Monday, November 29, 2010
Catalena set off before dawn, riding at full gallop to be at the castle by the noon hour. A pewter sky hung over the palace as frayed flags slapped in the breeze. She left her faithful horse in the care of the stable boy, entering the great hall with the other young women. The offer of instant riches had not been enough to quell the fear of many; only fifty eligible women gathered to seek the prince's approval. While she had chosen her best and most respectable dress, Catalena still looked afright. Her hair was windblown from the ride and the hem of her clothing mud splattered. The regrets of her wardrobe instantly vanished from her psyche as the porter called the women to silence, announcing the arrival of Prince Dragos. Like everyone else, she bowed her head low, as was common courtesy in the presence of royalty. Before she averted her gaze Catalena snuck a look at the prince as he appeared at the top of the stone stairs. He had wavy raven hair and a pleasant form most would consider handsome, but his skin was eerily pale as if he rarely saw the light of day. Prince Dragos made his way through the sea of gathered young ladies, sizing each up with cold precision. Catalena kept her eyes on the floor and noticed the prominent singe marks at the hem of her dress where she'd stepped too close to the fire last Christmas. However, her notice of the imperfection came too late as two well polished black boots entered her field of vision. The prince spoke not a word, but the disapproving noise he made at the sight of her was less than subtle. Catalena felt her pulse instantly race at the insult. She did not consider her actions, only her wounded pride, as she jerked her head up to face the source of such scorn. Twin eyes, like chunks of unlit coal, stared back at her from an unreadable face marred by a thick scar which cut across his brow and eye, ending on his right upper cheek. It was a miracle he had an eye left after such an injury, was the first thought in her head, but that was chased out swiftly as she remembered her station. She cast her eyes down once more, and the prince carried on until he finished examining all who had come. He whispered to his Vizier, his chief counselor and only friend, before he disappeared again into the castle's depths. The Vizier announced any young lady who was not chosen could collect her gold pieces and depart immediately. However, it was when he announced the names of the four women who were invited to remain, to continue on in the hopes of being queen, that Catalena was left speechless. He named her as one of the four. Whether she liked it or not, she would be spending tonight in the castle as a guest of the prince.
Monday, November 22, 2010
All families with eligible daughters considered the offer, enticed by the fifteen gold pieces each young woman would earn simply by coming to the castle on the appointed day. The idea of their daughter one day being queen intrigued all from the loftiest duke to the lowliest peasant, however, the wisest parents were cautious. Even with the promise of title and power, what kind of life would their child have married to a man whose heart turned to stone? One such cautious father was the blacksmith of the small village near the kingdom's eastern border. The death of his wife years prior left him to raise their only child, Catalena, as best he could. Now seventeen and the apple of her loving father's eye, she proved headstrong and quick-witted. The local mothers merely shook their heads in dismay as she ran wild through the forests, hunting and fishing with the boys. It simply would not do to have a daughter who could forge and wield a sword, but could not throw a proper stitch or tend the home. The day the proclamation was made, Catalena determined to set off to the castle, much to her father's dismay. She was plain in face and form and awkward in formal situations unlike the other girls she knew in her village. The prince would never give the gawky blacksmith's daughter a second glance which suited her fine. She had no desire to marry the prince, but her father could desperately use the fifteen gold pieces. For her adoring father she would do anything.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Once upon a time in a land far, far away (since that's the way all good legends start) in a castle on the tallest hill, there lived an angry prince. Those who remembered the prince's parents, the goodly king and queen, rarely spoke of them and the happy days of the kingdom, now a distant memory. They merely sighed sadly when the palace came into view. They remembered the joyful little boy the prince had been, but after the tragic death of his parents he'd grown callous and cruel. He locked himself in his castle, letting no one in but the servants and royal guard. A candle could be seen gleaming from the tower room at all hours of the day and night, the prince distancing himself from the world for he could no longer bear to see a smiling face or hear the sound of laughter. And so his subjects went about their lives in the gloomy kingdom where the sun no longer shined, leaving the prince to grow into a young man behind the silent stones of the palace. Then, one day, four riders emerged from the creaking, rusty drawbridge, setting off in the four directions of the kingdom's confines. The villagers eagerly gathered for the proclamation, the first to leave the palace in longer than anyone could remember. Once they heard it, their eagerness turned to worry and dread. The angry prince whom they assumed would live and die alone in his crumbling castle was lonely and searching for a bride.
Monday, November 8, 2010
I think it's funny our justice system still relies on things like witness identification. If there's one thing I've learned in this profession, it's that everything is in the eye of the beholder. Line three people up and let them observe a scene. You will get three different responses when you ask them what they saw. Our memories, biases, and way of thinking all affect how we process information. None of us see things "normally" since there is no definition of normal, just a general consensus of acceptable deviation from a standard. To the most disturbed among us, the world is a Rorschach. Their reality is so distorted, they can almost distort the reality of others and most certainly project powerfully. Today I saw a homeless, psychotic woman dressed in dirty clothes and a hospital gown randomly go up to some guy on the street and hug him as if they knew each other. He had no idea who this woman was, and extracted himself from the situation rapidly, but he sort of played along with her delusion. Whatever terrifying and fantastic world she's living in has one bright point. In that world there are friends she didn't even know she had. Everyone has a different take on the Rorschach of life, a little ingrained madness as it were, and sometimes that's the most interesting thing they've got.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Maybe it's the holidays rapidly approaching, but the subject of relationships has been popping up with incredibly frequency. One of the best questions at the book reading (again, my humble and fervent thanks to everyone who came out and made it a success) was about relationships, both good and bad, in the novel. None of us exist in a vacuum. We must navigate interactions with others in every facet of our lives. Yet, most relationships from mere acquaintance to friendship to romantic can be classified as rocky at best. What at first glance appears to be truth is often an illusion. Things we assume to be stable alter dramatically seemingly without warning. Worst of all, what we think we want and what we truly need rarely coincide. So much trouble for modest gain. Maybe that's why I love writing about the most convoluted messed up relationships imaginable. I am finally comfortable with the idea that all relationships are screwed up messes. Even with the opportunity to live forever, good luck figuring them out.