To Tease

Hello?

Hello?

Helloooooooooooo?

Just great! Well, I guess I'll just have to tell the story. My name is Heather and I live with a widower and his son, an ex-princess, and a young man with too many animals. It's been this way for about six years now. We all lost our family ties after an encounter with a giant and decided to all live together. It seemed great at first. Jack was kind enough to help Arthur built us a house and a bakery. There was even enough wood left over for Jack to build himself a small animal pen.

But, now that we have all grown up quite a bit...well, I'm just not so sure if it's working out anymore. Arthur always yells at Jack for spending our money on animal feed. Jack continues to spend all of our money anyway. Patrick is perfectly fine with not knowing who is mother is, but his father smothers him with her stupid, old shawl nonetheless. I am a woman now and would no longer need to live here if only some one would court me. And Cindy...well...she's just been really grouchy lately.

"HEATHER! I am NOT grouchy! Put Patrick down for his nap this instant!"

"What ever you say, Cindy"

"That's Cinderella, young lady!"

What? I'm not normally this mean, I promise you! But Heather has just been so unbearable recently! Without a proper father to raise her and put her in her place, she lived a spoiled life. And now...oh...well now she's old enough to marry...and boy does she know it. There is no more 'Miss Cinderella' or 'Mr. Baker'. Oh, and poor Arthur, Heather is definitely not a great role model for little Patrick. Why, I bet she is filling his head with all sorts of nonsense while she is putting him down for his nap.

"I do not want to go to the wedding, Heather! There will be no fun and games!" I overheard Patrick say.

"I know, Patrick. I do not wish to go either. But your cousins will be there and you can play with them the whole time. I only have Jack to talk to, and he's as dumb as bricks." Heather told him.

"HEATHER!" I shouted. "Do not say those kinds of things around Patrick! Leave this room immediately!"

I watched as Heather rolled her eyes at me and stood up to leave the room, "Have a nice nap, little one." No doubt Heather had gotten that term of endearment from Arthur. He had always called her 'little one' whenever he encountered her in the woods. But even I will admit that she is not quite so little anymore. It's quite a good thing that Arthur refused to bake her anymore sweets or she would be so fa-

"THAT DOES IT CINDERELLA!"

Heather launched herself at me and I fell to the floor. I didn't feel the need to protect myself too much. I knew she didn't have any actual intentions of hurting me. If she did, she would have surely pulled out her knife that her grandmother gave her before she was killed by the giant.

"Well if you are going to bring up the past, why don't I tell the story?" I, Heather, screamed as I pinned the woman who was once pretty enough to be a princess but now so worn out that a poor baker wouldn't even wed her to the floor.

"I told you! I have no desire to marry Arthur!" Cinderella yelled at me. She could not free herself from my great strength. However, she could kick over a potted plant. The breaking of the pot is probably what signaled the aforementioned baker to run upstairs from the bakery.

"What is going on up here?" He questioned. He was covered in flour and sweat. Business must have been pretty good before Miss I'm-in-charge-while-Arthur-is-working and I got into a fight.

"Heather, that's enough! I'm telling the story for the rest of the evening." I hated scolding them. I knew they were old enough to take care of themselves. But this is my house so they shall live under my rules. "Heather, you are to clean up this mess and stay quiet until we are ready to leave. Cinderella, you continue to do the packing and take care of the child. I have many more orders to fill before dusk and I will not be interrupted again, do you hear me?"

"Of course, Arthur." Cinderella said to me and then scurried away to finish the packing.

"Yes sir." Heather said as she grabbed a dustpan and a broom from the closet to clean up the soil that spilled all over the floor.

I didn't like it when Heather called me 'sir', and I knew she didn't like it either. She preferred to think of us as equals, not as a father and daughter. I don't exactly remember when she made the transition from 'Mr. Baker' to 'Arthur', but it had not been very long.

