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Historical Fiction Drama

CW: This story contains self-harm

This was a first for Helen. Waking up in the middle of the night, covered in sweat while breathing heavily. She believes, well, it was actually proven many times, that her dreams foretell the future. These dreams of hers usually predict only her fate and future, but on rare occasions, these dreams show her a much bigger picture. This time it was one of those rare happenings. Helen woke up not from a pleasant dream but from a dreadful nightmare that no person would ever wish to see. The dreamscapes of a land ravaged by fire, the algid bodies of citizens and soldiers both. The loud clanging of metal, people shouting. She could still hear their screams full of fear. As if her beloved Kingdom of Kraina became no-man’s land. Helen was still agonizing and analyzing the dream as the pictures were flashing before her eyes. Slowly regaining her consciousness, Helen’s eyes looked around her room in a slow manner. Her room with the wainscot and wooden decoratives on her French bed, the small cracks on the walls, the long but narrow windows and the drapes screening the dim light of the moon all felt so familiar, thus was really soothing for her - so calming that she slept back in no time and when she woke up, the sun was already up. The next thing she knew was that her maids were already dressing her up for breakfast. They dressed Helen in a pale rose-coloured dress fitting her figure well. Helen was in fact the fifth princess in the country of Kraina., her long golden-brown hair framing her oval-shaped face and hazel eyes adorning it. Her features weren’t that of a royal, at least she didn’t resemble any of her siblings. Her father, who was the King of Kraina, fell madly in love with her mother, a lowly commoner. From their love Helen was born, however, not long after giving birth to a daughter, her mother was abandoned by the King. They lived quietly in a hidden corner of the country. Soon after she turned sixteen, her mother died and Helen had to live alone in the coldest, rigidest place of the world, the Palace. Three sons and five daughters. The King’s children. In fact, most of her siblings despised her, but there were a few who would just let her be. All in all, she had very little chance of being the Queen of this land. But she had something going for her that no person would ever dare to deny. That she was the most beloved princess of the people living near and far in this kingdom. Even now as she was heading for the dining room to pack her stomach with delicious baked goods, she couldn’t shoo away her worries regarding the nightmare she woke up from with terror on her face. 

‘Should I tell my father what nightmare of a future I dreamt of?’, pondered Helen as she passed several maids,’ No. No… My father never really believed that my dreams are capable of predicting the future. In fact, what if I am wrong? What if it didn’t show me the future? But the people...’

Helen had to stop, however, because she reached her destination. The ancient doors of the dining room gazing down on her, and behind that malicious intent. She went into the room without hesitation, keeping a low profile and saying only a light greeting, not to anger her siblings, nor her father. She has always been a docile girl who would do anything to not get into a row.

Helen sat down next to her sisters and brothers with the soft rustling of her dress. She was properly educated not only in manners but also in other fields of study that a royal must know ever since she came to live in the Palace. Therefore she had no shortcomings in any area that her siblings were trained in as well. 

Soon enough breakfast was served and all of them dag into it. Only the light tinkle of the tableware could be heard. This was one of the reasons why many of them found family meals displeasing. Helen was sipping tea comfortably when her father broke the quiet.

‘There is something that all of you must know', the King said, taking on a stern expression. ’War might break out between Kraina and the neighbouring country.’

Sisters and brothers gasped in synchrony and Helen immediately froze, teacup in her hand as her complexion became pale, even paler than usual. She now felt the need to tell her father about her dream.

‘Father,’ Helen spoke in a soft and low voice as she lifted her gaze at him,’ I must speak with you after our meal.’

The father gave an approving nod and turned back to the others.

‘Gosh, it must be one of her silly dreams once again’, remarked the eldest princess.

‘Don’t tease Helen, you know she doesn’t really have any friends or hobbies that would keep her mind occupied. Oh! Aside from her indulging in those dreams, of course. At least she doesn’t use any substances. Yet’, barked the youngest prince.

‘Stop it! You should think about what father said and not about Helen!’, tried to save the situation the eldest prince who had always stood up for her. Probably because Helen never did herself.

