When I first “found” Ana, she was alone and her heart was weeping for a friend. So was I. With my pen, my words, we brought each together. Both bound by heartache, pain, and loneliness, it was inevitable for me and Ana to be both intertwined.
PREVIOUS: PART 2
Outside of Anayissa’s window, trees are being meticulously stripped of their vitality by the bitter wind; a harbinger of the approaching season of antrawea transpires. Nude trunks with thin, curling branches like atrophic limbs sway underneath the whistling breeze–stray debris thumping relentlessly into the glass window. This time of year, the nights are a thick, dense gray that will cover the radiance of the moon like a cloak. Soon, the unforgiving brush of snow will spread across the country like a disease and Ana will watch from her lone spire, unruffled and unfeeling as snowflakes flutter gracefully from the opaque, formidable sky.
The Princess of Mycea, Anayissa Mirabella Francesca Rhyse de Cliousa, is a picture of loveliness as she idly sits on her divan, watching the sky that looks like ashes, with absent, faraway eyes. Fitted in a slimming dove grey gown, Ana’s hair is strategically styled and brushed back to reveal the softness of her face, the bold slash of brows that arch over her almond shaped eyes, and the youthful flush of her cheeks.
There is an energy about the princess that draws people to her like flame; even though she purposefully isolates herself from Court life to hide from the penetrating, judging stares. But who could blame them–Anayissa is arguably the most beautiful girl in the Four Kingdoms. The famous de Cliousa golden skin is faultless and shines healthy, her dark hair, with traces of red and blonde from the sun, spirals down her back with no regard, and her eyes, light brown with flecks of gold, are both compelling and beguiling–the strongest of swimmers from Jerome` could drown in their unending depths.
It is difficult to pinpoint what truly makes the princess the quintessence of beauty; maybe it is how her eyes sparkle when she laughs, her teeth, healthy and white, sharp against her tanned skin, or the sadness that mimics a hopeless despair that floats like bloated, decaying bodies in the dead-tossed waves. But Anayissa’s beauty is more than skin deep; it is her soul that is unfathomably resilient and awe-inspiring–the multi-layered scars, grooves, marks, and every individual blemish that “ruins” her essence is unashamedly visible. Anayissa may be young but her soul is old and weary from a fight she only has just started.
Each day is difficult for the princess to find the will to strive on; the demonic whispers in her head mock her progress and her amplify her shame. But Anayissa’s story has only begun to unravel; a victim of misplaced love and premature heartbreak, she can only watch as her world is suffocated by the telltale signs of the beginning of the pure wrath of winter’s icy embrace.
Absentmindedly kissing the fuzzy head of her bipolar terrier, Ana surveys the storm with a look of concentration across her pretty, expressive features. True to her breed, Ringa aggressively growls at Ana, her small body springing off of her lap as she saunters to the other side of the room. Her eyes glossing over with territorial rage as she finally settles atop her favorite chaise, Ringa glares at Ana from her perch like a lioness.
“Oh, Ringa,” Ana sighs with indignation, bemoaning her lack of affinity with animals.
Many young women her age have lapdogs that jump up to lick them, canaries that sing with them, and horses that jump at the chance to give them a ride. But for Ana, it has always been impossible for her to form a bond with any of the pets she possessed over the years. Her own horse Hanna cannot stand her, purposefully making it harder for her to get on and off the saddle and biting her whenever Ana is struck with enough courage to attempt petting her. The exotic collection of animals in the castle’s menagerie hiss any time Ana visits them, baring gifts to the beasts whose eyes are as broken and lost as hers.
Sighing once more, Ana reaches for her new diary, like a talisman, the soft cover of the journal soothes her as she runs her fingers over the fine leather. The diary lies open and blank before her, the white pages demanding ink and honesty, but Ana cannot muster the courage to transfer her pain to parchment. So many emotions knock on the door of Ana’s mind, demanding to be let out. How can she decide which to speak of first? Thinking of her family, Ana trains the point of her feathered pen as she visualizes the gray, stern faces of her grandparents.
Ana’s grandfather King Cobian died when she was a child and her grandmother Queen Gre’Andrea soon after. They were never a constant factor in her life.
