Evermore

11 Sep

By Elaina Weakliem
7th Grade

Call her Ever. That’s not her real name, but it is a name that was given to her. This is a story about that name. Ever.

PART I
June 21st, 1672

Ever was born alone. It was a summer night with a brisk wind. The moon was just rising, at 9:27 in the night. The longest day of the year and the most important for a girl of 19. She was Ever’s mother.

Her mother looked down into the baby’s big blue eyes, and left her with a parting gift. The velvet blanket in which the baby was swaddled was all she was allowed to give. The mother let out a heartbroken sob and fled through the stalks of corn in which they were immersed. This particular sob, one of many, was all it took for that baby, destined to die alone, to survive.

A farmer named Ben heard the sob, ripping the stillness of the night. He knew he couldn’t leave her to die during the night so instead he took her home to his wife, Joan.

“What do we do with her?” asked Ben, handing the baby over to Joan.

“We could keep her, but we can barely afford our own meals,” Joan replied.

Baby Ever smiled and gurgled.

She shouldn’t be smiling for nearly 2 more months, Joan realized with a start. That’s quite unusual.

But her thoughts were interrupted by Ben, who said suddenly, “Why look at the blanket! What’s this?”

In the end, they decided to keep Ever for the night, only to deliver her to the orphanage the next morning.

14 Years later…

Ever ran through the waist-length grass alongside her mother and father, who trotted on two horses, one white with a black star, one a pretty roan. After five minutes, Ever stopped and stretched out her arms to Joan, who lifted Ever up behind her. Ever placed her flushed cheek on her mother’s scratchy brown dress, and closed her eyes, watching the reds and oranges dance behind her eyelids. The rapid ‘clip-clop, clip-clop’ of the horses’ hooves soothed her pounding heart.

Half an hour later, Ever sat at their kitchen table, poking at her bread and cheese. She took a few nibbles before she was greeted by sudden fatigue.

“Father, Mother, I think that I’ll go to bed now,” Ever said quietly.

Joan gave Ben a questioning look, and turned back to Ever. “Are you feeling all right dear?” she asked, concern etched on her face.

“Yes mother, I am just a bit tired from all the exertion,” Ever said quietly.

It was true, they had spent the whole day enjoying themselves. They had ridden on the horses, drunk tea with the neighbors, and gone to the library three hours away to get several books. No sooner had Ever disappeared into the loft where she slept than the wind began to howl fiercely. This sent Ben out of the room to check that all of the shutters were closed firmly. So loud was the noise that no one noticed when the additional banging of a hammer was added to the din. At the door was a page, with the royal crest printed on his cloak. His chin-length black hair whipped in the wind, and his green eyes flashed. His name was Jonathan, and he was nailing a notice to the door of the cottage.

Finally Joan heard the pounding of the hammer on their door, and opened it right as Jonathan raised his hammer to strike again. She screamed and slammed the door in his face. The scream brought Ever and Ben running.

“Th-there’s a b-boy outside! He’s come to attack us!” Joan wailed.

“What mama? Why?” Ever asked, rubbing the sleep out of her blue eyes.

“Get behind me,” Ben said quietly. He pulled his bow and quiver of arrows from their hooks above the door, and held them at ready. “On three, Ever, open the door.”

Ever snuck behind the door and gripped the handle.

“One, Two, THREE!”

The door was ripped open to reveal a shell-shocked Jonathan, who ran off into the night at the sight of the loaded bow. Before anyone could recover from the fright, he was gone. Joan tried to yell after him, but the only reply was the roar of the wind. Ever was about to close the door, when they saw the notice nailed to the front.

Ben tore it off and began to read. “Princess Nadia Andromeda Garnet of New Wales is missing. Last seen on the day she was born, fourteen years ago. Please notify the King’s Guard by your local courier service if you might know the location of the missing princess. Signed, the King.” Ben had reached the end of the parchment, and he frowned.

Ever watched her parents’ weathered faces turn pale. Joan’s sparkling brown eyes lost their shine.

“Is it time?” she whispered heartbrokenly.

Ben gave a small nod, and cleared his throat. “Ever, fourteen years ago, I was watching the cabbages through the night because rabbits were a problem back then. Out of the blue, I heard a rustling noise in my cornfield.” He paused, seeking reassurance in his wife’s eyes. “I ran through the corn. I paused because I thought that I heard something. I listened. I heard a gurgle coming from below me. I aimed the gun at the ground. And then I saw a baby, wrapped in velvet.” Here he paused again, thought for a moment and continued with his tale. “I took the baby home. Your… mother and I wanted to give it a good home, but we couldn’t. And we were too selfish to give it back to its real parents. And there were…other reasons, reasons that you will learn when you are old enough to really comprehend. So we agreed to give the baby away to the orphanage the following morning. But, as I said, we were too selfish. The reason I am telling you this now, the reason I am telling you at all, is because that baby was you.”

Ever knew it. She was the only blonde-haired blue-eyed person in the family. Still, her stomach felt as though it had been washed, scrubbed, and hung out to dry. She smelled the once comforting scent of horses. Now it seemed vulgar. But there is something else…the message! she thought. Why did they tell her at all if they were never planning to?

“What else aren’t you telling me? What other lies have you contrived?” Ever said, deadly calm.

Her mother sniffed. “Th-there w-w-was a r-r-r-royal crest!” she wailed.

Ben had to muster his calmest expression. I must be strong, Ben thought. For Joan and my daughter…Ever. “The royal crest was embroidered on the velvet blanket.” Ben struggled to keep the quiver out of his voice. He watched his wife’s lip tremble, and then he fixed his eyes on a knot in the wood. Anywhere but Ever’s face. So intent was he upon this task, that he didn’t notice his daughter leave the room, heading back to her room. Where she had been before it had all fallen apart.

