She opened the front windows and let in the fresh spring wind. The house was finally empty. The night before, she’d returned from the ball and cleared the dwelling of her stepfamily’s belongings, dumping them in the garden. The bailiff was waiting when her stepmother and stepsisters arrived home, ready to escort them off the land. This had been her father’s home. Now it was hers.
Sitting on the window-seat, she leaned outside, inhaling the aroma of fresh flowers and sweetgrass. She was finally free. Then she heard it. The sound of galloping horses, men yelling, a loud arrogant voice rising above the din, commanding them all, the job he was born to do. The Prince. Groaning, she opened the front door and sat in the garden among her former family’s belongings as they came up the lane.
“Saskia!” The prince yelled, calling her by the false name she’d given him at the ball. He jumped from his horse with a flourish, pulling a sparkly shoe from his royal coat. His golden hair fell into his eyes as he approached her, extending the shoe in his gloved hand.
“Thank you for returning my shoe.” She took it, sliding it onto her bare foot a moment for his benefit.
“Aha! It fits!” His deep baritone laugh filled the air and shook the earth. Frightened birds took flight from the nearby trees.
“Yes, as I said, it’s my shoe.”
The prince immediately kneeled before her, proposing marriage.
“Have you gone mad?” She asked, motioning for him to stand. “We’ve only just met. You don’t even know my name.”
“It’s not…Saskia?” She shook her head no and he looked crestfallen. Life’s first disappointment. “But…but…you and I…the ball…”
“You’ve come all this way. You must be parched. I can offer you a drink.”
She turned to go back into the house and he followed, confused. He looked ill at ease sitting in her humble parlor, sipping from a tumbler. As she sat across from him, he offered her a modest smile.
“So,” he said, removing his hat. “If we’re going to get better acquainted, may I at least know your name? Your real one this time.”
She smiled back, pausing for a moment as she brushed a strand of dark hair from her eyes, thinking of the cruel nickname her stepsisters had given her. She wasn’t that girl any longer. “Ella. My name is Ella.”
For today’s Story A Day prompt – Write a story in the voice that came most easily to you this month.