after overhearing some gossip, a woman runs to spread the news
|Prompt: Everyone knows that hair salons are a hub for gossip. Write about someone getting their hair done who overhears something other than the normal stuff.
Word Count: 920
Katarina stepped into the vibrant boutique and sat down on a bench covered in plush, bright pillows. Her eyes darted about the room, quickly taking in the various creams, brushes, waxes, and paints. She bit her bottom lip and examined her mangled hands. Her nails were short and had dirt under them, her knuckles were speckled with scars, and her fingertips and palms were rough and calloused.
"What am I doing?" she asked herself aloud, standing up to take her leave.
"Oh, well, hello, Hun - I am terribly sorry, I did not hear you come in!" a voice from behind her called out.
Katarina turned toward the voice, the source of it an impressive woman, her height further accentuated by her light brown hair piled high atop her head.
"I am sorry... I do not really know why I came in here. I - I just wanted... well-" Katarina began.
"You want a makeover," the woman interrupted, recommending more than asking, her cat-eyes looking Katarina up and down.
"Yes," Katarina said with a relived sigh.
"Judith!" the woman called, "I am going to need your help!"
Another dazzling woman appeared from the back. She smiled wide, her white teeth sparkling against her full, crimson-painted lips.
"Oh, Hun. We are going to have so much fun!"
The pair quickly ushered her to a chair and began working on untying the braid wrapped around her head.
"What is your name, dear?" the cat-eyed woman asked.
"Ka-" Katarina began, "Er... Katherine."
"Well, Katherine, you have very beautiful hair," she said, fanning out the long, dark waves. "My name is Mary. And that is Judith." She pointed to Judith who worked at the counter preparing some wax concoction.
"Thank you. It is nice to meet you both. I really appreciate all of your help. I know I am probably... a challenge."
"Don't be ridiculous, Katherine. You have that exotic complexion, long hair, round eyes. When we are done with you... the king himself will be demanding your hand!" Judith said reassuringly.
"Well he would if he were not already married," Mary clarified.
"Oh yes, I forget that he is married to that crass foreigner. Maybe he will leave her for you," Judith said with a wink. "I heard they both fought the marriage every step of the way - that she even tried to run away before the wedding. Can you imagine? Who in their right mind would run away from him? He would not have to ask me twice, that is for sure."
"I heard that, too," Mary said, "You did not hear this from me, but I heard she has got quite the temper. The two got in an argument once and she threw a knife at him!"
"Oh that is ridiculous," Katarina said incredulously.
"You do not believe me, Miss Katherine? I heard it straight from someone from the palace. You did not hear this from me, but she said the king's wife is quite odd. She does not like to spend time at court with the other women. I heard that over in her own country she is some sort of famous warrior."
"I heard that her first day at court she broke a man's arm!" Judith piped in, taking Katarina's hands and plopping them into the wax she had prepared, "Oh Hun, your hands! What are you doing, laying bricks?"
"Maybe the man deserved it," Katarina offered with a smile. The other women laughed.
"Oh, I am certain he did. The king will sure have his hands full, though I must admit the two seem to be a good match. They look great together, anyway," Mary admitted.
"You have seen her? The king's wife, that is?" Katarina asked.
"I saw them from a distance at a banquet once. He looked so dignified and strong. And those eyes," Mary said dreamily as she ran a brush through Katarina's hair, "And she was beautiful - smaller than I would have thought, but graceful and also powerful. For two people not wanting to be married, they sure seemed smitten with each other to me."
"Really?" Katarina asked.
"They were practically inseparable," Mary said, adding some sweet-smelling serum to Katarina's hair, "And after all, a little fire in a relationship might be a good thing. Maybe they can finally catch those agitators."
"Agitators?" Katarina asked, one eyebrow raised.
Mary carefully began to pin up small pieces of Katarina's hair. "Well, you did not hear this from me, but I heard there are still some officials from the prior regime that are not very happy with the king. There have been rumors of attacks out east, " Mary whispered.
"Do you think the king is in danger?" Katarina asked nervously.
"No, no, of course not. This is just a couple madmen trying to cause trouble. And besides, the king is the greatest warrior in the kingdom. He will put those criminals down in no time."
"Madmen are usually the most dangerous," Katarina said quietly, "They have nothing to lose."
When Katarina arrived home her perfectly pinned hair was in shambles around her face, and the makeup had begun to run around the corners of her eyes. After running back to the palace the only evidence that remained of her visit to the boutique was her smooth palms and painted fingernails.
"Lady Katarina! There you are - we have been searching for you every-" one of the courtier began.
"I need to find my husband," Katarina interrupted, breathless, "I think we might have a problem."