You climb through my window that night. I can’t believe it’s been so long since we last saw each other. You grab and kiss me as soon as you’re inside.
“Hi.”, I say, when you finally pull away.
“Hey, did you wait long?”
“Does a whole day count?”
“Well, I’m here now and we are done with waiting.”
Your pick me up, still looking into my eyes. I ruffle your hair with my fingers to feel the smell of your shampoo. I can’t believe this is finally happening. As you’re carrying me you stumble over the bed and we fall onto it.
“How gracefull.”, I giggle.
“Oh shut up.”, you shuffle on top of me. I slide further onto the bed so that we’re lying on top of each other. “Can I ask you something?”, you stand on your elbows.
Your voice gets quieter as you nervously look down.
“Have you ever … wished you didn’t meet me?”
“What is that supposed to mean?”, I rise slightly.
“I mean, I know you wouldn’t change anything now, nor will I, but … if you hadn’t met me than maybe you wouldn’t hate this whole matchmaking thing. Maybe you would’ve even married him by now and done what your parents want.”
“Alex,”, I sit up and you do too, “why are you saying all of this?”
“I don’t know.”, you brush my hair with a nervous smile, “Just forget I said it.”
“No.”, I push your hand away, “You do know. Tell me.”
“It’s just … I … I’m not a prince. I’m some random orphan who you stumbled upon.”
“You know I don’t care about these things.”
“I know you don’t, but … I can’t help but feel like …”
Like a nobody. I know that’s what you want to say.
“That never mattered to you before.”
“But it does now.”
“Why?”, I try to make eye contact with you, but you avoid me, “What’s changed now?”
“Because, Bells.”, you look down, “For weeks I believed I am somebody else. The son of a noble family, someone who goes to balls on a regular basis. Who lives in a mansion and doesn’t think having servants is a huge deal. But since all my memories came back I started seeing that I’m not that. I’m just pretending to be him but I’m only me.”
“What’s wrong with being you?”
“What’s wrong? Maybe the fact I’ve never met my parents, I spent my childhood in an orphanage, dreaming about having fancy toys, or more than two pairs of shoes.”
“That’s just your past, none of it matters now.”
“Ok, how about the fact I live in a two-room house where the paint is peeling off and the heating doesn’t work half the time?”
“I happen to love that house.”
“Yeah, only because you haven’t lived there for the past three years.”
Ok, maybe you are right, but that still doesn’t prove anything.
“I don’t see how your house can be a representative of you.”
“How can you not get it?”, you scream at me, finally looking into my eyes. For a second I don’t take my eyes away until I say:
“Well I … I just don’t see you in that way. And I can’t believe you would see yourself like that.”
“So how do you see me? The poor boy you pity so much.”
“No! How can you even say that?”
You don’t answer me. We sit there speechless, staring down at the duvet.
“Bells, I can’t do this.”
“What do you mean?”, I ask but you’ve already stood up and headed to the window. “Alex, wait.”, I run after you. You put one foot over the window frame and I get a hold of your arm. “Don’t go.”
You don’t say a word to me and pull back you hand as you leave.
Next morning at breakfast I’m in a grumpier mood than ever. I didn’t even bother to put on formal attire, I just climbed down in my pajamas.
“Isabella, what are you wearing?”, my mother exclaims.
“What?”, I pretend to be completely clueless.
“Bella, dear, would you please go upstairs and change?”, dad pleads. I can see this is giving him a hard time, but c’mon he should’ve expected such a stunt.
“Oh, I don’t mind.”, Matteo adds with amusement.
“Seee.”, I give my parents a cocky smile and join everyone at the table. “So what are we eating today?”, I look around the table, which is filled with eggs, bacon, toast and all sorts of freshly baked pastry. “I see we’re using the purple table set. That means you’re really important guests to us.”, I share to the other family.
“Isabella.”, my mother warns me.
I take a toast and look around the table.
“Where is the Nutella?”, I ask peering. The only time I’ve actually eaten Nutella is at your house.
“We’re not having that today.”, my mother tells me, as if we have it every day. Continuing with my act I ask as fakely as I can:
“Oh, we’re trying to look accomplished and posh in front of the guests, aren’t we?”
“Isabella!”, my mother’s patience has ran out. “Go to your room immediately!”
I stand up, giving Matteo a wink and exit the table. As I close the door I hear my mom explain how she’s sorry, I must be acting out to the sudden news of the engagement. Well, she’s definitely right. I am acting out to the whole thing. Although I’m also partly expressing my anger about yesterday. Agh, whatever, I don’t want to be sensible right now.
Later that day I’m drawing in the garden. Suddenly my light is blocked by a figure next to me.
