SUMMARY: Her mother sent her away to teach her how to live among the common people. The eldest daughter is now living in a strange world far away from home. Will she ever be able to go back home? What will her time here on this strange world teach her?
DISCLAIMER: No people, places, and things in this story are real. Any relationship or resemblance to anyone (living or dead) or anything real is purely coincidental and in no way is meant to cause harm. No part of this story may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission from the author.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I would like to say a very big thank you very much to my beta and the folks at Absolute Write who helped me make this story what it is. Any questions or comments please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or look for me on the Athenaeum’s forum under Calliopenjo.
“Maril, where is my daughter?” the queen asked.
“I believe she is with the Lady’s daughter, Peridot, your royal highness. The last I saw of them, she was challenged to a duel of sorts.” Maril, an older woman, held the position of the royal caretaker of children, in charge of them to be certain they learn all of the necessary skills to one day hold the throne.
“Oh, what am I to do, Maril, what am I to do. She is at the age that she must learn to be among everyone, not only the elitists of Arcadia. Perhaps it is time that we prepare her for the next phase. After retrieving my daughter and apologizing to the lady for any mishaps, bring her here so I may tell her what she is to do.” The eldest of three, and future ruler, was a troublemaker, and always challenging authority.
“Yes, your royal highness, I will do as you say.”
It did not take long to look for the missing daughter. All one needed to do was follow the pointing fingers. Most certainly in trouble again, as she witnessed Peridot hanging in the sky far above the ground. After some cajoling, she was able to influence the princess to lower Peridot to the ground. Peridot ran off screaming for her mother, and the princess merely shrugged her shoulders as she walked away.
Maril arrived with the princess in tow to the queen’s quarters. “I have brought the princess, your royal majesty. I will leave you.”
“Daughter, it is time for you to continue your lessons,” the queen stated as she turned around to face her daughter.
“Of course it is, mother, of course it is. Why have you called me here?”
“You will not treat me like a commoner. You are my child and you will show me respect. Perhaps, though, I have been a bit lacking in your studies. Maril will take you to a place to further your studies. Earth’s atmosphere most closely resembles our own as do its inhabitants, though you may be a bit taller than what the humans would call normal height for your age. That is where you will go. You will remain there until I send word for your return. Maril will know exactly what must be done, and you will obey.”
“Mother, honestly, I am fine here in my home, where I should be. As the oldest child . . .”
“SILENCE! You will not speak against me. Maril is preparing for your departure. Leave now, I wish to be in peace.”
“What about my sisters, Essie Coral and Essie Ivory? Are they coming?”
“No, they will not be coming with you, they will remain here. You are the eldest. You must be ready to take the throne when the time comes. Leave me, daughter.” The princess left to find Maril.
Maril had readied the transport vehicle with the necessary supplies. She would come along as the appointed guardian of the princess, heaven help everyone. As soon the goodbyes were said and everyone strapped in, they took off for the third planet from the sun.
A very small girl with strawberry blond hair and wearing glasses walked into her fourth grade class. She was always picked on, four eyes, zombie, bottle bottom eyes; everyone had their own name for her. It wasn’t her fault she needed glasses to see, without them she would be blind, and needed to sit up front in the classroom so she could see the board. The glasses helped, but it was better that she sit in the front of the class. With the bell about to ring, a girl walked into the classroom and sat directly behind the little girl. Tall for her age, raven black hair and silvery eyes, no one dared to call her names, as strange things always happened when someone called her a name she did not like. Most of the kids stayed away from her, and that was how she liked it.
The bell rang and class started with roll call. “Good morning everyone, let’s start with roll call first so I will be able to learn all of your names.”
The recess bell rang and everyone ran out of the class, in a hurry to be anywhere else but in the classroom, that is, everyone except two. Once everyone was done making a mad dash for the door the two got up from their seats to walk out the door. The first order of business was the bathroom. Orie did not realize she was being followed, that is, until she heard, “This one is open. Hey, princess. Orie? This one is open if you need to go.” Caring silvery eyes locked with scared green eyes as they stood facing each other.
It took a minute for Orie to realize she was being spoken to. “Oh . . . um . . . hi . . . I. . . I just wwill wwwait here. . .”
“It is okay, you can use that one. I will be here when you are done.”
“Nnno, I will . . . will . . . umm, wait until you are done.” Past experience had taught Orie to be cautious. Just when she thought someone wanted to be her friend, something would always happen.
On the last day of school last year, someone had taken her glasses and thrown them in the garbage after declaring to be her friend. It was a good thing it happened when school let out for the last time of the year. She didn’t need to worry about that though. The taller child, Essie Diamonté, felt something for Orie. She didn’t know how to describe the feeling. Only that, it compelled her to take care of the one that was picked on.
Essie Diamonté shrugged her shoulders as she said, “All right, well, suit yourself” and she went inside the empty stall. Just then Becky and her gang walked into the girls’ room. To those who didn’t pay patronage to her, especially for the little one, Becky was their nightmare in school. Everyone always prayed and hoped against hope that Becky would come down with a deadly disease and not be able to return. Every year, everyone’s hopes and prayers went unanswered.
“Hey, look, if it isn’t the ssstuttering nincompoop. Oh, and look, she brought my glasses with her.” In an attempt to hide herself and to block the hands, the little one shielded her face. It was a vain attempt however, as Becky’s gang bombarded her with everything they had.
Orie started screaming, which was lucky or unlucky as she found out later, because it brought the attention to the proctor, who put a stop to the gang’s assault. She heard and saw everyone being taken out of the bathroom, and she stood up, not thinking, not feeling just stood up. The bell rang and it was time for class to start again. She left the bathroom, leaving an angry Essie Diamonté behind.
Orie returned to the classroom and retook her seat. She did not want attention and only wanted to hide until school was finished. She lowered her head to look like she was reading the book. It didn’t take long for her to regret not having to go when she had the chance. The teacher assigned some quiet work for the class to do, and Orie took that opportunity to ask the teacher for a restroom pass. The restroom was a little ways away, and she hoped that she would be able to make it. She just could not make it, and ended up with a small puddle in her pants. She took some toilet paper to wrap around her underwear, in the hopes that it might help. She did not bring a sweater or a jacket along to hide behind, so that would have to do. She returned to the classroom, feeling a lot worse than she did before, even as she felt someone rub her back in comfort. She was startled until she turned around to see it was Essie Diamonté. Orie tried to smile but just couldn’t because she just didn’t have it in her. Essie Diamonté smiled though.