‘Indeed, I’d appreciate it if you paid attention to me instead of that wretched girl. The next in line to the throne will come to marry one of my daughters in order to avoid the dreaded war.’ He slowly focused his gaze upon Helen as he continued, ‘and I want you to decide who will go.’

Unfortunately, everyone understood his signs, even Helen. On the other hand, she did not intend to give up her peaceful life yet. After all, the prince of the neighbouring country, Savo, was known to be a playboy. One must have heard the name of the foreign prince from the many scandals with ladies he flirted with. To marry such a man meant indignity. Helen was not about to give away any of her hard-earned respect for such a boy.

‘Prince Savo will be coming in three days. I expect you to decide between yourselves and greet the prince accordingly’, stated their father with a voice that no-one dared to disobey.

Breakfast was finished with this and everyone was sent to their room, except for Helen. The father and she stayed seated at the table while everyone shuffled out of the ancient doorway.

They were sitting in silence. As time went by, the tension became tangible. Helen broke the suffocating quiet first.

‘Father, regarding what I wanted to talk to you about…’

‘I really hope it’s not one of those dreams again. You always say they predict the future. Hah! What a foolish thought’, he looked at her with a piercing stare.

Helen pressed her lips together but decided to speak.

‘I am sorry, but it is indeed a dream. I never intended to mention it but when you spoke of the war I knew I had to!’, said Helen hurriedly as her father sighed. But she couldn’t pause for a moment because one stop and she will be sent away. She knew that too well.

‘I dreamt of the war! It will happen, father! I know I saw it in my sleep!’

‘ENOUGH!’, shouted the father so loudly that Helen’s ears were ringing from the volume. 

‘But...Listen, father! You know all of my dreams have come true until now!’, she insisted.

‘I know? Am I supposed to know what goes on in your childish mind as well?’, the father lifted up his hand and glared at her from under his eyebrows, ’I think you said enough, you shall go now.’

‘No! I will tell you’, stood up Helen as she slammed her hand on the table, ’You didn’t see it, but I did! I heard the cries of pain and fear, I smelled blood and ashes mixed in the air as the lifeless bodies of many citizens were swallowed by flames...I DID. Believe me, father. Please, Savo, the neighbouring country won’t keep their word’, pleaded Helen.

‘Child...I advise you to listen to me when I say enough. Do you think I will believe this rubbish? In fact, who cares if they don’t keep their word? All I need is to get rid of you! You and your mother have been driving me mad’, grinned coldly the bony face. 

‘Father...What do you mean by that? I never wished to anger you.’

‘You never wished, but even your existence makes me think of your mother. Your mother, who was a monster, a witch’, he clenched his teeth as he remembered.

Helen’s eyes widened from her shock. She couldn’t mutter a single word from awe and could only watch as her father’s anger bloomed.

‘That woman! She was like a snake! Like you! But… luckily she died by one of my men’s hands. If you get it, don’t be so foolish and arrogant as your mother! Just get out of this country!’, looked the father at his daughter menacingly. Helen couldn’t respond for a whole minute as she was still processing everything the king told her, but then she snapped.

‘You...killed my...mother? Hah! Hahaha…’ her eyes were unfocused as she tilted her head, still standing. ’Don’t look down on me. I am not a foolish little girl anymore, nor am I, my mother. I am a fully capable woman, so I advise Your Grace to watch his back!’, Helen threatened her father, eyes ablaze, then she stormed out of the dining room. Helen ran through the Palace until she reached her room and slammed the door behind her. The moment she did, she broke down crying on the floor. All of her emotions, anger, sadness, disgust, and fear broke out of her at once. But also the memories of her mother, the sweet memories she once shared with her. She was wiping her tears as she went to bed. She could only fall asleep in the early hours and that, too, was from exhaustion.

The next morning she woke up earlier than the maids. Helen only slept about two hours and was still under the effect of yesterday’s talk when she rapidly lifted her eyes at the door. She almost jumped to the door and locked it from the inside. It was a sudden decision, but she needed seclusion more than anything right now. She felt safer knowing the door was locked and shuffled back to her bed, slumping into it. Her eyes slowly closed as she drifted to another prophetic dream. 

