by Lili J.
A short story of a girl with doubts about her wedding to the future king of post war US.
|The Pink Dress
Marcus and I were walking on the rocky path of our campus. Our professor dismissed us early from our afternoon Art History class due to an incoming heatwave, which was foretold to be very, very horrible. Nobody was prepared for it, for some reason, except for the prince, who, at the moment, was strolling hand in hand with me.
Prince Marcus gave me the bottle he held in his hand, “Take a sip, you must be thirsty.”
Of course, I was one of those idiots who are never prepared. In the past, my family was poor, dirt poor. When my father got ill, my mother got a hold of a job and worked years to feed and keep a roof over my family. Then my father died, my mom was beaten with work and age, so I took care of my family. Every day, after school, I would go do laundry and chores for the wealthier families; rinse cars for those who owned them; cooked meals for those who couldn’t. That meant less time for studying, although I spent hours afterward going through past quizzes and tests. When I finished high school, I earned my scholarship to the University of Greenfield, one of the three last major schools left in New America.
“Thank you,” I took a quick sip, afraid it would seem rude to take more than that, though my mouth was very dry.
“Kristi,” Mark said in a curious tone, “how would you like to be a princess?”
My mind reeled to a picture of me in a glittering tiara, my chocolate colored waves tied into a flowy, messy braid down the back, just like the old princess movies. As I twirl, the skirt of the ocean blue dress swirling with every move. I would also wear four-inch heels that would make me fall every few steps and makeup that coats my eyelids and lips heavily. All that came in mind was what a pain it would be to walk up to crowds to inform them about changes, good or bad. And the power to change.
My grey eyes twinkle dreamily, “I would feel happy that I can help people more easily with my experience,” I return the bottle to his hand, “Why?”
He grasps my hand with such force I thought I was going to fall, and he knelt on the gravel. I look straight into his soft blue eyes, his hair─ which can’t decide to be blonde or brunette─ covering one of them once the breeze kicked up again. I gasp, surprised I didn’t realize that he was doing it!
“Kristina Levy Hayflower, will you marry me?”
I knew my answer. The breeze died down; the bottle rolled to his knees. He took my other hand, his eyes were begging me to say my answer. I was afraid that my mom would disapprove of the proposal, or would she tell me that I’m the lucky girl?
Next thing I remember was him slipping a gigantic diamond ring on my finger, and me hugging him with excitement and joy. I remember the flashing of cameras, the screaming of fans, the applause. I mean, dating the Prince of New America meant lots of publicity, having my fair share of paparazzi. This was nothing like this. I’ve been thinking in my loft when I came back from the luxurious castle, my mom is going to call me and flip out!
When I called my mom, she screamed immediately, then I could hear my twelve-year old sister scream.
“Chill out, Mom! You scared half my wits!” I shouted on the phone, “And yes, Mom, I’m engaged to Prince Charming!”
Another scream, I think she must’ve been murdered by someone.
She was laughing, and I can tell she’s been crying, “I knew I raised you good! No man in their right mind would walk away!”
“Mom, it was all a game of Chance. It was random that I managed to get into a school that Mark got into. It was random that we were in the same exact Art History class!”
“Could’ve chosen any other girl in that class or in that school,” she tuts, “But who does he choose? A poor girl who worked for two years straight, almost dropped out of high school when given a gift from a stranger, then took care of her dying father, took care of her sister, and paid the damn bills when I was in the hospita! You know what honey, you are amazing and have a bright future, and my future-son-in-law is going to be an amazing husband and father!”
I closed my eyes, “I got to go now, Mom. I love you and Hattie!”
I put my phone down. I rushed to the front door to welcome them in. There in front of me was a lady in her early thirties, and a man behind her, and a young girl behind him in a proper, straight line.
“Hello, Kristina!” The lady tightly hugged me, “I’m Fresha, your designer!”
Fresha had wild ringlets, brushed behind her ears, black as night. Her warm brown eyes were wide and sort of bubbly. She had a tattoo on her neck of a dragon crawling up to her sharp jaw. Her eyelids were covered with black eyeshadow and eyeliner that was drawn with such an angle that she almost looked dangerous. Her cheekbones were heavily exaggerated, though with her darker skin and accent, it was like she came from Africa in the time of our younger country.
The man behind her greeted me, “I’m Français, your stylist.”
Français had a shaved head and had a red, tiny braid tied on the back of his head. His golden eyes were so catlike I would’ve thought that they were contacts. He had a brown, studded leather jacket with a 1980’s rock band tee-shirt underneath.
“I am Caline, your artist,” the girl spoke up from the back, “I’ll be doing your makeup for you, even when you’re royalty!”
Caline seemed around seventeen or eighteen; around my age. She had a different look about her, as if she was all serious, but can loosen up when the time is right. She had a clean face, no sign of makeup, her chestnut hair tied to a low ponytail. Her electric green eyes seemed curious and fairly young, but she seemed like she was here just for the job.
Once everyone was in the house, I guided them to my bedroom. There, where my creaky twin bed used to be, was an expensive queen bed sent in from the castle. In my attached bathroom, I sat on a stool where Français started with my eyebrows and legs. Fresha gave me a sunshine yellow dress with a daisy white belt to wear today at the interview. When that was done, Français tied my hair into a french braid, and Caline powdered my face with makeup. Before I knew it, I was done.
