In case you missed last week’s post, this is part two of my re-imagining of The Princess and the Pea. You can find part one here. If you like it, let me know! I’m still not sure if I should post more of them here…
art by One Color Rainbow
Princess Mirabelle stopped yawning abruptly as she rounded the corner to the guest suite behind the Queen. Apparently, Queen Isabella had emptied her kingdom of mattresses and featherbeds and deposited them all on top of the bed in this particular room. Either that or she was a big time home décor hoarder with a soft spot for bedding. She really is absurd, the Princess thought as she smiled sweetly at her host. “You didn’t have to go to all of this trouble,” she said.
“Oh, no trouble at all,” said the suddenly amiable Queen. “We wouldn’t want our guest to be uncomfortable!” she added with a little too much enthusiasm. Mmmmmhmmm, thought the well-read Princess.
The moment goodnights were wished and the Queen’s footsteps (was she skipping?) faded down the hall, Mirabelle lifted the bottom mattress, slowly slid her hand (the same hand that Prince Oliver had kissed before disappearing to bed) underneath and removed one fat, green pea.
“Typical,” Mirabelle murmured, placing it on the bedside table. “So very typical.”
With a deep breath she began her climb up the ladder positioned next to the bed—the third such ladder she had climbed in as many months, though this one was the most extreme. Once she reached the top, she carefully situated herself so as not to disturb the delicate balancing act going on below her. Don’t these queens realize how dangerous this is? she wondered. One unfortunately placed knee and she would have a whole lot of explaining to do.
Closing her eyes as she tried to drift off to sleep, Mirabelle couldn’t help but wonder if this prince might actually be The One. The others had been handsome enough and had seemed good enough on paper, but they inevitably proved to be whiny momma’s boys with no sense of humor and no original thoughts. Mirabelle was tired of being disappointed.
When the first streaks of sunlight started piercing through the heavy curtains, Mirabelle climbed down from her tower of bedding and carefully placed the pea back in its spot. Sure that this Queen would come knocking earlier than most, Mirabelle did not dare lay back down for fear of falling asleep. She would have to play this one perfectly.
About a half an hour later she heard footsteps coming down the hall. Jumping out of the yoga sequence she had started to pass the time, Mirabelle quickly made a mess of her hair and slumped against the wall under the window, her eyes closed.
The door opened and Mirabelle heard the Queen gasp slightly as she slowly opened her eyes, pretending to wake up. “Good morning, Princess,” the Queen said uncertainly. “How did you sleep?”
Yawning and rubbing her eyes, Mirabelle answered softly “Oh just fine, thank you.” With a hint of uncertainty in her eyes, the Queen invited her guest to breakfast.
“The Prince is already downstairs,” she added. Mirabelle got up slowly and followed the Queen down the hall, the slightest of smirks on her lips. She yawned audibly, which caused the Queen to look back at her. “Are you sure you slept alright, dear?” she asked. “Was the bed satisfactory?”
“It was just fine,” Mirabelle answered, the smile gone from her lips as she rubbed at her lower back. The Queen’s eyebrows scrunched closer and closer together as they continued down the long hallway. Had she been wrong about the girl?
While they ate breakfast, the Queen carefully watched Princess Mirabelle over the top of her newspaper. The girl flirted blatantly with her son and winced every so often, as if she were in terrible pain. Did she really feel the pea under all of those mattresses? the Queen wondered, secretly unsure if she herself would have noticed it.
At the same time, Mirabelle sat at the opposite side of the table reminding herself to show signs of pain but not to overdo it. Keep it together, Mirabelle, she thought as the butterflies continued fluttering around her stomach. This may be your Prince.
Mirabelle was not an idiot. She had heard the whispers about her when she walked into rooms. She had noticed that she was treated differently than other princesses and that princes were always pulled away from her on “urgent matters” by their overbearing mothers. She was tired of being the outcast and she was tired of living a life where things were decided for her.
Three months ago she had decided to take matters into her own hands. She made a list of princes she deemed worthy. They were handsome (duh) but they were also generous and smart and talented. She weeded out the cocky and cruel and focused on an elite list of men she deemed suitable. She paid no attention to whether she would be deemed suitable for them.
Princes 1 and 2 hadn’t turned out to be so elite. They had sounded like dreamboats, but it didn’t take long to realize that Prince #1’s good deeds were plotted by his mother. He was nothing but a dopey puppet with really good hair. Prince #2 had no sense of humor and stared at her blankly when she spoke of anything that didn’t relate to reality television. She had almost given up.
A servant came over to refill her tea and Mirabelle saw her golden opportunity. Wincing slightly, she thanked the girl. “Are you alright, Princess?” the girl asked her.
Careful to avoid the Queen’s stare, Mirabelle answered softly, “I’ll be alright. I just didn’t sleep very well last night.”
The Queen immediately pounced. “Why didn’t you say something, dear?” she asked. “What’s wrong?”
Sighing and making a face as if she had been caught, Mirabelle answered “A princess doesn’t complain, your majesty. Especially when her host has gone out of her way so graciously.”
“Nonsense,” the Queen replied. “You’re amongst friends.” Her eyes darted around the room and landed on a servant who looked idle. “You there,” she said. “Fetch the princess an ice pack and a pillow for her back and then draw her a bath.”
There it is, Mirabelle thought with a small smile. Acceptance. It was the third time she had orchestrated it, but this time was the most satisfying. Not only was this queen the hardest sell with her perpetual hovering and always-knitted brows, but this prince was actually charming.
She could almost imagine the royal wedding in the gardens and the proceeding wave of shock when Queen Isabella made it clear that Mirabelle had passed The Test. She could almost imagine the happily ever after and the fuss made over the pea. It would be placed in a museum, where local townsfolk would be able to ogle the vegetable that started it all. Almost.
For now, she would just bask in the acceptance and see where her scheme might take her.