The dream wasn’t that different from the one before. She saw the same pictures, felt the same sensations, but something did change. Helen was trying to save the lives of innocent people when her father came and stabbed her with his longsword. Blood was gushing out of her open wound. She woke up abruptly from the pain of her impaled chest. She touched it right away to feel if any of the pain came from physical injury. 

‘None…’ Helen sighed in relief.

The sudden calmness flooded her body to the point of becoming numb. Helen still saw the dreamscapes of the nightmare. It kept popping up to the point where she couldn’t tell if it was real or not. The blood covered her room from time to time and some dead bodies were in the corner of her room, or so she thought. She jolted up from the bed and searched for something sharp, something that could cut. Her search was in vain, as nothing of the sort was available in her room, so impulsively she turned around and slammed her small hands on the mirror as hard as she could. Helen’s reflection fell to a million pieces. She took up the biggest shard from the floor, then cut her lower arm. The red liquid was dripping from the cut. At that moment the hallucinations faded away, giving Helen some peace. But it wasn’t long enough before those ghastly pictures came back. 

‘No! Go away! They are not real! Not real…’, she screamed and took another fragment of the mirror. Helen scratched her skin many times, giving her some relief. But those hallucinations weren’t fading away. Not after one cut, not after two. Not even after blood covered her arm. Helen tried to get rid of those frightful dreamscapes, but ironically, the harder she tried, the more vivid they became. 

It had been two days since she came out of her room and she knew well that tomorrow the playboy Savo will be coming, but she just couldn’t care. She fell into complete misery. Helen dreamt the same dreams again and again, to the point of making her lose it completely. As if going down the rabbit hole, she didn’t see any meaning to life now.

‘Why did I try so hard in the past?’, she chuckled at herself lifelessly, ‘What did I even want to achieve with all that act of being a good and quiet girl? My father despised me, didn’t even care about me. So why?’

She asked herself these questions many times while lying on the bed and gazing out through the narrow windows. These past days she didn’t cut herself at all, in fact, she felt that act pointless too. However, she screamed, threw a tantrum, and bawled her eyes out many times during this relatively short period of time. 

Helen got up from her bed to go to the shattered mirror. She wanted to see what she’s become in a few days. Helen took slow but big steps one after another and when she reached the mirror, she stared longer into it than anybody ever had. Helen saw her puffy, red eyes, dark circles under them. Messy hair and pale complexion. She hadn’t eaten anything for the past few days, she got thinner. But above all, her gaze focused on the wounds she inflicted on herself. They were healing slowly and weren't bleeding anymore. The longer she stared at them, the more furious she became. It irked her. Not a minute passed and her blood was boiling.

‘YOU!’, she shouted, shifting her eyes up and glaring into the mirror, ’You are the one who did this to me! FATHER! You worm! You cold-hearted devil! Ugh’, she suddenly felt pain in her chest. It felt as if the longsword that impaled her body in that dream inflicted a permanent gash in her.

Then she suddenly turned around, biting her nails.

‘What should I do now?’ 

Helen came to her senses and back into the present. You could almost hear the cogs turning in her brain as she walked around her room still biting her nails. 

‘If you won’t believe me that my dreams are the truth, that my dreams can predict the future, okay, I will show you. I will show you how fearful of a nightmare it truly was, but this time it will be the reality. I will push you into utter misery, just like you did’, she declared as she got the sudden idea calmly, ’I won’t have to act like a good girl anymore. I will be your villain, my dearest father.’ Helen’s eyes and whole demeanor changed in a flash. The docile, quiet little maiden was nowhere to be found.

‘Let’s start the show then!’, she grinned accompanied with a chilling gaze.

September 30, 2021 18:40

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1 comment

22:10 Oct 06, 2021

Hi Viola!! This is a really interesting story. However, I think the format of it being a SHORT story does it a massive disservice! I'd love to see what would happen if you expanded this into a full-length book rather than just a few thousand words :)


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