Marigold pushed the blankets off herself, careful not to make a sound. Slowly, she sat up in bed and put her bare feet on the rough wooden floor. Then she stood, wincing as the floorboard creaked under her weight. She froze, and her heart pounded as she waited to see if the sound had woken her stepsister sleeping in the bed next to hers.
Nothing. All Marigold heard was the hooting of an owl and the sound of the wind rustling the trees outside. Her stepsister, Saffron, hadn’t stirred.
Relaxing, Marigold dressed clumsily in the darkness and groped under her bed until she found the bag she’d packed earlier in the day. Food, water, matches, rope—she hoped she hadn’t forgotten anything, but she didn’t have the first clue what was needed to rescue a prince from an evil wizard. Probably, she’d fail no matter she brought.
But she had to try. She couldn’t forget him and move on, no matter what anyone else said.
She crept to the window and was about to climb out when she heard the squeak of a mattress. “What do you think you’re doing?”
Tensing, Marigold bit back a curse. She’d have given anything to avoid this. Now, Saffron would wake Marigold’s father and stepmother, and they wouldn’t let Marigold leave. They’d tie her up, if that’s what it took. Rescuing the prince was a job for trained knights, they’d say, not a candlemaker’s daughter. But none of the knights the king had sent had returned, and now the brave men fled the country rather than accept the death sentence of facing the wizard.
Marigold squeezed shut her eyes, then took a deep breath and turned around. “I’m going to save the prince. I have to—I—I love him.”
And he loves me, she didn’t say aloud, not wanting to rub in her stepsister’s face that the prince had chosen Marigold over her.
Marigold held her breath and waited for a response, getting ready to jump out the window and run for it if Saffron shouted an alarm. With enough of a head start, Marigold could hopefully make it into the woods before anyone caught her.
Saffron lit a candle, and Marigold cringed. By the time her eyes adjusted to the light, she saw that her stepsister had pulled out her own packed bag from under her bed. “And I love you,” Saffron said, “So I’m not letting you run off to face an evil wizard by yourself, understand? Did you even pack a weapon?”
Saffron tutted as she swung her pack onto her back and reached under her bed again—to pull out an axe. “Don’t worry. I’m prepared.”
Marigold smiled, and some of the cold fear in her chest thawed. “Thank you.”
Saffron, the sister of her heart if not by blood, returned the smile as she put on her boots. “You can thank me after the wizard’s beaten. Now let’s get going.”
I’ve had this story sitting on my computer for a while now. Since I’ve been stuck at home on the computer for weeks, I’ve messed up my wrist a bit and didn’t want to type a new 500-word blog post this week, so this seemed like the perfect time to share it. Hope you enjoyed. 🙂