Good day to you, O readers! The email I've been waiting for still hasn't arrived, which has me in a bit of a grouchy mood, but I'm working to overcome that with various forms of coping, such as petting cats, chasing dogs, watching baseball, cooking dinner, washing dishes, sweeping floors, what am I forgetting here? Oh yes. Writing stories.
I'm not going to make any grand promises here, but I haven't forgotten that I now owe my Patreon followers bi-weekly chapters of fanfiction, where possible. Fingers crossed that it will start to become possible again very soon here. I've had a few hopeful signs so we shall see what we shall see.
For today's Fiction Friday piece, we have a shorter-than-usual fairy tale bit, though I venture to think it's still satisfying. It describes a kingdom with an unusual custom for its daughters, but one I think you may enjoy. Does it have an underlying message? No more than anything else I write. But I'll leave you to decide that on your own. Whatever you think of it, please do enjoy!
The carriage passed under the last archway and into the darkness of the magical tunnel beyond, and both its passengers sagged against the cushions. "Finally!" groaned the Princess Elissa, reaching up wearily to take the tiara off her head. "Nine hours of being on display! I never realized how hard just sitting still and looking pretty could be!"
"Even luncheon isn't really a break," agreed the Princess Alanna, reaching around to rub her shoulders under the neckline of her dress, "because there's nowhere to go that people aren't watching you. No quiet, no privacy, no chance to catch up with yourself."
"How do people stand it?" Elissa looked over at her sister curiously. "How do you stand it? I know you've been the Visible Royal for a few years now, ever since Mother got too ill to go out in her carriage every day, but I didn't think it would be quite this bad. Especially when everyone seems to think we can solve their every problem, and half the time I can't even understand what they're talking about!"
"Well, they don't have anyone else to ask." Alanna shrugged. "Like you said, Mother's ill, and Father's so busy with all his trade delegations and ministers of departments that he can't make the time to see anyone who isn't at least that important. So all the little people come to us, and if we can help them, we should." She smiled a little. "At least figuring out where they can get the help they need breaks the monotony of being driven around all day long for people to look at us!"
"Why do we have to do that, anyway?" Elissa peered out the window at the sparkling darkness all around the carriage, visible indicator of the magic which would whisk the princesses halfway across the kingdom to their father's palace in less than an hour. "What good does it do people to look at us?"
"It reassures them that we exist, I suppose. That we're real, and really willing to help them." Alanna reached down to loosen the strings of her corset, sighing in relief at her first full breath all day. "Heaven knows most of the nobles aren't interested in such silly things as their people's welfare. It's beneath them, don't you know, to be bothered to so much as sign off on any of Father's proclamations about paying out tax money to fix the roads or improve the mills or purchase fertilizer for fields. Never mind that the ordinary people have no way to get those things for themselves without the nobles' help—it's not our problem, the nobles say. Get someone else to do it. Stop bothering us with little details."
"Little details?" Elissa bristled in outrage. "These are the people who do the work of the kingdom! Without them, none of us, noble or royal, would have anything! How can they be called little details?"
"Easily enough." Alanna lay back against the cushions. "If you've never had to ride in a carriage for nine hours looking at them, and listening to their stories, and trying to find ways through the maze of rules and regulations to get them what they need. If you've never smiled at them, shared food with them, cracked jokes with them. If they're only numbers on a parchment to you, not people."
"I suppose so." Elissa tucked her feet up under her skirts. "But maybe all the nobles should come ride in our carriage for a few days."
"Your mouth to God's ears, little sister," Alanna murmured, closing her eyes.
The carriage rattled on.