"Heather don't look at me like that. You did not have to attack Cinderella and she has enough on her plate getting us all ready for the wedding. You can survive sweeping up some spilled dirt." I said sternly.

She was quiet.

"Heather, why are you ignoring me?"

"You forbid me to talk for the rest of the evening, sir."

"You know I didn't mean it like that."

She still remained quiet.

"I am sorry, little one."

Heather apparently didn't like that. "My name is Heather and I am no longer a little one."

"I apologize again, Heather. If you would please ready the wagon for travel once you are done sweeping it would be of great help to myself and Cinderella. I too have many things to attend to."

Heather whipped her head up from her work. "Why can't Jack do it?"

I sighed and wiped my hands off on my apron. "The farmer from the dell's cow is sick again. He is going to pay Jack a healthy sum if he nurses her back to health. We could use the money, you know that."

"And you know that Jack will just spend it on his animals like always!"

"No, no, we agreed to split the money right down the middle; 70/30." I smiled at Heather and gave her a wink. She laughed and went back to her chores and I returned to my baking. Of course the day before the big wedding my bakery would be filled with costumers. Things were never this hard when I had...a baking assistant. Perhaps it would be time to teach my son the family trade soon...

( ~/\~ )

"Wake up everybody, it's dawn! We must change into our party clothes!" I had been at the reigns for hours. Next trip I must remember to let Jack take the second shift so I can sleep.

Jack was the first to wake up. "Why couldn't they have just had the wedding at the castle? It's so much closer!"

"Because Jack," Cinderella began with a small yawn. "Stewart is not actual royalty. Yes, Drisella and he will continue to live in the castle once their honeymoon is over, but not right now. He is only the princes' steward."

"Jack will you please get dressed quickly and take the reigns so I can rest my eyes for a few minutes?" I mumbled.

"Of course, Arthur." Jack clumsily put on the dress clothes that Cinderella had sewn for all of us. He was rocking the wagon every which way and woke up my son, Patrick.

"Jack knock it off!" I whispered fiercely.

"Sorry, Arthur." Jack slid into the seat next to me and I crawled into the back of the wagon. Patrick was rubbing his eyes tiredly.

"Come here, son." I said as I outstretched my arms. He stumbled over and rest his head on my chest. I leaned back against the wooden frame of the wagon and rocked him slowly. He would be back asleep before too long, as would I.

When I opened my eyes again Cinderella was wearing a modest, yellow frock. She took Patrick from my arms and began to coax him awake. "Patrick, it's time to get dressed." She cooed.

I blinked my eyes many times and searched around the wagon for my outfit. My tunic and bottoms were in the corner where I had put them. But were was my jacket? Cinderella was nice enough to sew me a jacket to put an extra flare in my dress clothes. But where was it? "Ah! Here it is!" I saw it on the very edge of the wagon. I pulled it up by the sleeve only to find Heather sleeping beneath it.

I was shocked for a second to see her laying there. I suppose the morning was pretty quiet, so it figured she was still sleeping. I knelt down near her face. "Heather...Heather..." I spoke softly.

There was still no response.

I placed my hand gently on her shoulder and nudged her. "Heather, wake up."

She then woke up. Her big, brown eyes took in all the light and her cheeks turned a little pink. "I-I'm sorry, Arthur. I got a little cold."

"It's perfectly fine, little one." It only felt right to tease her.

She scoffed at me and turned around to put on her own frock. I turned around too so as not to be rude. Hopefully the red dress that Cinderella made for her would fit her. I had a feeling she was sneaking sweets...

"Shut up, Arthur!" She turned around at the same time I had. And the dress did fit her quite nicely. She was a fine looking young woman, maybe some one at the wedding would notice and she would get a caller.

"That's better."

Well, hopefully you have realized that all narration is done by the actual characters. And because of that, all narration can be heard by any character in earshot. I know it may seem confusing, but I will try to make it as understandable as possible. It's not my fault that the Witch tried to give the narrator to the giant.

├Ępo