After Ana’s Papiee took the crown, her grandparents left and resided in their ancestral home Francesendale Manor. Ana and her Namieé were rarely invited, her grandparents disapproval too stifling and awkward for them to bear. When they would muffle the courage to attend a scheduled brunch or party, mother and daughter were met with scorn and contempt. Before Ana’s Papiee married her Namieé, there was a tension between Mycea and Aestha, which is ironic due to the factual reason that Mycean do share blood between their affluent neighbors. People are quick to forget when pride and money is in the mix.
Aestha raised the prices of their oil and King Cobian closed the ports, withholding any trade between the two countries. Because of this, both countries faced economic causalities and the people rebelled. After the destruction of the famed Chrysanthemum tree that was first planted by the settlers of Mycea, the Treaty of Chrysanthemum was finally signed by King Bror and King Harold to unite the two countries. The loss of an honored landmark allowed the two warring countries to put aside their differences. Honest trade once again occurred and neither Aestha nor Mycea would raise their prices for goods outrageously, as the treaty stated.
Though the compromise appeased the Kings, it did not soothe the ire of the populace. There was a rift between the two people, causing prejudices and hate crimes.
Stiff like an Aesthan!
Those money-grabbing Myceans!
So like in any fantastical fairytale, the royal families of the two adversary countries decided that marriage was the renowned panacea. Queen Gre’Andrea did not favor and was very adamant about her disapproval of the Aesthan princess. The Queen would remark that Ana’s mother was too “stiff” to be a proper queen with her foreign looks. Her and the Ladies of Court mocked Ana’s Namieé’s yellow hair and “corpse pale” skin. There was no love shared between Ana and her grandparents, their constant disapproval of her driving Ana to improve her feminine talents. Practicing her ballroom dancing before Queen Gre’Andrea, Ana would finish her routine, a smile edged with anxiety as the Dowager Queen looked on with unveiled indifference.
Ana continues to ponder, her straight, white teeth absently biting into her rosy pink lips. As a princess, Ana has been meticulously groomed for a purpose Ana’s skin moisturized with expensive lotions and creams every day and night, her hair brushed and styled by the expert fingers of her handmaidens even for the most inconsequential jaunts, and her dresses, fitting smart on her petite figure, elegant folds of cloth designed and imported from elite shops on Francesco Avenue in Terrace.
To be a princess, is to be a tool, sharpened until she shone like a stiletto. Ana must admit that the pampering is tiresome–each waking moment dedicated to making her look presentable for her Papiee, her potential suitors, the Ladies of the Court of their failures, and the commoners–to remind them of their inferiority and undeserving to have the health and length of her wealth of hair. But no one ever asks Ana what she wants to wear her hair or what kind of dress would suit her. Rather, each and every detail that goes into her image is already premeditated by a group of aging men who could care less of the opinion of a wilting flower of a princess.
Beauty is currency in not only Castle Bastille but throughout the glossy Kingdom of Mycea.
As she hears the clink of fine china in the connecting room, Ana is almost relieved for the distraction, as if separating herself from the unanimated object and her wandering thoughts would bring her relief. A sweet smell wafts through the air, tugging at Ana’s weakness, her sweet tooth and settling her wavering resolve.
Launching from the cushioned settee, Ana exits her cavernous bedchambers with a bounce in her step, her slippers soft against the fine carpet–almost tripping in her haste to escape the dense cloud of negativity that had been catching up to her as of recently.
The adjacent room has bold dashes of emerald green and cream-colored walls, fashioned with dark, wooden furniture, imposing candelabras etched with a whimsical design of birds and woodland creatures, and a handcrafted dining table bearing an arrangement of chrysanthemums flowers in a glass, transparent vase. Though the thick green drapes are tightly shut, Ana can still hear the howling of the wind from the outside. If the weather were not so treacherous, the windows would have revealed a picturesque view– the dazzling view of the rippling blue waves of the Passeria Ocean captivating her insatiable mind.
Entering her drawing room, Ana smiles as she beholds the delectable treats being set up for her late afternoon tea.
Her ladies-in-waiting, Laura and Julia, lie out a woven basket of blueberry scones, thin pastries with cranberries and almonds, and a full kettle of bergamot tea with honey, sugar cubes, and sliced lemons placed meticulously on the side.
