Quite a week it's been, O readers. Not as bad as it has been, but still frustrating enough that I took today off when I hadn't thought I was going to, due to my starting to lose patience with the workplace to a dangerous degree. Well, and because I spent last night out at a friend's house and didn't get home until nearly 11. But I digress.
In any case, we interrupt what has been a Fiction Friday series to bring you a random bit of fun that popped into my head courtesy of a couple different sources. One of them is referenced in the text, and the other is Pixar's Inside Out, which we went to see earlier today and which I thought was just fantastic. So many of their analogies had me saying, "Yes! That's exactly what that feels like!"
But in any case, here is the story (or a portion of it, anyway) of Daniela's Curse. Should I continue it, in either short or long form? You tell me, O readers. Myself, I think it might just have some legs. Please enjoy!
“What,” demanded a petulant voice, “are you doing in my father’s castle?”
Abby clapped a hand over her little sister’s cursed (and Cursed) mouth. “Don’t answer that,” she hissed. “She wasn’t talking to you!” Switching on her best ingratiating smile, she beamed up at the girl standing halfway up the marble stairs, the lace hem of her nightgown brushing the stone around her feet. “We’re not doing anything,” she said rapidly, shaking her head. “Who said we were doing anything? We’re just passing through, we’re going to leave now...”
“Wait.” The other girl came down another few steps, staring at them avidly. “Who are you?”
“They call me Dani,” Abby’s sister answered, pushing Abby’s blocking hand away. “What about you?”
“Dani.” Abby wanted to tear out her hair, or preferably her sister’s hair, and settled for a vehement growl. “Don’t talk to her!”
“But she asked me a question,” said Dani in the reasonable tone which made her family want to scream. “I have to answer.”
“You do?” The other girl’s eyes (an odd bluish green, not a proper brown like Dani’s or Abby’s) widened in interest.
“Faithful, help us now,” Abby muttered under her breath.
“Yes, I do.” Dani nodded earnestly, her dark mass of hair rippling with the motion. “It’s my Curse. What’s your name?”
“Lady Rachel of Greenvale.” The other girl tossed her yellow hair over her shoulder in a practiced motion that made Abby want to laugh. “What are you doing here?”
“We came to answer a question. Why aren’t you asleep?”
“My maid shut the window, and the room got stuffy. So I got up to open it, and then I heard you talking. What question?”
Dani lowered her eyes. “I can’t answer that,” she said sadly. “It’s not allowed.”
“Allowed?” Lady Rachel sniffed in disdain. “I never care about what people say is and isn’t allowed.”
“People?” Abby surprised herself by laughing with disdain equal to Lady Rachel’s own. A girl who looked to be no more than a year younger than her own thirteen had no excuse for being this foolish. “You think people made these rules? Dani’s Curse comes from the Lawless. Our mother was caught away from home when Dani was born, and no one was there to say the blessing, so the Lawless were able to lay a Curse on her instead.”
“Don’t be foolish.” Lady Rachel looked down her nose at the other girls. “The Lawless Ones are a myth.” She glanced uncertainly from Dani to Abby. “Aren’t they?”
“No.” Dani shook her head surely. “They’re not. But neither are the Faithful Ones,” she added with a smile. “And after my family asked their help, they were able to change my Curse. Where the Lawless originally laid down the Curse that I should answer every question I was ever asked except the ones that could help me, the Faithful made it so I can answer some of the questions that will help me. But they couldn’t make it so I could answer all of them. So we have to work around it.”
“We asked Dani when it would be possible to break her Curse,” said Abby, since Lady Rachel still hadn’t closed her mouth. “And she told us this summer was the first time it would be possible. So we waited until this summer, and then we asked where we had to go. And she said—”
“Here!” Dani twirled in place once, holding out her arms for balance. “Greenvale Castle! So our parents asked the Faithful to make everyone in the Castle sleep, and we came here. Except you aren’t sleeping.” She frowned. “So maybe you weren’t meant to. Abby, ask me another question.”
“All right.” Abby thought for a moment. “Dani, what do we need from Greenvale Castle?”
“I can’t answer that. It’s not the right question.”
“Not the right question?” Abby scowled. “That doesn’t make any sense. That’s why we’re here.”
“So maybe you asked it wrong.” Lady Rachel sat down on the steps. “People who do wrong things like sneaking into castles at night usually do other things wrong too.”
Abby took a deep breath. “Dani, what’s the right question to ask you?”
“I can’t answer that. It’s not allowed.”
“Of course it’s not.” Lady Rachel snickered. “Go on, Abby. This is getting good.”
“If you’re so smart, you ask her!” Abby shouted, her self-control undone by this infuriating girl. “Go on, see for yourself!”
“Fine. I will.” Lady Rachel tossed her hair over her shoulder again. “Dani, which word in the question is the wrong word?”
“What,” said Dani with an expression of relief.
Lady Rachel frowned. “Didn’t you hear me? I said, which word in the question is wrong?”
“And I said, what!” Dani bounced in place. “That’s it, Abby! You understand, don’t you?”
“Yes.” Abby grinned. “It’s just like the joke Papa loves to tell. Who’s the father, What’s the mother, and I Don’t Know’s the baby.”
“Now you’re not making any sense,” said Lady Rachel irritably. “All I asked was which word in the question was wrong!”
“And Dani told you, my lady.” Abby reached into her pocket, understanding at last why her mother had given her the glass sphere filled with poppy powder. “The wrong word in the question was ‘what’. We didn’t come here to find a ‘what’. We came here to find a ‘who’.” She pulled out the sphere and flung it, smashing it on the step beside Lady Rachel. “You.”
Lady Rachel’s eyes filled with shock. Then they rolled back in her head, and she slumped onto the stairs.
“I hope we don’t have to do anything bad to her,” said Dani worriedly. “Do we?”
“Do we, Dani?” Abby returned as she counted in her head to thirty, to give the poppy time to dissipate.
“No.” Dani sighed thankfully. “But she is important,” she added. “I wonder why?”
“That’s what we’re going to take her home and find out.” Abby started forward. “Grab her feet, would you?”