Water day

This entry comes early, midday. I found some time to myself. I do not want to stop writing in this journal. It is a secret, though, from my servants, husband, friends and children. There is a line of seperation between me and the world artificially created by that. I go through my day and I think to myself, I must write about this tonight. I cannot tell anyone that. It is something in my mind that makes me different from everyone I meet. It makes me look out from behind my own eyes and wonder what secrets others have.

It makes me feel lonely.

That should make me stop. I should not value something that seperates me from my loved ones. I do value it. I do not value self-deception, and this journal helps me finds perspective on my choices and actions. When I am snappish, I often admit it here before I really want to. It has served me well.

I could tell Sev. It would surprise him. It would make me feel closer to him, but he would be surprised. I think it would worry him that he didn’t realize I did it.

I’m the conventional one. High family, with all the right friends and opinions, happy to disapprove of him and love him both. I make him safe. I anchor him in society, with all his eccentricities. I’m the normal one. The one who doesn’t shout at officers and knock princes in the mud to save their lives. The one who doesn’t win against all odds, the one who doesn’t flout social conventions. If I were otherwise, we’d be pariahs. Our children would have no marriage prospects.

I can’t tell Sev. He’d understand, and that would be the problem.

When I was staying over one night with his family, he and I were walking in the garden. We didn’t yet know each other well, but I liked him. He had a smile that could lighten any heavy heart, and a grin that made you want to laugh.

He wasn’t smiling that day. He was frowning, and halfway through our walk he pulled up short beneath the apple tree, which was in fruit at that time of the year, and said decidedly, “I am going climbing. You can do whatever you want.”

I remember I said, “But you’ll muss your clothes.”

He tossed his head. “Like I care about clothes,” he said.

I remember thinking more quickly than I ever had before. I had never been a conspirator before. “You may only climb the tree,” I declared, “If you bring me an apple.”

He grinned at me and said with his own special arrogance, which he has yet to lose, “Easy.”

He climbed. I stood watch.

His mother came across the grass, elegant in plum linen that swept the ground. Such was the fashion of the day. Her hair was held back with a net set with amethysts, I remember. He got his black hair from her. I intercepted her with a polite bow.

“Did you want someone, Lady-Mother?” I had no actual right to the title, but she’d told me to call her that. The familiar seemed necessary, on that occasion. I thought myself very clever, at the time.

“It is time for luncheon,” she told me. “Where is my son?” She didn’t look towards the tree, I remember. She looked at me, and she was smiling but she was waiting to hear what story I would come up with.

“He is picking me an apple, Lady-Mother,” I said with all the dignity of a properly reared child. Pen reminds me of myself, on occasion. “I asked him to.”

“From the tree, I see,” she said, and I turned to scowl at Sev, who hadn’t had the intelligence to stay hidden in the branches. He’d climbed down to take his scolding like the honorable sort of idiot he was and still is.

He had my apple.

His mother said, behind me, “Sev, luncheon will be served shortly. Change and present yourself at the noon bell.”

“Yes, Lady-Mother,” he said, openly surprised. I remember despairing at his lack of control. We would be found out, for he looked like a child caught playing when he was supposed to be being a proper nobleman, not like a gallant doing a favor for his betrothed.

I turned to look at his mother, and couldn’t help but bite my lip in apprehension. I was not yet grown into all the skills of a true woman, then.

She touched my cheek with one hand. “You’ll do,” she said.

In that moment, I was the most proud I’d ever been in my life, until it came time to present my Sev with twins.

I would not dare disappoint her. She would understand about this journal, I think. Sev had to get his odd notions somewhere, and it was not his father, right stick that the man was.

She’s been dead almost as long as my twins have been alive. Perhaps I should visit her grave. I haven’t thought about her in a very long time, but of all the people I’ve ever known, she is the one I could tell about this.

I am going out to visit Min this afternoon. We shall go around to all the rest and gossip about the ceremony and Sev, and I shall make no mention of the prince’s laughter or the way the princess’s eyes followed my husband. Perhaps this evening I shall ask Sev to come to my chambers. I do not think I shall spare more time to write today, but I shall write tomorrow.

Leave a comment

Your comment