"What's your favourite colour, Amelia?"
"Your favourite fruit?"
"What do you want to be when you grow up?"
They asked the same boring questions, and Amelia would answer them with the same prepared answers along with her naive enthusiasm.
The girls would fight her over liking pink more. Her servants would bring her baskets of strawberries, and the grown-ups always praised her for choosing to be a scientist in their abundant gatherings.
"What is a scientist?" that was what nobody asked her, a good thing though because if they did this would be her answer.
The scientist is that wizard wearing a long, purple robe inside a villa adorned with posters that makes one dizzy. They have the freedom to spend days teleporting to space, jumping from planet to planet, one star to the other and greeting the aliens. In longing to be there again, the scientist spends their evenings watching the aliens through their long enchanted invention as their foreign friends wave at them.
“Why strawberry?” was another question, Amelia wasn’t inquired. The answer would be because they look pretty, the prettiest thing she had ever seen. She dreamt of a world in which people lived under the sky with strawberries floating above them... The little Amelia had asked her father, the King to foist people to eat nothing but strawberries for one day. Certainly, they wouldn't like the idea, but what choice did the people of Tribida have except to "enjoy" having nothing but strawberries on the first day of spring.
After eighteen years this had evolved into a crucial tradition and the other ritual the people of this town had was that once the child of the King, on the line for the throne attained the age of eighteen, they shall be taken to a separate mansion for one month.
Letting go of Amelia, the only child of the King was his nightmare, but rules were rules and the fanatic King would rather lose his head than his word.
He kissed her farewell. She left clenching her deceased mother's bracelet onto the carriage with the white horses that led her to the pink castle, cast away.
After their long conveyance, the young knight sitting behind the horsemen stepped down and opened the door for the Princess and the two maids.
Amelia picked a pink rose from the flower bed on their way to the castle.
She was led upstairs to the tower that was her rosy room with a view so beautiful, Amelia couldn't wait for the night to fall so she could begin stargazing.
There was no need to keep the candles burning since the stars were gleaming and the moonlight fell on the wooden floor.
She stood across the window, and now it gleamed her freckled face. Amelia closed her eyes, inhaled the flower she had picked and twirled it between her fingers.
The rose fell from the window, exactly across the knight's feet. Amelia gasped.
She looked down and yelled.
"Sir! Umm... Mr knight!"
He didn't move a muscle.
"I'm talking to you!" the birds who were in sound sleep flew away from the rooftops.
Amelia grabbed her robe and stomped to the knight. She took the rose from the ground. A few of its petals torn apart and fell in subtle motion.
"Can't you hear me?" she raised her voice.
His head was pointed right over her head, but was he even looking at her?
"I'm going to tell my father about this reckless behaviour of yours."
"I'm a knight. Princess, I'm on duty." at last, the statue spoke, softly.
"I was asking you to bring me my flower."
"I can't, I shouldn't even be talking to you. Please go."
"Have you ever talked to a knight before?"
"See, it's the order of the King. We aren't supposed to talk with the princess, or with anyone at all."
"But why? Don't you have thoughts? Don't you have words?"
There was a pause then he said,
"No one wants to hear a knight’s thoughts or a knight’s words."
"I want to."
"Please, leave." he lowered his voice, looking at the entrance of the castle.
Amelia couldn't sleep that night. She imagined being a knight...to have thoughts but, no freedom to share, to have a tongue, but no voice to speak, to have a heart, no right to feel...
"Are you alright, dear?" Asked the woman pouring Amelia simmering, green tea.
"Yes, yes." Amelia twitched and averted her gaze from the window.
"Why aren't knights supposed to talk to us?"
"Well, they serve for the King, and it's best to keep their priority to serve." she raised her chin.
"You serve for the king too, he doesn't have problems with you talking?"
"No, I'm a woman. And I'm only allowed to talk to you."
"Aren't men supposed to have things to say? Or feel?"
"Oh, Amelia, what has got into you today? Anyway, I and Linda are taking off to the town. Is there anything you need?"
"No," she muttered.
The night fell, and the eccentric Amelia had an idea.
"Oh, silly me, I keep losing grasp of my flowers." Amelia picked the fallen flower across the knight's feet. She sighed after looking at him standing motionless.
"Aren't you going to utter anything? I'm doing you a favour. Don't you feel like talking?"
Seemed like she was looking at a knight’s armour, with no soul inside it. It was difficult to see his face. He was nothing but a silhouette.
Hopelessly, she went back.
A single flower kept being plucked from the garden each day. This continued for ten days until he lost it.
"What do you want?"
"Aha, I knew you weren't dead in there!"
"Princess Amelia, this is not right."
"Oh, so you know my name too? Impressive..."
"They will kill me!"
"Who? My father? Please, he's the kindest King Tribida has ever had."
"You don't know anything, do you?" he mumbled.
"What was that?"
"No, no I heard it. What do I not know?"
"That I have nothing to say, I lied. I have no thoughts, nothing, really, now please, leave."
"Your head armour trembles more when you fib, like now. I will leave, but only if you answer my question. One question."
