Within These Castle Walls
From the newly blossomed flowers, to the crisp, sweet scent of the air, spring is my favorite season, by far. During the harsh, cold months of winter when all nature seems to be almost dead, although it is not quite, spring is a glimmer of hope in the dark horizon. And, finally when you think the winter weather is as bad as it can get, the sun, gently at first, begins to heat Neopia with its warming rays and winter transitions into springtime—oh, how lovely this season is.
The air’s crisp scent smells, to me, like memories. These memories seem to be just lurking amidst the air, sitting and waiting—joyous memories and bittersweet ones. And no one can avoid tasting the springtime air, even if their taste may just be a little nibble. No one can stop the memories from flooding in. Memories of all types are present - painful memories, ones that hurt and make your nose twitch and happy, funny memories that make you smile. And of course, there are certain memories, like mine, that seem neither joyful nor saddening, but somewhere in between. And that’s where my story begins...
I was a princess from the day of my birth and I felt that I could never escape it. At the time, I thought my life was the worst it could possibly be, but now I’m not quite sure if it was really as bad as I thought. The reason I was a princess was, of course, because my mother and father were the royal queen and king of Supri, an island just south of Brightvale. Supri was large enough to have royal rulers, but yet too small to be on the map. Supri was beautiful, especially in springtime. I can remember lounging outdoors in our spacious garden within the castle’s walls in the springtime and listening to the wind brush against the limbs of the trees. Ah, I can almost hear the wind now and feel it brush against my royal Cybunny fur.
My parents were typical parents who loved their children dearly, but the difference between them and other children’s parents was that they were very busy people. They were so busy that they hired a nanny just after I was born, whose name was Janis, to take care of us. In addition to caring for me, Janis also took care of my three older sisters, Ellie, Ania, and Rosemarie. They didn’t like Janis as much as I did, because she was actually younger than them. She cared for us when we were sick, played with us, read us bedtime stories and just about everything in between except cooking meals. We had chefs for that.
My sisters and I all got along, especially in our earlier childhoods, when we would all play with each other and pretend to discover new worlds. Oh, we would have so much fun together. We really shared a lot of good memories together. However, in our later childhood years, their relationships with me faded away because we differed in view of life. They loved being princesses and were excited to one day rule the nation of Supri. However, I, even in my middle childhood years, had a strong distaste for such a lifestyle.
Also, I became extremely dissatisfied with my life, but my sisters weren’t quite as unhappy as me. They enjoyed the royal lifestyle and loved being royalty. But I obviously took a different approach. I grew unhappy with my life. I didn’t dislike the royal lifestyle at first, but I grew to truly hate it. For some people, the royal lifestyle is all they know and they truly love serving their land and doing their duty. But, this lifestyle wasn’t for me.
My parents knew that I was unhappy, but they just thought I was going through a stage. When the public asked about me, which they often did, my parents responded with something along the lines of this, “She’s a great young Neopet, but she’s just a little lost and needs some help to get back on the right track. She should return to her normal self in no time and will be ready to rule Supri along with her sisters when she is older.” But they really knew nothing of my unhappiness and nothing of my true feelings. I would never “return to normal”, because I thought the royal lifestyle was abnormal.
Why did I have this idea nailed into my head? It wasn’t that someone directly told me that the royal lifestyle was abnormal, but I just knew it by using common sense. There were so many things that I thought were wrong with the lifestyle. For one, I didn’t like the idea of people... worshipping their royal rules and almost bowing down to them, in a sense. It wasn’t something that I thought was normal. Also, there was just too much pressure. I couldn’t handle knowing that one day, I would be queen and so would my three sisters. What if I made a horrible mistake and changed Supri forever, for the worse!? I just wanted to live a normal life and not have the attention on me constantly.
I truly loved my three older sisters and mother and father. They were five reasons why I didn’t leave sooner. I didn’t want to leave them. It was the situation that we were in that I wanted to abandon. I imagined a dream world where we could all live together without ruling Supri, but I knew this dream of mine would never turn into a reality. It was too much to ask. I “joked” a few times to my sisters about living somewhere else and not being royalty and they thought I was quite funny.
