“The sound of children’s laughter and shouts filled her ears as she gazed out the window. She had never before laughed as those children did almost daily.”
Chapter One: A Vision
Sometimes, Adeline wished she could die.
She contemplated this often, wondering how or when it would finally happen. Now, she wasn’t about to take her own life, having been raised with the idea that it was immoral and she’d plummet straight to hell immediately. She just wished that it would happen naturally or someone would finally take notice of her anguish and pierce an arrow straight through her heart.
She was thinking about this one day as she sat by the windowsill holding a thick, worn out book in her hands. She had read this book a hundred times before and now only held it for its comfort and security. The sound of children’s laughter and shouts filled her ears as she gazed out the window. She had never before laughed as those children did almost daily.
Her thoughts were interrupted when an angry-looking woman entered the room. Her red, burnt skin was peeling, her tangled hair was nested on top of her head, and smoke was practically fuming from both her nose and ears. Her bloodshot eyes found Adeline, and she opened her mouth, revealing a set of yellow, rotting teeth.
“Adeline! You good-for-nothing scum! What are you doing sitting around, you lazy pig? The stairs need to be washed and the toilets need to be scrubbed! Come on, get up and get to work!”
Adeline was used to her shrill screeches and only sighed and replaced her book with a bucket of water and soap. She went out to the stairs and began to scrub. She had almost completed this task when a pair of muddy girls ran up the stairs, the mud on their boots erasing Adeline’s hours of hard work.
“BEATRICE! THERESA! WHAT DID I TELL YOU ABOUT RUNNING UP THE STAIRS WITH YOUR BOOTS ON?” Adeline called up to the girls.
The 4 and 6 year-old girls sheepishly walked out of their room, each trying to cower behind the other.
“We’re sorry, Addy,” Beatrice said softly. “We just forgot.”
Theresa, being the older one, tried to take most of the responsibility. “It’s my fault, Addy, I made her too excited.”
Adeline only sighed and gave them a reassuring smile. “It’s all right, girls, just try not to do it again. Now go take those boots off before Madame Lestrange catches you.”
The girls gave her wide, toothless grins and rushed off to their room.
After Adeline finished her chores, Madame Lestrange walked up to her and shoved a brown basket and coins in her face. “Go buy me five loaves of bread. Hurry up, before all the good ones are sold. You either come back with good bread or don’t bother washing up for supper at all.”
Adeline only rolled her eyes and walked towards the market.
She often enjoyed going to the market and greeting people. It was a very busy place, filled with different and exciting tastes and smells. She knew most of the vendors and they often sneakily gave her samples or extra loaves of bread. She went most days due to being sent by the orphanage. She lived in an orphanage called ‘Lestrange Home for Girls’ in a small town called Fauxburg.
“Bonjour, Adeline!” The baker exclaimed when she walked into the bakery.
“Bonjour, Monsieur Gavroche! Can I have five loaves of bread, please?” She handed him three bronze coins.
“You got it!” He filled a bag with the five loaves of bread, along with a small, pink pastry for her.
“Thank you, kind sir!” She waved her goodbye and was just about to exit the shop when a familiar aroma filled her nose. It was a sweet but sticky smell and had a resemblance to the cookies Madame Lestrange ‘secretly’ ate in her room.
This was different, though. This was different because along with this smell came a vision. Adeline suddenly pictured something in her brain. It was a… woman. A woman with long, brown, wavy hair just like hers. Her eyes were a crystal blue and her teeth were perfectly white and straight. She held a small, brown book in her hands and seemed to be laughing about something. Freckles faintly dotted her face and her dimples creased as her smile widened. This woman was beautiful. Suddenly, the woman’s mouth shaped like an O and she ran to another room. She came back holding a tray of pink and white cookies and set them on the table. That’s where the vision ended.
Adeline had no idea who this woman was.
She spent the rest of the walk to the orphanage thinking about it. Surely, it must be a memory if it’s in my brain, she thought to herself. But how? I have no idea who this woman is. I’ve never seen her before in my life. Could it have been… my mother?
Truth be told, Adeline had no idea who her family was. Madame Lestrange told her she was left at the doorstep of the orphanage by a hooded woman when she was 18 months old. She never wondered what her parents were like or fantasized them coming back into her life. She decided a long time ago that it was a waste of time to think back on the people who had abandoned her and clearly didn’t want her in their lives.
But still, this vision brought out her curiosity and she wondered if she had any more of these visions stored inside her brain. The woman seemed so free, so happy. So then why’d she give me away?
She was brought back to reality when she opened the orphanage door only to see Madame Lestrange shouting at a very frightened Beatrice.
“WHAT DID I TELL YOU ABOUT HAVING THIS DOLL?” She held up a small and dirty doll that had very little hair and was missing an eye.
“Y-you told me t-throw it a-away.” Beatrice whimpered.
“That’s right! And what did you do? You held onto it! So now, it has to go into the flames!” She was about to toss the doll into the fireplace when a small, skinny hand grabbed her big, meaty arm.
“DON’T BURN IT!” Adeline tugged at the doll and tried to pull it from the woman’s hands. “GIVE! IT! BACK!”
