Beneath the smile, there's always a secret.
Jannie was just trying to have a nice normal life. Her version of normal is different then yours or mien but normal all the same. Her brother ran away one day, leaving her with just her parents. She loved them but they had to work a lot. She had always dreamed of meeting her brother again but when she does it turns out to be a nasty surprise. Meeting him rises new worries, fears and also a few secrets.
I could tell this was a place I didnâ€™t want to be, my stomach was turning and felt the urge to run but one of the men had tied my hands together behind the chair, tied each leg to a different leg of the chair, and wrapped a rope around my stomach, keeping me frozen. I could feel the ropes slowly digging into my skin, making it harder to breath and to feel my feet and hands. The two men seemed in no rush to untie me or talk, they just stood across the room from me, in the shadows, watching me struggle against the ropes.
â€œWhy wonâ€™t you let me go? What have I done to you?â€ I cry out after who knows how long of silence.
There is no response but one of the men steps into the light. I can make out his features perfectly now. Heâ€™s over weight, with a round belly and stubby legs. His face is carved with the sign of years of work in the fields. He looks as if heâ€™s never laughed or smiled, his beard is white and unkept, but his hair is one of the dirtiest, muddy browns I had ever seen. His eyes had an evil twinkle in them that scared me. His left hand was clenched around something I couldnâ€™t see and his feet overly large.
He took another step towards me and smiled a smile that could only mean harm was coming and he would enjoy it.
â€œNothing darlinâ€™, youâ€™re just a prime catch. Helpless little girl in the village, doesnâ€™t look like anyoneâ€™ll miss ya.â€ He winks. HIs voice is scratchy and low. His words are choppy, as if he couldnâ€™t say more than one or two syllables.
â€œIâ€™m not a helpless little girl mister. Iâ€™m the princess, next in crown. My parents are the King and Queen.â€ I tell him, my voice shaking with worry.
â€œNo need ter lie, darlinâ€™. We know ther princess ainâ€™t here, she ran for it years ago, just like her broter.â€ He shakes his hand with laughter.
â€œNo! Thatâ€™s not it! I didnâ€™t run away sir! I had a condition and couldnâ€™t show myself for awhile. I had to stay in the castle! Please believe me!â€ On the verge of tears I try to reason with him, but how could I explain if I couldnâ€™t tell him why?
â€œDarlinâ€™ if yer the princess why would ya be in peasants robes?â€ Heâ€™s coming closer with each sentence he speaks to me. I can now see that he has a Iricth in his hand.
â€œBecause, sir, I am supposed to be gone! I could not simply show up in the market on a market day!â€ Iâ€™m crying now but the man doesnâ€™t seem to care. His companion is still in the background, never moving.
â€œNo oneâ€™d recognize such a lovely lassie such as yourself as the princess.â€ The mans voice comes. His is smooth as silk, unlike the mans whoâ€™s in front of me. It has a melodic rhythm to it. It seems familiar.
â€œBut I am! I had to stay in the castle for a couple years but Iâ€™m back now! Please.â€ I whisper the last part and Iâ€™m stuck with the Iricth. It burns the skin of my cheek, making me cry out in pain. This angers the man and he hits me again, this time with more force. The tears are coming freely and the salt in them is making my angered skin sting. â€œPlease sirs! I am the princess! My parents would pay much for my safe return! Please!â€ I try fighting against the ropes that bind me again but they only tighten.
â€œJannie?â€ The man in the shadows steps out. I gasp and start yelling at him.
â€œROBIN! How could you! Mom cried for WEEKS! And Dad sent out search parties for you for years! They were so torn up! And how do you think I felt? My older brother just leaving me behind. You used to tell me how no matter what weâ€™d always have each other, remember that! You file, repulsive, evil, little thing! You abandoned me! You abandoned our parents! Our Kingdom!â€ I spit each word out at him, trying to get out of the ropes, with a new force, so I can strangle him.
â€œJannie, I had to. You donâ€™t understand.â€ He whispers. He was never one for confrontation with me, anyone else he was fine with it. Heâ€™s slender but an excellent swordsman. His hair had grown out and he was taller with a little bit of stubble. Heâ€™s about three years older than me and always pointed it out.
â€œYour right, I donâ€™t understand how you could just leave with out telling me! Or anyone! I morned for you!â€ The other man was looking from the two of us clearly confused.
â€œIâ€™m sorry Jannie. Forgive me?â€ He walks closer to me and puts his hands on my shoulders. He left us when I was thirteen. No note, no goodbye. I cried for days but I was never allowed to show it and now he wants forgiveness!
â€œNo! Youâ€™re no brother of mine! Itâ€™s been five years! I-I-I...â€ I break down and start sobbing.
â€œJannie.â€ He goes to caress me face but I turn away.
â€œDonâ€™t touch me.â€ He pulls his hands and looks hurt.
â€œYOU THE PRINCE!â€ The man who hit me yells, pointing the Iritch at my... I mean at Robin. â€¨â€œYes you idiot! Now untie her!â€ He points to me. â€œMom and Dad will pay dearly for you sister, youâ€™re all apart of the plan.â€ His voice looses all kindness and he starts walking towards a tapestry. â€œNow Gust, remember the blind fold we donâ€™t want sissy here to know where we are. Youâ€™ll regret not listening to me Jannie, oh youâ€™ll regret it.â€ He walks away but his laughter, the way it was so hollow and lifeless, will haunt me forever.