"Alright, go on."
"What's it like to be you?"
"Good, think about it. We'll continue tomorrow. Good ni... Oh," she smacked on her forehead.
"Knights don't sleep too?" she fell asleep with the thought.
The next morning Amelia left for the woods, without informing Martha or Linda. While singing a lullaby with her high-pitched voice, she pushed aside the bushes that came along and looked at the sky to see the crowns of the towering trees.
“Just a few more minutes...” she kept ambling and lost the track of time. A strange whimper ceased her walking. The bushes beside her twitched and heavy footsteps were following her from behind.
Amelia screamed after a hyena leapt from behind the bushes. She fell on her back and hopelessly crawled herself backwards. Her palms scratched with the damp rubble merged with thorns. She shielded herself with her seeping hands.
The sound of its whiffs was getting closer. Amelia closed her eyes and opened them promptly after the rough thump.
“Princess!” the knight put back his seeping sword.
He helped the Princess to stand on her feet.
“Thank you,” Amelia said, teary-eyed.
“It was my duty, Princess.”
On their way back to the castle, Amelia succeeded in compelling the guarded knight not only to tell about his life story, of how he was an orphan who spent his childhood napping on the streets and labouring in a bakery but she also left him chuckling more than the young knight wanted to admit.
The red rose fell across his feet. After a minute, she was there, unhurriedly picking it. Amelia stood for a while.
“You don’t want to answer?” his silence gave her the response. She turned around.
"It's like nothing but limitations. Watching the world in four lines only, wishing for its spaces to become wider one day. It's the thirsty watching the river across him drying, it's the lover yearning and dying. Serving for the one unaware of my existence, but if I break a rule, he will order my death by calling my name he just learned. It's gleaming under the moonlight, but I'm called a knight, I'm dark and faceless. Gawking at the abyss. Still in here, dancing in my little world. It's admiring all the beautiful things, in pieces. Speaking to a weary mind, even then in hesitation, I'm nothing but limitations."
Amelia wiped her tears away.
"Hey, tomorrow, it's your turn. You have to answer me. What’s it like to be you?" Amelia could hear his smile through his softening voice.
She nodded and ran to her tower, then cried herself to sleep. Her pillow clasped her falling tears.
"Martha, we need to go to the castle today. I need to see my father."
"But we can't Amelia. It's not been a month yet."
"I don't care!" The basket of bread fell from Martha's hands.
"Is it because of that knight?"
Amelia ran outside. He wasn't there.
"What did you do to him?" She wailed.
"The horseman saw him talking to you. The rest is history."
"No! Where is he?"
"By now, dead. We have received orders to keep you safe. The gate will be locked for the remaining days."
Her teardrops splashed as they fell on the table. The girl who thought she’d found her soulmate, had found another lesson. For the next ten days, Amelia lied bedridden in her room. The moon was in hiding, so were the stars for the misty nights. Stimulated by darkness, yet she couldn't get enough of it. After ten days of silence, she whispered to his ghost, answering his question.
I'm anything but free, I'm a wingless bird in a roofless cage, and I'm stitching my wings just to have them torn again. My naivety has brought me to this day. I didn't even know my own father, I'm a murderer's daughter. I'm a Princess, a curse on its own. They've branded my fate, and I can't change it. Not by hopes, nor by prays. Dear knight, I'm sorry I brought you to this day. But now I see you living in your free, little world. In our ephemeral, wish I could know your name. I'm sane for my hallucinations, I'm nothing but limitations..."
She spent days gardening and singing to pretty flowers, and her nights reading about stars as she embraced the gloom, clothed in a black robe. She was the goth living in a pink castle.
Her favourite tale was the Chinese celebrated story regarding two stars, Vega and Altair. Vega was a weaver who made pretty clothes using the milky way. As every day passed by, a fear expanded in her fragile heart, lest she will spend her life lonely. One day, she met Altair, a farmer across the milky way and they fell in love which made Vega's father furious since both neglected their obligations. But to not break Vega's heart, her father made a decision. They were allowed to meet only once a year, which falls on the seventh day of the seventh month. When the awaited day arrived, they fathomed they couldn't cross the milky way to finally reunite. Seeing the sadness in Vega's eyes a flock of magpies build a bridge between the separated. And when it rains on that day, it is believed to be Vega's tears, since, for some reason, they have to wait for another year...
Amelia's father’s great companion inquired her like he would in the past.
“What’s your favourite colour?”
“When tragedy strikes you, it hides you.”
“Your favourite fruit?”
“The acceptance reaped after sowing patients.”
“What do you want to be when you grow older?”
After the demise of the King. Amelia the Queen was now responsible for her people. In her first days of taking the throne, she rewrote the entire decrees. No more sending off the about to be emperors far away. No more seizing a lofty amount of taxes from the farmers. The knights and servers were allowed to communicate as much as they liked. They would be replaced with the second shift workers during nights. Amelia was known for her uprising ruling. Her name prevailed as the most loving Queen Tribida had ever had.