Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Midnight Dancers, Part One

Chapter One of The Midnight Dancers: A Fairy Tale Retold by Regina Doman, copyright 2008

Read the Prologue to Midnight Dancers:

The twelve princesses all slept together in a great room, their beds standing side by side. --Grimm


Rachel Durham heard the voice distantly, but it was still far enough away to ignore. She had time. Chances were that Sallie would find another sister to help before thinking to call her oldest stepdaughter again.

So Rachel continued to lean out of the kitchen door and look down the lawn over the trees sloping to the bay. Soon the night would come. The wind was making flurries of ripples on the water, and the summer sunset was simmering off in the west, leaving a streak of pink like a road that seemed to be beckoning her to follow.

If only I could run away right now, she thought. The breeze was alluring, refreshing, whereas inside the house was loud and stifling, even in the air conditioning. She wanted to run through the woods and go down to the water, just to sit on a rock out in the bay. Just a taste of freedom…


She whirled around. “What?”

The kitchen door slapped shut behind her, trapping her back in the light and noise and routine of the household. “Look at Jabez!” The sound of the Sallie’s voice cut through her senses as Rachel’s eyes adjusted to the brightness of the kitchen. Her stepmother, thin blond hair falling out of a ponytail, was pointing into the pantry with one hand like a condemning Old Testament prophet. Her other hand was clutching a basket full of laundry.

Rolling her eyes, Rachel looked into the pantry, and then grimaced. Eighteen-month old Jabez was sitting on the floor, with one chubby hand poked shoulder deep into a container of bread flour. Hearing his name, he raised his eyes, puckered over with brown stubs of eyebrow. His baby mouth was a round O. “Am I not supposed to be doing this?” his gaze clearly said.

“Please get him cleaned up!” Sallie said brusquely. “And finish the kitchen.”

“The kitchen is finished!” Rachel said incredulously, looking around at the enormous room with its historical stone fireplace and newly-installed cabinets and appliances. The dishes were drip-drying on the countertop, while her sisters busied themselves with a few final chores.

“Why weren’t you girls watching Jabez?” Sallie retorted, instead of apologizing.

“Maybe because we were too busy doing the kitchen,” Rachel muttered, throwing down her towel and leaning down to get her baby brother. Sallie exited the kitchen, calling for the twins to come and get the laundry.

“Bad baby,” Rachel pronounced, prying Jabez’s hands gently off the flour container and tucking him under her arm like a sack. The pantry was a mess, but, she decided, that wasn’t her problem. She was the oldest sister in the house: she could delegate.

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