My life is so drastically changed so much
I don’t know who I am anymore.
Rain. Such a simple and yet complex thing. It is just a drop of water falling from many particles of water and if it was not for the opposite force to gravity it would fall on us so hard it would knock our heads from our bodies. But yet it is just a splash of water harmless to us. It was raining then. More of a drizzle to tell the truth. Then it started to rain. Typical english weather always raining even when it is summer. Research tells us that it rains roughly 150- 200 days on the year. So 50% of the year it rains. Come live in England; It always rains and we drink loads of tea.
We lived in a big house, but was just us. Dad, me and Mitzi. Mum left when I was nine, so six years ago now. I remember that night so well; It was raining so the roads were slippery but that is not relevant. We were coming home from seeing Nonna, my grandmother, and on the roundabout in Moreton in Marsh before the turning to the school and church. Mum and Dad had been arguing about everything, my schooling, boarding schools, the house, who I hang out with, best movies, family and the list went on and on. They thought I was plugged into my music, while sleeping against Uncle Barney, the truth was I was just listening to them. We got home and Mum packed her bags and left. Turned out she was cheating on Dad with my Maths teacher. They left pretty quickly. She got disowned by Nonna and everyone. My tenth birthday was a very subdued event because we sat around a miserable cake even though it had bright candles and it was victoria sponge. Dad and I helped each other heal as much as we could. It wasn’t hard to get by without Mum as she did barely anything and hardly hung around but it was the pain of realising that our family had been ripped apart that hit us harder than the pain of the love that was lost. But in the end we made it and we are stronger and more united as a family.
I went to the nearest Secondary School; William James Academy. There I made friends and my best friend Phoenix Paint came with me. Her parents loved the idea of a phoenix as a pet but they are mythical. I guess the idea appealed to them because phoenixes never die, they are reborn from their own ashes. Her parents only got a daughter, so they called her Phoenix. Hang on let me start again.
People tell you that you are unique, perfect and irreplaceable even when you screw up so badly it can’t be fixed. But through all that someone loves you and that is the happy ending that always happens. Happy endings are a myth, they don’t always happen. This is the story of how I screwed up so badly. Only I don’t have a happy ending. Now go back and read the bit above. So we come to now.
Taylor Athena Ayers, thats me. Not really that tall for my age, auburn hair always in a ponytail. This was because it was almost waist length and fell in my eyes when I worked and then I would be blind. Auburn is a mixture between ginger, blonde and brown and the amount of times I am called ginger I just didn’t care because I knew deep down they were stupid and didn’t know the difference. I was nearly top set everything but not Physical Education and maths. I did fail in that and Maths but I was quite clever but in different ways. I think Mum had something obsession with the greek Gods. I mean who calls their daughter Athena after the goddess of wisdom? It was so obviously going to show that a tree that has been cut down and used for wood chips was clever than me. Anyway. I had hazel eyes and some of freckles on my nose. Dad always says it is from spending so much time in Sardinia when I was a baby. Sardinia is where Nonna has a small compound with three house’s in it. It is amazing with whitewashed walls, steps in the beach and the whole place is kinda named after my family on my mothers side. The Melies.
I can just remember when I was a child. There was this one family who came around loads when I was two going on three. They had a son who had brown hair and bright blue eyes. We were best friends. We played together and were like siblings. I think his name was Christopher or something. I can’t remember but it is one of the happiest memories I had for a long time. If I ever asked Dad about him he would clam up and not say anything. So I was always trying to ask him who this boy was but Dad was never going to give anything away.
So onto the main part of why I am writing this all down. Not so you can all feel sorry for me and cry over my loss and we all sit in a circle and confess our true feelings about life. No! This is my story, not my Dads, or my grandmothers. Oh my life I love the word so. I have used it three times in this paragraph already.
