It’s nice out today--warm but not too warm, sunny but not too sunny. In fact, it’s so nice out that the teachers even let us eat lunch outside in the courtyard. I’m glad it’s Friday.
Wednesday was a blur after I got home from Katherine’s. I’d put off my homework, and it was getting late, and I wanted desperately to read Pearl’s story. I read some of it then, but most of it Thursday night. Normally I have to cram all of my assignments on Thursday night, but since I met up with Kelly, he’d helped me with most of it. What I didn’t get done with him I ended up not finishing. I hope that doesn’t affect my grades.
When I’d arrived at the library, Kelly had already started working, his school shirt untucked and his dark hair falling into his eyes. When I sat down, he pulled an earbud out of his ear and looked at me. “Are you feeling better?”
I had pulled my eyebrows together. “What?”
He had blinked at me. “You were sick. At Katherine’s house.”
I’d almost forgotten he was there. “Oh, yeah,” I said with a laugh. “Yes. Yup. All good.”
He shoved the hair off his forehead. “Katherine didn’t read that book, ever. Or maybe she did, I guess. I left early.”
I chuckled again, because I didn’t have much to say. “Yeah. Yeah, I left early, too.”
We realized pretty quickly that we’d already finished all we needed to do with the Easter decoration plans, and moved on to doing homework. A lot of the time we didn’t even talk, Kelly just sat with his head bent, focused on nothing but the sheet of math problems in front of him.
In other words, it was pleasant. It wasn’t anything special, but I liked it anyway, and I hoped we’d do it again. So I was quite pleased when Kelly got up to leave and asked, “Next week?”
I pull the journal out of my backpack like it’s a delicate museum artifact. I’ve been handling it with care ever since losing it to Katherine Davies.
“It’s really good,” I tell Pearl with a grin. She reddens and kicks her feet idly. She’s perched on top of the picnic table, our usual spot. “Really. It could be published. Now take it before I do anything to it again.”
Pearl takes the journal back, shaking her head. “I’m just glad you found it.”
I’d told her what happened. I couldn’t not, after she entrusted me with her writing. Tuesday morning I’d told her it must be in the lost-and-found, and that there was nothing to worry about. She’d been understandably upset, but not properly mad, which was a relief.
She’d been far more upset when I told her that Katherine had returned it to me.
“That thieving, conniving bitch,” Pearl had sputtered.
I’d been quick to assure her that Katherine didn’t know it was hers. I hadn’t bothered to mention that Katherine enjoyed it, though. It sounded like a lie in my head. In fact, I half-think that was all a dream.
I sit down on the bench and stare at the passing clouds. “I’m sorry I lost it. Again.”
Pearl hops down to the seat so that she’s next to me. “It’s ok, Trinity. This is the first draft, actually… I have another journal with the second but you’re not allowed to read it yet.”
“First draft?” I ask, glancing at her. Her wide eyes watch me, sparkling. “But the story didn’t end.”
Pearl’s story is a fantasy novel. Or novella, or partial book, or whatever you call something she’s been writing for years but hasn’t fully finished yet.
It follows Odette, a young princess, whose whole family is cursed to remain in their castle. None of them can step foot in or out, but non-royalty can.
Her parents live happily inside the castle’s walls; it’s filled with anything they could ever want, after all. And Odette’s little brother, Leopold, is too young to understand.
Odette spends most of her time with Lionel, her appointed personal guard. She has him go out and bring her things, but it’s never enough. More than anything, Odette wants out of the castle.
Years ago, the curse was put upon the royal family by a group of mages, who are the main ruling body of the state, and work closely with the King and Queen. The mages have put in place a strict system of rules, and Odette’s family was cursed when her great-grandmother broke one of these rules. Her family refuses to tell her which one, and will only say that it brought shame upon the family, so much so that the state was split into two. The half where the royal family lived was cursed, while the other half became its own kingdom and appointed new rulers.
Odette’s parents tell her that there’s a way to break the curse. If she marries Alain, the prince from the neighboring kingdom, then the two kingdoms will be unified again, and the curse will be broken.
But then, Lionel reveals that he can do magic, and he’s been working on a way to break Odette out.
On the last pages that Pearl wrote, Odette has a choice: stay and marry Alain (who is kind but awfully boring), or escape with Lionel and leave her family and everything she’s ever known behind forever (the caveat on Lionel’s spell is that she can never go back into the castle). If she stays, she’ll be following in her parents’ footsteps, working closely with the group of mages that she mistrusts. But if she runs away with Lionel, the curse won’t be broken, and her family, her brother, will be trapped in the castle forever.
Pearl blows out a breath. “Yes, it’s unfinished, I told you that. I just… don’t know how to end it, I guess.”
I consider telling her what Katherine said. It would be a simple ending, having Alain and Odette live happily ever after, the curse being broken. But it’s a much more interesting story if she escapes with Lionel.
“What have you written in your second draft?” I ask.
She pokes me in the side. “It’s a secret.” I laugh, and her eyes crinkle as she smiles. “I got to the same spot again, and I still haven’t decided. I changed other things, but I don’t know. I’m not sure.”
“It seems like Odette’s always wanted to get out of the castle. I think she’d take the chance,” I say.
Pearl rests her chin in her hand. “That’s what I want her to do too, but then where does the story go? Does it have an ending? Does she just disappear into the woods, never to be seen again?”
I knock my shoulder against hers. “This isn’t real life, Pearl. You don’t have to figure it out yet.”
She just nods, but I can tell she’s still thinking.
I just smile at her.
(first part: https://theprose.com/post/432343/trinity)
(previous part: https://theprose.com/post/456598/trinity-37)
(next part: https://theprose.com/post/457738/pearl-39)