This is a chapter of a novel or short story I was working on years and years ago that I just found buried under piles of virtual pages in my computer. Personally, I don’t think it’s the best I’ve ever written, and it’s interesting to see how my style, and even my writing voice, has changed over the years. But it’s interesting, so I thought I’d post it just to see what you guys think. Enjoy!
It was early morning and he was waiting for her. His faded, black trench coat dragged across the dirt path as he followed the horse-drawn carriage. Her carriage. Mariana sat inside, nervously pulling at her precisely embroidered sleeves, imagining all the ways her special day could go awry. She wondered if the flowers would be organized exactly to her mother’s liking. She thought about how if one lily petal was out of place, her mother would barely notice the ceremony at all. She would sit in her aisle, obsessively needing to fix the estranged piece of the flower so that everything could be perfect.
Mariana frowned at the word that carefully placed itself inside her head. Almost with a sigh, she expelled a soft murmur to herself.
“Perfect. Who the hell wants to be perfect anyway?”
She peered out the fogged window to see only but a glimpse of the shadow of a man in the forest. He was a tall man, that she could tell. His massive silhouette was surrounded by the newly blossomed flowers that sprinkled the Spring ground with beauty. But this man did not match the beauty of the forest. His presence resembled something much more sinister. She could only make out that his clothes were worn and there was a true sadness to his posture. This saddened her greatly, but she knew it was not her place. It wasn’t right for a woman of such high ranking to help a Less Fortunate. She knew once she could see the castle peering over the mountain top that she would forget all about this curious man and the momentary sorrow he unknowingly brought upon her. As she was about to look away, as if he knew exactly when he was about to lose her interest, his powerful body fell quickly to the moistened ground.
“Stop the carriage!” she screamed.
Before she could even think about what she was doing, her impulses got the best of her. The black as night stallion halted as it was commanded. The carriage door flew open and Mariana’s flowing dress spilled out of the compartment. The silky white fabric was drenched in small diamonds and various jewels. Her shoes were a stone gray color, that perfectly matched a chain around her neck. It was clear that the necklace had been carefully complemented by a glimmering emerald that did great justice to her eyes. She ran across the field of weeds, layers of white fabric getting ripped and stained in the tall grass. And not for a second did she think of all the hours and labor that were put into making every golden blonde strand of hair stay perfectly in place atop her head.
“Are you okay, sir? Are you hurt?” she asked, approaching the fallen man cautiously, but with haste.
She realized why he looked so out of place now in the forest. He was wearing all black. His poorly tied combat boots, his poor looking trench coat, even the chain of the necklace hidden beneath his shirt was black as night. At first she thought his skin was black but when she peered closely, she could tell now that his skin, was, in fact, white, it was just masked by layers of dirt and grime. Through the slits of his closed eyelids, she saw a slight slimmer. This was the first and last time she would ever see his cold eyes. They had such a power to them that looking into them sent a sharp chill throughout her spine. They were harsh and vibrant, simultaneously. They were green, definitely, but not green like a blade of grass. And not green like the moss growing in the secluded swamp. They were their own color, and they told their own story. They spoke of grueling hardships and countless attempts at happiness, failing miserably worse than the time prior. They almost looked familiar, but she could not identify where she knew them from. Mariana looked carefully at the scar above his left eyebrow, wondering what type of pain it must have caused him. It almost made him look like he had a cartoon eyebrow, because the hair was pierced in such a way that it caused a more prominent arch. It would have been comical if it wasn’t for the heart wrenching gaze that lay beneath it.
His eyes were now closed completely, and when she leaned in to see if he was breathing, she felt no air come through dark, chapped lips or his slim, proportional nose. Suddenly, a deafening indescribable noise of pain was heard from the stallion and a loud, but definite gunshot was fired. Startled, the horse galloped off in a frenzy down the dirt road, his left hind leg leading a thin trail of blood behind his path. Mariana, greatly surprised by the noise, turned to see what had caused the animal such pain, but nothing seemed peculiar. But when Mariana turned to look back at the man on the ground, he was gone, and nothing but the crisp sheen of a golden pocket watch was left behind. She heard it’s soft, dismal ticking sound and reached over to pick it up. As she was about to place her index finger on the scratched glass face, the second hand met the others on the twelve mark, and a soft, steady ringing came out of it. In that second, less than a second, really, she felt two heavy arms wrap themselves around her tight corset, restricting her breathing even more than the corset had to begin with. She heard a voice that was deep enough to make her stomach fall to her feet.
“Goodnight, Princess. And I will send your apologies to all your guests. What a lovely wedding it would have been. Guess my invite got lost in the mail, eh?”
She turned her face quickly enough just to catch a glimpse of those same ominous green eyes. Her vision went black. Her mind went blank. Her body lay unconscious on the unforgiving, muddy ground. Her once glowing dress became a canvas for the dirt to dance upon. But right before she slipped out of consciousness, she remembered. She remembered now who this man was. For he was somebody she thought she’d never see again. He had been perfect too, long ago, until his faith vanished and his perfection withered away. This man abandoned Mariana and her mother twenty two years ago. This man was her father.