Monday, October 8, 2012

Fan Fiction Contest

Note from the Judges: "A charming and original story of Princess Una’s childhood . . .You have a clear writing voice and an understated style that is very pleasant to read!"

The Giving of the Flowers

By: Amber Stokes

To the parents of the children attending the Garden School, the annual Giving of the Flowers was a rather silly affair that amounted to excited chatter during spring visits and little more than faded memories during summer holidays. To Una, it was the cause of a curious brew of dread and hope in the cauldron of her belly. After all, to a girl of twelve, an event like the Giving of the Flowers had the power to make her feel like the princess that she was in name only.

            Contrary to the belief of those in Southlands, the Garden School in Parumvir was not named for its emphasis on botany. It was named for the beautiful gardens that completely surrounded the school buildings and even grew in the courtyard. There were hundreds of flowers in the springtime, of all colors and varieties. During the Giving of the Flowers, the students took one day off from their studies to pick flowers and bestow them on one of their friends or someone they admired. It was a day where creativity reigned.

            This particular dawning of the Giving of the Flowers was quite splendid, as Una knew it must be. After all, she was twelve years old, and thus mature enough, surely, to catch the eye of some young man. (Her father would call them all boys, but she preferred to think of them as young men now that she was a young lady.) The blue sky seemed like a gift from the Farthest Shore that promised a happy outcome to today’s festivities.

            After breakfast, which was rushed and barely tasted, the students filed out of doors, free to pick flowers and choose their own company. Una wandered about the flowerbeds in the large courtyard, waiting to be noticed, as she undoubtedly would be. But a stroll through the sunflowers produced no companion. On through tiger lilies and daisies she went, and still there was no one beside her.

She did, however, see plenty of her fellow students paired up. Beyond the petunias she spied Felicity, following a trail of roses cleverly placed flower-to-stem like a long blooming chain, put in place by none other than Winston. (The Garden School proudly boasted a remnant of roses untouched by King Vahe. Of course, to the children, the land of King Vahe was simply the setting for interesting bedtime stories – ones that they no longer listened to, of course.) And even her younger brother Felix had found a girl with whom to play games, using the flowers called Parumvir Paintbrushes as pretend torches to carry along on their adventures.

Not knowing what else to do, Una continued to walk along the perimeter of the courtyard, not wanting to see all the young people enjoying themselves in the other gardens. As tears watered her cheeks, she glanced up at the sky, surprised to find it still blue and cheery as ever. How cruel!
            A sudden mewing sound turned Una around. She had thought for certain she would find a cat, but instead a girl stood there. Whether she was younger than Una or older, Una couldn’t say. The girl offered a smile, and Una decided that maybe a bit of blue sky lingered in the corners of her mouth.

“What’s your name?” Una was too curious to feel sorry for herself at the moment, as she had never seen this girl before.

“Erin. A friend sent me.”

Una cocked her head, but Erin chose not to add anymore.

“Are you a new student here?”

“Sort of.”

It was enough.

Una continued to talk with the girl, picking some daisies so she could make crowns with Erin. Erin’s laughter reminded Una of tiger lilies, bright and fierce in a fun sort of way, so Una picked some of those for the girl. And by the time she got back to the sunflowers, she knew Erin should have one of those to match her wide smile.

The morning and afternoon went by quickly, as mornings and afternoons are wont to do. With a daisy crown on her head and her own bouquet of forget-me-nots, Una waved farewell to her new friend as she headed up to her room on the third floor.

Erin waved until Una was out of sight, then made her way out the gate. Anyone standing on the outside of the gate would have seen a cat leave the school with a crown of flowers around her pointy ears and a collar of flowers around her fluffy neck. Even after she crossed the Old Bridge, Erin decided to remain a cat, partly to mimic her friend Eanrin and partly because she enjoyed the feeling of flicking her tail as the flowers happily weighed her down a bit.

When Erin found Prince Aethelbald (or when he found her, which was more likely), she presented him with the crown and collar of flowers. His smile gave her joy, and she couldn’t wait to see the day when Prince Aethelbald met Princess Una officially. All in good time, as he was fond of saying.

As for Una, years later the memory of the Giving of the Flowers would draw her closer to her future husband. She just had to grow up a bit first.



Rae said...

Wonderful! Gave me my smile for the day. :)

Meredith Burton said...

What a sweet story of how God reveals Himself in unusual ways. Una was pursued by Aethelbald for years before they formally met. How sweet. Keep up the excellent work.

Molly said...

It makes me want to go pick some flowers myself. :) very sweet! I like Erin a lot :)

Amber Holcomb said...

Thank you so much for your sweet comments, everyone! :) I'm grateful for your encouragement and for you taking the time to read the story!

And Anne, thank you for hosting this contest and giving us the inspiration to write these stories. :) It's been a blessing to read everyone's pieces!


Unknown said...

Aw...I loved that! Very sweet story; it made me feel happy.

Hutt-Write Voice said...

Beautiful story, Amber!

Hannah said...

Very nice and very sweet! Erin must have been a fairy. Perhaps from the halls of Rudiobus? Makes you wonder about her and how she knew Eanrin and why the Prince chose her for that special mission.