December 1: The Isolated Prince

So apparently a month of NaNoWriMo isn’t enough to make me take a break from writing for a while, even though that was my grand plan. I’ve downloaded a few writing apps onto my tablet, and I’m going to try to make use of the prompts they give me throughout December. Here is the one I wrote today. Bear in mind, this is “as is”, might not make sense sometimes, and should be treated as a first draft of sorts.

Prompt: The main character is a 35-year-old man. The setting is a castle. There is an unexpected visitor. The theme is: the future.

islandHe watched the procession as it made its way up from the royal barge towards the doors of the house, and then turned away from the window. It had been a long time since he had had guests of any kind.

He waited for inevitable knock on his chamber door and then stood half-heartedly.

“Thomas? Sir, it’s –”

“Yes, I know. Tell her I’m coming.”

“Of course.” Pulling his coat tighter around himself, he stepped out of his bedroom and made his way to the room he’d dubbed the drawing room, where his guests would be waiting.

A woman stood up as he entered the room. “Thomas!” she exclaimed, making a move towards him as though about to embrace him, but stopping when she saw how stiffly he stood in the doorway and how coldly he was staring at her.

“Hello, Mother,” he said, his voice low.

“Thomas, your brother is dead.”

Thomas looked away. Of course Mathieu was dead. There was no other reason she would be here now.

“My condolences.”

“Thomas, he left no children. You need to come home, we need you. Your country needs you!” She paused, and for the first time, there as uncertainty in her eyes. “You do… want to come home, don’t you?”

Thomas was quiet a long time. “My country needs me?” he said finally. “You need me?”

“Thomas…”

“Where was my country when my brother drugged me and carted me off to this godforsaken island? Where were you when I was cut off from the world for seventeen years?

It had been the day after his eighteenth birthday. His older brother was acutely aware that the next in line to the throne after him had now come of age, and had become intensely paranoid. He had Thomas, along with two servants, drugged and transported to an island well off the coast of their country. It was too far to swim back, and while supplies were shipped frequently, Mathieu had always been sure to keep their arrivals irregular. With only three of them there, it had been impossible to always be watching, and the island held no materials suitable for making anything to get back to the mainland.

“Thomas, I… he would not even tell me where you were. I had no idea. It was only when he was dying…” His mother’s eyes were imploring.

For a moment, Thomas was tempted to tell his mother to turn around and leave him there. But he could not do that to the two men who had served him over the past seventeen years. Their time in isolation meant that they had become more like brothers, even though they would never be viewed that way once they returned home. Nevertheless, they both had families who would no doubt be wondering where they had gone, and they deserved to be reunited with them.

He turned back to his mother, his eyes dark. “I will return with you,” he said. “But that place is not my home. I will not rule it.” He held his hand up to silence his mother before she could argue. “I will help to establish a system wherein I am not required. And then, it is most likely I will leave again. I will not come back here, and perhaps now and then, I will come back to you for short periods, but I have no intention of staying somewhere where my every move will be watched, where I will have no say over my own movements. Being here has taught me I prefer to be alone.”

“But Thomas, once you have been home for a while, perhaps you’ll start to see…”

“No, Mother.” He could see the hurt in her eyes, and a small part of him wanted to take back everything. However, he knew he would only regret it later. “I’m sorry. But if you want me to leave this place at all, then this is how it must be.”

He saw his mother’s expression begin to match the coldness in his. “Very well, then,” she said, pushing past him into the hallway. “Let’s go then, shall we?” She swept back towards the door, her entourage following.

Thomas motioned for his two companions to follow and he brought up the rear. He walked much slower than everyone else. When he reached the boat moored at the water’s edge, he turned back and looked at the small stone house that had been his only home for seventeen years. And then he made his way down onto his mother’s barge, returning, at least for a while, to a life he had never wanted to be a part of in the first place.

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