Espoir: A Tale of Sugar, Silence, and Secrets (part three)

Gail Marlene Schwartz, Gail Writes Copywriting Editing

December 20, 2016

A dreamer, the princess would run upstairs and grab her grandmother’s old picnic blanket and spread it on the ground outside the barn. She would lay down and watch the clouds and the weathervane and the butterflies, making up stories or singing. Renée would call her in before the queen’s return and offer the princess some homemade snickerdoodles, which the two would share on the wraparound porch, sipping frosty glasses of milk with Frank Sinatra or Yves Dutil or Phil Collins crooning on the stereo inside. Until the day the queen came home early…

When she saw the princess and Renée with the cookies outside and her precious blanket on the ground, the queen immediately fired Renée. For the first time in her life, Autumn stood up to her mother. “If she goes, I go too.”

In spite of her temper, the queen adored her only daughter, and ended up allowing Renée to stay…but this incident marked the beginning of 16-year-old Autumn’s rebellion. At first it was superficial. She traded the golden chariot her parents had given her for a motorbike and a bomber jacket. She stopped carrying a bejeweled purse and started carrying a metal bucket. She got a nose ring and dyed her hair green. These choices did not make the princess’ parents happy, but they tolerated it at first. They knew the teenage years could bring about certain embarrassing or inconvenient behaviors. But soon this rebellion grew deeper and more serious and the king and queen became frightened.

Princess Autumn question her family and its values and lifestyle. She criticized how her parents treated their workers. She witnessed the clearcutting the company did to make room for more and more sugarcane and how the earth suffered from it. She hated the way peasants in the kingdom came to beg for food, medicine, or a nice hot shower. She even felt disdain for her parents personally; that rush of tenderness she used to feel when her father came in to say goodnight turned to impatient ennui, complete with requisite eye-rolling. But one day, one fateful day, Princess Autumn’s rebellion led to an act that shocked even the most crooked in the kingdom.

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