Arabesque,

Arabesque Chapter 3

9/16/2016 Laura Watkins 0 Comments

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I will be sharing parts of my writing every week (alternating between Arabesque and Persephone) as I write them (with the exception of some parts of Arabesque, which were written previously), so please be patient with any errors you may find, as these are a first drafts.

About the book

Tatania is tired of living in her sister's shadow but doesn't know about Princess Anna's dark secret. Bound by a sacred oath, Anna's struggles to live a double life that can never be her own. 
Described as "Sense and Sensibility meets Ever After with ninjas," Arabesque is full of action, romance, intrigue, and betrayal.

Since I've always been super paranoid, Arabesque was officially copyrighted in 2009. Duplication or use of this work in any other form is prohibited by law.
Chapter 3
Anna
 I can't remember the first time we met Isabel.  Looking back, it seems she was always there, but one day her light out-shined all others and we couldn’t help but love her.  Perhaps it was when we were in school, surrounded by many other girls, yet we remained a solitary pair.  There were no others we could befriend.  No one else could understand our characters.  Whether or not she understood us I’ll never know.  But Isabel accepted us.  We were no longer friendless in that place so far from our home. 
            Isabel’s tragic history gave her more cause for sorrow than almost any that we had known, yet she smiled.  I doubt I will ever understand her completely, but she was special. 
            I sat hidden in the library on that particularly difficult day.  My troubles had been loomed up and heaped upon me until I felt I might drown in abyssal darkness.  Tatania had been detained by Lady Elena.  Again, I was alone.  Even in the company of my sister and our peers, I was alone.  There were only two exceptions–when in the company of our Aunt Eloise and Father–for only they knew my burden.  Indeed, it was a burden we shared.
            The thickness of the brocade curtains removed the soft candlelight that should have been my companion.  Chilling dampness from the window that I leaned against permeated my skin.  As steady patter of the rain hummed comfortingly, I tried to think of home.  Separation from my father and sister was not always this painful, but for reasons soon forgotten, that day was nearly the worst I’d had.  I could not imagine any person more miserable than I, and I felt it most deeply. 
            In such a manner I wallowed in my depression.  No one would find me here, Lady Elena had promised to keep Tat well into the night.  Not that anyone would be looking for me. . .   
            Finally I grew too cold to remain, and hesitantly stepped out.  I crossed the library and began searching for a new book.  Books were a favorite escape of mine.  To be drawn into a foreign world, a place that could not hold me to my obligations.  I frequently retreated into such seductions.  When removed from my pain, the protagonists constantly reminded me that anything was bearable if I had the will to overcome it.  They sang of their pain to me.  They sang of their grief, weakness, sorrow, love, joy, and strength.  I longed to aid them in their quests.  I cried and loved with them.  Their triumphs fortified my resolve, and I was able to endure once more. 
            The library was fairly large for the estate.  I followed row upon row, searching for the book that would allow me to escape into its pages.  I turned around the corner of the bookcase and started in surprise.  There was Isabel.
            “I was wondering if you were in here,” she said to me.  Her gray eyes brightened as she smiled.  “It’s perfectly hideous outside!”  I nodded my agreement.  “Do you want to go enjoy it with me?”
            I hesitated in bewilderment.  “Alright,” I said.
            The frigid, wet air was scarcely noticeable beneath the protective safety of our heavy, fur lined cloaks.  The scent of rain awakened my senses as I began to feel a little more alive.  Raindrops drummed restlessly upon our hoods as we strolled along the grounds.
            “Isn’t this great,” she asked, practically bouncing with each step.  “It’s getting so cold that it’ll turn into snow in a few minutes.”
            Wonderful, as if rain alone wasn’t depressing enough.  I had been hoping that the last snow of the season had melted.  The stark-white bleakness of a snow enshrouded existance…I shivered, goose bumps appearing despite the warmth of my apparel. 