Anyhoo it all started halfway through Year 10. After just picking my options. “What are they?” I hear you cry, I will tell you: French, which I fail at anyway, Triple science (not my idea), music (blackmailed into that on), Graphics and History. Stop putting me on tangents seriously I need to keep telling or this whole thing will be pointlessly long and you will fall asleep. Drooling on the pages smudging the ink and then it will be like Twilight which is boring and dull and I ended up burning the books. Boo, hiss to me. So after my options had been entered and life was going on as it was until Dad got this strange letter from some foreign country. He had some through the years and I thought it was work as he would then leave for a couple of weeks, leaving me with Barney. I only saw it come through the letterbox and that is it, that is all I ever saw of those letters. Nothing more. Anyway he read it and went as white as a sheet like a ghost. This was an accomplishment as he is quite tanned for an englishman who lived all his life in England and literally nothing can scare him. He ran off to his office where he left me eating breakfast, half asleep on a Monday Morning. Hoary for Mondays.
I left for school and half way through the day I was pulled unceremoniously out of class by my head of year to find my father and a random oldish lady I have never met sat in his office talking calmly about me missing the last few days of term. Dad had been uptight about me missing any type of school and now I was going on holiday so it sounded like. Next thing I knew I was in the passenger seat of the Bentley being driven to the airport. Then I was put on a plane and sent (aeroplane noises) to a random place I have never heard of but was strangely familiar. That is the some background information part deux. Just read the first paragraph again to check you understand what is going on. Great.
I got off the plane it was a normal British Airways airplane landing in a place called Ethelburgesa. I thought it was an enormous spoof but no the moment we had walked into the Landing area there was a HUGE picture of Dad smiling at me saying "Welcome the Ethelburgesa!" Dad just kept walking ignoring the sign. I ran to catch up with him and ask him about it but he blanked me and kept striding purposefully down the arrivals terminal. He was muttering about “Bloody royal passports” and cursing his mother. I broke the awkward tension that was lingering between us.
‘Dad. What is going on? You drag me out of school and then onto a plane and come to this Ethelburga place.’ Dad whipped around looking very put together for my Dad.
‘Ethelburgesa. You my daughter are a princess. The old lady in your head of years office is the Queen.’ He held up his hand for silence when I opened my mouth to complain. ‘I know what you are going to say. I’m no princess. I can’t do this bla bla bla. You have to accept that this is what you are. Turn your back once you are eighteen but once I pass on you, Taylor Athena Ayers, are going to be Queen of Ethelburgesa.’ I opened my mouth to protest but we were hurried through security at top speed once Dad showed his passport.
Two large men stood outside holding up the card with the name “AYERS” written on it in thick black letters. Dad walked up to them and introduced us. They bowed and one kissed my hand. I glanced at Dad who smiled encouragingly at me.
‘Pleasure to meet you.’ I said.
‘She was brought up in England? Wow. Best education system they have in the world.’ He said with a slight Russian accent as the other nodded fervently in agreement.
‘My name is William and this is my companion James. We are your chauffeurs.’
We didn’t have any luggage so they led us out to a black limousine with flags and the crest on the side. Dad gave me a sideways glance.
‘So. How was school?’ I mock glared at him.
‘It was fine until I was dragged out to here. Seriously how do I know this is not a prank and someone is going to jump out and say this is a TV show?’
‘Because I am real. This is real. Anyway you have got to the age of fifteen and so must start taking on responsibilities.’
‘Such as?’ I asked as I started to get slightly more comfortable in the spacious car. We drove like any normal citizen through the city but with tinted windows and our car was longer.
‘Well picking out suitors for you is one thing.’ Let me rewind a touch. Dad had been asking me since the start of year nine was there anyone I liked, did I have a boyfriend? Yada yada yada. The answer was always no as I just couldn’t be bothered and then I had seen people crying over dickbag boyfriends who had cheated and been violent. So you can guess my horror when Dad started to cross the red line we had set up. I would tell Dad in my own time if I had a boyfriend or someone special in my life.
‘Hold on there Dad. I am not getting married anytime soon. Not for another ten years at least.’ Dad patted my hand.
‘I know. I know. Anyway. We have to introduce you to Ethelburgesa, they will love you.’ He said with his excitement barely contained.
I looked out the window and saw large signs saying “Super Strada.”