Lunch recess arrived and a lot of kids were happy because they enjoyed the lunch break, as it was time to get together with friends, eat lunch, talk, and maybe even play a little. For Orie though, it was a time of dread. Lunch recess meant everyone was free, and that meant Becky. It did not matter where Orie sat or tried to hide, Becky would always find her. Just when she thought Becky would not come over and bother or hurt her, she was there. Orie had just started to walk away with her lunch tray when her tray was grabbed. She was about to scream when she saw it was Becky . . . again. Becky didn’t eat the lunch though, just taunted her with it. She had a trick, hide an open carton of milk behind her back, wait for Orie to walk by, and pour it over her head. That same thing was about to happen when suddenly, the milk was poured inside of Becky’s pants. Becky angrily turned around to see who would dare mess with her. And there she was. It was Essie Diamonté the little one’s guardian, smirking as she stood with confidence, the one who had poured the milk down Becky’s pants. Becky attempted to confront her, but it didn’t work. Running right for her full steam ahead – BOOM - right into the trashcan Essie Dimonté was standing in front of. Becky didn’t like that everyone was laughing at her, but she would have her revenge, a day that neither would forget.
Orie ran away, ran as far as she could go, hiding until the bell rang. She thought she was successful until she heard, “Orie. . . princess . . . did you have an accident earlier? I am wondering because your pants are wet. Do you have another pair or something to hide the spot?” Essie Diamonté ran after Orie when she saw Orie run away. She saw the wet pants and immediately became concerned.
“Pppplease, I I I didn’t do anything, I just, I just was watching. I I won’t tell.” Orie brought herself into a protective stance, always wondering if this was the one who would beat her up without anyone watching.
“I took care of the telling, do not worry about that, and most likely Becky will not pick on you again. Back to the original question, do you have something to cover yourself with?”
“Nnno, no, I . . . I don’t.”
“I was afraid of that. Here, then, wear this around your waist.” Essie Diamonté wrapped her shirt around Orie’s waist. It would not look unusual, as most of the kids had a shirt wrapped around their waist. It would help to hide the spot because the shirt reached the floor.
Orie was shocked. Was someone actually being nice to her?
“Orie, are you alright? I just asked a question and you did not answer.”
“Oh, I . . I . . I’m s . . .s . . sorry. What?”
“Are you alright? She did not hurt you did she?” Essie Diamonté’s eyebrow rose, waiting for the answer.
“Oh, um, well, I am fine. Es . . . Essie Di . . . Diamonté, why do you . . . you uhm . . . call me princess?”
Essie Diamonté smiled. “The bell is about to ring. Did you have a chance to eat before Lady Behemoth started stalking you? It is good that you are feeling fine, and I call you princess because I see it in you.”
The bell was heard, and just then, Orie’s stomach growled breaking their absent-minded stare into each other’s eyes. “Well, that would answer my question, and unfortunately, we do not have time to get something for you. It is time to return to class.”
The rest of the day was alright, and just a little better knowing that she had a possible friend. She even called her princess. The end of the day was signaled by the ringing of the bell. The first thing that Orie wanted to do was to get home and get something to eat, secretly hoping that her mother wouldn’t ask questions. Orie stood up, untied Essie Diamonté’s shirt from around her waist, and returned the shirt. Essie Diamonté returned the shirt to Orie as a back-up in case there would be a similar incident. Orie folded the shirt and held it against her to carry with her back home. Her mother would be waiting outside for her, so it would not take long to reach safety.
Once Orie was in the car, her mother asked, “Phew . . . what happened, Orie? Did you pee in your pants? Are you a baby . . . how about if I get diapers for you?”
“It wasn’t my fault, mom. I told you I have a problem with Becky, and she and she, um, she wouldn’t let me go.”
“You’re just a baby, that’s all. Baby Orie baby Orie, I’ll tell daddy on you.” Her mother continued to torment her causing Orie to forget just how hungry she was. Everybody else had a loving mother except her. Her mother always seemed to torment her no matter what. Why did she have to have her as a mother?
As soon as they reached home, her mother told her, “Make sure you put your pants in the wash and not on the floor. I don’t want my house to stink like you, you know.”
Orie immediately changed clothes into something dry, something comfortable. It was an old pair of pants but they were comfortable. Orie didn’t reply to her mother, what would be the point. Orie was hoping to sneak into the kitchen for a little snack, she was starving. She was able to make half a peanut butter sandwich without her mother noticing. It kept the hunger pains away for a little while.
As soon as daddy came home, she greeted her daddy with a big hug, “Hi, Daddy.”
“Hi, princess, how’s my little princess?”
“Fine,” Orie started laughing, excited to see her daddy return home. Now there was someone that would listen to her. Why couldn’t she have two dads just like daddy?
“Hi, honey, guess what your daughter did?” Mother just could not wait to tell her husband what happened. It seemed to bring her joy to watch her daughter suffer.
“What did my little princess do? Did she get an ‘A’? Did she become captain of the team?” daddy asked excitedly, anticipating good news about his little princess.
“Your daughter..? Are you crazy? No, she peed in her pants today and told me Becky wouldn’t let her go.”
The father put away his briefcase, changed his clothes, and came back into the kitchen. It gave him a few minutes to collect his thoughts. No matter what his wife said, Orie was always daddy’s princess. Orie went back to her room secretly listening to the conversation. “Honey, if she is having problems to the extent of wetting her pants then there is a real problem. Tomorrow, I will call the school to see what can be done about this problem.”
“I don’t think she’s having a problem. I think it’s just an excuse to get out of admitting she peed in her pants, that’s all.”
“Honey, are you listening to yourself? Would our daughter do something like that?”
“Your daughter might, but my daughter certainly would not. My daughter would be perfect, after all, I raised my baby sister and she is just fine.” Mother continued to cook dinner, not knowing that any hope Orie had of talking to her mother about her new friend, even daddy, went out the window. It would be her secret.
