Tick-Tock Promise

Each soft tick of the bronze automaton’s clockwork heart echoed in the room. Eve watched as the mechanical maid tossed another log into the fireplace. The orange flames hissed and crackled in protest.

“I’m not going, Mother. You may nag all you like, but you won’t change my mind.” Eve sat at the foot of her bed, arms cross over her chest, and refused to so much as glance at the dress her mother held.

“Evelyn, it’s the Christmas Ball. What would everyone think if our daughter refused to present herself?” Eve’s mother, Lady Graylake, laid the emerald gown on the bed. “I ordered this dress special for tonight.”

“Then perhaps you should wear the satin monstrosity.” Eve stormed past her mother and stood at the frost covered window. The sun eased itself below the horizon, and cast a warm red glow over the snow-covered garden below. It seemed to Eve that the whole world should be cover in white. Surely, everyone felt the effects of this ceaseless winter. The coldness, which held Eve’s heart in an icy grasp, could not be affecting her alone.

“Duke Huntsworth and his wife are on their way. Lord Edwin will expect to see you.” Her mother pleaded.

Eve spun around and her auburn locks flew over her shoulders. “That is exactly why I refuse to attend!” Fury built inside her until it leaked from her eyes and her body trembled.

“Darling, don’t cry.” Her mother’s attempt to sooth only angered Eve more.

“I’m not crying!” Her voice was shrill and caught on a sob. She rubbed the back of her hand over her cheek. “I can’t believe you and father went behind my back to set up a betrothal. I hardly even know Lord Edwin.”

“That’s not true. Remember I asked what you thought of him last week. You said--”

“That was before I knew you’d planned to marry me off to him.” Another angry tear escaped. “Evelyn--” A knock on the door interrupted her mother. “Come in.”

Letty, the young chambermaid poked her head into the room.

“Begging your pardon, Ma’am. The first carriage just arrived.”

“All right.” Lady Graylake sighed. “What will it take for you to go downstairs, and smile for our guests?” Her mother’s calm tone grated on Eve.

“A miracle.” Eve stared at her mother. The woman who raised her. Loved her. Betrayed her.

“What if we give permission to enroll in the Academy?”

“Princess Charlotte’s Academy? Do you mean it?” It felt as if a spring in Eve’s heart snapped back into place.

“Attend the ball. Smile. Eat some pheasant. Be courteous to all our guests, especially Lord Edwin, and you shall have my word that you may attend for your final year of schooling,” Lady Graylake said.

“Letty, I need your help.”

Eve dressed quickly, but the entire time her mind clung to the knowledge that she had one year. One year at the academy to change her fate and escape the arranged marriage.


Words: 500   Noun: pheasant   Verb: nag


In elementary school, Symantha Reagor spent recess reading or writing in journals, creating poems and short stories. She never dreamed that she could make a career from the dreams and random thoughts in my head. She became the first in my family to attend college and graduated from Grand Canyon University with an English Literature Degree and went on to earn a Master degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, and a Certificate in Copyediting from the University of California, Los Angeles Extension.

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1 comment:

  1. What a promising beginning to an even bigger story, I think! I like the complex issue of wanting something different than what our parents want for us and trying to compromise with our loved ones. :)

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