Friday, January 8, 2010

The Reluctant Prince, Chapter 1: Story Time

1. Story Time

"Once upon a time..." Grandfather began.

"No! No! No! NO! NO!" Grandmother interrupted, shaking her dishtowel at Grandfather in a somewhat violent manner. "You NEVER begin a story with 'Once Upon a Time.'" She heaved a loud sigh. She had entered the living room from the kitchen moments earlier, having just finished washing up the breakfast dishes. “That's been done to death."

Grandfather merely rolled his eyes and the children--Kenny (the older) and Kaitlyn (the younger) laughed until they were fit to burst. Nothing was funnier in the whole world than their grandparents phony bickering for their amusement.

"That's not the way to tell a proper fairy tale at all," Grandmother continued. "Don't you know how to do anything except sit in that chair and snore like a gibbering groundhog all day?" This provoked more guffaws from the children, who were now rolling about on the floor, suffering from their own separate but equally wild cases of hysterics.

"A man needs his rest, woman!" Grandfather griped. He reached up a spindly hand, dotted in a random pattern of age spots, and pulled at his wrinkled chin. Kenny sat up alertly, adjusting the thin circlet of gold across his forehead, which had started to slip down over his eyes -- it being of a slightly larger size than his head. He was expecting Grandfather to spout off another ripe retort. But all that he said was:

"If you think you're such a hot horsefly, YOU can tell the story." Grandfather threw up his arms in exasperation, then leaning back in his chair he reached for his pipe on the end table next to him. Grandmother hurriedly hobbled over and smacked his hand away.

"No smoking when the kids are over, dear," she said, rather softly. "You know the rule about that."

"Hmmph...what? Oh...yeah. I'm sorry, love. I forgot." They looked at each other for a second, and for that one fleeting moment their true feelings for one another rose to the surface of their crinkled faces. Kenny saw it and stuck out his tongue in disgust. Kaitlyn saw it and smiled, hugging herself as she too, sat up and looked at each of her grandparents in turn. She could see so much of her father's compassion in her grandmother's eyes and a great deal more of his tomfoolery in her grandfather.

Grandfather reached out and patted Grandmother's hip affectionately.

"Do you want to tell the story then, my love?" he asked.

She smiled and blushed, just like the young damsel she used to be. "No, dear. You really are much better at telling stories than I am. Just leave off with that 'Once Upon a Time' rubbish." She threw the dishtowel over her shoulder and sat down in the comfortably over-stuffed chair next to Grandfather.

"Oh yes," said Kenny. "Tell us the tale about King Grondo and the Giants!"

"No!" Kaitlyn cried, "the one about The Lady Darla, please. Or The Shaman's Curse. Those are my favorites."

Grandfather raised a hand for silence. "All right now, younglets. There's no need to fight. We have all day long to sit here and waste time. I'll tell you all the Grondo stories I know. Starting with the tale of the Trespassers."

"Ooh. That's a good one, Grandfather," said Kenny.

"Very well...ahem. Begin at the beginning, I always say. Right, then. Here is the story of Grondo and the Trespassers," said the old man. Leaning forward, he bewitched the youngsters with his most serious story-telling face.

The children ceased fidgeting at once. They crossed their legs and folded their hands on their laps, getting comfortable. They angled their heads in Grandfather's direction, rapt attention stamped across their small, freckled faces.

End of Chapter One.  
Go to Chapter Two. 
(a link for Chapter Two will be provided once it has been posted) 

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