‘Dad what’s the Super Strada?’ I asked as I looked around the lush green countryside. There were rolling hills and mountains in the distance.
‘It is Ethelburgesan for motorway.’
As we turned onto the Super Strada two motorbikes pulled in front of us with two behind.
‘You are trying very hard to make this real aren’t you.’ I said staring out the window. ‘But why the escort?’ I asked looking out of the large back window to where the two motorcyclists were.
‘We have to have an escort Taylor, people look up to me. I am like the Queen in England, Barack Obama in America you name it. I walked away from this place so you could have a normal childhood, not some crazy moving around always in constant danger kind of childhood.’ My Dad sounded patient like he was explaining something to a very dimwitted child.
‘You did that for me? I am nobody important in England. Just a normal school girl who lives in a big house.’ I said not looking at him.
‘Have you ever wondered why you have a Goddess’s name?’ My father was looking very intently at me and I could feel his eyes burning into me. I shook my head not wanting to trust my voice. I was learning the truth to my name and I wasn’t ready but it could be my last chance to ever find out. ‘Because that is the royal family tradition. Not because your mother was a fanatic, because you had to have that name.’ I looked out of the window again. This whole place could be mine someday if I stayed here. The snow capped mountains, the lush green fields, the rolling hills, the small towns and villages nestled in the countryside. It could all be mine.
‘Will I go back to William James?’ Dad smiled at me.
‘If you have a bodyguard.’ I must of had a repulsed look on my face because my father laughed. It was a rare laugh that he hardly ever used. ‘Even I have one. He is always with me or you now as you are becoming older and harder to keep track of..' I thought hard about who was always hanging around us.
‘Is it Uncle Barney?’ I asked finally after racking my brains. Uncle Barney was an uncle to me and I was told he was my Uncle even though he treated Dad with respect. When I was younger he brought me ice creams when Dad said no.
He had blonde hair and always dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. I remember asking about his job and he just tapped his nose with a kind smile and a glance at my dad.
‘Not really your uncle. Just that he insisted that you called him that to keep it a secret. This was all done to protect you.’ I smiled.
‘So why could this not wait until the Easter Holidays? They start in four days.’ Dad looked shifty.
‘Well we need to show people you really exist. Many people claim that they have you under their roof. That they took you in out of the kindness of their hearts to receive money for finding the “lost princess” as they say.’ I felt the corners of my mouth turn up as I looked out of the window.
‘How would they pose as me? I don’t remember ever coming here.’
‘You grew up here until you were three. We came on holiday here quite a few times.’ If I had not been sat down I would of fallen over I swear.
‘My whole life is a lie.’ I muttered glaring at my hands. Dad simply laughed. ‘So what about that boy who I always played with when I was younger?’ I asked trying to trick him into telling me
‘I don’t know who you are talking about.’ He said not meeting my eyes.
‘You do and are just not telling me. Why? Why all the secrets?’ I pushed looking for answers.
‘Because Taylor, my most precious thing ever, somethings are best left tucked away where they can’t cause us harm.’ He said patting my hair.
We drove past some black gated and up a massive drive. The most amazing palace I have ever seen came into view. There was a plum tree on the front lawn and a maze with lion statues and many differently coloured flowers everywhere and a rose garden and everything a garden should have. On the front of the palace there was a balcony with climbing roses covering the barrier and a Virginia Creeper edging around the side of the palace fighting the roses for dominance. My father was just smiling as he looked up at the palace. He looked like he was lost in childhood memories and if what he said was true he grew up here. He did claim it was bigger than Buckingham palace but he might be biased. Not so sure on that one as he lived here once. So the whole palace was made out of marble, gold and limestone.
The old lady, that I saw in my head of years office, walked down the front steps and clicked her fingers for a footman to open the door for us to get out of the car.
I was hit with an almost indescribable array of smells once I was clear of the stale air from the air conditioning. It was roses, freshly cut grass, different flowers, clean air and fruit all combined into one exotic sent. I could feel the dry heat from the late spring sun which was hotter than an English Summer sun on my back as I waited for my father to come around the other side.
