Once upon a time…
In a land so far away and so remote that person to person encounters were relished. In a time so long ago animals still had a voice and faeries still whispered beneath the tree leaves; there lived an ancient king whose rule was envied by many.
Rumor had it amongst the ancient folk of Wanston that King Arthur had been king from the moment he could talk. Oh, it was possible too. For this was a time when anything was possible; a time when wishes came true and dragons were not a myth. A time when shooting stars were not a rarity and fireflies pointed the way.
I should know, for I lived in such a time. King Arthur was, well I suppose you could say he was my king. Many wonder how I still live, but most would never believe the truth of my existence. I will tell you in confidence, or maybe not; still, I have nothing to lose. You see, I Lucildeer Ackerigerish Greene, am a goblin. Time travels for me in a way that is unlike that experienced by many humans.
Now, King Arthur had three breathtakingly beautiful daughters. He had not been blessed with a son, but in ancient Wanston that in itself was nothing to be ashamed of. For a daughter could inherit the throne in the same way a son could. These three princesses were King Arthur’s pride and joy. The eldest, Virginia, was tall and had sun-streaked golden curls which tumbled across the span of her small back, and occasionally, when she chose, it spread behind her like the long tail of a mermaid. That description is fitting too, for Virginia was a child of the waters.
The second daughter, Emerald Marianne was as sharp a contrast to her elder sister as there could be. For just as Virginia was tall and fair skinned, Emerald Marianne was rather short and dark skinned with skin so smooth folks swore she dipped once or twice in the quiet evenings at Buttermilk lake. I cannot dispute it, nor can I confirm it, for I, a night creature myself, never caught the second daughter of the King in such an act. Emerald Marianne also had a long mane of hair, which shined as black as midnight and reached below her small waist. Unlike her sister, she never grew it longer than that, for of all three sisters, she was believed to have inherited King Arthur’s practical sense. Still, just as Virginia was a child of the waters, she was a child of the Earth.
Now, the last born daughter was no child of the water, nor was she a child of the Earth. Laura Penelope, except for a beauty that was incomparable to any other, was an ordinary girl. While her eldest sister quietened sea storms and summoned fish to the shore and her second sister summoned all four winds, whispered plants to life and breathed life unto wounded animals, Laura Penelope ran through the forests, skinny dipped in Buttermilk Lake and rolled down hill slopes.
The youngest princess was perhaps the king’s most prized possession and yet she could well have also been at the root of most of the king’s fears. While many believed Laura Penelope had not received any special gift from the faeries, I believed, she was born with it; a natural cheerfulness that never wavered, a playful spirit that never grew old. If she could ever have been referred to as the child of anything, I like to think she would have been called a child of the sun.
Laura Penelope had hair unlike any that I have ever seen nor that which I believe I will ever see again in my immortal existence. There were times when I thought it was white as snow, other times I was confident it was grey and then there were hundreds of folks who could swear the youngest princess had fiery red hair. Others were positive it changed according to her mood, or the weather, they could never be sure which. Still, of all my encounters with her, Laura Penelope wore her hair white. For of all three princesses, the one I ever got to know was Laura Penelope.
“Are you lonely?”
I remember this question clearly for it was my very first encounter with Princess Laura Penelope. She was standing before me wearing the prettiest of all smiles with a messy banquet of flowers she had been picking. I had seen her many times in Iriana Forest but I suppose I had not been the only one doing the ‘seeing.’
“Yes, I suppose I am,” it could have been the innocent yet cheerful and friendly scrutiny she was giving me with her emerald eyes, or the fact that my kind had not originated from Wanston, my failing to address her with her title, I mean.
“Wait for me until I come of age, I will marry you,” she said innocently, smiling at me with utmost sincerity. She might have been six then, I could have been a little over ninety, pretty young too for my kind. I could have laughed, but she was too young to understand why a human, let alone a princess could never marry a goblin.
“Are you going to marry every lonely man in Wanston?” I asked, barely concealing my amusement. She was thoughtful for a moment, then with a slight crease of her eyebrows she looked up at me again.
“I’ve only met you.”
I could not argue with that. The likelihood of her ever meeting another lonely man in Wanston was probably slim to none. Wanston was like a close knit family, you could not be lonely, even if you wanted to, unless of course you happened to be the only goblin. How that came about is a tale for another day.
I watched the princesses grow from afar, but mostly I think I really watched Laura Penelope. Somehow, our first encounter had left a deep impression. In all our encounters after that she had never said one rude word. I might not remember all we talked about but what I do remember is how Laura Penelope laughed. It was this infectious sound that just never failed to soothe one’s heart. Or perhaps without my ever knowing it, I developed a strong liking for the youngest princess.
When all three princesses finally came of age, one after the other, they soon were betrothed and got married to their chosen grooms. Well, that is all the princesses except Laura Penelope. The general talk was that she was too playful to be able to settle down easily. I personally thought her heart was too large to love just one person. Looking back, I wasn’t too far from the truth, only, I could not have guessed exactly how large it was.
I did say the two eldest princesses each had a gift from the faeries, but like all gifts, there was always a catch. Princess Virginia and Princess Emerald Marianne could never have their children live past the age of two. This awful curse could only be stopped by a blood sacrifice. They could each sacrifice one of their children but no loving mother could ever kill her child, even if that child was going to die anyway. I suppose any stranger could have been used, but the instructions were clear, it had to be someone they loved and cherished, somebody who was family.
Now both princesses were not just beautiful, but their hearts were pure too. How could they ever kill their children? Many folks advised them, in secret of course, to rather kill their husbands and let the children live. After all, they could still find other husbands.
It was the morning after the death of Princess Virginia’s second son that a third option was unveiled to all of Wanston. An option that would forever haunt the King and forever cause the princesses immerse pain. One that would make me and the rest of Wanston realize just how big a human heart can be, and perhaps bring a whole new meaning to the word ‘family.’
The lifeless body of Princess Laura Penelope was discovered by a servant at the center of the palace courtyard. She had speared herself in the wee hours of the morning, right where everybody could find her. She knelt, her face slightly upturned as though she was gazing at the sun, a peaceful expression set on her beautiful features, her back supported by a stone statue of her late mother, the queen. A strong beam of sunlight bathing her in its brightness, as though celebrating her death instead of mourning it.
The words engraved with a sharp object on her mother’s statue were simple and yet carried so much weight;
‘So that my nieces can live.’
And so it was that the youngest princess, the once little girl who had promised to marry a goblin, sacrificed her life for the happiness of her sisters. While Wanston mourned her death, the sun welcomed Princess Laura Penelope in its embrace.
I studied Environmental Health Science. I have always loved writing. I write novels and occasionally poems. None of my works have been published yet but I am working towards that! Unforgettable moments and events inspire my stories but with poetry it's a little different. How can one describe the soft and gentle tap of a poem on your heart or perhaps even the violent rough torrent of words struggling to escape from your very core. I suppose I write my poems based on my feelings and at times sprinkle a just about enough pinch of philosophy too. Either way, I write with the hope that someone will read and maybe for that one moment see the world through a different pair of glasses.