I stared at the makeup mirror dabbing my eyes from tears. I looked just like myself, but newer at the same time.
“Don’t touch it!” Caline ordered.
“Okay!” I said in shock, “This is so beautiful, thank you, you three!”
“No problem, my lady,” Fresha said.
I led them to the front door.
I gave a warm smile, “Thank you, again!”
They waved as they made their way to their BMWs. Fresha’s curly hair whipped in the wind.
After an hour, I gave my see-you-laters to my sisters and my mom. Then I entered a black limousine, thanking the driver for opening the door. And then, I found myself propped up next to Mark with the host of the talk show sitting across from us.
At the interview, they asked us questions like “How did you two meet?” and to see the ring, which I blushed when I showed the reporter the beautiful jewel. The audience gave more than once embarrassing exclamation, saying aww or ooh at every story we shared. I swear, my sister is probably drooling at our responses. I think, other than the time that he asked me to for my opinion with a picture, I blushed the most. I mean, you would if you were talking about the love of your life’s story, and your story, and how you met, and your first kiss! I really did blush.
“But you said I could wear it!” I complained.
Fresha scoffed, “You are going to become Royal soon; you need to be with the traditions!”
I was in an argument with my designer. She had brought me six different wedding dresses, each from five different provinces (one of them made another), to try on before the wedding and to see which one I liked. Each province’s citizens voted on their favorite style or look, all of it custom. The favorites of each category, I’ve been told, are combined together to make a dress.. I told her the problem with each one except for one.
The first was too slim. The next one made me look fat. The third one was too long. The fourth one was too short, it showed my knees. The fifth one was too tight and explicit. The last one was perfect.
Except for the pale pink color it possessed. Fresha says it was too "untraditional" in comparison to every other bride in the royal family.
“At least it looks different!”
Fresha spoke softly, “Lady Kristina, listen to me for a moment. I understand I'm your inferior by position in court, but please listen to my advice.”
I turned her way and stared, the change in her voice was shocking. She stood from her wooden stool, and placed her hands in mine in a mother-sisterly way.
“Honey, this family, the royal family, has been around for a hundred years. Ever since the Prince’s great-great-great-great uncle became a commander in civil war with the predecessors. They are an old and loved family with high expectations and their traditions are to be kept because they are royalty.”
I sighed, again, “Mark didn’t propose to me because I was what his mother, or his father’s mother were like. He loves me because I’m different in a respectable way. He’s going to have the choice whether or not to change the rules within the family,” then I thought, “He’s probably marrying me to prove a point that love is unexpected and can’t be told about beforehand.”
I felt doubt in my heart when I thought of this. Was Mark really marrying me because he loves me; or to send a message out to the world, our marriage being the program to send it. Is he getting me involved with an argument possibly with his own parents. My eyes became wet, the dresses I was looking at earlier becoming a whirl or white and glitter. I pressed my palms against my cheeks, wiping the tears that were pouring down my face. If this was the case, should I call off the wedding.
Fresha got up to a bin of accessories and picked out a silver satin sash. She wrapped her arms around my waist and tied the sash into a pretty bow.
Fresha sighed, “At least this will make it look fine.”
“Thank you, Fresha!” I thanked her a little too early.
“Still your funeral!” she shrugged.
I smiled before pointing to the dress, “Can you take this off now?”
She nodded before removing the sash. She fiddled with the string ties before I shrugged out of the dress itself. She carefully placed it in a box before waving a formal goodbye, smiling with joy. Maybe she feels different, seeing that this was the last time that I get to worry about test scores or bills. Next time, it will be the country.
They put my dress on. The see-through fabric over the actual fabric shined like gold. Caline smeared lip gloss on my lips as she hurried to pack her things. Français put a bobby pin into my bun to keep it in place. Fresha squealed with delight. This time, she’s the one with tears in her eyes.
I can see her mascara roll along with one of her tears, like many other black tear streaks.
“I’m so excited, you look so beautiful!”
I nodded, “Thank you! You guys did all of the work!”
Caline smiled brightly.
Français gave a short nod.
Fresha continued dabbing her cheek.
I step into my heels, ready to walk into the aisle. My neck tingled as I realized that there were going to be hundreds of people. Hundreds.
One step at a time, I made my way through the seated crowd. Mark had on a traditional suit, like princes in the past. He looked so handsome with his hair combed back. He smiled at me, I smiled at him. He took my hand.
The pastor began to ask the question everyone was waiting for, “Do you, Prince Marcus Jornham, take Kristina Levy Hayflower, to be your lovely wedded wife?”
“Yes,” Mark says, looking into my eyes.
“Do you Kristina Levy Hayflower, take, Prince Marcus Jornham to be your husband, as well as become Queen of New America?”
Just like at the engagement, I knew my answer loud and clear. The throbbing in my veins, the voices in my head trying to convince me otherwise. I looked deep into his soft blue eyes. I think I saw the whole sea in them, and the whole starry night sky, and the golden heavens, all at once. I couldn’t believe that I was doubting his love for me. At that moment, I saw my whole life, and his twined up together.
I couldn’t picture a future without looking into those eyes everyday. Or sitting by him when he needs me the most. Or the feeling of happiness when our memories are full of little joys and treasures. Laughing with relief, I gave my final answer.
“Then, by the law of the good book, you are now husband and wife! You may kiss the bride!”
I smiled underneath the kiss, knowing that I married a prince and I was a princess.