Mouth beginning to water in anticipation for the ample spread before her, Ana greets her girls, “Good afternoon, Laura, Julia. Thank you, this all looks amazing.” Walking over to the steaming teakettle, Ana carefully lifts the lid and sniffs the contents inside before smiling. “Ah, yes bergamot tea,” Ana inhales the scent of the freshly brewed leaves, “With antrawea so near, this will indefinitely fight off the chill.”
Though Ana proudly acknowledges her Aesthan blood and revers her Naimee’s people, she is reluctant to admit that she cannot not bare the incessant cold. Preffering the warmer seasons, Ana is guilty to admit her aversion to the cold is one of the reasons why she has not visited her dear cousin in Eastican in ages.
The blonde beauty and the dark-haired girl with stunning blue eyes pause before bowing to her, “Princess,” they stiffly reply in unison.
Everything about Laura and Julia is immovable–their starched uniforms, blank features, and lips thinned with strain. There is no telltale sign of the entertaining day they shared before the storm brewed and the sky bled from a tranquil blue to a dark, angry grey. The three girls had been chatting in Ana’s boudoirs while excitedly nibbling on imported Frysessa chocolates. The company had been habitually pleasant; the servants supplied the juiciest of castle gossip and Princess Ana laughed heartily, tears springing from her eyes in exuberance as she handed out the sweet, dark candies that melted in their mouths.
Though it is not law, it is still seen as unseemly for a young woman of such high status in society to associate so informally with her servants but given the limited and despairing options, Ana will always disregard the conventional outlook.
Itching at their formality, Ana is tempted to announce her disapproval until she remembers witnessing her Ana’s papiee taking them aside and speaking with them privately earlier today. The King never approved of the malapropos friend’s Ana kept over the years, especially looking down her friendly and familiar camaraderie with her handmaidens–whom he deems, unsuitable friends from a princess.
The crushing tides of loneness returns once more, her heart heavy and the pain throbbing throughout her entire body. Ana pushes down the pain that has accompanied the thought of her high-handed Papiee whose sole mission is to crush her emotionally and physically and force a pleasant smile to form across her lips. Ana sits gracefully down–indecently grabbing for the scone that would have caused her unscrupulous, bothersome Manners tutor to suffer from a massive and much deserved stroke. The fat man with a finely trimmed mustached, thoroughly enjoyed berating Ana’s etiquette and her posture, claiming that if it were not for her beauty, no man would ever desire to marry her.
“Indeed, a very charming man”, Ana murmurs to herself. Ana takes another healthy and unladylike bite.
Ana catches a slight smile on Julia’s lips, which would have propelled Ana into a conversation with her personal and favorite servants but Laura’s ready gaze interferes.
Attempting once more the rise a reaction from them, Ana pauses from munching to mutter casually, “Will the Queen be joining me? It would be prudent for me to wait then.”
Laura answers quickly, as if itching to answer her question so she can leave, “No, Your Highness. The Queen retired early. Her personal maid claims that she has a headache.”
Worry erasing all her earlier doubts; Ana pushes her plate to the side. “Did it seem serious? Do we need to send for the physician?”
Ana’s Namieé had quietly announced her pregnancy two months prior and Ana is determined to wipe away the darkness that blackened her Naimee’s eyes at the physician’s declaration. No woman should be distressed at the prospect of bearing a child but for woman like Ana’s Namieé, they should also never have to fear that their husband’s would beat them until they can no longer hold the pregnancy.
Fear for her unborn baby sister or brother, Ana voice is shaky when they do not elaborate, “Will the baby be okay?”
“Oh, no Princess!” Julia shakes herself from her stoic state, stepping closer to Ana as if she were to comfort her. Her blue eyes warm and compassionate, Julia says reassuringly, “Your mother–Queen Suzette is fine. It was just the morning sickness that troubled her. The apothecary gave her a tonic to settle her stomach,” she finishes with a tentative smile.
Relief making her giddy, Ana laughs, the happiness crashing through her like waves leaves her breathless. “Oh, thank Olliah. That is good news; I will visit her later then. Maybe I will bring her a plate of cookies–cranberry and almonds are one of her favorites; it will cheer her up.”
