Whew! February is over. Now things have slowed down and … goodness gracious! Is it Chatterbox again?
Yes … yes it is. The subject this month is Mirrors. This time, instead of Robert, I’ve written of Peronell Malkyn of Unlikely.
I rather enjoyed writing this, and will not apologise for its length.
– – – –
The library was empty – Scribe Destrian and his assistants had long since retired for the night. The sole light was a candle, standing on a little desk and casting out its weak beams to the room around, touching with a feeble flicker the high bookshelves which towered forever upwards, the ends of their height hidden in a blanket of darkness; like mountain peaks obscured by cloud.
The only noise was the scratch of a quill upon parchment and the soft breathing of a figure hunched over the writing desk.
Her brow was furrowed and her nose was scrunched as she attempted to write.
It’s all very busy here, one could read (if one was in the line of deciphering scrawled and blotched writing) though I’m like a ghost. Walking the halls with soundless footsteps.
I don’t miss you – the line was written with brutal honesty – as you only ever teased me. But as your younger sister it is my duty to wonder how you fare, I’m trying to do my duty you see, even though our sister has firmly taken most opportunities out of my hands. I can’t say that I resent her, for surely I made a mess of giving the farewell cup at your parting.
She frowned – why give an opening for teasing? A line was drawn through the offending words.
The King is in good health, she wrote helpfully, and so is our brother, the Crown Prince. These too were crossed out with a thick black line (and a droplet of ink which escaped the writer’s best efforts). Of course Linus would know if the Royal Family were suffering any harmful malady; it was foolish to write the obvious.
Sometimes, she wrote with the air of one giving a precious confidence, I think that the Creator made a dreadful mistake – here she bit her lip; did one spell mistake with a ‘c’? The word’s last two letters were given a small inkblot so the meaning was clear but the spelling was not – and should have given the King and our late Mother another prince. A prince who could ride into battle and bravely uphold the honour of our country with the sword.
As it is, she wrote with lips set in a firm line, I am entirely useless. A frown creased her brow; it was not pleasant to describe oneself with such a morbid word.
I am entirely unable – was written instead – to do such a thing. Nor am I suited to be the Mistress of the Palace; a station which our sister so admirably fills.
My Lord Tomas has suggested that reading does not benefit anyone except myself – reading a tale of heroic deeds is not the same as going – here, ‘going’ was heavily underlined – and doing the heroic deeds oneself. Though how a maiden with no knowledge of swordplay can defeat (with a sword) a fearsome foe is yet to be seen.
I don’t know what to do – save be a ghost, of course. I’ve perfected that. You, my dear brother, can do heroic things. Our brother will one day be a king and our sister will always be the shining, gentle Beauty of our country.
The Creator knows what He wants me to be. I hope, truly I do, that it isn’t to be a ghost. I wish He would show me … but until then – would you mind awfully slaying an evil enemy in my name?
I remain your devoted sister.
But her hand hesitated in signing her name. Carefully she reread what she had written and began to cross out words. Lines. Sentences.
It seemed too close – a reflection of herself written in black ink upon a cream page. Too real, too raw.
The silence weighed heavily.
She sat there – in that large room with its multitude of books, tales, stories – utterly alone.
The letter was heavily lined now – everything save the opening greeting was crossed through and she felt almost breathless. She would not send it to Linus, for she knew that if he peeked between the lines and lifting them, looked underneath – he would see her.
Like a mirror that had its image frozen.
She didn’t like mirrors.