The Princess & The Pheasant

It was a big mistake following him without my shoes on. I was already panting and gasping five minutes into the walk. Not only that, but my feet were hurting from the pebbles on the ground. I winced again as I took another step. I wished to God that I had found my shoes before following him. I had no idea the roads were going to be filled with this many rocks!

"You okay back there, Princess?" He called, not bothering to look.

I desperately wanted to tell him to stop so I could rest, but I didn't want him to know that I was tired already. "I'm doing great! Perfect! Never been better!"

I didn't know if it was my answer or my tone that had him turning around to look at me. My hair had managed to untangle itself from the little bun I made this morning, and I was drenched with perspiration. My legs were tired and I had no shoes, but I still managed to stand up tall and proud as he continued to study me.

I thought he was going to turn around and start walking again, but instead, a straight line appeared on his mouth and he came stomping towards me.

"You're walking without any shoes!" He yelled at me.

I looked down at my feet covered with dirt. "So?"

"You know you could get a cut and die from it, or a snake could come out of the grass and bite you, just like that," he snapped his fingers in front of me.

"I—I didn't know…" I moved away from the grass into the middle of the road.

He muttered something, which seemed like 'stupid' to me, but I didn't have time to speculate because he was already pulling out something from a bag that he had been carrying. I frowned. Where had that bag come from?

"What are you doing?" I gasped as he grabbed my ankle and lifted it up. "You stop that right now!" I had to grab his shoulders in order to keep my balance.

He wrapped two layers of cloth around my foot, and then he did the same to the other one while I just stood there like a dummy. I didn't know how to react… what to say to him. For the first time in my life, I was at a loss.

"There," he stood up and backed off. "That's it, com'on."

He didn't bother to look at me, and instead, started walking again.

"Wa—wait," I called after him, running to catch up to him. I noticed my feet didn't hurt as much now, and the ground wasn't as hard with the cloth around them.

"It'll last you for about an hour or so," he said, "but after that, you're gonna have to put on another layer; 'course, you won't be walking in an hour, we're almost there anyway."

I followed him quietly after that. We were almost to the castle, but somehow…I didn't feel like going back to the castle. I seemed to like the dirt under my feet, the sun on my hair, and the smell of grass all around me. I seemed to like being with this—

"Look over there," he stopped as he pointed to a distant cottage. "That's where old man Red lives."

"Who?" I asked, following his gaze.

"Red," he said. "A commoner, a peasant."

"So?" I asked him, glancing at his face.

"You don't know nothin' do you, Princess?" He scowled darkly before turning back to the road and continuing.

"Of course, I know a lot of things," I protested. "I know how to speak French. I know how to read and write and—"

"And what can you do with those?" He twirled around suddenly, surprising me with his anger.

"I…I don't know," I answered truthfully.

"Exactly." He sounded satisfied with my answer and turned away again, " Red came to your parents, asking for a little more time to pay his taxes, but what did your parents do? They refused to give him time and so he went back to find his home taken away from him and his wife and daughter were forced to work to pay off the taxes."

"Where are they now?" I asked quietly.

"Dead," he answered. " His wife was too old to work, and his daughter was too sick to work, but they were forced anyway. Now both of them are dead, and Red is living alone."

"I—I'll give him his home back," I blurted without thinking.

He stopped for a fraction of a second, and then continued moving again. "You think a house is going to replace his wife and daughter?"

I shook my head, but he didn't see it. I didn't know whether to apologize or to tell him 'yes', so I remained quiet.

"That's right," he said once he realized I was not going to reply. "You don't know anything. You live in your own little world, and as long as it doesn't affect you, you don't care."

That statement hurt more than ever, and I searched for something smart to say, "Maybe he deserved it!"

He didn't say anything.

"Maybe he didn't work hard enough," I told him pretentiously. "If he had wanted more money, he should have worked harder for it."

"And you didn't have to work hard for it at all, did you?" He said so quietly that I almost didn't hear.

The statement hit me like a rock.

"That's right," he said again. "You didn't have to work for a single thing because you were born rich, and you always had everything, while the rest of us are force to work for you and to struggle day by day."

"I—I'm sorry," I said out loud.

"What good does that do?" He didn't sound mad, just tired.

I look around to distract myself from his presence and his words. A bird was flying in the distance while a rabbit ran out of nowhere being chased by a dog. The sun was no longer blazing, and the breeze felt nice against my skin.

"I—" Before I could say another word, a fancy carriage was pulling up beside us on the road.

"Ella, is that you?"

I almost gave a sigh of relief when I realized it was my friends in the carriage. "Oh yes, is that you, Emma. Peggy?"

"What are you doing out here?" They gasped as they saw me. "What happened to you?"

"Nothing," I told them. "I was just taking a walk."

"And who is that man?" Peggy asked, outrageous, "Don't tell me you're with this commoner, Ella."

"Our Princess Ella," Emma winced. "Ugh…and what is that awful smell?"

I looked back at Derek, who was looking at them as if he couldn't stand the sight of them.

"Come, come," Emma moved away from door of the carriage, "let's get you home and out of that ugly dirty dress."

Derek turned to look at me as if saying, 'Well…aren't you gonna introduce me. After all we talked about?'

I ignored him and opened the carriage door and got inside.

"Bob, you may go," Emma told the carriage driver.

"Wait!" I shouted, and they both looked at me. "I…"

"What is it?"

I turned to look at Derek. "T—thank you for the…um…cloth."

He nodded curtly at me. "You're welcome."

"I…I'll see you again," I smiled weakly at him.

He nodded and turned to walk away without saying good-bye.

"He is a commoner, isn't he?" Emma asked as the carriage rolled away. "Ugh! Can you believe how dirty they are these days?'

"Yes, why I…"

My friends' voices drifted away as I stared back the man who had turned around to look at me as I rode away. He waved at me, and I suddenly had the urge to wave back at him, but my friends were here, and I…and I….

He waited for a while to see if I would wave back, but when I didn't, he turned and walked away.

I knew this was the last time we would ever see each other.

::My Comments::

Okay, there, you guys have got your answer... was it a little bit unsatisfacotry? Mwahahahah! Don't even bother asking me to see if I could change it, or rewrite it, cause I won't :p
I tend to like how this story turned out... in fact, this was an English assignment and my English teacher loved it... I love it... what can I say? I like the pheasant's attitude, and if given the chance, I think the relationship between those two would develop a little bit more into... oh I'm not going to say it, but you guys know what I mean, right?

Well, it's time for you guys to let me know what you guys put down, and let me know what you guys think...it's a little different from all my other stories huh? Yeah, I know, but it was supposed to be a short story, and besides, I've been wanting to write a story like this for a while now, now I can finally get it off my chest...

"Some people say I must be a horrible person, but that's not true. I have the heart of a young boy-in a jar on my desk."
-Stephen King