Tale in red

Written in response to: Write about a character driving in the rain.... view prompt



It was night when the princess arrived in the palace, having lost her escort in

the midst of the sudden storm. She asked for the palace’s hospitality.

I am a princess” she told them.

A real Princess?” the queen asked.

Yes!” she answered.

With little trust and to make sure, the queen called for her maids and told


You will put our thickest mattresses on her bed and on top our softest duvets.

On the bottom you shall put this pea” she said, pulling out of her chic purse a

small, green pea and giving it to them. They did as they were told and prepared

the room for the princess.

The princess had her bath and dined with the king, the queen and their

beloved only son, the young and beautiful prince. Later, when she was tired, she

slept with her doll in her arms which she never parted with. The doll was made

from thread dipped in color from poppies and red anemones, and it was made by

her queen- grandmother herself…

She slept with a smile on her lips and dreamt of raining peas.

In her dream she gathered the fallen peas and cooked them to make a deliciously scented pea soup. Just like the one the green princess liked, in her grandmother’s stories. There were always stories of princesses in different colors. And series of colored dolls her grandmother made from the toughest of threads and from colors she gathered from the trees, the sea, from meadows and mountains…

Grandma had the odd habit of visiting the princess in her dreams. Now,

how she managed that was a mystery. Right now, in this strange night, she

had come again to find her and tell her of her pea soup secret. What could

that mean?

The sure thing is that the next morning the princess – whose name no

one knew still – got up first and had the taste of pea soup in her mouth: dill

weed, carrot, lemon, but also the scent of garden during a summer night.

Our princess knew well her grandma’s second small garden. She helped her

grub and water the plants. They would cut the ripe vegetables and put

them in their basket. Each season had its own treasures to give: Lettuces,

cabbages red and green, onions, leeks, spinaches, fennels, parsleys,

artichokes, fava beans, peas, lentils, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, and

squashes with their blossoms still on…

All remembered of the tale of the queen grandmother’s first garden

and laughed quite often. The queen grandmother -who was not your

common queen - had demanded to have her own, private space. Courtiers

and servants, gardeners and knights, hunters and jesters, nannies and

cooks, all wanted to do the work for her, for her royal hands mustn’t touch

the dirt!

Nevertheless, the queen would not listen to anyone and cultivated

totally on her own, her garden. And she had all the goods all year round

and she shared them with joy.

“Just let me give! That’s all I want.”

Garden meeting

It was that garden the princess tasted, twirling her tongue in her

mouth… And so, lost in her thoughts, she found herself in the palace

garden. It was then that she discovered that the beautiful prince had

woken up before her. And he was filling with his imagination the empty tree

branches with pomegranates, on a big painting in front of him. He was so absorbed by his work he did not notice her. And, the more

cheerful were the things he drew, the more blue he seemed to be. It was

as if the small crown was an unbearable weight on his head, a head that

shined as if made by pure gold, under the sun’s first sight… and then he

saw her.

He tried desperately to discern any signs of insomnia on her face, but

she was rosy and glowing and even more beautiful under the sun, unlike

under the light of the candles. The prince’s heart fluttered in its chains.

Because for her he would draw all the world’s pomegranates… But…

Did she sleep well? He wondered.

Perhaps she did not notice the pea his queen mother had placed under the

mattresses and duvets?

Was she a real princess? He wondered.

They would never let him marry someone of not a royal birth, no matter how

beautiful or kind she was and this, not because they were arrogant. After all, the

prince was also a child of love. His father was a poor tailor, who, contrary to the

prince of our story, did not have to do any brave deeds to win the heart of his

beautiful princess. A mere look was all it took!

But, as you know, many are those who envy the happiness of others. An evil

wizard who wanted the princess for himself became so mad when he learned of

her marriage that he cursed the couple. His curse was that their first child would

transform into a swallow should he ever married out of love…

The good fairy godmother (thankfully there is always a fairy godmother, ever

vigilant on our side) managed to make a small change in the curse, and so, the

prince would be able to marry one he loved but only if she was a real princess.

He was groomed so, even if unwillingly, for the future before him. They forbid

him any contact with the simple folk, in fear, should he ever met a girl not of a

royal birth and fell for her and they lose him like one would eventually lose a

migratory bird…

The little prince would get blue, no matter how hard his parents tried

to cheer him up. They would buy him the best presents. He had a room with

anything a child could ever wish for: teddy bears, slingshots, model trains

and boats and golden swords. Ice creams of every flavor in the world: mint,

wild strawberry, peach, blackberry, lemon, chocolate, true vanilla…

Nothing could make him smile.

Until one day…

The joy of painting and the Princess in red

…The young prince was five years old when, one spring morning, his queen mother called for him in the garden. She was so beautiful with her red dress and her long braided hair. She gave him gifts, a paintbrush and a pallet with colors as well as something she called “easel”.

“I will show you how to fill the white of the canvas with colors. I will show you

how to keep your favorite images forever with you.”

With the sundown the garden had become magically a painting and,

for the first time, a smile had found its way to the little prince’s face…

… The years were going by and the prince continued to grow up and

become more and more handsome. Painting was his only consolidation.

However, now he did not only draw what he saw but all else that was

invisible to others. All the things that could exist should the world was

different. Had he ever stopped, it would be only to dream. For example, if

one would take a closer look at the sky, one would clearly see that inside a

cloud heavy with raindrops a fairytale castle was hiding, an entire city full

of life. A city in red.

The princess with no name also loved the color red. Of all the

princesses in the stories of colors her grandmother told her, the one with

the Red Princess was her favorite. Was it because it was the first one she

ever told her?

 These stories came from some forgotten paintings her grandmother

found one day in her enchanted trunk. They were all about a girl in

different ages. A beautiful little girl with long, dark hair that she made into

braids that formed halos or crowns as she grew up.

“Who is she?” the princess had asked her grandmother

“The Princess in Red!”

 And the story began. The Princess in Red slept in a red bed with red

sheets. She used red notebooks and red pencils. In the mornings she would

eat strawberry marmalade and drank cherry juice.

 She liked watermelons, tomatoes, the morning sun and the sundown,

poppies, red anemones and red roses. She was crazy for red cherries and

red grapes. She always wanted a taste of the sweet red wine kept in the


 Her carriage’s seats were all red and she was friends with a robin bird

that had a human’s voice.

…“What is the reddest of them all?” her grandmother asked her one day

while reading her a story from a book that was about a red house. The

princess without a name never found the answer.

 Until that day: when she saw the pomegranates the prince had

painted. Yes, if one would juice them, their juice would be the reddest of

them all.

 With that thought she approached him without hesitation and they

talked. It was just that a lump in the throat was stopping the little prince

from asking her what was tormenting him:

“Did she sleep well? She didn’t have any problems with the bean? Is she a

real princess?”

September 20, 2021 16:05

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