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And now, here is the first chapter. Enjoy!
© Desmond Shepherd
“Who am I?” I ask the little girl standing in front of me.
She has hair that reaches her shoulders but sticks out in all directions as if it hasn’t been brushed in a long time. She grabs a few strands and twirls them with her fingers. She smiles wide, opening her eyes with a sparkle. She’s wearing a pink hooded sweater and purple leggings that reach to her calves. Her feet are bare.
“You’re Charming,” she says.
“And who are you?” I ask.
“I’m the pwincess!”
“You’re awfully young to be a princess.”
“Four years old is not young to be a pwincess.”
She places her right hand on her hip and pinches her lips tight.
“OK. Sorry.” I place my hands out to slow her down. “Didn’t mean to upset you. But....”
The room I’m standing in resembles anything but that of a princess’s bedroom. She knows it, too. A pile of clothes, surely dirty, sits next to a crude shelf that holds more unfolded clothes. The carpeted floor is littered with stains of brown and gray and red and black. Along the ceiling, a light brown stain travels from the one corner down the wall and toward the floor.
“This doesn’t look like any place for a princess to sleep. Where’s your bed?”
“Right there,” she says as she points a finger toward the corner of the room opposite the stained wall.
It’s a pile of three sheets. One on the floor, two others above it.
“Where’s your pillow?”
“Right there.” She points again, shifting her hand over.
The pillow is a bunched up pile of clothes consisting of two shirts, a pair of pants, and some socks.
“Princess,” I say. I bend down so I’m eye level with her. “What’s happened to your castle?”
She rolls her eyes. It seems I’m not adept at seeing things the way she sees. Mainly because she’s not letting me see it. That little tidbit she gave me in an instant.
“Charming,” she says with a tone of giving me an order. “You are my pwince. This is our castle!”
She puts both hands in the air in triumph. She walks over to the bed, taps it with her index finger, and says, “This is my royal bed.” She giggles.
The bed of sheets and pillow of clothes transform before my eyes. In a wavy motion, the sheets rise up, converting into a larger bed with a thick mattress. The cover turns into a maroon cloth with a fuzzy texture. The pillow becomes plush and bursts into a total of three large pillows. On each corner of the bed, posts grow upward with carvings of abstract circular designs in them. A canopy of similar material to the bed cover reaches to each post, draping over top.
“I say, it’s certainly a beautiful bed fit for a beautiful princess.”
She walks over to the pile of dirty clothes and a shelf and touches them.
“This is my favowit,” she says. “All my clothes and make-up.”
The clothes lift into the air and transform into long, formal dresses covered with frills and sparkles. The shelf converts into a tall off-white dresser with a closet to match beside it. Metal hangers float into the room, scooping into the dresses and floating them into the closet where they hang on the rack. Each of the four drawers in the dresser opens and more clothes sweep in, folding neatly before landing in the drawer. The drawer closes on its own, as if an invisible hand pushes it.
On the left side of the dresser, a mirror forms on the wall. An area to sit in front of the mirror, with a wooden chair at just the right height for the princess, also appears. A tabletop protrudes from the wall with an assortment of lipsticks, blush, and other materials for making the princess pretty.
The floor glows gold in a pinpoint at the center of the room and spreads outward. It changes into a flower-covered rug, stretching outward until it reaches each wall of the room.
“Now is it a pwincess room?” she asks.
“Oh definitely,” I say. “Now what do you want me to do?”
I have the need to wait for her command. She blocks off what she wants until she says it. She controls my every action. Makes me whatever she can imagine.
She runs to the bed, jumps into it, and lays flat on her back. Her eyes close tightly, stopping any light from entering. Her clothes turn into a beautiful green dress lined with yellow edges.
“Now,” she says, “you’re the pwince coming to save me. I’m at the highest part of the castle, sleeping. You have to kiss me to wake me up because the evil queen has cast a spell on me.”
A glance in the mirror shows my blond, sweeping hair. A chiseled chin and face clean of any beard. My eyes are a bright blue. When I smile, my teeth sparkle white. I’m wearing a red cape, a leather vest, and gray tights with dark shorts. My boots are leather, too.
“Ah! My princess,” I say. “I have traveled through many kingdoms to find you. My horse tired long before me. My journey led me through numerous perils. But I have found you.”
I step closer to the princess. She lies asleep. Her eyes flutter as if she will awaken. Her left eye opens quickly and closes. A big smile forms on her face.
“What must I do to waken this beauty?” I say. “Perhaps! Perhaps a kiss on the fair maiden’s lips is all that is needed to wake her from her slumber.”
I kneel down beside the bed. The princess stiffens in anticipation of the kiss. I bend downward to kiss her on the lips and awaken her. My lips almost touch hers.
“Samantha!” a voice yells from outside the bedroom. “Samantha Pruitt! Where are you girl? Where are you?” The voice grows closer and resembles that of an angry witch.
I turn to the voice, away from the kiss that would awaken the princess. The princess sits up. Her hands tremble at the sound of the woman’s voice.
“It’s the evil queen,” she whispers. “She’s found us. We have to hide.”
I grab her hands to steady them and say, “Don’t worry, my princess. I’ll keep you safe.”
“Samantha Pruitt!” the evil queen says from not far off. The walls outside thump like thunder. “Don’t make me find you.”
The room washes away from the royal bedroom to the dirty mess it had been previously.
“Come on,” the princess says. “We got to hide in the cave!”
The pile of clothes turns into a dark hole at the base of a large gray mountain. It shrinks in size as it grows further and further away, becoming a pinpoint.
“We’ll never get there in time,” I say. “The cave is too far.”
“No it’s not. Because you’re my horse that’ll take me there.”
Before my eyes, my hands become hooves. My human arms transform into the legs of a dark brown horse. My body elongates and within seconds I’m standing on four legs. My mane is blond as is my tail.
I snort out some air and shake my head. I try to speak, but my voice comes out as the neighs of a horse.
“Don’t worry,” she says, “you’re a tawking horse.”
Through the neighs I blurt out, “Hop on, my princess.” My voice is deep and commanding. “I’ll take you to safety.”
The princess hops on my back, grabs onto my mane with her left hand, and pets me with the right. We gallop toward the cave to escape the watchful eye of the evil queen.
Available at the following locations:
Print edition available at Amazon and CreateSpace.