He reaches out for my arm and I am filled wit contentment all over again; head to toe. He smiles down at me, with his perfect smile. It's a father's smile, concealing everything he has seen in this long life of his. The way he reaches down less every year to kiss my cheeks or forehead, he does so now. It's one of those wonders of being a father.
He thinks I don't love him anymore. He thinks this coming of age, of womanhood, of fashion and etiquette -that I should be involved in- is drawing me away from him. Oh, but there is no way to possibly explain... That a father's love is so different from any other, that it's not to be wasted or be played with. And any other kind of love is nothing but a game. Oh, how can I show him...
As I lock my arm around his, my balance returns. My nervousness is calmed by his unspoken words. His presence is solid, he calms me, caresses me. Everytime like never before.
I can't begin to say how annoying, fuzzy, and itchy this voluminous fifteen-pound dress is. All I can say is that I have been told to be as still, as straight as possible, and to have a good posture. I regret now not having taken a longer glance at myself in the mirror. I wonder how I look. I can only smell the remarkably thick layers of makeup on my face. It's as if they have dressed me up for Halloween as a zombie or a vampire. With that disgusting and gross latex. I would prefer to go hunt down the creator of latex than go trick or treating.
The foundation, the lipstick and lip gloss, eye shadow, mascara, and pink blush, are all my enemies. I had hated all of them ever since I had set my eyes on them -sometime around the age of four or five. I was because it seemed like all grown up women ever did in their life was to wear make up and be housewives. They shouldn't even be called housewives! The title is at least the name of an occupation. They don't deserve a title for anything! They don't even fulfill the duties of being a housewife. All they know -all they do- is to gossip and chit-chat. Women are the master of women drama. Sadly, I can't say that they're the master of acting, men are. And since now that I have finally turned fifteen, I'm not saying I couldn't wait until I'm finally a young woman. I will truly hate this stage of life. Unfortunately, this stage will last all my life from now on. And my father will always be there, understanding every step of it all.
Or will he?
Is he just going to just ditch me and ignore me just like the rest of them after today??
Is he going to shut me out?
How terrifying! Oh, please... please tell me that won't happen. I've battled with these same questions countless times. But, it just seems like I never win.
The King and Queen have thrown a first ball for my coming of femininity, like a birthday. It's not like I have never been in a ball or anything, but this is considered a first. Except that there's sadly no more happy birthday songs for me. No more. Zero.
I don't know why I'm happy, or why the heck I'm smiling when I should be in a corner of my dressing room, hiding and tearing myself apart. All my childishness is supposed to come to an end this very night, but I don't want it to go away. I want to be a child once again, I don't want to leave all those happy memories behind. I don't want to be exposed to the world and its fools and foul plays, harms and dangers. I want to be my daddy's little girl. I want to die that way...
I-I am sorry. Such distracting words I can say at times. Oh, I am very, very much sorry. Please forgive me.
Yes… He's smiling at me now and he's whispering something in my ear that I can't make out from all the conversations, loud whispers, and the music. All the tumult… I wish I knew what he said.
Any 'my baby girl's or 'darling's would suffice.
The doormen... Now aren't they a wonder. With their old fashioned outfits. They would have looked a lot more handsome with some kind of tux. And by the end of the night I could have even been, maybe, been flirting with one. But, I doubt it.
The Queen said she had been told that I am very fond of American history. Now, I do not know where that came from. You see now, don't you? How I was saying women are the master of drama.
And I am not at all fond of the Queen, she is nothing but your ordinary. During history class, all I do is daydream and draw on my textbook, making silly and angry faces at the Founding Fathers. Maybe this woman who has made up this spontaneous -and sadly- believable story was one of my teachers, a couple of years back... Definitely.
And she is getting her revenge now. Maybe, it's Mademoiselle Lilith. Yes. She was quite interested in the subject of revenge and punishment. However, her name sounds like the heavens itself. And I can't say she didn't look as beautiful and much like a lily. Maybe, she is a deceiver...
Or, maybe it was Madame Kawique... My ravenous Kawique. Well, I hope you understand. I was a lost mish-mash back then. I still am. Maybe, one day we'll play a game called I DON'T KNOW WHAT THIS GAME IS CALLED and you'll try to guess of the uncombinable mixtures that I am made of. Very funny.