Essie Diamonté climbed into the car. “Good afternoon, Maril.”
“Well, good afternoon, princess, and how was your day.”
“Maril, I am not your princess. Here, I am just Essie Diamonté, and as for my day, nothing out of the ordinary, Maril, it was all very irksome. Has mother contacted us yet?”
“No, she did not. She did not set a timeline for you to be here, and it will very likely be quite a while before we will be called back.”
“I am sure, Maril, you did not help matters either, did you? Why is it I cannot return home?”
“You are home, dear, see, you are home.” The car stopped in front of a large house, high up on a hill. It was the well-to-do district with lawyers, real estate agents, and doctors as neighbors.
Once inside the house, Maril started levitating above the doorway. “Maril, I am not speaking of this home. I am speaking of Arcadia. And if this has anything to do with Peridot, it was her fault. She is the one who challenged me.”
“I demand you put me down this instant! And you should have refused. It would have been the proper thing to do.” Maril slowly came down, until she was about just a few inches off the floor.
“You did not say please, and you will not yell at me, Maril.” It had been a long day and her thoughts were occupied with Lady Behemoth and Orie, with Orie being at the forefront.
“Please let me down. And I am your elder, and that gives me a right to yell. However, it was rude of me to make my demands known, so I will retract that.” Maril was let down the rest of the way as gently as could be.
Essie Diamonté turned around and walked up the stairs to finish the half problem she had left. She wondered how Orie was doing, probably safely home being loved by her parents.
Orie always seemed to have a lot of homework to finish, just pages and pages. “Are you still doing your homework?” her mother would always ask.
“What kind of an answer is that? You are a young lady, and should answer as such. You should have said ‘Yes, Mother, I am still working on my homework’, not just ‘Yes, Mother.’”
Let’s see, every odd problem on pages 10 and 11, then that will complete the math, then I am done for the night. Orie started working on her math homework, that is, until her mother interrupted her again.
“Did you hear me?”
“What do you mean yes? When I ask you a question I expect to be answered right away, Orie.”
“I did answer.”
“No you didn’t. Why can’t you be more like me? I always was such a good child and always so beautiful. I will have you know that I was the envy of every girl in school.”
Carry the five, so it’s five plus four plus three equals twelve . . . carry the one . . . and Orie continued on with her homework. Daddy always had that distinctive cologne, and she always looked forward to smelling it. That was how Orie could tell that her daddy was there watching her instead of her mother. Daddy would kiss her, just a peck to be sure she knew he loved her.
At five-thirty the following morning, the alarm went off. A hand reached out for the glasses, turned the alarm off, then Orie was off to get ready for the day. Orie preferred to wear pants to school, protection being the major reason. Mother, however, did not understand that.
“You are going to wear pants? You are going to wear pants after what happened yesterday? Go and change your clothes to a dress. At least then you won’t embarrass me.”
I don’t get a good morning, hi, honey, did you sleep well . . . that’s what I get? “I don’t like to wear dresses. I prefer pants instead.”
“Since when do you prefer pants? I would dress you in pretty dresses every day when you were a baby. Now look at you, you look a homeless child.”
Daddy came out to the kitchen. “Good morning.” He came to his daughter. “Good morning, Orie. When I drop you off at school today I’m going to talk to the principal about this problem with Becky, okay? See if maybe we can find a solution. Did you sleep well last night?”
A giant smile brightened her face, and she nodded in reply. After breakfast, daddy and Orie left for work and school, respectively. Daddy immediately walked into the office to speak with the principal. Orie walked on to her classroom, waiting for the bell to ring. Time passed as she looked at the books, looked at the board, read the alphabet at the top of the board, and then . . . there was Essie Diamonté.
“Good morning, princess, did you finish the homework last night. I am sorry I did not call you last night. Something suddenly came up, as Maril decided then would be a fine time to tell me that she enrolled me in a martial arts class.”
“Um, hi, uh . . . I got the home . . . homework done. I . . . I have it right here in . . . in mmmy folder.”
“May I see?” Essie Diamonté held out her hand waiting for the homework. Timidly, Orie passed it to her. “Let me see, the grammar homework looks all right, the science homework is a given, the math . . . let me see the math.” Essie Diamonté scanned over the math homework and found a couple of problems that were done incorrectly. Essie Diamonté instructed Orie how to do the problems. There were still a few minutes, and Orie redid those problems before the bell rang.
Essie Diamonté noted the tear stains on Orie’s papers.
It was an uneventful morning until the morning recess bell rang. Essie Diamonté escorted Orie to the restroom, this time being successful in completing her task. The strange thing about that recess was that Becky did not come in and terrorize her as usual. Not one to question a good thing, she spent the morning walking outside, enjoying the outdoors.
Lunchtime was just as uneventful, and Orie found herself enjoying her new friend. It was a bonding moment for them, as they ate their lunch together and enjoyed a game of tetherball. It was a good day today, and nothing could bring her down.
It was the end of the day and Orie rounded the corner to exit the grounds. Becky and her gang were waiting for her. “Look, peepee pants,” was said followed by a punch to the stomach. “Nobody tells on me,” another punch, “got that?” The punching ceased when one of the gang members heard someone coming.
It was Essie Diamonté, who saw the gang lurking around the corner and stopped to see what they were up to. She should have known. It was too late to do anything now, only as far as letting the teachers know, but Essie Diamonté could relieve the pain with a little healing magic. Orie was visibly relieved after Essie Diamonté’s touch. They only had time to exchange smiles before Orie spotted her mother’s car.
Orie walked over to her mother’s car and got inside, relieved with the fact that she was going home. Mom smiled as she said, “Hi, honey, how was your day? It looks like you had a tough day today. Well, I couldn’t decide on what to make for supper, so I thought either fried chicken or meatloaf, I know you love both.”
Huh, did I miss something? “Oh, the meatloaf is fine, mom. Did you want help?”
“Oh no, dear, that’s quite all right. You just work on that homework while I do the cooking.”
Once they arrived at home, Orie was given two cookies and a little juice as a snack. All of this left Orie wondering if someone had transplanted her mother. She watched a show on TV where a man takes over the body of somebody else, solving the current problem. She wondered if that had happened.