Julia opens her mouth as if to respond, but Laura’s next words are like a hammer.
“Will there be anything else you desire, Princess?” If it is possibly, her voice is even stiffer than before, emotions scrupulously stripped from her speech.
Swallowing down the bite of sweet tang of the berry and the slight hurt, Ana replies weakly, “No, thank you. That will be all.”
Laura and Julia bow once again, movements stiff as they exit her bedchambers. The sudden silence is stifling and Ana pushes down the urge to call back for them. The ominous wind continues to shriek, beating at the castle walls with the tenacity of a vindictive lover.
Because Ana refuses to be apart of society and decisively exiling herself mostly in her rooms, she spends most of her time alone–save her friendship with her servants and sometimes with her Namieé, whenever she is not sequestered in her own rooms.
Namieé choice of drug is nostalgia–a thrilling escape with limited benefits and wounding consequences. When women like Ana’s Namieé experience such harsh realities daily, declawed and emotionally maimed, and thousand of miles away from her home–her home where her childhood was ideal and grand– memories of their past are their benediction, the panacea that leaves Queen Suzette immobile and unfeeling as she stares of into the window–snowflakes and ice in her distant, crystalline eyes.
Her mouth dry, Ana takes a sip of tea, the scent of lemon and the warmth, momentarily chasing away the chill and her harrowing thoughts from the rooms. The fireplace is crackling at the other side of the room, the yellow-orange flames, a low-burning blaze, the licks, like grasping hands, returning empty-handed each time.
Taking another sip, followed by a testing bite of the unfamiliar pastry, Ana is struck with a yearning for companionship. It is natural for any being under the sun to crave friendship. Loneliness is a heavy cloak around Ana’s stiffened shoulders that she fears can never she shed.
Sneaking a careful glance towards her dog, Ana could almost believe she was not destined to have anyone to truly understand her, bereft of a constant companion, it will leave her alone in this godforsaken world.
Though Ana loves her Namieé unconditionally–the love for her almost desperate and reckless in some ways– she is aware that Suzette can sometimes be swept up in her own pain and grief to comfort her daughter who also suffers. If Ana does bring up her worries, the misery heavy in her Namieé eyes is staggering. For Suzette to know that her snow cub is unhappy, is to acknowledge that she has failed to protect her.
So Ana’s silence results in her once again, sitting alone–listening to the servants talk and laugh quietly as they walk by, as she drowns in waves of sinking depression. The dark emotions are heavy–dragging her down as a small part of her struggles to reach towards the light. Each day has become a challenge for Ana to even leave her bed–Laura and Julia have resulted to begging her to arise to dress and eat and to perform the simplest of tasks. But they cannot see the terror in Ana’s eyes each time she wakes, nightmares and fear dark and deep in her eyes as she wakes. If her heart did not already beat, her lungs expand and release cool breathes, Ana fears that she would have already perished long ago.
If I scream, will my cries be heard? She would wonder as she watched shadows swell and expand on the ceiling of her bedroom.
Tears trail from her eyes as she envisions her bleak and dreadful future. A tear falls from her cheeks, a splash indicating they have fallen in her tea. Knowing her stoic Papiee and his harrowing expectations for her to marry, Ana can expect many years tied to man that she will learn to loathe and fear. A cycle of wretchedness and abuse will follow her for the rest of her life–hopefully ending with her and not staining and ruining the lives of her future children.
Looking back towards her drawing room where her untouched diary lies, Ana sets down her dainty tea cup–part of a set that was a gift from her Nivo Bror in Aestha– and strides to her desk with resigned purpose.
Her mind miles away–a private beach where footsteps fade beneath the warm, turquoise waves and the full moon rests on her throne in the sky made of shades of purple and indigo–Ana smiles dreamily as she writes feverishly as she imagines white sand crunching underneath her toes.
When Ana writes, her mind becomes focused–the cacophonous noises from the outside world, the desperate crackling of the flames, and the loud sounds of sobbing that she can never truly escape, becomes dimmer.
Head cool and fingers poised, ink and parchment ready under her resolve, the act of writing is no longer seen a duty but therapeutic–the gnawing darkness momentarily held at bay as she gradually writes a story of a forlorn girl with hope and determination vibrant and unwavering in her golden eyes.