She moved forwards and kissed my father on each cheek before hugging him close to her. I gave my father a smile which must have shown how nervous I was deep down. My stomach had clenched up with nerves and my palms were slightly sweaty and shook as I wiped them on my school skirt. I had never been this nervous in my life and yet the old woman ignored me.
‘So Anthony. Is life in England treating you well?’ She asked leading my father into the foyer of the palace. Dad nodded and looked back to check I was still with them.
‘Yes Mother. It has been treating us well. Taylor has settled down very well and has just picked her GCSE’s.’ The old lady who seemed to be my grandmother nodded in agreement. She turned to me with her blue eyes which were very pretty but felt like she was drilling into my skull. She looked me up and down with a small smile on her face.
‘I am your grandmother Demeter. Taylor Ayers, as Queen I formally want to welcome to Ethelburgesa.’ This was getting crazy even for me with my friends. I was not a princess, my father was not a prince, my grandmother was not a Queen. I was going to wake up from this crazy dream to be stuck in Citizenship with Miss Shithop droning on about drugs and smoking and the effects on the human body. Nobody really cared that she was high as a kite most days to forget her loser husband who jumped in front of a train because his wife was pregnant.
‘Not to seem rude but I am not sure what is going on. I was dragged out of school and put on an aeroplane and then I am here. Where am I? This place is not on the maps in school.’ I said quietly as my father seemed to cringe away. My grandmother looked shocked and went very pale.
‘This is Ethelburgesa. It is a small country inside of Russia. So Russia is here,’ She clicked her fingers and a man ran in with a pad of crisp white paper with a crest on the left hand corner and fancy pen. She drew a circle on a pad of paper in front of her. ‘And we are here.’ She drew another circle inside of the first circle. It was right in the middle and much smaller. I stared at the circles. ‘We are most commonly mistaken as a province in Russia but that might just be the English being stupid as they can be pretty dim.’
‘Wait. So I am a princess?’ They both nodded looking impressed with me that I had caught on so quickly.
‘Princess Taylor.’ She said slowly as if she was tasting a fine wine. ‘When you become queen you will be known by Athena.’ My grandmother said looking proud of me. ‘You will have lessons in languages and manners. You have good manners anyway but there is always room for improvement. Mary, show Taylor to her room. There you will wash and be ready for a formal dinner in three hours.’ She said checking her expensive wrist watch and walking away with my father. They were both chatting quickly in Russian. I had a strong feeling of loneliness like I was cast off, forgotten, abandoned. I shook off the feeling and looked around me.
Everywhere I looked there was something which had been in a Chandlers magazine at some point in the last four years. The walls were soft pastel colours and there were marble columns and the floor was thickly carpeted over a marble floor. I could see a five inch strip of marble on both sides of the hallway floors. Everywhere there were two birds flying in pairs. No two were the same or on the same wall but they were subtly hidden; On a vase, in a painting, on the wall, in the carpet. I passed women who looked like maids and were all dressed the same. They wore simple white dresses which were just above the knee and a blue apron over the top if it. The aprons had big pockets which were filled with odd looking things. Each maid wore black shoes with an inch heel and beige tights. No two maid looked alike as they customized their apron slightly differently to the next maid.
After following a girl who looked only two years older than me through to the other side of the palace, she opened the large double doors which were painted a brilliant shade of white and had “Taylor” written in blue lettering across them. I gently pushed them open to reveal a sitting room which was soft shades of blue. There were turquoise sofas and matching chairs, two deep ocean blue curtains stood either side of the large French doors which opened up onto the balcony and were either side of every window in each room. In the next room there was a large four poster bed which had blue covers and the walls were a pale shade of grey which looked almost white. There was an open doorway into another room which I walked through.
There were panels all along each wall. On the far wall they were floor to ceiling whereas along the other walls they were like chests. The girl went in front of me and pushed a few open to reveal jewelry for every occasion, dresses, shoes, sunglasses,
‘Come and meet Jane. We will be your personal maids while you are here.’ I smiled. This may not be so bad.