As soon as Essie Diamonté got home, she opened her books to finish the little bit of homework she had. It did not take much time. After completing that, she called Orie, wanting to know if everything was all right and if she was able to understand everything alright. It was a short conversation, but one that both enjoyed very much.
It was three days later that everyone found out what happened. Becky was expelled from school due to the number of complaints against her; the school board had no other choice. Becky was enrolled into a military style academy, never to be seen again. Everybody was excited to hear the news, no more lunches being taken, no more being thrown in the trash, no more being beat up just because . . . no more Becky.
Essie Diamonté and Orie finished elementary school, finding that the more confident Orie became the less she stuttered.
Junior high brought about a completely new set of challenges, especially now that Orie was allowed to wear contacts. Essie Diamonté was there right alongside Orie, who was growing to be a woman all her own. The baby fat had disappeared, the glasses had come off, and she was just a little more confident than Orie had been in the past. Orie didn’t know how much the boys wanted to get to know her, unknowingly attracting quite a crowd because of her blossoming maturity. But for Orie, there was only one friend in the whole wide world she needed, and that was Essie Diamonté.
Secretly, Essie Diamonté, now Essie, was finding herself quite attracted to Orie.
Essie’s life had grown more complex than it had been in the beginning. Waking up before dawn, she would go over defensive drills, aided by her martial arts training, then school, and at Maril’s strong urging, engaged in after school activities, student government, and yearbook committee. After that, she reviewed the lessons she would eventually need as the ruling crown of Arcadia, along with more advanced etiquette training then finally, homework. All these activities kept Essie quite busy. However, she would like nothing more than to spend time with Orie, but her busy schedule just did not allow that. Orie would ask, but Essie was forced to refuse, there was just no time. Essie did not like having to hurt Orie, but it was necessary, because Essie barely had time during the day to complete all of her training, and training must always come first.
It had been six months since school started, and one weekend, Essie had no desire whatsoever to complete her training. The only thing she had in mind was to whisk Orie away and spend the day just having fun.
“Princess, it is time to rise. We are already behind schedule and we must make up for it by extending the hours tonight. You should have been up and ready by now.”
Essie, face down on the pillow, started growling the moment Maril had walked in the door. Essie sat up on her bed and said, “Maril, you can take your training and shove it into the black hole. I am tired. Go and plant some rose bushes in the garden.”
“You are the future ruler of Arcadia and must adhere to the training schedule. Your skills have declined drastically, that is why we must not waste time.”
“Maril, did you not hear me? In case you did not, let me try this then . . .” Essie mentally projected her thoughts. I am tired, Maril. Mother will never call me back, so what would be the point? Just leave me in peace. “In case you did not hear that, then keep in mind that a rat has excellent hearing.”
“You would not do that to me, I am your elder.”
“Try me, old woman.”
“Very well, then a day of rest it is. We must start again tomorrow though.” With that, Maril closed the door, leaving behind a very tired, a very worn out teenager who wanted nothing more than to be with her friend.
Essie showered and changed clothes, feeling just slightly less tired than she had earlier.
She walked the way to Orie’s house, which would not take her very long to get there. She knocked on the door and rang the doorbell. Orie answered the door and was surprised to see her friend. Letting her friend inside the house, she said, “Oh, Essie, I’m happy it’s you. I thought your weekends were busy though.” Orie noticed Essie wincing a little and holding her head.
Essie found the bed and half sat half laid down, closing her eyes as she did so. Orie got up to get an ice pack thinking it might help. Orie placed the ice pack on Essie’s head, earning a groan in return. Essie inched her hand up to the ice pack. “Good morning, princess, did you have a good morning.”
“So far so good, I got my homework done, especially that report we’re supposed to do for history. I can’t believe the end of school is going to be here. I can’t believe next year I’ll be in high school, we’ll be in high school, can you imagine that?”
“It is good you are feeling well, princess. I have some news for you though. Maril has decided against my wishes to enroll me into a private academy. She does not believe the school system would be able to challenge me enough. The funny thing about that is that I have been telling her that for years, only for it to be ignored.” Opening one eye, she asked, “Did Robert ever ask you to go to the dance with him?”
“Robert? Robert who? Nobody asked me anything.” Orie lowered herself to Essie’s ear level to whisper, “Mom says it’s because I’m fat, that’s why nobody asked me.”
This statement caused both eyes to open suddenly and the ice pack to come off. “That would be Robert Blackthorne. He has been mentioning that he would like to be with you for the dance, but has not had the opportunity to do that.” Essie slid her hands over Orie’s body, noting that she did not have any fat. Essie shook her head no and Orie understood.
“I don’t know. I know Robert is the captain of the track team and everyone, including Heather Miller, absolutely adores him. I guess I do a little, but I don’t miss not being asked. I know it sounds screwy, but that’s how I feel. Who are you going with to the dance?”
“Assuming I will be able to attend the dance, I had thought the two of us could cause a scandal to be spread that a girl asked another to the dance.”
Orie scrunched her face, “Huh?”
Essie started laughing, “I was hoping you would go with me.”
“Oh, okay, I’ll just tell mom that I have somebody to go with. I just need to know what color you’ll be wearing. I don’t want to go to the dance and both of us show up in the same dress looking like the Bobbsey twins.”
“I doubt that would happen if Maril has anything to say about that, but if it will help you any, I most likely would show up in a baby blue dress.”
Orie looked both ways before closing the door. Mother was gardening, and daddy was watching the game on TV. “Oh, all right. Essie, could I ask you something?”
“You, princess, have a right to ask me anything,” she replied, noting the closed door, and making her wonder.
“Well, I was just wondering, you see, I don’t get excited watching the boys like the other girls do, especially Heather Miller. Do you feel like that too?”
“Orie, nobody gets excited like Heather Miller does, and no, you are not alone. Maril would say you had not found anyone to peak your interest. There will be someone someday, you are young enough to explore.”
“Maril is famous for her long winded speeches. Do not worry, Orie, in time, you will know where you belong. I will not be there in high school to assist you any longer, though I do believe you will not have any trouble in finding a friend. Talk to them, see where their interests lie. Some people are very shy and reserved about how they feel towards somebody else, but if the right person asks then they might be willing to provide you with the answer.” The ice pack returned to its place on the head.