Where were we at? Oh, yes, yes. The doorman. Alright, I will admit, I do have some pity for them and their appearances. Nice job. They have drawn me away from my self-consciousness into theirs and make me wonder how they’re surviving. After all, I'm the women who should be able to survive all of this. They are not Birthday Givers! Is there anyone who understands? They only applied to be a 'Doorman in the Palace', not 'Entertainers'. Yet another proof that the Palace's High Ranks are cowards. They simply don't care about the universe.
Well, their hair... No, their wigs. They're white, yellowish gruesome things tied back with a black ribbon. Falling behind their back, in very tangled curls. Their coat hangs down to the back of their knees like an overcoat of a composer or a pianist. They wear white trousers, loosely hanging around their legs, and white tights going to about their knees. With black shined, pointy Oxfords. You get the idea. Would be much simpler if you just look up the fashion and style of men in the 17th century.
Their faces are painted. But they're not artists and they haven't signed up to be in such a theatrical party! Humans are truly hardhearted. Pale powdered faces and heavy pink and red blush added to their muscular cheeks. They're men no more than in their early twenties. In the back of my head a thought disrupts and itches me, and I think that they do have lovers and what lovers they will have that I wont... Until the doors are opened, and I feel like I'm putting on a fake face that I'm so used to in these environments. But, the smile... It's one true unique smile.
We walk forward slowly and in pace. I hardly notice the Monsieur calling out our names and introducing us as we stop right next to him -not that no one knows who we are. It's just an odd old little habit passed on from the past generations. Father leads me on a curve that goes right, from Monsieur and the people. After all, he's done this a million times and knows this place inch by inch. But, never with a daughter. This is a first. We come to the stairs and I know immediately what we’re up to. What we’re doing… All eyes on us. All eyes on us.
Can a Cupid come and kill those eyes with his arrows that is only meant for the heart, oh but please? And in return you shall receive my love. Not that you specifically need my love. It's just all that I can give, because I have nothing else. Well... Besides my cat and squirrel, if you want it.
Were walking up and up, and my heartbeat is getting up and up. I'm freaking out that all I hear is the heels of my shoes. In front of all of this crowd my soul feels so... isolated. I try to focus the conscious part of my brain on not tripping over my hatred-filled dress. The Roi and Reine await, pliant and chins upturned in their tall cushioned royal chairs, side by side. I look down the steps as we turn right in the corner, towards them. We reach them and bow first, then put our knees down.
"My Roi, and Reine," Father says giving them each a look through his dark eyelashes, as they each stretch their right hand out, covered with a big iron ring on their index fingers. Father kisses them both and I follow, holding their hand, my lips stretched out wide and peck it.
"Yes, you may rise." The Kings' voice is somewhat quirky and sharp.
The Queen gives me a smile. I hadn't realized that the huge room had grown so still and silent as an ice cave, and when we rose the string quartet and people's voices started again. As if they had never even shut up in their whole lives. As if they'd never known how to... First, raising their glasses up, then going about their business, like monkeys in a jungle.
"Happy birthday, my dear." The Queen said.
"Oh, thank you very much. Lovely," I replied, unprepared.
"We shall have tea after dinner tonight." The Queen said.
This was one of those extremely awkward conversations.
"Y-yes, I- I will come." We give each other another smile; my body still trembling, and I leave with father besides me.
GREAT. Another set of stairs. Just perfect.
They come and go. First, their amusement is shown, then they leave without further talk. No compliments or fairness. They talk about the party and of their dresses. They're explaining who they are suppose to be, but sometimes you can just tell by the moment you lay your eyes on them. I am not anyone, just myself. Well, a seventeenth century girl.
They show off everything they have bought lately. Chattering on about the latest news and which girl has been eliminated again. Saying the least about my coming of age. And the least of acknowledgments, which are mostly from the elders. Whispering about guys and laughing out loud. 'Oh he's so cute!' 'No, he's adorable!' Daring one another to go and talk to the one she likes. Blushing and flirting. And disappointingly getting a hundred-and-three- degree fever when a girl is refused by a boy she fancied. And we laugh. The party's all about the laughing.