“Our parents seem to think the garden is a very romantic place.”, Matteo sits next to me, “They keep arranging for us to talk here.”
“Well, it is romantic.”, I put down my pencil, “If you’re with the right person.”
“Isn’t every place romantic when you’re with the right person?”, I don’t address that, but instead close my sketchbook and put it to the side. “Good job at breakfast by the way.”
“It comes naturally.”, I beam with fluttering eyelashes.
“So how was the visit from the boyfriend?”
“You seem to take a lot of interest in my relationship for someone who claims to be stuck with me.”
“I was just making small talk. We’re forced to sit here together, might as well do something besides stare at the flowers.”
He has a point. Then again, who is he to hear about my private life? When I don’t answer he adds:
“So I presume it went badly with the boyfriend?”
“Excuse me, when did you become my best friend?”
“Do girls only share things with their best friends?”
“No, but fights with boyfriends are strictly reserved for a very small circle of friends.”
“So there was a fight?”
Oops, that kind of slipped me.
“Fine, there was.”
“I prefer Math. Matteo sounds too formal.”
“Ok, Math, as I said, you’re not my friend, I’m not sharing relationship details with you.”
“Ouch, that didn’t hurt at all.”
I give him an irritated look.
“Would you have told me if things were the other way around?”
“Well, if I was forced to talk with someone and I had no one to share my pain with, yeah I would.”
“How do you know I have no one to share my pain with?”
“We’re royals, our lives get documented by the press. I know you don’t really have a close best friend”
Touché. And ouch!
“Thanks for rubbing that in.”
“I was only answering your question.”, he remarks then nudges me, “So?”
“So, as you guessed, there was a fight. A serious one actually.”
“What was it about?”
“Umm, let’s say the differences between us.”
“You know a lot of relationships?”, I mock.
“I was bored, read a lot of books, watched a lot of movies. Some of them happened to have romance.”
“I see.”, I nod slowly .
“Anyways, we were talking about you and boyfriend.”
“Alex, his name is Alex.”
“Ok, so you and Alex, what happened?”
“Well, I guess he started feeling overwhelmed by the whole princess-matchmaking-being-royals thing.”
“Ohhh, so he’s just a regular citizen, not a royal?”
I was about to say yes, but then I remembered they probably will meet at some point.
“Wrong, he is actually from a noble family. Family friends of ours.”
“Oh,”, he seems surprised by that. “So what happened then?”
“We fought. He said some stuff and I said some other. Then he left through the window.”
“The window? How poetic.”
“Yeahhhh.”, I sigh, “Only the things that happened before that weren’t really poetic.”
I am positioned on by bed, staring philosophically at the ceiling. I did talk to Math for a whole hour, so that satisfied my mother enough to let me be by myself for a while. Or maybe she just got the idea that today is not a day to push me too hard.
Dad knocks on the door.
“Isabella, may I come in?”
“Sure.”, I say as I sit up. “Are you coming to invite me to supper?”
“No, actually,”, he sits next to me, “your mom send me here. To check on you.”
“Am I that scary that she didn’t come herself?”
“She said if I make as much contact as possible with you then we’ll work out our argument sooner.”
“Oh.”, so that was still on her to do list. Sometimes I wonder how she hasn’t collapsed from all the tasks she has. “So you came to ask for forgiveness?”
“I would have. If it could actually help.”, he gives me a sad smile. I decide to ignore that.
“Then why are you here?”
“To ask you if today’s stunt was just you rebelling or is there something else?”
“Why would there be something else?”
“Because yesterday you were fine. You behaved…reasonably. Why a sudden change?”
“I’m a teenager, I change my moods all the time.”
“So nothing happened?”
“No, everything is fine.”
Relaxed, he looks forwards and enquires:
“So how is Alexander?”
A rather great question. I would like the answer to that too.
“Since when are you interested in him?”
“I am interested in you and he happens to be a person in your life.”
“He didn’t seem to be a person when you drugged him.”
“Bella, I really didn’t come here to have this argument again.”
“Fine.”, I am too tired to have it anyways. I have other things on my mind.
“So how is he?”, my dad continues to enquire.
“He doesn’t love the situation.”
“That is expected of him.”, he pauses as if waiting for me to add something. “Have you seen him since Matteo arrived?”
“You’re asking me if I sneaked out the window to meet my boyfriend?”
“As you said, you are a teenager, I don’t expect you to obey every rule.”
“The answer you’re looking for is, no. I haven’t.”
“You haven’t sneaked or you haven’t seen him?”
“So I shouldn’t be worried about you?”
“No.”, I reassure him. “Unless you count the fact that I’m forced to bear with Matteo, his family and the whole drama surrounding that.”
“It’s only for a month.”
“Well, it’s been a day and it already feels too long.”