s eyes because she knew what it meant. She knew this was Sylvianna’s way of saying goodbye without saying the words.
“No,” whispered the princess. “I can’t go without you.” She wiped the tears from her own cheeks.
“Princess, if this is what you must do then so shall it be,” Sylvianna kept her eyes low, not wanting to make eye contact with Arabell.
The faint sound of snapping fingers caught Arabell’s attention. She slowly walked over to the open window, glanced down below and smiled. There stood Felix, two saddled horses in hand, and a handsome smile across his face as he looked up at his princess. He didn’t say a word, per request of the princess of course. No one was to know he was here to steal her away from her destiny.
She gave him a quick wave before turning back to say her final goodbyes to Sylvianna.
“I wish…” Arabell stopped suddenly, her hand raising to her chest as if to catch the breath that had escaped her lungs. Sylvianna was gone.
The princess stood motionless in her room, unsure if her decision to leave was truly one from the heart or if her irrational choice to leave the kingdom was selfish and childish. She desperately wanted to live her own life, make her own choice, do something she loved doing. Being a princess was only fulfilling part of those desires.
Her heart ached to live the life of freedom, doing what she did best. She wanted to become a carpenter.
But the kingdom would not allow for such foolishness. No royal had ever run their own business let alone work alongside the common folk in such a hands-on way. Princess Arabell longed for nothing more than to design, construct, and complete building projects to help others within the community.
Most people thought it strange and peculiar that a woman of her class would ever contemplate such an outrageous lifestyle. Fortunately for her, Felix was not most people. He desperately loved the princess and wanted nothing but her happiness. He agreed to put his own life in danger just so Arabell could live out her dream.
Princess Arabell stood silently in her room, looking around and taking it all in for the last time. This was not the goodbye she wanted. This was not the way she wanted to leave things with her kingdom, but they had given her no other choice. Today she would take off her crown and become just plain Arabell.