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Fantasy Historical Fiction

Blazes of fiery orange fur were swept into an open sewer by a straw broomstick in the hands of our nurse, Lidia. The cat from which those ginger tufts came from laid sleepily on the floor besides the grim skull fragments and small boning knife, a woolen blanket pulled gently over its soft head. I will miss him, whatever his name was.

Nurse Lidia’s slender, zig-zag tail unjumbled upright at a noise coming from underneath our feet. One of the stone trapdoors springed open with a harsh bang, revealing Father and his servants carrying food, leftovers, torn and bleeding clothes. She can’t help but let out a startled yelp even after realizing we wouldn’t have to hide under the blanket with the cat, still deeply scary, though it was limp and motionless. Lidia let out a delightful sigh of relief, something I would normally giggle to, but I know Father doesn’t want me to talk. He says my sound is a curse.

The last time I sang to the rats of Murredom, a flood came. The flood came, and everyone else left. It was the last I saw of my baby sister, her little smile underneath her dandelion whiskers weren’t there though. Father had yanked my tail from inside the oven the boiling currents threw me against, Lidia having to help by getting my head out of the oven.

I remember seeing shoes of some sort, large black ones made of a leathery rubber and brass buckles on one end paired with similar ones arguing in this strange language. The giant shoes had giant, stranger hands that used a giant, metal pot to scoop up a dozen of us rats, my favorite uncle being one of them. I heard him scream, and Father telling me not to go after him.

He grabbed me from below the water, I could only yell to my uncle scurrying to escape the pot. “You’ll be okay, Rans, I know it!” Another wave of water rushed over us, and Father threw me to Lidia.

“That ignorant voice of yours,” Father said.

I have never spoken since then.

Father handed his stash of food to Lidia and each of the four servants who held their paws out thankfully. He takes the rest of the remains, storing them in different corners and different inglenooks, when I realized I hadn’t gotten any food.

I tugged at Father’s coat. It was wet, damp of struggle. With a knowing grunt, he peered down at me and my rumbling stomach to stuff crumbles of knotted bread into the nipped bow of my dress. He gave me nothing more, instead moving on to bring one of the servants, Tomas, to Lidia for further inspection of the brownish gap forming on his leg.

“Kolune,” a distant voice whispered behind me. I didn’t turn; I didn’t want it to be Father.

“Princess Koluneza Banana Panama Kalamadina Yida!” The voice became loud and excited, and that was not Father.

I turned around, a couple crumbs awkwardly extended inside my paw, me thinking this voice wanted food. The voice behind me then turned into a face in front of me, Sal, wet and still drying his squiggly tail. He was one of Father's many servants, but you wouldn't know it because he was always smiling, missing teeth always shining proudly.

I smiled and waved hello. I would’ve said something excited too, but my sound was still a curse. The revolution of firing gunshots and bodies of frail humans being thrown in and around our kingdom having to do with it, I thought. Horses stampeding the fields below and more and more rats being picked up by boiling pots also having to do with my voice, I knew.

Sal sat on a slab of wood jutting from underneath the open floorboards while Tomas groaned from Lidia’s hand pushing into his skin and the cat staring at him creepily, antiseptic chloride only calming him down a little.

“I have something to tell you.” His voice became sheepish. Then he took a crumb from inside my paws, still extended awkwardly, and his excitement quickly came back.

“So when we were running for our lives outside--you know, where all the cats and shoes and shooting muskets and stuff are--King Reuben was whispering something to Tomas, and you know what he said?”

I nodded for him to go on, truffling with my own crumbs resting inside my hands and now my mouth. He looked behind me before puffing his chest out to imitate Father in regal mockery.

“King Reuben said, Princess Kolune--that’s you--would be a lot better leading Murredom one day if she didn’t have that jinxed voice. That your voice attracts too many of those humans.” Sal looked down to the floor, jamming his shoes against each other and fidgeting with his ends of his paws. “He said it would bring back Princess Zillow.”

Zillow. My baby sister with the little smile underneath dandelion whiskers. I had missed her more than I missed my kingdom or comfy bed hiding chocolate candies and marshmallow bars. My last song had been about her, how she would grow up to love Murredom like I had.

“There is one thing you could do…” his voice trailed off uneasily.

My hand went into tiny circles and my mouth gaped open considerably, motioning for him to keep talking. The story was getting slightly interesting now. Especially since I wasn't going to talk anymore.

“You’re so quiet now. It’s really weird.” Sal stared at me before returning to his previous state of mind. “But anyway, I had met this mouse before the floods who gave me all these green rocks and bits of cheese and said that if I ever needed any kind voice modification, then he’s the mouse to find.” He took out a thin business card and showed it to me. “That's where he lives.”

He handed the paper to me, and I took it. It felt like power in my paws, sweet and dangerous, like it shouldn't be in my paws. Another gunshot flew threw the air while I examined the immaculate scribbles and detailed flowers dotting around each inke letter. Yipper Sweets, the card read. This time a man screamed from outside while I played with the card around my eyes.

“Salvador, boy!” Lidia called from beside the still lifeless cat, beckoning me to look around too. “Could you please show Tomas to the cots we’ve made. You’re of the best health, and I’m not sorry to say this, but you’ll have to sleep on the floor tonight.” She comes over to Sal while Tomas leans across her shoulder, bandaged tail in between his wobbling legs.

“No worries.” Sal still keeps his smile.

He takes Tomas by the waist, carefully getting him to lean over his back as they walk into the next room of this gloomy, abandoned attic we’ll be calling home for the next few weeks.

I tuck the business card into the nipped bow along with the bread crumbs I couldn’t digest on my fully empty stomach. Maybe if I really do change my voice or give it away forever, then maybe I could see Zillow once again. Maybe Father wouldn’t be as mad at me anymore. Maybe I could find warmth in those dandelion whiskers and sneak them chocolate candies and marshmallow bars from underneath my comfy bed when those whiskers got older.

Lidia looked at me, watching sternly as I looked back at her. Her eyes were blue, I noticed for the first time.

“You must really miss your sister. Don’t you, Koluneza?” She puts her arm around me.

“I do, Miss Lidia,” I whisper into her furry arms. “I miss her dandelion whiskers.”

Lidia stared at me funny, trying to understand what I was thinking. The thing was, I didn’t know what I was thinking. I couldn’t think. I couldn't think of a time I wish I had never spoke.

April 10, 2021 03:54

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