A few come by and get the girls they adore, making them laugh and blush, walking them around with her hands on his arms. They make them feel like women. And also highly possible for the other way around. Ha! How hilarious it sounds to my infectious mind!
Though… It makes me think about myself the more because none of them shows any affection to me. They give me nothing, not even a glance. But this party is mine. It's for me. Oh, whatever! I'm the one who vowed not to get involved with any sweet boys.
Now this is the boring part of the party. I stand in the corner, kneeling toward the window and looking out to the garden outside. The memories of childhood and desire to go back to it is running through my spine. But it's also the proof that I’m older now and disciplined enough to at least have some sense of controlling temptations at the wrong place.
Servers come and go, wearing a suit that is white from head to toe, besides their Derby dress shoes. Each one of them have white neatly folded handkerchiefs hanging on their suit coat like they want to dance. They hold silver trays of glasses of wine and beer, bowls of fruits and sweets. I take a star shaped pineapple sandwich and finally decide to just go out to the garden. I can't stand this commotion, sweaty heat and insane laughter's that you would think would turn into slaughters soon.
I open the window panel by the windows next to me and the cool breeze outside hits my face like a ocean wave. I feel as if all my problems and awkwardness inside is released. I sit down in the bench farther down the paving stone because I feel like I'm going to collapse or faint at any moment. My legs wobble as I take in the scenery of this beautiful garden. I wonder if anyone ever cared for these little graceful flowers, besides the servants, of course.
Perhaps when the members of the Royals were younger and had much more free time. And perhaps in a few more decades when another new generation will slap the face of these walls of the Palace, new, young, and fresh.
It's getting dark now, and I can barely make out the shadow behind the bushes in the pave stone. It meows and I know it's a cat. I immediately open up my gentile arms to give it shelter and start petting it. This cat is as magnificent as the garden itself, it's white as the stars and has glitter all over it. Playing silly games I see huh? But whose is it?
Could it be homeless?
Oh my sweet Jesus!
Please don't let anyone see this...
"Wondering iffff it's homeless?" A drunk-seeming voice says behind me at my confusion. I turn around and there is a fat, old blond man with streaks of grey in his hair. Misshapen, marrow bones, and not fit. Definitely out of style and old fashioned, as if he hasn't set his god gifted ten toes outside in fifty years.
"But, at the same ttime, lovves cats?"
Okay, seriously. What's up with the people in the Palace with odd voices? He talks like he doesn't know how to. Or his third grade teacher was terrible and taught the children wrong and far out of reach of being able to be untaught or erased from the memory. They should really talk more with the 'normal' people. The ordinary people of the modern world and life...
Well, so this cat is his? Uh-uh. Why is it that trouble always calls my name?
Right at that moment I take a more suited look on the cat. It's as if I'm in a ridiculous horror tale. It's eye balls are green with a pinch of red in the middle, like mama just sprinkled a dust of mixed peppers on it. It looks like vomit. The cat meows and this time his little soft delicate voice doesn't sound so innocent and cheerful anymore. Instead, it squeals like a old and not-used-for-a-million-years screw driver. Sweat pours down my hairline on my forehead. The cat bites my finger and jumps off of my lap, running away. I stare dizzily at the dark blood pouring down on my blue dress.
"Uhh, scared I see."
It make's me quite scared that he knows what I'm thinking. I know he can't read my mind but-- Wait, what if he can? Ugh--- my dear, my dear. Does my face really show my feelings that much? So it's that obvious? All my hard works of acting have finally shown failure. With the stupid words of this stupid odd little drunk stranger. Or maybe it's just that he's a really good face reader. Like a fortune teller, studying his customers palms. OR, he has known me for a very long time and everything about me. Which is not.
But... Nonetheless, yes. I am scared.
I’m relieved when I see father coming down to fetch me, I let out a silent sigh. Or at least that's what I think it is. Right on time. I turn around, but hide my bleeding hand behind me.
"Krissy?" Phew. He doesn't see my pain set face in the dark.
"Yes father. I'm here." I reply quickly.
"Oh good. Come inside now, it's getting late."
I turn around once more and the man has disappeared. From nowhere to nowhere. As if he was never here.
As if I was never there.