“Let go of me, you little wench!” Madame Lestrange flung Adeline to the floor and tossed the doll into the burning flames. “No supper for the both of you! Now go to your room and stay silent!”
Adeline carried Beatrice up the stairs as she sobbed into her shoulder. She laid her down in her bed and stroked her hair as she continued to weep. Theresa noticed what was going on and laid down next to Beatrice and cradled her in her arms.
“She… she b-burned Lally!” She cried. “She burned her!”
“Shh, shh,” Addy whispered, “She’ll get what she deserves.”
She pulled out the pink cookie the baker gave her from her pocket and the little girls’ eyes widened. She pulled it apart and shared the pieces with the girls.
“Don’t make any noise or you’ll wake everyone up.” She motioned towards the rest of the orphan girls sleeping in their little cots.
Beatrice sniffled and finished the rest of her cookie piece. “Night, night Addy,” Both of the girls said.
“Good night, Betty. Good night, Tessie.”
Beatrice and Theresa fell asleep at once, their faces peaceful and innocent. Adeline, on the other hand, could not fall asleep. She lay awake all night thinking of a better life. An actual life. Her thoughts kept on coming back to the woman in her vision. Who are you?
. . .
One month later, Adeline sat against the windowsill and gazed at the laughing children once again. She was all alone now. Just a week ago, a loving and wonderful couple came to adopt children and fell in love with Beatrice and Theresa immediately. They were adopted and taken into their home. She looked down at the paper dolls they had given her as a farewell gift. Her heart ached, but she was glad the girls had a better future ahead of them. She didn’t cry. She never did.
Her eyes tore away from the children and rested on the library right next door. Madame Lestrange was away at another town for some errands and wouldn’t be back until nightfall. She decided to go for it.
Five minutes later, she took a step into the quiet and cool library. It was empty, except for a man scribbling furiously behind a desk and the librarian putting a set of books in their places. She inhaled deeply and sighed. She loved the way books smelled. Old, but full of life.
Adeline loved to read. An old librarian, Monsieur Friar, had taught her how to read when she would sneak into the library as a little girl. Monsieur Friar had been like a father figure to her, but died of a stroke three years ago,
Madame Lestrange forbade them from reading, but Adeline secretly taught the girls in the orphanage how to read. They all loved to read and often gushed over how rebellious they felt doing it. Adeline would only laugh and flip the page of her book. Reading was precious to her. It sucked her out of her reality and took her to entirely different worlds. She battled with dragons, saved the princess, bested the knight, built a treehouse, etc. She felt free when she read. She felt alive and like a completely different person. She could pretend that she had a completely different life and was actually beautiful, unlike the raggedy orphan she was, with boring, long brown hair and terrifying grey eyes. She pretended she had beautiful ball gowns instead of the rags she actually wore.
She walked down the long aisles filled with more books than she could ever count and gazed at them in wonder. She was walking through an old abandoned aisle when she saw a book from the corner of her eye. It looked brand-new and shiny, unlike the rest of the old and dusty books that filled up the library. It had strange, intricate designs on it, like vine branches intertwining and trying to beat each other to the top. She couldn’t help but open it and smell it. It smelled brand-new and fresh. She flipped the pages. This book was a factual one and contained the stories and facts of royal families from all over the world. Addy usually stayed away from nonfiction and factual books and would rather spend her time on fictional, adventurous books. A little disappointed, she was about to put the book back in its place when it flipped to a page and Addy stopped cold.
It was the woman from her vision.
She stared at the picture of the woman in her satin robes and the jeweled crown above her head. Same wavy hair. Same wide, lopsided smile. Same crystal blue eyes.
Adeline gaped at it like a fish and scanned the page for more facts on this woman.
Queen Eponine of Northreign:
Queen Eponine was born in a small village in poverty and lived with her parents and 8 other siblings. When she was 15, Prince Arren stopped by her village and the two of them instantly fell in love. He took her to live with him in his palace at Northreign as his queen. The two continue to reign happily. There were rumours of a child, but nothing is known about their offspring. They keep to themselves when it comes to that matter.
Adeline dropped the book and the echo resounded with a large thud.
“SHH!” The librarian popped out of nowhere and put a finger to his lips. He was an old short man with a bald spot on his head and white hair puffed out on either side of it. His nose was sharp and pointy and his skin was wrinkly and spotted. He frowned at Adeline and shushed her once more.
“I’m sorry, Monsieur LeFray, pardon me.” Adeline hastily picked up the book.
“Quiet, girl, people are trying to focus.” He motioned towards the empty library. Not a single soul could be seen.
“Uh, right. Sorry.”
Monsieur LeFray began to walk away before he turned around and gave Addy a large smirk. “You know, Northreign is only miles west of here if you’re interested in going, Princess.”
Adeline’s head snapped towards the man. “What?”
He winked at her and walked away.
“What? Hey! Wait!” She shoved the book into her sack and rushed to catch up with the man, but he was suddenly nowhere to be found. Abigail stared off into the direction he came from. An idea began to form inside her head.