‘So, um. This fancy dinner party. Who is coming?’ Jane was a small girl with mousy brown hair which was pulled back into a bun. She had plain grey eyes but they were full of wisdom. She suddenly became very giggly and girly.
‘Well. Lord Behan is like eighty with a son called James, who has a son who is fifteen. He is called Louis and is super hot. Like hot enough to be a model.’ I raised an eyebrow. This boy had better be worth it if I had to have dinner with him.
‘I am just going to get this out there. I don’t like boys! They are smelly and stupid.’ Mary looked shocked at my outburst and frankness.
‘He goes to a normal school in England like you. William James Academy I think. Anyway he is flying over right now. Trust me there will be a time when I will say “I told you so” because you have fallen in love.’ Mary said wagging a finger at me. I internally groaned realising the trap I had made for myself and the realisation of who I was going to have dinner with. My best friend Louis Behan.
‘Seriously? Him? I do his homework for him.’ Jane looked at me like I was an alien.
‘Her majesty is thinking of a betrothal contract with you two if you agree.’ I smacked my palm to my forehead.
‘Are you kidding me? He is such an annoying git!’ Jane smiled.
‘Anyway lets get these clothes down to the cleaners and get you into a nice hot bath.’ I sighed. This would be harder than I thought. I started pulling things out of my blazer pockets. I piled them all onto a small coffee table in front of me. My phone came out last after keys, pen, pencil, tippex pen, lip balm, earphones and bus pass. Jane picked up my phone.
‘Shall I charge this for you?’ She asked holding it out for me.It was a touch screen with many scratches and chips where I had been so clumsy to drop it. I loved it lots like my baby and it had run out of charge on the flight out.
‘Yes please.’ I heard running water and walked towards the sound.
I found myself in a large blue room. It was softly lit by candle lights around the edges of the bath, by the mirror and on the window sill. Sunlight was pouring into the room from the windows along the far wall. There was an expresive looking shower, blue tiles everywhere and a massive floor length mirror. The toilet was so white I swear it was glowing. The sink was almost like ice. It was flat with a football shaped dip in the middle and then the front rose up and seemed to be like water had risen up, over filled and then frozen over. A large bath large enough to fit three of me was in one corner filling up with bubbles and water. It was marble with gold feet.I looked at the bottles at the side of the bath. Chandlers products all stood in a line, shampoo, conditioner, body soap. The works. I looked back at Jane.
‘Is this all for me?’ She nodded. The smell of Jasmine wafted from the bath. I cautiously walked over to the bath.
‘It is all for you. I hope you like it. Her majesty had the whole four rooms redone for you. We all helped her plan it. Your father chipped in with the pictures of your current room in England and things you wanted.’ I felt a rush of gratitude to my father and grandmother even though she would not shut up when on the phone.
After my relaxing bath where I felt like I was in a spa I put on a towel and walked back into my bedroom.
A blue dress lay on my bed. It was white on the bodice and then slowly changed to blue at the bottom. It was shorter than I thought it would be ending three inches above my knees. Mary brought in a matching pair of blue high heels. She slid my phone into a secret pocket on my dress. I smiled in thanks.
‘So it is just Lord Behan and his son and grandson for dinner.’ I asked looking in the mirror in the wardrobe room. She nodded while doing my hair.
‘You will be eating onion soup with bread. Then you will have smoked ham with roast vegetables and so on. Pudding will be chocolate mousse.’ She had cool hands as the pulled my hair into a french braid down my back.
‘There you go. Let’s get you downstairs before they send someone up to look for you.’
‘It is my job. Now go get him girl.’ I walked out then paused and popped my head back in.
‘We have a slight issue. Where am I going?’ Jane laughed.
‘I’ll show you.’
She lead me downstairs where I walked into my father.
‘Thank you Jane I will show her the way.’ My father started taking quietly and quickly.
‘Be on your best behavior. I know you and Louis don’t get on but please do for our sake. Just for tonight.’ I nodded.
‘Okay. I will. But Dad I don’t want to be betrothed to him ever.’ My father grinned.
‘I know. I had an arranged marriage it will never happen to you. I promise.’