Written by Rebekah Postupak for #FinishThatThought
I cared what Prince Alrick thought, so when Mia dared me, I knew I was in trouble.
“It’s the tinest potion,” she said, flashing me that you’re-not-saying-no-to-me look. “Tastes like chocolate. And think how happy he’ll be!”
So I did it, of course (may curses erupt on my head): I dumped the crystal vial into his morning coffee and called it a mocha latte. I’m not sure even Mia imagined so many would be affected. Still, there unfortunate Prince Alrick went, beads of lovesick sweat matting his perfect black hair, chasing after some nobody’s shoe like it was a woodland princess.
The Grapevine chortled for days—apparently he’d actually proposed to the shoe, whose poor owner and her sisters had enthusiastically chopped off bits of their feet to improve their own chances. It took a good two weeks of costly negotiations between the Duke and the girl’s furious stepmother to iron everything out.
Mia wasn’t finished.
“Put this blade of grass under his pillow,” she said with a grin as wide as the moat surrounding St. Leonard’s Home for the Incorrigible and Irredeemable. “Such a sweet little piece of nature.”
I gritted my teeth and slipped it beneath his pillow (which smelled of musk and the mountains) that very day. In the morning the dauntless prince launched a kingdom-wide search for a maiden able to spin straw into gold. By the time they dragged a hapless village girl into the castle—the only one within a six hour ride able to perform the lost art at all—everyone was so bleary-eyed and discombobulated, they’d have sworn before the Emperor himself the straw’d been transformed into war-worthy, purest gold. It took three solid days of sleep for servants and nobles alike to shake that one off, after which they hastily stuck the spindle in a closet at the top of an abandoned turret and fervently promised each other never to mention it again.
Which would have been fine, until—
“Sew a heart into the corner of his sock,” said Mia. “He won’t see it, but won’t it make you all bubbly knowing he’s got your heart on his foot all day?”
I took my smallest silver needle and obeyed, even as my own heart crumbled.
This time the curse fell on me.
Dully I followed my feet, which led me up dark stairs to the forgotten closet. Against my will I reached out and let the spindle bite into my finger, weeping even as I fell on the cold stone floor into sleep.
Prince Alrick would be hers, as she’d always planned.
He would find her refreshing, original, clever. He would love her passionately, forever.
While I, her oldest friend, her tormented slave, would vanish, with not so much as a piece of straw to show I’d lived, even for a moment, anywhere but Mia’s mind.
But perhaps a day will come, years from now, when the prince will finger a tiny embroidered heart… and, for a fleeting moment, wonder.
499 words, written for the flash contest #FinishThatThought, beginning with a variation of the mandatory opening sentence and incorporating the judge’s challenge elements of an imaginary friend and the word “discombobulated.”