“I don’t want you to go, Essie I want you to stay, but if you have to go then you have to. I’m going to miss you lots. I won’t have my best buddy anymore.” Essie looked at Orie feeling Orie’s truth in the statement. It was not just Essie’s ability to feel another’s emotion; it was that Essie felt the same as Orie. The ice pack was dropped on the bed as they embraced each other. They let go just as the door opened, with her mother peeking inside and closing the door again. Essie got up to leave, feeling that it might be wise to avoid any trouble, especially considering that Orie’s right cheek was swollen and red. They said their goodbyes at the door and Essie returned home.
Orie picked up the ice pack to take care of the melted ice and hang the towel. Mother came around the corner and asked, “Who was that?”
“My friend . . .”
“Obviously she’s your friend or she wouldn’t be here, would she. Who is she?”
Orie thought on how to answer that question, knowing that mother would just keep asking if she didn’t get the right answer. “Her name’s Essie, and she wants to go to the dance with me.”
“See, I told you you’re fat. You’re so fat you have to go to the dance with a girl. When I was your age I hardly ever ate. That’s why I still have my figure. For lunch all I had was an egg and a tomato with a glass of water. Look at you, demanding ham and tuna sandwiches, how despicable. Well, I suppose that if that is your only choice then I will take you shopping tomorrow.”
Orie just turned around and left for the living room to watch TV with daddy.
Daddy had heard everything that was said and was waiting on the couch with open arms to hold his little princess.
As soon as Essie returned home, she changed clothes and entered the downstairs gym. The red cheek was what bothered her . . . that red cheek it’s all she saw. She starting with the heavy bag, punching harder and harder the more she saw that red cheek. It was an anger that boiled deep inside of her, waiting to burst up to the surface, and when it did, all it was going to take was one move. Orie was her friend who never judged her just loved to spend time with Essie. That gave Essie the power to do what she did next. Essie jumped high into the air, round house kicked to the left, and the heavy bag flew across the room, hitting the wall hard enough to cause the house to shake.
Maril immediately went downstairs to see what had happened. She saw Essie standing in the middle of the room, eyes blazing with fire, and features tight. She looked further and saw the heavy bag lying on the floor against the wall. There was two hundred fifty pounds of sand in the base, and there it all lay on the floor. Maril left the room silently, not asking any questions, leaving Essie alone to work off her anger. Maril would find someone to clean the mess later.
The following day, Orie and her mother went shopping at the local mall. Orie always knew what she liked and what sort of style would fit her body. Her mother had other ideas though, and they were far from what Orie liked. At the first two department stores Orie didn’t find anything, if it was the right color it wasn’t the right style, if it wasn’t the right style it wasn’t the right color. The last department store was the higher priced department store, and Orie’s last hope. Mother did nothing but complain about how choosey Orie was being, saying the reason she couldn’t find anything was because she was so fat. Why couldn’t she be more like her mother? Was it possible to get a shopping headache? Orie asked herself. Orie entered the department store and walked up the escalators to the teen department. She smiled as soon as she saw the dress, the right color, the right style, the right . . . everything. She tried it on and it was absolutely perfect. Finally finding the right dress, she left the department store feeling like a real princess.
It was a Thursday night, and Orie was working on her homework. The telephone rang and her mother answered it. “Orie, it’s Robert, he wants to talk to you.”
Orie got up from the dining room table to get the phone. “Robert? Hi, how are you doing? No, nothing has been confirmed yet . . . well, I guess I could . . . I would have to think about it though . . . all right . . . bye.”
“Well, you’re not going to tell me who that was? I used to tell my mother everything that happened to me. There was not a thing that I didn’t tell her.”
“It’s not important, mom. I have to finish my homework.” It came out of nowhere. Suddenly, there was pain on her cheek.
“When I ask you a question I expect an answer? Now, are you going to tell me who that was?”
Orie thought it would be pointless to explain, so she turned around and went to finish her homework. She heard her mother yell for her daddy, which caught him in a difficult situation. Trying to find some middle ground, daddy suggested telling her mother the truth, just tell what happened. Orie did just that, only to earn another slap for not telling her that in the first place. The entire encounter left her feeling numb.
It was Friday at last, and everyone talked about their weekend plans, TGIF excitement was in the air. Orie wasn’t feeling very well. She could still feel the pain, both physical and emotional. She knew that today would be impossible to talk to Essie, which made her feel even worse. Orie dragged herself through the day. She walked home from school, and used that walk to help her find that inner peace to let everything just settle. Today was different though. She thought she heard her name being called, but didn’t want to look, just wanted to keep going. She was startled when she felt a hand on her shoulder.
“Princess, what is wrong? I called you but you did not answer. Let me take you home, and on the way we can talk.” That was when the floodgates opened and Orie just cried. Her mother called her a crybaby, but she just couldn’t help it. Essie always understood, a tight squeeze here and there, and things just seemed to be better. Once in the car, Essie asked Maril to turn off the engine for a few minutes. Between the huffing and puffing and about half a box of Kleenex later, Essie found out the whole story. Once everything was settled, Maril started the car and drove to Orie’s house.
Orie entered the door not realizing she was earlier than usual. If she did not have a good excuse, her mother would begin again.
“How come you’re early? Did you take a ride from someone?”
“Yeah, Essie offered me a ride today. It was a nice ride.” Orie was beginning to feel better, only to come to an abrupt halt. There was that slap again.
“You asked for a ride, didn’t you? If you were that tired then you should have called me. You don’t bother somebody else.”
“I didn’t ask for a ride, and I wasn’t tired.” Orie immediately turned around and went into her room. She had a dog now, a small dog with longish tan fur and a cute brown nose, and it was those eyes that offered her comfort. Her name was Biscuit, and Biscuit was her pride and joy. It didn’t matter to Orie that Biscuit was a mutt, it only mattered that Biscuit was Biscuit. She would wake up early in the morning to take a walk with her dog, and when they returned, it would be washing of the paws and brushing Biscuit’s teeth. It was a special bonding moment for them. Scratching the fur and rubbing her belly, it made both feel better.
