“Marina! Mari-na!” Claire shakes me awake. “Wake-up! Wake-up!”
“Okay, okay, I’m up!” I protest groggily. The sun filters though the threadbare curtains.
“Come on now girls. The assembly starts in a half hour. Let’s get going.” Heather pokes her head into our room to tell us.
“Alright. What’s going on?” I ask Claire.
She climbs down the ladder and hugs me. “Today the Queen will tell everybody who she wants to be the nom-in, nom-in - “
“Nominees?” I ask as I pull on my green sundress.
“Ya!” Claire finishes excitedly, twirling in her layered purple shirt. She takes my hand and pulls me out the door.
As we rush out of the house, I see everyone else in the entire village rushing out of their houses. Everyone is heading in one direction - the town square. Claire and I join the surging crowd and are whisked away in the excitement.
“Marina!” I spot Heather waving to me and pull my little sister towards her.
“Heather! What’s going on? Where’s Finn and Annette?” I ask hurriedly.
“Hello, there dearies.” Heather says breathlessly. “Well, to answer your question, all this hullabaloo is because the Queen is announcing the two citizens who might be ruler! And I believe Finn and Annette are already ahead of us. Everyone is crammed into the town square.”
I glance around to try to find either of my friends but I can’t see them for the huge amount of people gathering. “We should get going.”
Heather nods and grabs our hands. I’m on one side, and Claire is on the other. I look up at Heather and can’t help but smiling. She has gray hair and twinkling blue eyes. Her full figure is always hurrying about or caring for some child in need. Together we whisk through the crowd in search of Finn and Annette. Presently, we find them.
“Hey, Finn!” I call.
On my tiptoes, I can see his blonde hair moving towards us. “Marina?” His voice caries through the crowd to me.
“Ya, over here!” I say. Finn and Annette find their way through the crowd and as one big group we move through the throng of people to the town square. Once we get there, we find a spot to settle down and wait for the announcement. There is an upraised platform on one end, and everyone turns to face it.
After everyone files in to the town square, the three Royal Advisors appear onstage and the entire population of the Kingdom by the Sea quiets. The only noise is a baby crying somewhere in the crowd and a mother trying to hush it.
“Dear citizens of the Kingdom by the Sea,” The Royal Advisor in charge of appointing apprentices speaks to the crowd. His name is Gerald and was very kind when I chose the career of fishing.
“Today we are gathered for a very special reason.” Louise, the Royal Advisor who takes care of Legal Processes is a tall elderly woman with graceful movements.
“The Queen is announcing the citizen nominees!” A muscular man about thirty shouts in excitement. He is Henry, the Head of the Royal Guard, and a Royal Advisor.
The crowd goes wild with excitement and the three Royal Advisors have to wait a while until the cheering subsides.
After there is silence again, a fanfare sounds and Queen Kylie herself steps onto the platform. She smiles graciously and an excited roar comes from the people. She motions for silence and immediately a hush goes through the gathered villagers.
“Welcome everyone of the Kingdom by the Sea.” Queen Kylie calls out to the crowd. “Now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for - I will announce the two citizens who you will be able to vote on to be your new ruler!”
There is a tense silence in the crowd. I hold my breath in anticipation.
“The first citizen will be…Kelly Dale!”
The crowd goes crazy and Kelly makes her way to the platform. She has tears of joy on her face.
“And the final villager is…Marina Elliot!” Queen Kylie announces with a flourish.