Isabel didn’t notice.  Her eyes gleamed and she began to skip, following a graveled path and dragging me with her, arm in arm.  She released me, jumped onto the grass, turning in circles, palms and head raised to the sky.  Laughing, she opened her mouth, drinking the beads of rain as they plunged to earth. 
I stood awkwardly on the path where she had left me.  I had never seen such eccentric behavior, even from my sister.
“C’mon Anna,” she motioned for me to join her. 
“Isabel, what are you doing?  You’ll be drenched!” 
“It’s just a little bit of water, but it’s the freshest you’ll ever find!  The purest water we ever drink has rolled along the ground through the dirt.  This stuff is new, never been contaminated, drink up before it’s wasted!”
“Isabel, you’re insane and you will freeze to death!  Let’s return to the house before you make yourself ill!”
“Anna…”  She turned her round face to me, her impish grin unchanged.  “Don’t worry about freezing, we’ll go inside before we get to cold.  But right now there’s a wealth of enjoyment out here and I intend to live it up and get completely soaked.  I may look crazy but I’ll bet you’ve never had such fun.  Now, you can stand here safely and let the rain slowly soak you to the bone, or you can come out here and defeat it!”
            “I can’t…”
            “And why not,” she challenged.  “Afraid you’ll look silly?  There’s no one out here but you and me, and I don’t care how you look.”
            A fog had risen up and we indeed were no longer visible to anyone else.  I still couldn’t bring myself to be so foolish. 
Unfazed, she again grabbed my arm and towed me along.  We entered the courtyard, still far from the house.  The courtyard was massive, filled with garden beds, statues, and fountains.  A large fountain lay in the middle of the square, the stillness of its clear water broken in the bedlam of the torrent.  Isabel marched determinedly toward it, then without warning, knocked me into it! 
I gasped as the wintry water saturated my dress and shocked my skin.  I scrambled to get out of the fountain, trying to avoiding scraping the rocky ledge.  I trembled, too stunned to speak, my eyes wide as I stared at Isabel.
She shrugged, “You needed that.”
“What?” my teeth chattered.
“You’ve only got minutes before you’re in danger of catching a cold.  What are you going to do.”
I hurried toward the house, but Isabel yanked me back.
“No!  C’mon, this is life and death we’re talking about!  Let’s say you only have minutes to live, now, what will you do with them?  Run for comfort and solitude, or enjoy the moment?”  She led me toward a nearby puddle.  “You’re already soaked, why not pay the water back for its maliciousness?” 
I shook my head.  This was nonsense. 
“Jump on it,” she yelled smiling.  “Trust me.  I’m not letting you go back inside until you do.  I already dunked you hoping you’d get something out of it.  Prove me right!  You’re not like the other girls.”  She paused, waiting for a response.  “Anna, you have to start having fun with your life before it’s gone or before you’re too old to figure out how!”
I was starting to understand, but it was still strange to me. 
“Don’t you ever just want to do something sporadic and ridiculous just to have fun?  This is your chance, now jump before you get too cold and have to go inside!...Jump Anna!”
I leapt, smashing the oblong pool of water with my feet.  It actually felt warm across my legs and feet.  I was about to tell Isabel that it was not as bad as I’d imagined, but she was already pulling me away. 
The courtyard’s uneven stones were a haven for puddles of all depths and shapes.  Isabel hauled me beside her as she smashed puddle after puddle. 
Before long I noticed that she was not attached to me any longer and I was not standing still, nor was I seeking shelter.  I was puddle hopping.  Warmth flowed to my arms, legs and face.  We each ran a different course laughing and springing. 
She tugged on my arm.  “Ok, time to go inside.  You’re a first timer and there’s no sense over doing it, besides, it’s starting to snow.”
I suddenly came to myself.  I quickly looked around us.  No one was near, no one had seen us.  I smiled and we silently sprinted toward the house.
We were soon in my sitting room, our hair still wet, but wrapped in shawls and dry gowns.  The blazing fire breathed its warmth upon us.  Nora had been extremely confused when I had rushed into my room quivering and assumed that I was freezing to death.  I did not tell her that my very frame shook from excitement.  How strange I felt!   Soon after I was again dry and decent, Isabel had knocked at my door. 
