Holly Fleming

Once upon a time, a King and Queen had their sons, and that's all they had wanted. Sons. They would rule the kingdom after their parents' deaths. The six boys were strong and powerful, and all the King and Queen had wanted out of their children. So when the Queen gave birth to a little girl, she and the King simply left her in the hands of the nanny, until the age of thirteen. At thirteen, she was condemned to her bedroom, and anyone with a key was told to keep her there.

The life sentence of solitude had fallen upon the girl as a result of her fiery, curious and rebellious soul, and was delivered by her father, the King. She'd always be getting herself into trouble; she wandered the castle when she should have been in bed and she'd prank her brothers. What annoyed the King the most was her questions. His wife would feel guilty and invite her to dinner, and instead of thanking her mother and father for their kindness, the girl would ask them difficult questions; "why don't you love me like you love them?" (she'd scowl at her brothers), "why can't I go out and play with you lot?", "why are you so cruel to me?", "why am I being punished?". Sometimes she'd add, "I haven't done anything wrong."

Her questions angered the King and upset the Queen. Her brothers felt awkward while she asked these questions, and they would play with the remnants of their food while she spoke. The King's face turned red and he yelled at her nanny to take her to her room, lock the door and throw away the key.

The Queen pleaded with her husband to take mercy on their only daughter and he conceded. He ordered his daughters' nanny to take her two meals a day, and in doing so she m have five minutes to speak to the Princess. She, the nanny, could also bring her Princess up to five cans of paint every day and the princess had permission to decorate however she wanted, and that was the only form of entertainment the Princess could have.

So the Princess was content. She asked her nanny to bring her different colours of paint ay breakfast time, and the empty cans would be taken away at supper time. The cans were labelled with the name of the colours inside, there was grass, lemon, plum, midnight...she named herself after her favourite colours: her name was Sky-Rose.

Laughing, Sky-Rose would throw brightly coloured paint at her walls, and although the room was such a mess, it made her and her nanny happy. One day, the mischievous little thing opened her window and emptied paint onto her oldest brothers' head, and his wife was not impressed. "You damn git!" he yelled.

"Shut it, Princess!" Sky-Rose laughed back at him. She heard him and he stormed off after his wife. Sky-Rose laughed some more, satisfied. She pulled tricks like that on her other brothers more often than never.

So Sky-Rose spent the years chaging the colours of her room everyday, and when she was sixteen she started painting backgrounds and figures onto her wall, for example, one day she painted her nann. She was going to paint herself next to the only person she considered family, but she had not seen a mirror in years, and had forgotten what she looked like.

On one corner, a picture depicted Sky-Rose's damily; a fair Queen, a red faced King, six handsome Princes, and under the shadow of a tall ash tree, a petite figure faced the trees, and she had cascades of ash brown curls. Yes, Sky-Rose had asked her father the questions that troubled him, specifically to trouble him, but she was also genuinely curious. She longed to know why she wasn't a normal member of the family, why she wasn't getting married, or getting a brilliant education, or sitting in front of a fire while her mother played with her hair, like a mother did in a book Sky-Rose once read.

These thoughts made their way from the back of her mind to the centre of it. As soon as she was awoken by her nanny with a tray of breakfast foods, she hoped that it wasn't her nanny, but her mother. She hoped she'd rush in with open arms, and apologize, and welcome her to breakfast with the family, and be happy.

"Darling," her nanny sang, "I have your breakfast. Your room is looking lovely this morning. What colours shall I bring you next, sweet heart?"

Sky-Rose accepted the breakfast, and said darkly, "Black, please."

Her nanny looked at her, and scowled. She bowed her head, "as you wish, Princess."

Two servants opened the door, left the dark paint and closed it again, making no attempt to talk to the Princess. Sky-Rose made her way to the paint, brush in hand, and began painting. Her pink and yellow room was soon a mirror image of the night sky; starless and hopeless. She carried on painting, occasionally just throwing a bucket of paint at the wall, occasionally talking to herself, telling herself, that she may as well disappear from the face of the planet.

When she came to the small painting of the royal family, she hesitated. She grunted as she kicked the can of paint at the picture; every little person was covered in blackness, it was like they were never there. She opened her window, because for the first time, the smell of paint wasn't perfect, but extremely irritating. She looked down, and her brothers were playing around a fire, and the oldest brothers wife was back in his arms, smiling up at him. For a minute, Sky-Rose wanted to climb out the window and down the castle wall, but she was much too high up, she wouldn't make it down in one piece.

