One morning in the palace, Servant Molly was adjusting Princess Annabelle's skirt. It had just been sewn and Molly was making sure that it didn't need to be raised or lowered. Annabelle usually hated having to stand up on the little podium as servants fussed over her clothing, but now she thought it was sort of interesting being that much taller than Molly.
"Are you done yet?" Princess Annabelle had begun to grow a bit impatient.
"Well, I guess so...." Servant Molly shrugged. Servant Molly was barely that much older than Annabelle, so she didn't care much about skirts either. She'd never even had a real one of her own anyway, which Annabelle thought was sad, but it was tough to change her father, the King's mind.
Annabelle hopped down from dressing podium.
"I have to go out to the market now," Servant Molly told her.
"Okay - bring me back anything you see that looks interesting!" Annabelle smiled. She didn't often have a key to the outside world, so getting things from the market was always a welcome treat.
Annabelle wandered down the long hall that she'd wandered down so many times before. Just then, she came to a room with a tiny light pouring out of the half-open door. Annabelle leaned her head next to the door's opening to see if she could hear what was going on in there. Was it the King with her older sister Clara that she had recently discovered? The King was having her stay in a guest house until he could ask her questions and do all sorts of things that Annabelle thought was just plain nonsense.
Annabelle heard the slightly muffled sound of voices. "It is Annabelle's birthday in just a week. Should we ask her what she wants?" Annabelle recognized her mother's voice. It was rare that the King and Queen were even out of their normal throne room.
"I think we should. I've already arranged for a few different guests - other princesses - to come on Friday," The King spoke. "It will be such a surprise to Annabelle."
Annabelle began to feel terrible. Now she had ruined a surprise - something that even Annabelle the spy and problem solver didn't like to find out.
Just then, Servant Molly tapped on her shoulder, making Annabelle jump a bit. She sighed in relief when she saw that it was just Servant Molly.
"What are you doing, Princess?" Molly asked. "Who are you eavesdropping on?"
Annabelle's face blushed slightly, she didn't always like getting caught in the act of spying - especially when she knew she shouldn't be; not that there was ever a time that she really should be.
"I was...just wandering," Annabelle looked away.
"Anyway, I brought you back something from the market," Servant Molly presented Annabelle with a flier. Annabelle took it from her hands eagerly.
"Attention! City Festival!
Fun, Food, and Friends
Stunning Performance from the Royal Bros. Magic & Acrobatics Co.
9:00am - 10:00pm
"Wow," Annabelle was breathless. "A real magic show and acrobatics show? Food, fun and friends? Oh I wish I could go - maybe I can; if I get up enough courage to ask."
"Maybe," Servant Molly's lips were in a tight, thin line. She wasn't sure if it had been a good idea to bring home such an exciting flier. She didn't want Annabelle to run off like Clara had.
"Your father wants to see you," Servant Kirsten came in.
Annabelle went in to where her father had been speaking. "Father," she curtsied rather unsteadily. "I have been asked to see you."
"Yes, you have. Your birthday is coming up - your tenth birthday. It is coming up this weekend. You know how important a ten year birthday is for the royals. Well, we want you to choose something that you would like to do over your birthday weekend. Do you know anything you might like to do?"
Annabelle's mind suddenly swarmed with ideas, but the one that stuck out the most was the possibility of going to the festival. She didn't feel comfortable saying something just yet, so she just shook her head, "I will have to think about it."
"Very well. We will decide on Friday, that way we can do it on Saturday," The King motioned for her to leave and she left thinking that Friday was going to be the day of her party.
In her room, Annabelle read a book, even though it was very hard. She just had to get to the festival! She also had to ask her father, and that was probably going to be the hardest part. He was sometimes hard to work with - sometimes even hard to just speak to.
Friday came, and Annabelle still hadn't gotten up the courage to talk to her father and mother about what she truly, truly wanted. It was also the day of her party though, so she wore her special blouse and her brand new skirt for the occasion. She was kind of busy, and she sort of forgot that she was still in the process of mustering up enough courage.
The two princesses of India; Nahji & Josefina came to see her. They were Annabelle's best friends, so it was very nice. They didn't completely understand her, since they were content with being princesses; or so Annabelle figured.
"Happy birthday!" Nahji and Josefina greeted her happily in the entrance hall of the palace.
"Thank you," Annabelle hugged them and then they went off to Annabelle's room to play. Soon, dinnertime came, and it was a huge banquet feast, just for Annabelle's birthday!
As they finished up the meal and the plates were cleared after the dessert, the talk shifted from different topics onto what Annabelle wanted to do for her birthday tomorrow. Josefina and Nahji would not be able to be with her on Saturday, unfortunately.
"Have you decided what you'd like to do?" the King asked.
