White. Blurred masses of white, interspersed with smudges of brown, crowded Elsa’s vision as she twirled and twirled. Her long, white skirt billowed away from her ankles, in a snowy arc of white. Again and again she twirled, until her vision blurred and her head felt as light as the snow, lazily declining from the icy blue abyss above.
She lay there for a moment; arms and legs splayed about her, and allowed the pale flakes to gently kiss her cheeks. Elsa could no longer hear her mother, who had so loudly called for her assistance. She would much rather play in the snow than fix supper, no matter her age. The day before, Elsa had become a woman, at least in her mother’s eyes. Sixteen. The number tumbled about her head. Sixteen: the age in which she may drive. Sixteen, Elsa was now a woman. Sixteen: the final year in which she may enjoy her life.
Tomorrow, she would get a job, but today Elsa would enjoy her life, or what was left of it. With a sigh, Elsa rose, careful not to damage the odd form left in the snow. Her angel was broken, slain by a promise never kept. Elsa frowned at the deformed snow angel and ambled along, freezing. Perhaps the prolonged exertion in the snow wasn’t such a good idea. She hunched her shoulders and walked faster, seeking the warmth of the cabin, and yet…She didn’t want to approach too fast. Perhaps if she walked slower, time itself would slow and she could stay longer. If only…
Time. That was the enemy here. The bitter foe that must destroy happiness. That was its purpose. Elsa reflected on this, deep in thought as she trudged on through the snow. Soon she had come to the conclusion that she would destroy all of the clocks once she arrived at the cabin. Yes, that would foil time’s plot, indeed. This idea fascinated her so much, that she tripped over a nearby log. Elsa stood up and cursed her foolishness, dusting the snow from her brown cloak. It was an ugly thing really, brown and faded, the faux fur had long since lost its fluffiness. She had obtained it years ago, when they had money. When he was still alive. It had been a thing of beauty then, and super expensive, despite the fact that it was, indeed, faux. Rather much like her life.
Startled, Elsa looked around her; moaning deeply when she realized that she should have arrived at the cabin by now. She was lost. Lost, in a mysterious forest; these were not her trees. She looked behind her, hoping to follow her tracks back and head into the right direction. Yet…they were gone, disappeared as the flakes of white powder drifted to the ground, covering the world in a white, puffy blanket. At this point in time, any normal person would be panicked, desperate to find their way back. This was not the case with Elsa. She simply kept on in the direction she was headed, ignoring the frost that now stung her eyes and froze her lashes. The peaceful descent of snow was quickly turning into a storm, but Elsa was determined not to panic. She was a woman now, after all.
Wind. It was a bitter enemy, seeking to blind its rivals. Yes, wind and time are both exceptionally evil. Elsa was certain. And so she walked on, assuring herself that the cabin was just ahead. That she would soon be snuggled under a warm blanket, greedily sipping a mug of hot chocolate, or perhaps warm, delightful eggnog. Both. Yes, definitely both. She could smell the warm scents of the drinks even now. And a turkey, a delicious roasted turkey with yams and potatoes. Just like father used to make…
Elsa froze. She really could smell them. A delightful scent played at her nose, fading and reappearing in a most excruciating manner.
But how? And where? Elsa demanded to know of this wondrous odor’s origin. It couldn’t be too far off… And all of a sudden, she saw it. A great table, hundreds of meters long, adorned with every kind of delicacy, imaginable. There was smoked salmon, soup, vegetables of all sorts, pulled pork, roast beef, goose, duck, spiral cut ham, game hens, pheasants, squash, yams, potatoes of all varieties, and turkey. Loads and loads of turkey. There were turkey legs, turkey breasts, turkey stew, turkey pies, and in the centre of the table sat the largest roast turkey Elsa had ever seen. It was unbelievably large, almost as big as Elsa was. And last but not least, a whole section was reserved for the desserts. Truffles, chocolates, cakes, pies, cookies, candies, and, to Elsa’s utter delight, there was a large silver platter chalk full of Turkish Delights. Little jellies of many different assortments, including Elsa’s favourite: mint. They was less popular than the common rosewater ones (which are wonderful themselves), but twice as tasty.
Elsa plucked a handful of the little green squares and stuffed them into her mouth, breaking at least seven of her mother’s rules. But, before she could even swallow, a man appeared from nowhere, and pressed a wicked dagger against her throat. Except he wasn’t a man. At least not completely. He was a man down to the waist, but below that he was hairy…and his legs were very skinny, deformed looking. Suddenly it struck her. This was no man, he was a Faun! But how? Elsa was thrown back into reality when he bawled at her:
“What do ya think yer doing? Stealin’ from tha forest folk. I could have yer hands fer this.”
