by colton lea
About a country girl who at a young age caught a glimpse of her Dark Prince.
I saw one, I swear I did. He was standing there, on my front porch. He stood just behind the light, choosing to stay in the shadows. All I could see was that he was a male and a tall one at that, because when I blinked, he was gone, just a memory in the night. I looked around, searching for him. As a child, I thought he was supposed to be my prince. I sighed at the thought. My own Dark Prince. At the age of seven, it was every little girl's dream to have her own prince. My version of one was just a little off kilter.
Teen Years Later
I jolted awake, from the deep darkness of my dreams. Again, that same dream echoed through my head, as it had for the past decade.
I was in the woods, a small clearing actually. It was just big enough to park two four-wheelers, and a large lifted Dodge Ram Crew Cab. It didn't make since really, since it was only me and him. I was in the tree; a lone one that stood by itself in the middle. The oak was huge and old. While the clearing was a perfect circle, it sixty feet in diameter. The tree cast complete shadow across that span. My prince stood below me, his face clear to me for the first time since I had first seen him. On my birthday ten years before.
His auburn hair brushed mid-neck. This I had known for years. It was the color of his eyes that made my head spin; my heart do a back flip. Around the outer edge it was black, then it went to hazel with an icy blue pupil. They took my breath away, and I started to inch myself down the tree. When I stepped onto the bottom branch, he backed away with a laugh.
“No, no, sweetness.” His voice was an amazingly smooth baritone that made my toes curl.
“Tell me your name,” I whispered. It came out as a plea. I had wished for many years to know him, but every time I had asked him, he vanished. I kept my fingers crossed now. Hoping, praying he wouldn't disappear.
“I may not say, darlin', just let it be known we will meet soon enough.” I noticed the Southern accent, and raised an eyebrow.
“Okay, then, I can't have your name, answer me this,” I said, carefully positioning myself into a sitting position on the branch.
“I will try, if it is allowable,” he replied, settling into a laying position just to the side of my branch.
“Where are you from? And when? You don't speak like your from this time. I know your not, so don't lie to me. I saw you that time, the first time. Your still the same aren't you?”
“Aw, sweet Katerina, you choose all the wrong questions,” he murmured. “I may not reveal anything about what I am, or what time I am from in this realm. I can answer questions involving where, and personal appeasing things, like what I like to do and things along those lines.” He sighed. “And I do not understand why I am not allowed to give you my name. I am allowed to answer but one of your questions and that is where. I am from here, actually. Just outside of Taylorsville, Georgia.”
And that was when I woke up. Always, when I was so close to getting something out of him, I woke up. I muttered something unladylike and crawled my happy self out of bed.
“Yo, Danny!” my brother Leo yelled, banging heavily on my door. “Wake your happy ass up! Birthday or not you still have farm chores to do!”
I groaned in annoyance, leave it up to Leo to come banging on my door. I bent and chunked my roper at the door. “I am working on it!” I yelled, pulling on yesterday's holy blue jeans. I slammed open the door, and ran out the door my tank top halfway on. Down the stairs and into the bathroom, I ran. I had my teeth and hair brushed in record time, and was back in my room with in four minutes t, grabbing socks and my boots. All the while, Leo was leaning against my door frame timing me.
“Eight minutes and two seconds.”
“She's beaten it,” River said. Not only was he an employee at the Broken Bronc, he was my best friend. I flung myself into his arms while he chuckled. “Happy birthday, Danno.”
“Thank you,” I said, stepping back. I gave Leo a pointed glance. “At least someone knows how to say it.”
“Eh, since when is getting old something to celebrate?” he joked, laughing a little. “Your what? Forty? Fifty?”
“Seventeen, actually,” I said, raising an eyebrow. “Daddy!” I yelled. “Bubba implied that your old!”
“Two!” came the thunderous reply.
I laughed as Leo made a swipe at me. I took off down the stairs, River behind me, urging me faster. “Mama!” I screamed, running into the kitchen. “Mama! Leo's after me!”
Mama was standing braced against the door, Daddy at the breakfast table. She let River and me past, but as Leo tried to enter the room, she stepped in the middle and put her hands on each side of the door frame.
“Now, now, Leonidas,” she said in that cultured Southern accent of hers. “What have I said about chasing your little sister?”
“But, Mama, she -” Leo started.
“No, Leo. What have I said about such things?” Mother repeated, switching into the give me the right answer or I shall whip your butt stance. It was pretty much her just crossing her arms under her chest.
“Not to do it,” he replied weakly.
In this house, Daddy ran it, but Mama enforced it. It was Mama who kept the house together, Mama who kept us in line. Mama, who delivered the well deserved beatings. Unless we made Daddy very angry, he never lifted a hand to discipline us.
I held back a giggle, knowing that it would only get me into trouble. Birthday or not, nobody in this house ever – and I do mean ever – got special treatment. Rule number one; never draw unflattering attention to yourself if you didn't want a beating.
“Then why did you do it?”
It was a rhetorical question that could only be answered with, “I'll think twice before I do so next time, Mama.”
“Good boy, now go do your chores.”
“But, I haven't had breakfast yet,” Leo whined.
“Aw,” Mama said sarcastically. “You'll live until lunch, now go show the new hand around. River left him in the guest house to get unpacked.”
Leo let out a long self-suffering sigh. “Yes, ma'am,” he said indignantly in his thick country accent. And Broken Bronc tradition, after grabbing the cowboy hat off the hook no one left the houses without, banged his fist against the door jamb. Mama was the only one that wasn't ridiculed and picked at for not doing it, because to her, it was unladylike. I, for one, wouldn't be caught dead not doing it.
“And you, Missy,” my mama said, addressing me, “There are five horses out there that have to be worked before you take Wrangler out.”
“Yes, Mama,” I said, walking to the door and repeating the tradition. River was right behind me.