There was one other reason I didn’t leave sooner. It was because of my friendship with Janis. Janis was my best friend and because we were very close in age, just one year apart, we got along very well. Janis was great. Often times, Janis and I would stay up far past the set bed time and discussed everything. Whenever I had something I wanted to rant about and blow off some steam, she would listen as I talked; she was an amazing listener and she listened until I had no more words left to say. Sometimes we would sit together by the fireside for hours as we chatted. Janis seemed to understand everything I was going through and it was great to have someone to talk to.
Janis had some other great qualities about her besides just being a good listener and friend. She was a great liar. Well, what she did was not so much lying, but she made excuses and bent the truth for me. It was she who covered for me when I did not feel like coming out of the comforts of my bedroom for any type of social event. I came to most social events, but every once in a while, I just didn’t feel like coming. I only missed two or three events a year, four at most.
For example, she would, just a few times a year, bend the truth for me whenever special dinners came up. You see, my family hosted dinners monthly and many of the upper-class citizens of Supri were invited to them. It was an honor to be invited by the royal family to these dinners. However, I always found the dinners to be ridiculous events, for numerous amounts of reasons.
At these dinners, the guests would gather around the dining room table and eat in silence while my mother and father, who were sitting at either end of the table, attempted to entertain them with dry jokes, while guests laughed out of politeness. Occasionally, Ellie, Ania and Rosemarie would throw in something into the so called “conversation”, but I chose to remain silent.
Our family also hosted bi-yearly dancing balls which no one who was invited could bear to miss. It was actually considered an insult to the royal family to miss the event when invited. Therefore, every guest, most of which were higher class members of Supri, who was invited, was present at these balls. They were considered to be the most important social events of the entire year and I understood why. The events were actually enjoyable and we always had a good time.
I can recall one ball in particular, probably the most important ball in my life. It was then, I remember, that everything was revealed to me clearly. I finally knew what fate was leading me to do. It was time for me to flee, to runaway. This was the only way out. It was just time, time for me to go.
It was an evening in early springtime and I was wearing a breath-taking gown; it was scarlet colored and had long sleeves that were tightly wrapped around my arms. The sleeves were slightly lighter than the gown itself and almost had a hint of an orange-gold color to them. The torso of the dress was tight as well and the bottom half of the dress, which touched just below my knees, was shaped like a mini hoop-skirt. Also, the bottom half was ruffled and was rather lovely.
The dress was accompanied by golden heels that matched the sleeves of the dress, with three tiny red rubies dotted near the toe of the shoe. The heels wrapped around my ankles, just barely. Just as my mother, father and three older sisters did, I wore a golden crown placed upon my head. The crown was crafted especially for the ball and it had seven large rubies and fourteen smaller rubies that went well with my shoes. I looked gorgeous and felt like I fit in well.
The maids did a lovely job preparing for the ball and they were rewarded with triple pay in Neopoints. Set up in the dining room, which we would dine in after the presentation of the royal family, there were eleven buffet tables. Every square inch of them were filled with delicate pastries, cakes, the finest meats, sparkling waters, fruits, salads, appetizers and dozens and dozens of more delicacies. The chefs were also paid triple pay in Neopoints for their work. Several small, round tables, topped with dark red table cloths, gold crusted plates and the finest silverware, were scattered throughout the room.
Two other rooms were also decorated for the evening, the entryway and the Grand Room, which is where the dancing itself actually took place. The entryway was home to the Grand Staircase, which, on this evening, was dressed in a dark red color, matching the tablecloths. The Grand Staircase was crafted of white marble and the railing which we held onto was crafted of dark wood.
The third room decorated room was the Grand Room. Its white marble floor was cleaned and polished with great detail. Also, spring flowers, picked that very day from our garden, were added to the perimeter of the room, giving the room a springtime glow.
After all of the guests arrived and gathered in the entryway, it was time for the traditional moment where the royal family was presented to the guests. Each member of the royal family, all of us, would walk down the grand staircase, which had thirty-seven steps in total, carefully and slowly, stopping once every two steps. The guests watched in awe and commented between themselves on our gowns and such.