Maril heard that bang again, and called the now familiar number. Maril had wondered what or who caused her princess to be angry, and now she knew. The problem, though, was how much Essie Diamonté had told the girl. She should have warned the princess that it would not be a good thing to make friends on this planet. She is not Essie’s mother therefore could not make demands. Who she is is Essie Diamonté’s caretaker and as caretaker she is duty bound to see to see to it that the princess is well cared for and protected. Once Maril was assured that the princess was finished, she entered the room to wait on the bed for Essie to finish with her shower.
Essie instantly saw Maril on the bed. “Now you know my secret, and now you wish to tell me that I was not supposed to have made friends while on this planet. I was supposed to lead a lonely plane of existence while I am here doing my mother’s bidding. I am sorry it did not work out that way, and I will not tell Orie that I will not be her friend any longer. We will shortly be separated, so what would be the point. When the time is right, we will say our goodbyes and farewells, but until that time, we will continue to be friends. Did I miss anything, Maril?”
“Princess, you must understand your position and your unique standing.”
“I understand my position very well, Maril. I understand that my own mother sent me to a planet far away from her. I attempted to contact her to speak with her, even if it was only to exchange greetings, but I was not able to do that. How much longer do I have to be here? How do you expect me to be here on this planet without anyone by my side? Orie is the only one that has made my life worth something while being here. I cannot even speak with my sisters.”
“I understand your anger, my princess, but you must understand . . .”
Just then, an energy ball hit the wall of her room, startling Maril. Essie turned around to reveal those blazing fire eyes. “No one understands my anger, Maril, the least of all you,” Essie said in a tone which meant barely controlled rage that Maril had learned the hard way not to speak against. Finding no other alternative, Maril simply got up to leave the room and to see about finding someone to repair the wall. The bills, all those bills for repair . . .
The rest of the weekend passed without incident.
Monday came much too early, especially for Orie, as she realized she needed to speak with Robert. He had a right to know she didn’t want to go to the dance with him, she wanted Essie. The only time she would be able to speak with him was during lunch, because they had the same lunch period. After finishing her lunch, Orie got up to find Robert, who most likely would be with the jocks. Sure enough, there he was, sitting on the table being the center of the conversation. Orie approached Robert asking if they could find a secluded spot. She was going to tell Robert to find someone else. Robert, however, took the advantage and started to become exploratory. He suddenly stopped at the painful sensation between his legs. Orie turned around and left him there to recover from the pain.
Essie and Orie had one class together, which was Life Science. Before class started, Orie took it upon herself to tell Essie what happened during lunch so that Essie would know the truth, just by the off chance, a very far off chance, that rumor hadn’t started circulating. Essie found herself in a quandary: be happy for Orie and be mad at Robert. The bell rang at that moment, not giving her a chance to decide. Today was the day they would dissect frogs . . . oh, the fun and joy.
The ever busy rumor mill had circulated that Orie was the one who had made advances on Robert, and Robert, being the innocent victim, was traumatized by the event. Orie didn’t worry about any rumor, why should she worry, she was not popular, and didn’t socialize, really. While other kids went to the mall with their friends, Orie was always at her house spending time with her parents, watching TV, playing with Biscuit, and cleaning the house. That rumor lasted until Heather Miller was caught naked in the boys’ locker room, supposedly because she made a wrong turn. Orie hoped Heather Miller wasn’t on the student council, she could imagine Essie’s patience level then.
The rest of the week passed as usual, nothing out of the ordinary. A test on Friday for the parts of the frog in Life Science class was the highlight of the week. Both Orie and Essie received an ‘A’ on the test.
It was time for the dance, and Essie promised that she would make time for them to go to the dance. What Essie didn’t tell Orie was that she gave Maril an ultimatum. Either let her go to the dance or Maril would find herself without a job and in trouble for leaving behind a child. It was extreme, Essie realized, but Essie had been working hard to make time for herself and Orie to go to the dance. She didn’t want Maril to come up with another training session during that time.
Maril drove Essie to Orrie’s house in complete silence. Everything that needed to be said had been said, there was no point in further arguing the point. Essie got out of the car to knock on the door.
Daddy answered the door. “Good evening, Essie. How are you tonight?” he said ushering her in the door.
“Good evening, sir, and I am well, thank you. I promise to have Orie back by eleven o’clock. My elder would say I was lax in my duties if I did not inform you.”
“Why do you want to take my daughter to the dance?”
“For the simple fact, sir, that I enjoy her company and this would be an opportunity to catch up, as it were. I have not had an opportunity to talk with her because my schedule is very busy.”
“I see. Do I need to tell you to behave?” Daddy looked at Essie speculatively.
“I will behave, I promise, sir.”
“Good to know. It’s cold outside for this dance, isn’t it?”
“It is cold, but I assure . . . you . . .” An angel descended upon the Earth at that moment with a golden barrette in her strawberry blonde hair and a knee-length ivory dress, not form-fitting, but just tight enough to see the body beneath, wispy spaghetti straps holding the dress in place.
Once Orie was within arms length, Essie looked into Orie’s eyes. “Orie, you look like the most precious diamond high up in the sky. You look absolutely beautiful.”
Laughing a little at the compliment out of embarrassment, Orie replied, “Thanks, Essie, you look beautiful yourself.” Orie said goodbye and left the house with Essie by her side.
Essie’s dress was a form fitting powder blue dress, mid-thigh in length. “How did you get that dress past Maril’s scrutiny?” Orie asked once they were in the car. Essie started laughing before she told Orie that Maril had chosen the dress for her. “Do I need to go back and get Biscuit?”
“Biscuit..? Who is Biscuit?” Essie was confused, she had never heard of Biscuit before now.
“I never told you about Biscuit? I’m sorry. Biscuit is my puppy. She’s very sweet, but she can sound mean.”
Essie put her hand on Orie’s head to get a visual of this Biscuit that Orie had described. Indeed, a very sweet puppy. “Only if I may borrow Biscuit to ward off all the boys.”
Shoving Essie playfully, Orie responded, “Oh you, you have nothing to worry about. Nobody wants me anyway, only you do. I’m a nobody.”
This upset Essie, and suspected that Orie’s mother’s harshness in how she treated her daughter had something to do with her low self-esteem. Though she may look beautiful, her insides are an ugly mess of uncertainty, not a good thing according to Essie’s view of how things should be.
