Sunday, 4 March 2012

Grim Wedding - A flash-fiction story

A friend of mine had a competition going on, about writing a strong princess character in flash fiction. Since I've never written a princess before, or indeed, flash fiction, I decided that I was going to challenge myself, especially as I started writing for the competition literally 8 hours before the deadline was due. I am apparently insane. Below is my entry of 967 words if OpenOffice is to be believed. Enjoy!

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The wedding day of the princess Anastasia went as smoothly as could be expected, given that she had been forced into it and hadn't really wanted to get married at this point in her life. The marriage had been a condition of the treaty that her father and the king of the opposing country had drawn up together, after decades of warfare had devastated both countries, and she didn't have much choice in going along with it, much as she had wished otherwise. Except for one thing that kept her going through the day of the wedding...

She had put up with the sonorous droning from the priest during the actual ceremony as she had stood by her new husband at the altar, surreptitiously shifting in her beautiful white dress at times as she waited for the ceremony to be concluded. This wasn't how she'd imagined her wedding day to go. Oh, sure, her new husband, Prince Richard was, to borrow a phrase, tall dark and handsome, though he wasn't her type at all. He seemed to be too arrogant, someone who expected her to be a good little wife who kept quiet unless spoken to, which was not her kind of man at all. Especially as she wasn't like that at all. She wasn't the type to be quiet and dutiful, not when she could be off enjoying herself.

Sighing and fidgeting, Ana picked at her food in front of her half-heartedly. The banquet was good, but she wasn't in any mood to eat, just waiting for this charade of a wedding to be over. Her new husband was practically ignoring her, busy muttering to the best man who was seated next to him in some sort of male talk that was interspersed with grunts at times from one or the other as far as she could tell. She could barely hear the pair of them over the noise of everyone else in the great hall with them, but she wasn't too fussed about listening to them. She just had to get through the meal and then make her speech, and see where that took her.

Soon enough, the wedding feast was over, and the speeches had begun. Her father made an eloquent speech, and then the best man got up and made a simpering speech in support of her new husband and how he wished them all happiness in their married life in as sycophantic a tone as she had ever heard from anyone. Time to upset their little world, Ana thought to herself as she stood up just as the best man was sitting down. Murmurs sprang up as she rose to her feet, and coughed delicately before speaking.

“Good afternoon, ladies, gentlemen. I'm grateful that you could all make it to this wedding today, mainly for one reason.”

She grasped the glass of water that was nearby and took a sip from it before continuing on with her unorthodox speech. Looking out across the room, she could see everyone craning towards her, most seeming interested in what she had to say.

“As you know, the treaty that this marriage is part of is important and sacrosanct for both our countries, and despite us both being mortal enemies, we came to an agreement. It's just a shame that my husband couldn't meet his end of the treaty at all.”

Puzzled frowns greeted her words as she spoke, and she waved at the servants who were standing on the edges of the room. Bowing to her, they all procured packets and proceeded to walk through the room, handing them out to all the guests as Ana continued to speak.

“If you would all look through the envelopes, you will note within them pictures of my husband in some rather salacious positions with several other women, as well as copies of a lot of love letters written to presumably half these women. Please also note the fact that he is wearing his engagement ring as well in every picture as well, though quite why he was doing such a thing, I can't work that one out.”

Over the hubbub that had broken out at her words, she could hear her new husband grinding his teeth, and then heard his chair scrape backwards as he stood up to confront her. Overruling his sputtering start, she called out in a clear voice to everyone,

“I'm sorry that you decided that your dalliances with other women were more important than your countries future, as you just broke the terms of the treaty, and by the clauses you yourself wrote in them, your country is going to be subject to some hefty charges that you're not going to get out of, not with every other country watching you...”

Ana trailed off, and let her husband manage to get a few words out.

“But... how... how did you do this?”

He grated out through clenched teeth, his face a rictus of anger, and smiling mischievously, she replied in a sweeter, lower tone,

“Why, husband of mine, didn't you know that being the king's daughter grants you some power? That combined with your arrogance at thinking you wouldn't be caught meant that I had an easy job really of getting this all organised. Really, next time you try something like this, think with your brain for once.”

She finished, smirking slightly at the rage painted across her husbands face, and decided that she was going to leave the chaos she had just caused. Passing by her fathers chair, she leaned down and whispered,

“Any further doubts that I'm not fit to rule after you?”

Laughing quietly, her father just waved her away and said,

“Go on Ana, enjoy yourself after what you did here.”