Elsa was frightened at last, she stammered. “I-I’m s-sorry. I wa-was v-very hun-gry. And… t-the f-f-food looked ap-appetizing.”
The Faun narrowed his eyes at her, then widened them in surprise. Now it was his turn to stammer. “Y-yer…N-no way, ya can’t be!” He laughed in delight. “Forgive me yer ‘ighness. I didn’t know.” He suddenly raised his voice, startling poor Elsa. “Creatures ‘o tha forest! Our Queen has returned at last!”
Suddenly, an assortment of curious beings poured from the forest. There were naiads, dryads, centaurs, fauns, brownies, dwarves, faeries, elves, and many Elsa had never heard of before. Before she knew it, Elsa was seated, and rich delicacies were piled onto her plate. She was stuffed before she could finish her first plate. Yet more kept on coming. Mugs upon mugs of hot cocoa, eggnog, and a delicious, spiced pumpkin drink, were scattered about the table. Immediately, the empty dishes were whisked away and a platter of desserts was laid in front of her. Elsa quickly devoured the Turkish delights, and the chocolates, and was working on her fifth piece of cake when she noticed it. A procession of majestic, white horses approached the table, and halted, just before her. From a snow, white carriage, emerged the most handsome man Elsa had ever seen. He was tall and lean with platinum blond hair and icy green eys, wearing a fine white tunic that was fit for a prince.
“Ah, my queen,” he crooned, bowing low before her. “I assume you were fed well?”
Elsa was flattered, “why yes, the food was delicious.”
He gazed at her and frowned, suddenly he started. “What’s this?” He asked, pointing at her neck.
Elsa frowned and felt the spot, detecting a faint scratch just above her collar bone. “Oh, it must have been that dagger.”
All at once, the man became furious. “WHAT? A dagger? Who DID this?”
Elsa caught the Faun’s eye. He looked petrified. At the moment, Elsa was rather frightened herself; there was no telling what this man would do to the creature. It would be best to make something up. However, before she could speak, another creature interjected.
“It was him, milord!” A centaur called, pointing at the Faun.
The prince drew his sword and pointed it at the Faun’s scrawny neck. “I shall have your head for this…”
Elsa was, and had always been, terrified of blood. It made her queasy and squeamish. And she had no intention of watching a creature be beheaded. “Please,” she begged the prince, falling to her knees. “He didn’t know who I was.”
The prince looked upon her with kind eyes, “Of course, my darling. I didn’t mean to frighten you.” The prince sheathed his blade and helped Elsa to her feet. Taking her arm into his, he led her to the carriage. “We simply must get you out of this weather. My apologies, I did not know that you had returned, or else I would have been here immediately.” Suddenly, the prince drew Elsa towards him and pressed his lips against hers. Elsa dew back violently, startled.
The prince looked at her, confused. “But I thought you loved me.”
Elsa returned his gaze, similarly baffled. “But I don’t know you. I don’t even know where I am.”
The prince scowled and turned away. “Fifty years, I’ve waited, and she doesn’t even remember my name. How rude.”
Elsa widened her eyes in shock. Was he…pouting? Pouting? What kind of prince pouts?
They sat in the stony silence for the duration of the trip. Suddenly a looming mass of grey towered over the carriage in the form of the most impressive castle Elsa had ever seen. Elsa gasped, despite herself. The giant structure was awe inspiring, and Elsa was at a loss for words. The prince noticed this and smiled smugly to himself.
“Impressed?”
Elsa glanced at the prince, relieved to see that he had decided to talk to her again. Seeing the prince’s “holier than thou” attitude made Elsa realize how she had been acting recently. Perhaps she wasn’t being very fair to her mother. She had probably taken her husband’s death just as hard as Elsa had. Then and there, Elsa resolved to start treating her mother better…
The Prince sighed, breaking her trail of thought. “Still not talking to me, huh? That’s fine, I completely understand.
“No, no,” Elsa quickly replied, trying to avoid further conflict. “I am just overwhelmed is all.” She was quickly beginning to dislike this prince.
“It’s quite alright,” The prince responded, warmly. “Now let’s get you out of this cold.”