There they were at last, the school auditorium, the place the dance was being held. Essie and Orie exited the car, and on the way, Essie needed to be certain that Orie understood the possible consequences of their actions. “Orie, are you certain enough to proceed with this?”
“I’m fine, Essie, don’t worry. It won’t matter what I do anyway, nobody pays any attention to me. Not like the most popular girl in school who happens to be the president of the student council, president of the yearbook committee, lead soloist in acapella, on the principal’s honor roll, valedictorian, and captain of the volleyball team. It’s me who should be asking you if you’re sure about this.”
“Who is it that you are mentioning again?” Essie asked, attempting to divert the subject, because only Orie would be able to embarrass her for calling attention to all of the accomplishments she had accomplished.
Shoving playfully, Orie countered, “Oh you, just remember it’s you and your shadow,” laughing as a result.
“You are much too beautiful to be called a shadow, that is, if I understand you correctly.”
“Come on, let’s go inside. The worst that can happen is you being whisked away by Robert.”
Suddenly coming to an abrupt halt, Orie stated seriously, “Essie, you have nothing to worry about me being whisked away by anyone, except you.”
“Well then, we don’t have anything to worry about.”
They started dancing. Orie was convinced that she had two left feet with a screwed sense of direction. Essie patiently taught Orie to dance, however, and by the end of the night, they were dancing to their own music.
Essie could hear everyone’s thoughts, varying from: Look at those two weirdoes; and, Look at the baby dykes; to . . . Don’t they look adorable? It didn’t matter to Essie in the slightest, she was here at last spending time with Orie without being rushed by duty or training. She would make this night last as long as she could. They inspired some of the wallflowers to get together as a couple and dance, not thinking about the possible consequences; after all, it was a dance.
The end of the night arrived and it was time to go home.
They arrived at Orie’s house, and Essie escorted Orie to the front door, and wanted to say one last thing before she left. “My adorable golden princess, I want you to always remember that I am not that far away, because when you look up to the sky and find the brightest star up there, that will be me watching you . . . caring for you. Always remember, Orie, always remember.” Essie left Orie on the front step feeling like the most important person in the entire universe.
The following school day went along as usual. Heather Miller was caught in the boys’ locker room . . . again . . . and she was sent to the principal’s office, only to leave there with a recommendation to see an eye doctor, food fight in the cafeteria with green Jell-O, and the event that was everyone’s favorite, the announcement of spring break with sign-up for a field trip to the local mountains to view the blossoming plant life. Needless to say, the sign-up for that was minimal at best, with the geek squad taking up the majority of spots.
Orie didn’t have any plans other than helping her mother clean the house and shopping for a new wardrobe. Orie didn’t like shopping, and only did it to humor her mother. She and her mother are complete opposites in many aspects, and that being one of them. Orie could walk into any department store and not buy a thing if she didn’t see anything that she liked. Her mother, on the other hand, bought things for the simple fact that it’s on sale, necessity not being a factor in consideration. The only thing that Orie needed was a few lingerie items, and that she could get at the local store without going to the mall, but her mother wanted to go to the mall, so to the mall they went.
Spring break seemed to pass by rather slowly for Orie, who couldn’t wait for school to start again just to get away from her mother. If it wasn’t one thing it was another, nothing making mother happy. Orie needed the break to recollect herself, and school starting again was her version of a vacation.
She jumped for joy when Monday rolled around, at last, and school started.
She and Essie exchanged notes during Life Science, and she found out that Essie spent time in Washington, D.C., as Maril’s version of understanding how the government works.
It came time to order cap and gown for the graduation ceremony. Orie didn’t want to think about it because thinking about it meant realizing that Essie was leaving. Orie took her time filling out the order form, got the money from daddy, and stuffed it into the envelope to be taken to the student activities office and put into a special box. A couple of weeks later, she received a letter in the mail notifying her to take the letter to the student activities office along with her student ID to pick up the cap and gown.
Orie went during lunch to the student activities office to pick up her gown. The lanes were designated according to alphabetical order, and she noticed Essie behind the counter helping to pass the gowns. Essie was not in charge of her lane though, it was, she couldn’t believe it, and kept blinking her eyes not believing what she was seeing. It was Heather Miller! It took every ounce of willpower not to break out laughing. Giving Heather the letter and her ID, she said, “Hi, Heather, here is the letter and my ID.”
“May I have the letter and your ID please?” Heather sounded so innocent with the need to sound important. Orie was thankful she was a strawberry blonde and not a peroxide blonde, as she thought Heather was a peroxide blonde with the black roots showing.
Orie held up the letter and ID. “Oh, duh . . .” Heather looked in the box by her side and tried to find the gown that belonged to Orie.
Essie had finished with her lane and was on her way out to grab something to eat, but noticed that Heather’s lane was getting a bit long, out the door long. Orie caught the frustrated should I do something look on Essie’s face. Not having any other choice, Essie separated the lane into three in the hopes of getting this accomplished, hopefully by graduation. Essie just grabbed a box and noticed the first name she pulled was Orie’s. She slid the gown towards Heather hoping that Heather would get the hint. Not getting the hint, Heather kept looking in her box for the nonexistent person.
Orie saw her name. “Heather, is that me over there?” Orie asked as she put her finger directly on the name label of the package.
“What? Oh, yeah, is that you?”
“Yes, Heather, that is me. Do I have something to sign or can I just go?” The bell rang and Orie had a bit of a ways to walk to her next class. I wonder if the peroxide seeped into her brain.
Essie overheard the entire conversation and stated, “I need you to find your name and sign your name right next to it,” sliding the clipboard in Orie’s direction.
Having completed that, she raced on to her next class.
It was the end of the day and Orie started on her way home, only to feel a hand on her shoulder. “Orie, do me a favor, would you, and let me take you home. It will help me to fight the temptation of attempting a brain transplant.”
This caused Orie to break out laughing and attempted to control herself as she saw Essie rubbing her head. Orie followed Essie to her car and got in the backseat along with Essie. “Maril, do not start the car yet. We are doing just fine right here.” Essie leaned over and put her head on Orie’s shoulder. Orie wrapped her arm around her and rubbed her tummy as best she could. “Was your day that bad?”
“You try to explain to someone who spends half of their day in a vat of peroxide the procedure for passing out the gowns.”
