It was such a lovely day for the feast. The cold weather had taken a nap allowing the Inamoratas to revel in their preparations. Without the wind and the sleet, which had promised to sleep for a fortnight, the lovelies were able to concoct the most intoxicating of celebrations.
Diaphanous ribbons in citrine, amethyst, and rose fluttered from every tree branch. Polished globes holding sparkling liquids caught the sun’s smile and horded it until the sun fell behind the earth and the dark eve descended over the fete.
Maidens corseted to match each Inamorata followed one another with baskets overflowing with sweets and naughty liquids to make even the most stern prig throw down her masthead and join the debauchery.
This was the day I awaited from the time I could stand by myself and toddle towards the radiant gowns and feathered heads and glistening cheeks to touch, to feel, to claim a piece of my own. I would someday be a part of the Spring Awakening but would have to wait my turn. Wait until I was “ready” as Constance would croon with her honeyed breath flowing over me while cradling me in her creamy arms.
The Spring Awakening ordained unions that would either unfurl for an aeon or deplete itself within the night. But not one would anguish over their fate. There was always another year for those whose desires were sated that eve and yearned for more.
Constance never failed to espy the perfect throne for me on which to gaze upon the preparations. Lambs wool would ensconce a spot so perfect all eyes would never see me, but I them.
From my cathedra, I would learn from paramours how to walk and bow. How to great and how to excuse oneself when no longer necessary. I watched in awe as the tables were set with such ease and grace.
Flowers would appear as if out of nowhere, as the sultana protégés placed each one as though it were the only one. And then the musicians would arrive in gossamer gowns leaving little to wonder at. This was the height of the preparation.
Finally, with joy exuding from every courtesan in the vale without a word or sound, the recorders called all to court.
I did not remember Juliana’s promise. Juliana from last spring who did not get the boy she had hoped for. Juliana who held her pain deep inside for a year veiled with smiles and gentle touches holding back her venom.
I did not feel the blast, but I did see the darkness. I don’t remember if the black curtain falling over me was due to the explosion or Constance throwing herself on top of me.
When the noise ended. When quiet descended, I called to Constance. She didn’t move. Her once creamy skin was cold and clammy. She was heavy on top of me and I couldn’t take a deep breath. With all my might, I rolled Constance to the side and slipped myself out from under her.
The dark sky held no sparkling lights. The globes lay smashed on the ground entwined with the now muddy ribbons and flower petals with ragged edges strewn without the finesse of the once lovely ladies.
Bodies lay across the green. Nothing moved. Out of the corner of my eye a hand reached towards me and I jumped.
“Don’t be afraid, Young One,” the smoky voice swirled out from the darkness. “Come with me.”
And the figure stepped into the only ray of light coming from the only global survivor of the chaos. I recognized the flowing, raven hair. I knew the cobalt velvet gown that skimmed the voluptuous frame. If I had any doubt, the golden ring curled around the middle finger of the sleek hand reaching out to me left no room for speculation.
It was Juliana.
Ah, this felt good. I haven’t written like this for a while. I love looking for words to set the scene. It’s finding the right words that help me find my story.
“Set a scene during the set-up for an elaborate event (like a feast, a ceremony, a press conference). During the set-up, something goes terribly, terribly wrong. Your narrator is in the center of the action but not a part of it (though he or she may have witnessed this type of event before).”