Ever lay on her scratchy straw mattress. She pulled the burlap blanket over her head, and let the questions take over her brain. What am I going to do? Where will I go? Do I want to meet my real mother? What about the king? Does he love me already? Does he want to know who I am? Do I want to know who I am? Thoughts plagued her overexerted brain until the sounds of the storm faded, and exhaustion drove her into a light sleep.

She dreamed that the king stood on Joan’s shoulders. They stood on a flat plain while Ever jolted on the waves of a lake. She looked down to see that she was standing on a huge checkerboard. A shark with the head of the queen circled her slowly. Then, she saw a clam opening and shutting repeatedly with a “snap, snap, snap.” Then she realized that the noise wasn’t in her dream, it was real! She leapt from her bed to find that the ‘clam’ was actually horse hooves on the cobblestone path leading away from their cottage. Her first thought was, The Queen! Wait, that can’t be right. Instead, she saw her father galloping away on Misty, her mother’s horse. Phew! He’s gone, she thought. One less person to face. She flopped down on her bed and shut her eyes again.

“BANG! CRASH!” Ever awoke 7 hours later to the loud sound of breaking china. She ran down the stairs, slipped on a bar of soap, and flew into her mother. They crashed into the table and Ever’s head hit the floor. Everything went black.

PART II

“Ever! Ever honey, can you here me? Please wake up! The queen will be here soon!”

Ever’s eyes snapped open. “Whatever do you mean Mother? The Queen is coming?” Ever asked, looking flustered.

“OH! Did I say the queen was coming? Why on earth would the queen be coming? I mean, it’s not like your father invited her to tea or anything!” Joan replied hurriedly, looking like she wanted to melt through the floor. She waved a feather duster as if to punctuate her outburst. Ever examined the over-polished floor, table, and chairs.

“Well then, why are you cleaning the kitchen from floor to ceiling? You’re a terrible liar, Mother.” Ever glared.

Joan turned the color of beets just after they’ve been harvested. “Well, maybe your father did mention having the Queen and King over for a while but…” Joan trailed off.

Ever felt the blood rush to her face. The anger beat in her chest, stronger than the thump of her heart. “WHY IS IT THAT YOU NEVER TELL ME ANYTHING?” Ever screamed.

She turned and ran through the door out onto the wet grass and the slick street. She ran until she was out of sight from the house and in the midst of Ben’s potato field. I’ll steal some potatoes, they are almost ripe. I’ll run until I collapse. I will live in the orphanage two days away, she thought. She bent down and dug up a patch of soil next to one of the potato plants. This would be easier with a shovel, she thought.

Two hours later, Ever was still picking potatoes. A carriage with a well oiled axle glided silently down the bumpy road.

Ever was lost in her own thoughts when a familiar voice made her jump. “Ever, why exactly are you picking unripe potatoes in my field?” Ben asked.

“What? How…who?” Ever sputtered. Then she noticed a particularly elegant ornament on the carriage door. The royal crest.

Ever had a hazy memory of what happened next. She stumbled, as if in a trance, into Ben’s waiting arms. She was hoisted into the carriage and plopped onto a seat. There was her father, tall and handsome, with a concerned expression at the condition of the princess. Her eyes traveled slowly to her left, where her mother, green eyes filled with love, could not speak, but enveloped her in a gentle hug, like Ever had never experienced before. She smelled like lilac and gardenia. Her long, thick golden braid curled into the seat next to her.

The King cleared his throat. “There is a time for introductions, and a time for saying nothing. Now is the time to speak up. Princess, I am King George Cornelius, the Twenty-third ruler of New Wales, the supreme reigning monarch of this fine country.”

Everyone was surprised when the Queen spoke for the first time in apparently the whole carriage ride. “I am Queen Gloria Ava Annemarie,” she said, looking at Ever. “And I hope you’ll forgive me for my mistake. My sister, Hanna, told me that if I claimed you the King’s heir, she would kill you in front of me. I was afraid, so under her order did I come out here on the night you were born.” She began to weep silently, so the King continued her story.

“Last year the aforesaid sister died—”

“And I’m glad!” burst in the queen with such ferocity that Ben jumped in his seat.

The king continued the tale. “Last year the aforesaid sister died of pneumonia, leaving us free to publicize the search for you. Hanna had an army of assassins and magical creatures, the head of which was a powerful sorcerer. We could not wage war without magic of our own. We were afraid that you and the country would both be crushed.”

Ever stared at him in silence. So that’s why they left me, she thought.

“Whoa!” The driver yelled to the horses. “Your Majesties, Lord Ben, and Princess Nadia Andromeda, you have arrived at your royal destination.”

Ever knew that he wasn’t sure if this was the place, but one look out the window confirmed that not only was this the right place, but Joan had completely outdone herself. The poor woman greeted them at the gate. She curtsied so low she fell over, and Ben and the King had to help her up. Soon, they sat at the over-polished table, talking, and trying not to slide off of their shining chairs. Ever was thinking: What will I do? Where will I stay? She was so lost in thought that she scarcely noticed when all the heads turned to her, even that of the driver, who was eating bread by the pound.

Her heart raced. Her head spun. Her vision swam. But she knew what she would do. “I will live here on the farm the entire year except the months of June and July, when I will move to the castle. When I come of age, I will only visit my adopted parents once a year. That is all.”

“Lovely plan, Princess Nadia Androm—”

Ben was cut off by Ever. “No titles. Just Ever.”

Evermore.

*****************************************************************************************

Epilogue

Now she has another name. But you can still call her Ever. Because that’s her name.

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