            “Isabel, would it be alright if I asked you a question?”  My mind had been racing uncontrollably, flitting from thought to thought as a humming bird, unable to settle in one place. 
            “Ask me whatever you want.  I’m an open book.”  She replied in an almost sing-song way.
            “Why are you always so happy?”  She looked at me for a second, confused.  “With all of the horrendous affairs you have endured, how can you smile day after day?  How are you able to sing and laugh so freely when you have seen how cruel life is?  I do not believe I have ever seen you wear a sour expression.”
            She smiled, pleased with my question and excited to answer. “That is the secret I’ve been wanting to share with you.  Why no one ever understand this, I’ll never know.”  She leaned forward in her seat.  “Life isn’t cruel, people are.  That was a hard distinction to realize after my brother was killed.  I thought I could never be happy again.  My parents shut down.  I was sure that the world would end.”  She paused.  “I’m not sure when I found a reason to be happy again.  I just remember becoming conscious that I was the one who chose how I felt.  I could choose to live depressed and angry, feeding all of my resentment and sorrow until I decided not to live anymore, like my mother, or I could choose to be happy.”
            “But how do you do it?  How do you act so happy when your life has been torn apart?”
            “That’s the thing, I don’t act—I am happy.  Every morning I wake up and decide to make it a good day.  Bad things still happen to me, and I feel awful sometimes, but I try to make the best of everything.”
            “Do you ever have times that feel dark and hopeless?” I asked, my eyes wandering ashamed to study the curtain.”
            “Anna, everyone feels that way sometimes.  If I ever feel overwhelmed, I try to remember what I’ve already overcome and I know that whatever I’m facing can’t be much worse than that.  It’s something I always have to work on.  I try to notice when I’m in a bad mood, or feel like I’m having a bad day and decide to make it what I want it to be, not just how I’ve seen it.  Something that helps me a lot is thinking to myself, ‘Am I acting in a way that will make me feel better or worse?’ and I go from there.”
            It sounded so simple.  Was she right?  Was I feeding my own negative emotions and causing my own depression, robbing myself of happiness?  My mind rejected the notion, but I forced myself to ponder it. 
“Now, can I ask you a question?”
            I must have been quietly thinking for a long while, her voice startled me.  “Of course!” I tried to sound enthusiastic.  I was very grateful to her for sharing such personal thought and experiences with me. 
            “Why is it that Princess Anna, heir to the throne of Acacia, always seems so withdrawn?”  I unconsciously hid my face behind my hand that my chin had been resting on.  “What could possibly make you so sad?  I know you try to hide it.  You try not to let anyone see how unhappy you are.  You put on a smile and work harder than anyone else, but you’re sad, and not just a little bit.  It’s a level of sadness that most people don’t know exists and can’t recognize.  You look how I used to feel.  But why?  What’s happened to you?”
            I tried to hide my horror.  Was I so completely transparent?  I could not possibly tell her!  I despise lying, but what other choice did I have?  I had to protect my family—I would not betray my oaths.  But Isabel was so perceptive, surely she would see through any fabrication.  I decided to tell her more than I had ever told anyone.  Hopefully it would keep her from asking more.  Surely this small indulgence would not endanger my family, nor would it reveal the dark truth that I strove to hide.
            “I miss my mother,” I sighed.  “It is so painful not being with her, not having a mother’s encouragement when my duties consume me, when my identity is stripped away piece by piece until I cannot remember my true self.”  I stopped.  I had said more than I had intended, but surely it would not be too much.
            Instead of pressing me to continue, we simply sat silently, both of us lost in thought.
I deeply wished to be free of my bond, but perhaps since I knew I was resigned to my duty, I would someday, like Isabel, create my own happiness.

More coming soon! Read Chapter 4 of Arabesque here or more about my projects here.

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