"Hey," she yelled at her brothers. The second youngest, who Sky-Rose believed was one year older than herself, looked up and walked over. They had never exchanged any degree of conversation, but now he stood below her window, looking up. Sky-Rose told him her name, and his was Alexander. He asked her what she wanted. "A friend," she replied. Alexander shook his head.

"We're not allowed to be your friend, sorry. It's probably for the best." And he walked away.

A tear rolled down Sky-Rose's cheek, and the blackness of the walls was so warm and homely to her right then. She lied down on the floor and fell asleep.

The next morning, Sky-Rose awoke in much better spirits. She looked out into the blue summer sky for which she had named herself for and down at the gardeners working on the roses that were also a namesake. She had a feeling that the world was working with her today. She shook her head at the black walls and dismissed the sorrow from last night, and asked her nanny to bring her cans of yellow, green and blue. Her nanny smiled at her girl and went off to get her the colours.

Once again happy, Sky-Rose threw a bucket of yellow right at her wall...but the paint had no effect on the darkness. She muttered confusion and tried again with green. The same result occurred; her room was black and appeared to want to stay that way.

She banged on her door, yelling, "Nanny, Nanny! There's something wrong with my walls."

Her nanny and a servant opened the door, and her nanny asked her what ailed her. When Sky-Rose explained what happened, the nanny and the servant attempted to paint the walls, but to no avail. The blackness wasn't faltering.

Servants came in and out, carrying buckets and buckets of paint, trying to fix the room. Not even pure and crystal white made a difference. Sky-Rose sat and watched their efforts fail; she didn't look away from the wall until she heard a familiar, booming voice at her door.

"Girl, what is wrong with you?" It was the King. Sky-Rose looked up, frowning darkly. With him were Alexander and the Queen. Her face was contorted in curious worry, she was staring right at her daughter. The King mumbled something, and then spoke clearly. "What's her name? Your name, girl, what is it?"

Sky-Rose didn't reply. The King asked again, angry. She just stared at him. Finally, Alexander said, "her name is Sky-Rose."

The Queen seemed to smile slightly. "What a lovely name...speak, child, please?"

"Why are you here?" Sky-Rose asked, getting up onto her feet. She walked over to the three at her door and stared right at them. The Queen gave a short gasp, and Alexander and the King stayed quiet, examining her. Finally, the King spoke.

"On the condition that you behave, you may join the family, and live in the lower part of the castle, with us." He said, and the Queen smiled. Alexander looked indifferent. Sky-Rose looked around her room, and when she looked back she noted her Nanny, standing behind Alexander, smiling softly. She probably heard the King's offer. Sky-Rose nodded, and the Queen squealed with happiness, pushed her husband out of her way and hugged her only daughter, grinning.

"Oh darling, my darling! We'll be so happy!"

So Sky-Rose acquired a new bedroom, which was situated in the same corridor as her brothers. Her mother would bring her things; her old dresses, her old books, the love letters she and her husband had exchanged. She was tittering happily as Sky-Rose listened, not unhappy.

She finally had her family. The thoughts of being without her family forever were what got Sky-Rose where she was. But she wasn't herself. The nights in utter darkness she spent alone made her think.

Sky-Rose would take walks with her brothers, she got acquainted with her sister-in-laws (she had three), her father would even took her out and taught her how to use a sword, and he was impressed with the young woman she had become. She was well behaved, and that was all he wanted.

Years later, Sky-Rose was introduced to a prince from a land far away, and they got married, and Sky-Rose, her husband, her daughter and son inherited a small portion of her fathers' castle. She recognized that she was blessed, and changed her ideals and made herself happy.

She wasn't really happy, until she wandered around the castle one morning and found her children in her old chamber.

Her son was holding a large can of yellow paint, while her daughter painted the small part of the wall they were standing at. The square they had painted was as bright as the sun, and the colour of happiness. Sky-Rose was overwhelmed with happiness, and her husband found her and put his arm around her, and whispered, "Brilliant little artists', aren't they?"

With tears streaming down her face, Sky-Rose nodded and smiled. "The best."