Annabelle took a deep breath and prepared to speak, "I would like to go to the city festival - it is tomorrow, it starts at 9 in the morning - and ends at 10 at night. We could even just go for an hour - twenty minutes even!" Annabelle quickly silenced herself, hoping that she hadn't sounded too desperate.
"The......what????" The King asked.
"The city festival," Annabelle answered simply.
"You want to go associate yourself with the commoners?" The King asked in a low, surprised tone. "Then GO to your ROOM!" The King roared.
"All I did was ask," Annabelle whispered, but her mother ushered her off. Annabelle could feel Nahji and Josefina's eyes burning into the back of her head as she fled the room.
She ran to her room and sobbed.
All she'd wanted to do was go to the festival! That was what she truly wanted on her birthday - she didn't want diamonds, or a new dress, or multiple new servants like other princesses might want. She just wanted to simply go to a festival. No one understood her. Even the servants wondered why she wasn't happy with her spoiled life. But Annabelle was everything that a princess was not. She didn't want to have a princess party or anything like that.
Servant Molly came in and hugged Princess Annabelle. Annabelle knew that it wasn't exactly proper for the servant and royal to be in the same room together this close, but it didn't matter to her. Servant Molly wiped Annabelle's tears away. "Annabelle," she whispered softly and gently.
"I just want to go," Annabelle sighed. "Why can't I? Why do I have to be cooped up in this palace without any connection the world - the real world! I can't even do simple things like attending a city festival!"
"Miss, I don't want to steer you in the wrong direction but....well, never mind," Servant Molly shrugged.
"No! Tell me," Annabelle insisted.
"Well, if it were me, and if I was in your position, I might go ask again. Now it isn't as much of a surprise," Servant Molly whispered. She didn't want to be responsible for Annabelle's thoughts and actions, but Molly also really wanted Annabelle to get what she wanted for her birthday.
"Your right - I have to go ask," Annabelle wiped her tears away and smiled at Molly before leaving the room to approach her father once more.
"Father, I request your permission to attend the city festival," Annabelle curtsied to him."Is it that important to you?" he asked her.
"Yes, Father," Annabelle nodded solemnly.
"Very well then," The King nodded, "You can go. The servants will deliver your peasant clothes for the festival and you will leave along with Clara and Nurse Mary. Your mother and I cannot go because we are too recognizable. We will do something special with you for your birthday on Sunday. We do truly love you Annabelle."
"I love you too," Annabelle smiled broadly. It was happening! She was going to attend the city festival and not have one care in the world or feel as though she didn't belong! She was going to be "Commoner Annabelle" for the day!
The next morning, just as the sun came up, Annabelle shed her princess clothes and changed into the commoner society rank that she had always been rather fascinated with.
Annabelle came out of the dressing room in her brand new outfit. She knew she wouldn't be expected to wear it again, but it was still exciting. She was officially going to the festival!
Clara came out in a commoner outfit (which wasn't hard for her because she owned several having lived as a commoner for years). "Happy Birthday, Anna," Clara hugged her tightly. "The commoner look suits you, you know. You look beautiful!"
"Thanks," Annabelle smiled.
"Let's go," Nurse Mary guided the two girls out to the carriage that would take them there. They would be dropped off one block before the festival street so they would not be seen in the royal carriage.
Annabelle and Clara made their way to the Royal Bros. tent. One of the men was already doing magic tricks while the other few swung skillfully through the air on acrobatic bars.
"Wow, look at them!" Clara smiled, "Wow!"
"Wow is right!" Annabelle agreed and both girls quieted down so they could watch along with the rest of the spellbound audience.
The men continued to swing through the air and soar like birds. They were amazing and the crowd would gasp every so often whenever they did a dangerous looking trick.
At the end of their performance, Annabelle was sure that she had clapped the loudest - maybe louder than the whole stadium put together. She had seen an acrobatic group and a magician before when they had come to play in her father, the King's court - but they hadn't been nearly as good as the Royal Bros.
"Weren't they amazing?" Annabelle asked excitedly.
"They were," Clara agreed.
Both girls shared some icy drinks that were sure to take over the whole city they were so good and new! Clara and Annabelle giggled as they took turns blowing through the tiny straw into the fizzy drink causing bubbles to form.
Then they shared ham kebabs with ham and tomatoes and cheese and even bread! Then they played a few games like ring toss. Annabelle knew that it was the best day ever!
Soon, just as both girls had reentered the arena to watch yet another Royal Bros. performance, Nurse Mary came and found them, "We must go, girls."
Both girls were quickly ushered back down the street and secretly into the carriages. Annabelle was sad to leave, but was glad that she had at least had the chance to go - even if only for an hour or two.
Annabelle went to her room to rest and ended up falling to sleep for the night. It had been the best birthday ever. It had been the best day ever. Each moment had been the best moment ever. Annabelle was back to being a princess, but she was going to get to go to more commoner events, she knew. Because Princess Annabelle never gave up her dreams.