Abandoning Children Script

Chapter One


"You should try… kissing it," Marielle suggested dubiously, staring at the large frog in my hands. The frog ribbeted rather loudly and just looked at me with moist black eyes the size of buttons. I looked around once again to make sure we were alone – I had no intention of letting Lady Hattie's daughter, Bridgette, catch me in this position. Marielle and I were sitting cross-legged on the shore of a small pond covered in lily pads and teeming with insects, and just so happened to be the one holding a frog close to my face ("It's so… slimy!" Marielle had shuddered, refusing to touch it).

The sun was sinking low in the sky, and that meant that most of the people in the castle were taking their late afternoon nap. Due to my role as only-princess-being-saved-for-a-rich-marriage, I was supposed to be taking the most naps of all… but I'd convinced Marielle to sneak out of my room and go to the walled gardens, my favorite place in the palace. It was a glorious summer afternoon, and the light streaming down through the trees lit the grass in patches and bounced off the water of the pond. Goldfish, their orange scales flashing golden in the light, swirled close to us as if wondering what we were preparing to do. The answer to that question was simple: Marielle and I wanted to see if we could prove that a princess kissing a frog would turn said frog into a prince.

My lady-in-waiting, Marielle – who adored the old tales and would have sold her soul to have her own library full of them – had wondered aloud to me that morning after breakfast if it were true. I had responded that I didn't know, and of course Marielle had spent the rest of the day concocting the perfect plan of discovering what would happen. I'd gone along with it, just thinking of sneaking out and not taking my nap; I'd been in a rebellious sort of mood. I just hadn't thought about having to actually kiss the frog.

"Marielle, I think this is just a frog," I replied, glancing once at her and then back at the amphibian in my hands. The frog croaked and stared at me. I could see no human understanding in those eyes – if he was a prince, then he was a prince of frogs and nothing else. "Marielle, I'm just going to – aeeek!" I shrieked as the frog in my hands gave a mighty leap and landed not in the water, but smack on top of Marielle's head.

Her gray-green eyes went wide, the blood drained out of her face, and she froze. "Marielle?" I whispered cautiously, and she still didn't move. Under different circumstances, I might have laughed – my (admittedly, rather vain) lady-in-waiting was sitting cross-legged in the dirt with a green frog perched stickily on top of her pale hair, not even daring to breathe. It seemed to me that even the winds had gone still.

And then, of course, it happened: the frog croaked.

The frog's croak was loud enough in itself, but it was Marielle's scream that shattered the silence. She leapt to her feet, jumping up and down and shrieking incoherently, all while the poor frog held on for dear life. I shot up as well, aware that Marielle's screams were echoing off the walls in the garden and that nobody was supposed to be in them. I added my voice to the din, frantically trying to shut Marielle up before the head gardener (an old man whose fierce brandishing of various garden tools was frightening) found out.

In desperation, I reached out a hand and frantically slapped the frog off of her head, causing it to fly through the air and land in the water with a final, resounding plop. The terrified frog soon scrambled underneath a lily pad, obviously horrified by his ordeal.

Marielle's shrieks grew quieter, and she was still, her muscles so tense she was nearly vibrating.

"Marielle, you could have gotten –" I started, trying and failing not to laugh, my shoulders shaking. "I mean, you could have –" There was a moment in which we were both laughing, and suddenly, my lady's-in-waiting eyes expanded to the size of saucers. She ducked her head instantly, her face still pink from the combination of laughter and embarrassment, and she dropped a quick curtsy and mumbled an apology. "Marielle, it's fine, you don't have to…" I began before realizing that Marielle was indeed not talking to me. Dread began to swirl in the pit of my stomach, and I turned around to find my mother… and her entourage of courtiers, ladies-in-waiting, footmen, and, of course, my father. As usual, he was standing at the back looking around amiably, but that didn't detract from my sudden panic.

My mother, Hyacinth, is the official Queen of Marquia, and she is overly concerned (in my opinion) about what princesses should or shouldn't do. High on her list of things princesses shouldn't do was actually befriending your lady-in-waiting, especially if either of her parents has ever been involved in something morally reprehensible. Since Marielle was the daughter of Sir Ian, who was an outspoken, borderline treasonous, man, I was supposed to have ignored her except for when I needed something. Unfortunately for Mother, Marielle had been my constant companion since I was seven and she was six. When I turned twelve and no longer needed a nurse, it was only natural that I would request that Marielle be my lady-in-waiting. It was traditional for me to have someone older than I, to show me the ways of the court, but I preferred having a friend to an instructor.

"Ariana Bethanne Kellyn Marie," Mother spoke in a high, frustrated tone, "what are you doing?"

Of course at that moment, I became aware of the fact that the entourage included Bridgette, and she was smirking at me in a way that let me know that if I told the truth I'd never hear the end of it.

"Um," I began, swallowing nervously and glancing at Marielle for support. She caught my eye for half a second and then shrugged before focusing her gaze intensely on the line of ants creeping across the sand. "We were –"

"Because I have been looking everywhere for you?" my mother cut me off, the scowl growing on her face. "Your dress is torn, you're in the courtyard shrieking – you did not, I assume, take your afternoon nap, did you?"

"Um. No, Mother, but –" I did not stop talking of my own free will – it was the shock of seeing a smile replace the frown on Mother's face that shut my trap. Glancing at my hem, I realized that the dress was torn; I'd need to change as soon as possible. But Mother looked happy about it…? I blinked, and swallowed hard. Why was she smiling like that?

"You see, my dear Ariana, I – your father – we have finally found you a husband." She had stumbled over the words for a moment, I noted. That wasn't so unusual. Mother was the one that who really ran things in the kingdom, and she was good at it – Father simply wasn't cut out to be a king. He was too kind, too softhearted, to actually do his job. Kind rulers were better than dictators, of course, but pushovers did not make for good kings.

"You… found me a husband?" I repeated dumbly, without really recognizing the impact of my words. And then it hit me, a bucket of rocks raining down on top of my head: I was getting married.

"Yes, I have! Your suitor is King Braxton of Libonessen, and he has informed us that he will be here by tomorrow! I've already alerted the cooks and servants. Ariana, what do you say to such a proposal?" Mother's voice rose with excitement, and the courtiers hummed their approval. I could see Father smiling, and the smile dropped clean off of Bridgette's face. Mother looked positively thrilled, and even Marielle was grinning widely at me, unabashed.

A marriage proposal like this was something I had looked forward to my whole life. I had been raised with the knowledge that someday, a prince or king was going to marry me. I would have to live somewhere else, away from my family. I would have to adjust to different customs and cultures, and maybe even learn another language. But it had never bothered me. I was a good princess; I followed most of my mother's rules, and I did what I was told. When the suitors began to come, I was about thirteen, and now that I was sixteen not much had changed. Father and Mother did not tell me about them unless it was serious, and a suitor coming to stay meant that this was almost definite.

All my life, I'd been preparing for this. I was ready. So what else could I say?

"Yes," I breathed, finally making the decision that would forever change my life.

Hey, all! I'm back, this time with a new story that I swear I will update frequently. It's nearly done as it is. I hope you enjoyed it, and please leave a review! I'd love to get some feedback on this piece so I know what to fix. Thanks for reading!