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"The Prince in My Attic"
by Nicole (sojourner_cries)
at September 9th, 2006 (08:43 pm)

The prompt for this was "I have six humble serving men". It's supposed to by whimsical and fairytale-ish :) . I'd give it a PG rating.

The prince who lives in my attic has six humble serving men, all of whom seem to have decided that living on a diet of old mothballs and whatever I have in my fridge is preferable to struggling through life in the real world. It’s not like it’s a bad life, really- they don’t have great healthcare benefits or anything (although they do have unlimited access to anything in my medicine cabinet), but they also don’t have to deal with child molesters or customer service or lust-crazed pizza boys.

Well, not usually, anyway.

It’s strange- I can’t remember exactly when or how the prince came to live here with me. I was a little girl- I know that much. His golden hair and his rings fascinated me- he was so much like my mother, as though she had been reincarnated as royalty and given a sex change in the process.

That is the only one of my assumptions that the prince has never challenged.

He already had one serving man when he came here (or maybe he was always here, and I had just never noticed), and the rest all came later. He won’t tell me where they came from, but I think that I already know.

The prince was always temperamental, demanding my company for a day and then shoving me away again. He would sit on my mother’s windowsill for hours, just staring out of the window. At those times, I wouldn’t go near him- he looked like a suicidal angel, waiting for the right moment to throw himself back to the earth.

When I came in one afternoon, the window was open. The prince was leaning out, his arms open wide and his blond hair loose around his face. I don’t know if his lips moved, or if he even said anything at all, but suddenly we weren’t alone. A dove flew into the attic, coming to rest on his arm.

He ran his hand along its spine, ruffling the feathers there, and suddenly it wasn’t a bird any longer. In its place, beside the prince, there was a man, tall and thin and sad. In his eyes, I could see something of the dove’s serenity, something of its sadness and of its desire to begin flying and never stop.

Even though his hair is white, there is something horribly incomplete about him- not just in the way that he looks, but the way that he acts as well.

I’ve never seen him smile, but he’s never tried to leave either.

The prince says that I was imagining things- how can a bird be a man, or a man be a bird? And even if it was possible, how could he have turned him into a man? He smiles when he says such things, a sweet, slightly condescending smile that makes me think that maybe I’m wrong after all.

Sometimes, I see the dove-man staring out of the window like the prince used to do, and when that happens I know that I’m right.

After the second serving man, they came thick and fast- once a month, then once a week, and finally once a day. A moth that drifted in one night, a spider on the wall, a dying parakeet that I used to have, and one who I firmly believe used to be the neighbor’s cat. I think that he can only change living things, but when I bring it up I always get the same smile as when I ask other questions.

I don’t ask many questions anymore.

The fact, however, is that there’s six of them with the prince now, and they all live in my attic. I’ve offered to give them other rooms several times, but no one has ever taken me up on it. Sometimes, though, they’re willing to come down at night and watch TV or drink tea with me. One night, we all played Scrabble and I order pizza.

I’m glad that the dove-man wasn’t the one who ran into the lusty pizza boy, because I don’t think that he would ever have recovered from the experience. As it so happened, it was the cat-man who opened the door- I ran into them exchanging sex tips in the coat closet as the pizzas cooled and the cheese congealed.

When I finally managed to separate them- and convince them not to meet for beer the next night- I demanded that the prince control his serving men. He promptly told me that it couldn’t be done, but if I wanted to try, I should feel free to do it myself.

When I asked him why, he smiled that smile and said that it would be good practice.

I had nothing left to say to him after that. No questions, no comments, nothing at all. He seems to assume a lot of things, this not being the first. I don’t know when he decided that I was his, and I don’t know when I decided that it might be just as well if I gave in.

He doesn’t seem to have considered that I’m not one of his creations like the serving men or that I like to live in the real world- I’m not a butterfly; I’m a living, breathing human woman. I don’t think that I’d like life in the attic very much- but I think that it’s a little too late for that now.

This morning, he gave me a serving woman, and one of the neighborhood children is missing a puppy.

The sparkle in his eyes has taken on an otherworldly glow and the hardness of steel, but his hands are like silk. He’s missing a ring, and his smile is sweeter than ever.

And as I accept his jewels, I realize- falling in love is truly nature’s cruelest blow, and there are not nearly enough attics to hold my heart, my upset, at this moment.

The prince who lives in my attic has six serving men, and now he has a princess who has a serving woman of her very own.

When I have learned to make my own serving women, another boy will move into this house or I will leave and find a new attic of my own, and there will no longer be an old prince. Instead, he’ll just a princess, waiting with long golden hair, priceless rings, and a sweet, condescending smile for the prince who will take her place.

Comments and critiques are always welcome!

(And on a totally unrelated note, I am working on more Arazel! Or at least trying to! Really, really!)


Posted by: booniecat (booniecat)
Posted at: January 1st, 2007 01:19 pm (UTC)

Wow, I really liked it. Good length, interesting content, and I enjoyed the ending. Good stuff.

Posted by: Nicole (sojourner_cries)
Posted at: January 2nd, 2007 09:10 pm (UTC)

Thank you! I'm glad that you enjoyed it :) .