Elsa was escorted into the castle, bathed, perfumed, and dressed up in a beautiful red dress, with lace around the collar and sleeves, which hung down loosely from her wrists. She admired herself in front of a full length mirror. For the first time ever, Elsa felt beautiful. Not just pretty, but truly, beautiful. She raised her arms and twirled, letting the fabric swish around her ankles. Just wait ‘til the prince sees me in this. Elsa stopped short as the severity of this struck her. She cared about what this man thought of her. She actually wanted to impress him. A cough at the door alerted Elsa to company, and she whirled around, started. A lone figure stood in the doorway. He was, perhaps, the most handsome man Elsa had ever seen. Messy black hair fell into inquisitive green eyes, which gazed at her, curiously. She was again, at a loss for words.
Finally, the man broke the uncomfortable silence. “Supper is ready, your highness.” His voice was like honey, and Elsa found herself being drawn towards him. She’d have thrown herself into his arms, had she not resized what she was doing. At the last minute, Elsa stepped around him and continued down the hall, feeling the heat rising up her neck. She was painfully aware of how rude she had just seemed.
To make matters worse, Elsa had no idea where the dining room even was. Luckily, the man seemed to have forgiven her and politely passed her by, gently leading her in the right direction. In fact, everything about him seemed to be polite, from the way he spoke to the manner in which he walked. He was a complete contrast from the prince, who walked and talked like he was simply superior to everyone else.
They arrived. Much too soon. The tall prince greeted her as she entered the room. He went to kiss her once more, and she quickly turned her cheek towards him. He chuckled lightly. “I see. We’ll take it slowly then, Princess.” He turned then, noticing the man still in the doorway. “You are dismissed, servant” the Prince said coldly. The servant silently bowed to them and backed out of the room, closing the heavy wooden door behind him. Elsa’s breath caught in her throat as she saw him glance at her one last time. In those eyes, she could read only one emotion: contempt.
Day by day passed within the fortress of grey and a nagging thought grew within Elsa’s mind. Something, it seemed, what not quite right. The servants and the people all seemed to either fear or despise the supposed princess, and she wanted to know why. She could not question the prince on this, because he would react violently if he found that the servants had been treating her ill. Similarly, she could not question the servants because they were all terribly frightened of her and would be likely to tell her what they thought she wanted to hear. That of course no one was trying to be belligerent towards her. It was all so very frustrating. Elsa cupped her head into her hands and sighed. If I can’t talk to the prince, nor the servants, then there is only one person left to question. That mysterious man she had met previously.
This was more easily said than done, as she had not seen him since their meeting that night. Perhaps he was avoiding her. Perhaps the prince was keeping her away from him. Or perhaps he was too busy to be around her constantly. And perhaps she should stop expecting people to give up their busy lives just to entertain her. Elsa cursed herself again, for being such a fool. So Elsa decided to drop the topic for the time being.
It was many weeks before she saw him again; that mysterious man. He was sitting quietly in the castles’ library, blending in so well with the grey walls, that Elsa had not seen him, until he said a polite greeting. Elsa jumped, startled and he smiled. “I’m sorry for frightening you. Again.
Elsa regained her composure and returned his politeness. “It’s quite alright.” She winced at the strange formality of the words. He nodded his head and said nothing.
“What was your name again?” Elsa inquired politely.
“Jonathan.”
The silence between them spread even further. Suddenly, the man rose, “I should get going.” He bowed to her and started to leave.
All at once, Elsa blurted out: “Why does everyone here hate me?”
The man froze. “That…that’s not my place to…”
“Please, I must know.”
He sighed and turned back to Elsa. “Long ago, this kingdom was grand. There was a peaceful King and Queen who cared for their people. Food was bountiful and the people of this land were happy. But suddenly, that all changed. The King took ill, and died in his sleep. The Queen was heartbroken and took her own life a few days later. Their only son, a young man then, was forced to take the throne. He was frightened and asked his closest friend for advice. Unfortunately, the friend had none to give him. The Kingdom started to become weaker, as it often does when ruled by a weak monarch. Then one day, a girl arrived. She was fairly the same age of the prince, and quite charming. And the prince fell in love. He could not take the title of king until he was wed, so of course, he proposed to this strange girl. She, of course, accepted. That was where our problems started. She took over the court system and made it to the most minor infraction could result in death and murder was hardly punished. She tripled the taxes and spent exorbitant amounts of money on herself. And soon, she began to corrupt the prince. That woman turned that kindly prince into a monster. He regarded his people as property and treated his servants like slaves. I tried to make him see reason, but he would listen. Her poison had already taken effect. Then, miraculously, she disappeared. The day before their wedding, in fact. It seemed as if the entire kingdom let out a sigh of relief on that day. But it was not to last. The price drove himself mad looking for her. He searched the entire kingdom and would not stop until he had found her…” Jonathan trailed off.
“The woman, what was her name.”
He hesitated, and she held her breath. “Her name was…Elsa.”