The mauve chiffon of my night-gown glides across the hallway as I pick up my pace. An impending amount of self-consciousness looms over me just like the chandelier hanging on the ceiling. Even with no curious eyes probing my demeanour at this dead of the night, it comes crashing down on me.
Being the only heir to one of the wealthiest kingdoms of a country and trying to avoid the perpetual spotlight doesn't ever go hand in hand. Yet, I still manage to find some fleeting moments of solitude like tonight.
The royal gallery comes to sight and I cross the threshold, trying to get a hold of my quivering heart. There it is, my mother's portrait. The delicate brush strokes somehow capture the entirety of her aura. High cheekbones and cherry red lips showing nothing short of regality. You can tell she knew what she was doing, a Queen before a mother. Before anything.
The coronation is tomorrow, the royal guards are strictly patrolling the Eastern Wing of the palace. However, the Western Wing where I'm standing is desolate and quiet. Little do they know, the princess they're supposedly guarding has enough knowledge of the secret passageways in this palace. It didn't take me long to escape them, right under their noses.
Out of habit, my fingers stroke my turquoise quartz necklace. Its intricate carvings digging beneath my fingertips. Not a burdensome heirloom, rather a gift. It's been the only constant thing in my life since the last eight years when my mother gifted it to me on my tenth birthday. It was one of those rare moments when she finally let her guard down. The memory flashes in my mind, so vivid I almost think it was just yesterday.
"You will be a great ruler one day," my mother's usually brisk voice turned to an almost whisper. But I can still feel the determination of the words after all these years. Some other voices make space inside my head, ringing with contradiction to my mother's forecast about my future.
"She will be a disgrace to her mother's rule."
"You can't rule a kingdom by shying away like a meerkat."
"Get her married to a chivalrous prince of a stronger kingdom. Only then she will be useful."
Teardrops cling to my cheeks as the voices grow louder and it takes everything in me to muffle a heart-wrenching scream. Then something speaks to me like never before.
"You don't need any validation from them."
It dawns on me that it's my own voice.
"Chances to bring changes are right in front of you," it continues. An epiphany. "You don't need any knight in shining armour to rescue you. You will always have yourself."
Probably for the first time in my life, I raise my head with fortitude, resolution coursing through me like never before.
The writer is 10th grade student at Mohammadpur Preparatory School and College