Orie couldn’t help but start laughing again. “I’m sorry. I had honestly hoped she wasn’t a part of student government.”
“I am sorry to say that your wishes did not come true, none of our wishes came true, as she was given a position inside of the student council from the principal. I had to find something for her to do according to her intelligence, or lack there of. She reminds me of someone I used to know. She enjoyed taunting the little ones, the underlings, the children that needed to work to help provide for the family. She went too far one day and caused a serious injury on this tiny girl. The girl survived, luckily. I was about to teach her a lesson when I was caught and brought to my mother to give me news. I ended up in trouble that day, but it did not matter because in the end, everything worked out the way it should.”
“Couldn’t you tell the principal she doesn’t fit?”
“Sometimes, princess, there really is never a choice. And if there is the choice, it was either follow my order or suffer the consequences. I had no wish to suffer the consequences, so I did what I was told.”
“Did you ever see her again?”
“The girl or the brainless iron ore that caused the injury..?”
“You have a funny expression, you know that, and I’m talking about the one that picked on the kids.”
“I am sorry, princess, and no, I . . . never saw her again. My life changed from that moment forward.”
“I’m sorry, Essie Diamonté, I’m sorry.” Orie turned around slightly to get a better hold of Essie, attempting to rock her back and forth.
Maril overheard the entire conversation and was finding out that her troublemaking princess was not at all what she seemed to be on the surface.
Orie came inside her house only to hear, “You’re early again; you took a ride again, didn’t you?”
“Yes I did, and I got my gown.” Orie just walked into her room, Biscuit hitting the bed with her tail when she saw her best buddy. “Hi, Biscuit, did you miss me, huh, did you miss me?” Orie giggled slightly with the wet kisses she received in return.
Orie left the room to help her mom with supper. “What are we having for supper, Mom?”
“Is that all you think about, food? And how many times have I told you not to ask for a ride?”
“I asked so I know what sort of vegetables you have in mind, and I didn’t ask Essie, she asked me.”
“The vegetables are already on the stove. You can get the salad ready.”
Mother and Orie didn’t say anything for the rest of the night.
No, I’m sorry, I was wrong, how was your day . . . nothing. What am I, your slave or your daughter? Orie used daddy’s office to finish her homework, which kept her focused without thinking about how she felt at that moment.
Orie had gotten into the habit of blocking her feelings, because if she concentrated on how she felt, she would have to admit that the only thing she wanted was to rid herself of her mother, plain and simple. It was just easier to block out the emotions.
It was graduation day, and the graduation ceremony was being held in the theater of the local high school. It was an old school with a very long history. Orie could only imagine what it looked like, as she had never been there, not yet anyway. There was something ominous about a junior high graduation ceremony held at a high school.
Orie was busy being carted around town to go to this salon and this dress shop for the proper dress to wear for the ceremony, the gown to be worn over the dress. The gown was to be given back right after the ceremony, but the sash and cap were keepsakes, reminding everyone of this momentous occasion. I feel like a Barbie doll out here. I hate Barbie with her pink everything. I look just like her, yuck. I wonder how Essie is feeling. I know she will be good tonight, she gives good speeches.
The principal walked up to the podium, and as soon as the applause died down, he began. “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Tonight is a very special night, as we honor those who have strived to arrive to this occasion. Through blood, sweat, and tears, these young people have achieved success and . . . let’s get the show on the road, shall we, as we honor our graduates. First, though, a word from our valedictorian Essie Diamonté Sebastopol . . .”
“Good evening and thank you for your attendance to this notable occasion. We mark this night as another step on a long, golden road towards our success, towards our achievement. To the parents, guardians, and other family members that made this night possible, I thank you as well, because if it was not for you, we would not have made it this far. I would not have come this far if it was not for the faith and hope that all of you placed in me. We walk the golden road to our success, at first as the pitter-patter of tiny feet that follow the leader then as the sure footsteps of a grown adult that continues that path for another eternity. We come here tonight, still following our leader, more assuredly, however, than we did in the past. We have learned from our mistakes, we have learned from our success, so that as we part ways, it will be with our heads held high, shoulders back, and strong footsteps walking the long, golden road. So that when we meet again, it will not be to follow, but to continue along that path and become leaders for the next generation, so they can continue on that long, golden road for another eternity. Let us all celebrate the graduating class!”
A thunderous applause erupted into a standing ovation. Orie couldn’t have been more proud.
There was an after graduation party, and Orie wanted to go, to give her a chance to say goodbye to Essie. Daddy said it would be okay, and to call him when she was ready. Mother didn’t say a word.
The party was held in the high school auditorium, where a hanging banner read, “Happy Graduation,” with streamers, punch, food, and that awful disco ball.
Orie pulled Essie aside in a quiet corner. “Oh, Essie, that was a wonderful speech. I liked it. I can’t believe you won’t be there anymore. It just won’t be the same. I will always remember the dance and tonight.” Not sure if she wanted to continue along with that thought, she changed the subject. “What are you going to do this summer?”
“Orie, I will miss you too, and thank you. You look beautiful tonight.” Essie could see the embarrassed blush forming. “What I will be doing this summer is attend a camp that Maril has found that teaches young people how to become leaders. After that, I do not know. I had hoped, though, that we would be able to spend a little time together before school starts, but if I know Maril, she already has my schedule thought out, which would leave very little room for any fun activities.”
Tears started forming in Orie’s eyes. “I hate saying goodbye. So instead, how about if I say see you later. I saw on TV once that Zeus had a chariot and he rode down towards the earth to pick up the woman he loved. I just hope that chariot comes back to me.” She looked into the mysterious silvery eyes, the eyes she had grown up with. She noticed that the silver was leaking out of one eye, running slowly down Essie’s cheek, causing a puddle to form on the floor which combined with her tears.
Through the tears, attempting to remain strong, Essie replied, “One day that chariot will return for you, princess.”
They were thirteen years old and both had survived the early years. Now they walk away on separate roads to experience more about life. Did they know they were in love? Did they even realize it was love they were feeling? All they knew was that they needed each other. Orie needed someone to accept her to take care of her and Essie needed someone to care for. That was enough . . . for now.
To be continued in part 2.
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