Once I slid into one more thin petticoat, I started to leave. I so did not want to be late for my appointment at the palace salon. But as I turned out of my door, something told me to stop. I turned around and saw my jeans, a tshirt, and boots lying on my bed. Quickly, I stuffed them into a large purse and carried it out the door. I didn't know why, but I felt like it was the right decision.
As I made my way down to the salon, I found a servant and handed him the purse. "Would you mind stashing this behind my throne for me, sir? There's some things in it I might need for the ceremony." He nodded, and without a backwards glance, carried the purse to the throne room.
Finally, I made it down to the salon, just as the clock turned to three.
"Hi Lauren! Whew, I made it!"
"Barely though. Your mom wouldn't like that. So, how's my favorite queen-to-be?"
"Better than ever, actually! You would not believe how many layers I have on under this dress, though. "
"Holy cow, I bet."
Before I go any farther, let me tell you about Lauren. She's one of the newer members of the salon staff, but she's totally the best person on there. She just got out of college, so she's really young, and she's - well, she's pretty much my best friend in the palace.
"Alrighy, your mom wants me to make you look like a princess. Do you think you could sit on the stool in all that fluff, orrrr...?"
"Erm, I think I'll just sit on the floor."
"So are you excited?'
I hadn't really thought about it much up to that point, to be honest. Mostly I had thought about the injustice of it all.
"Yeah, I guess. All it's going to mean is even more lessons and responsibilities, but the tournament should be fun, and I do really love this dress."
"Yeah, speaking of that dress, isn't it different than one you tired on at your fitting? I came by to see you for a second, and I remember some green velvet thing."
"Yeah, it's so strange... when I got dressed, this pink one was in the dress box..."
As I talked to Lauren, my feelings eased, and I just enjoyed myself. She worked on my hair, makeup, and nails, the whole time chattering on about a new website she had discovered and the adorable clothes it carried. Finally, she was finished.
"Ok, are you ready to see? Three, two, one...."
I looked totally different. My cheeks were rosy pink, and my eyelashes felt softer. Lauren had swept my hair off my shoulders into an elegant bun and added my pearl tiara.
"Do you like it?"
"Yeah, I do! I look like....like a princess."
I turned to go.
"Bye Lauren! Thanks!"
"Wait, Ali. I have something for you."
She pushed a silver ring over to me and onto my finger. "Good luck," she whisprered.
And then, for the first time in fourteen years, I felt loved.