I waited near the top of the staircase, with a bright grin glued on my face. Mother, escorted by Father, walked down the staircase first. Next, Ellie, Ania, and Rosemarie each walked down the staircase, one after the other. Finally, it was my turn. Because I was the youngest, I was last to be presented. I began to walk down the stairs, when one of the guests “whispered”, far too loud, “Who’s that? I’ve never seen her before in my life. Is she of royal blood?”
Another, possibly the other guest’s companion, said to the other, “Shhhh! They have four daughters; she’s one of them. Didn’t you know?”
My mother and father each turned a bright shade of red, but I can assure you that the shade of red upon my face was brighter than theirs. My eyes, drenched by the tears that rolled down my cheeks, avoided all eye contact. I sprinted, faster than anyone has ever successfully sprinted in a gown, up the grand staircase, down a long series of hallways and into my bedroom. I was not fully comforted until a few hours of incessant crying had passed. It was all made clearer to me that night; I wasn’t one of them.
For hours, the ball went on and so did the never ending music. The music was so loud that it seemed to be playing inside my bedroom. Finally, just as I was watching the sunrise from my window, the music halted and the ball was over. The colors of the sunrise were beautiful shades of rich purples, blues, oranges and yellows. They almost seemed to represent a glimmer of hope of my future. As I sat in my dimly lit room, I contemplated my future.
As the guests emptied out of the castle, my exhausted mother and father ventured into my room to see how I was holding up. I faked to be asleep and my parents were relieved that I was “feeling better”. Really, it was the thoughts that were rushing through my head and the loud music of the ball that had kept me up all night. Surprisingly, I fell asleep while faking to be asleep. It was about five in the morning when I finally dozed off to sleep, but it didn’t matter much, because, almost the entire day after a Suprian ball is usually spent snoozing.
At eleven in the morning, I was the first of my family to wake up. It was then that I told Janis about my horrible evening, which she had already heard about from a maid who worked at the ball. It was then that we had the most important conversation of my entire life. It went something like this:
“It’s time, Janis. We both know that I don’t belong here. It’s time for me to go,” I told her, beginning to cry.
She looked into my tear-struck eyes for a few minutes, beginning to cry herself. Finally, she faintly said, in a shaky voice, “You can’t do this alone. I will come with you.”
Tears continued to flood down my face as I said to her, “Yes, yes, I would love if you came with me.”
She took me in her arms, hugging me and then told me, “Everything will be alright. My mother recently moved to Terror Mountain. No one will look for us there.”
My voice, which began to quaver, said to her, “Thank you so much, Janis. You’re such a great friend to me. I don’t know how I will ever repay you, but I know I will find a way.”
And she said to me, “And you’re a great friend to me. There is no need to repay me. You have already paid me more than I deserve with your friendship.”
After I had changed and packed a few of my belongings (I could not take many), which Janis shoved into her bag, so we would not look suspicious, it was time for us to go. We left about half an hour after our conversation, the last one we would have trapped within those castle walls.
And so, this memory of mine ends here. I did not include my name just in case this gets into the wrong hands. It was time for me to confront my past and now that I did, I am pleased with myself. Those years of my childhood that I spent in tears are now behind me and I am stronger because of them. Now, as I look back on everything, look back on all those unhappy years that I spent bottled up inside those castle walls, I ask myself, should I have really gone? To this day, I am still not sure. The only way to figure out is to go back. At this very moment, scared to death, I am on my way back to my homeland of Supri with Janis’s old bag, still containing the few items I was allowed to pack that day. Back to the castle which I was so familiar with and back to the family that loved me, which I loved back.
I am unsure of what I will find, but I am prepared and willing to find out. Also, I am full of questions which will soon be answered. What is left of the world which I used to live in? Are my parents gone and my sisters now in power? What has become of my old room and possessions? More importantly, what has become of the fear and uncertainty that I left behind? The most important thing is that those castle walls no longer contain me. I will not repeat the past. I am coming not as a carrier of royal blood, but I am coming simply as myself.
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