The Wistful Prince
Red, orange and yellow leaves, in various different shades. All of them floating gracefully on the soft breeze. It was as if a friendly hand was gently lowering them to the ground. Whispers between these leaves filled the air, whispers and mutters. The air was cool and crisp, like a refreshing drink of cool water after hours in a desert. The breeze fluttered around, gently caressing everything it touched with fingers that had been a comfort to so many over their long, lonely years.
The sunlight shone merrily over the neatly-shingled rooftops peeking out from behind the trees. There was a strangeness to the sunlight, as if a layer of tinted filtering had been added in the sky. Everything was cast in honeyed tones, beautiful and strange to other people. But for the students at Adelaide Academy, it was completely normal. Old news.
James looked out over the beautiful scenery, leaning lazily against the thick, gnarled trunk of an old tree. His dress coat had been discarded on a low limb, soft black velvet dripping lifelessly off the rough bark. His gloves had been sloppily shoved into his trouser pocket, and he stood about casually in a crisp white button-down shirt and red tartan tie. Green-blue eyes squinted, straining to see through the piercing sunlight ‒ if he looked out far enough, he could spot the rolling blue waves of the ocean just below the horizon.
The world was blissfully silent, the tall thin prince gazing in reverie.
James eyes lowered as he peered into the yellowed pages of the old novel that rested in his hand, his fringe of long dark hair falling into his face. He drifted over the words, taking them in slowly, enjoying the autumn air on his pale skin. The quiet hill top he had found solace in was the secret hiding place in his busy world. He often escaped there to think, read, and relax.
James’ eyes refused to leave the pages of his book.
“James! Hey, James! Are you up there?”
The sound of fumbling footsteps and tired huffing could be heard coming up the hill.
James found himself rereading the same sentence over and over again. He raised his face from the aged pages and sighed in defeat, the book closing within his hands with a soft thud. The blissful peace of the lone hill he had escaped to had been broken.
A young man with soft blonde curls tumbling about in a halo around his head was stumbling up the hill top, flailing about while climbing up the rocky dirt path and pawing at the long grasses that blew across his way. His messy locks fluttered as his freckled face split into a lopsided grin. He wore the same uniform that James did ‒ he was a fellow student at Aloisius school for boys.
“Ah, James,” he gasped, his lungs searching for air and his cheeks flushed from running. “I knew you’d be up here.”
Yes, you’ve found me,” agreed James, rather sadly. He had hoped for a quiet day of reading. “But why are you here, Charlie? I thought you were spending the afternoon with your lady friends from Inana today.”
“Oh, I did,” Charlie explained enthusiastically. “We baked cookies, and then I helped them do their nails! I gave them the cutest manicures, with these adorable little parfait nail stickers they had. Their nails looked absolutely wonderful afterwards.”
Charlie gave a romantic sigh, drifting off to recall his clever handiwork. James listened patiently, waiting for his companion to finish telling the cutesy details. The dreamy-eyed blonde had a sort of cherubic charm about him that was flushed with his clumsy youth. He was only fourteen years of age after all, still a blossoming young flower of a prince. Unlike James, who was maturing into a fine gentleman at the age of seventeen.
“But then,” he continued, focusing again, “we had to wait for all the polish and glue to dry, and I got bored…so I thought I would come and visit you!”
Expectant blue eyes stared back at James at the end of this flowery explanation, and James stared back blankly. ‘Typical Charlie,’ he thought to himself. ‘But…it’s hard to be annoyed with him. His cheerful attitude will make him popular as he gets older.’
“Well then, it’s getting a bit cold out. Would you like to head back to the school grounds with me?” James proposed, grabbing his tartan-lined coat off the tree limb.
“Okay! Maybe we can find something fun to do! And something yummy to eat!” Charlie sang gleefully, dancing behind his friends as he put his coat over his shoulders and neatened the sleeves.
“You and food.” James remarked teasingly with a smirk. The two of them made their way down the steep hill, toward the brick school buildings in the distance.
James pondered as Charlie playfully skipped ahead of him. He was happy with his life ‒ he was a lucky, privileged boy, doing well at a prestigious school, surrounded by kind friends, and living life through life in an easy and laid-back haze. However, he felt…empty.
“Have you heard about the new student that’s supposed to be arriving today?” Charlie shouted over his shoulder, skipping away against the soft earth a few feet ahead.
James’ sharp green-blue eyes glimmered with a bit of excitement. He hadn’t heard about a new student. Then again, James wasn’t really one to pay attention to the mindless gossip of his peers. He might have heard the news a few times, but simply forgot about it. Adelaide Academy scarcely got new students, and there was always a stir when one arrived. The last new student had been Melanie, and she had been there for awhile already.
“A new student? Really?” He demanded.
Charlie nodded feverishly, turning all the way around so that he could face James. “Uh-huh! Haven’t you heard? Everybody’s been talking about it for weeks! You really should pay more attention, James.”
James raised an eyebrow at that. That was a bit hypocritical coming from Charlie, considering that he was hardly aware of his surroundings. Asking Charlie to sit down and pay attention to things was like trying to tell a fire not to burn. “I’ll be sure to pay more attention to things from now on.” James said with a small smile, rolling his eyes.
Charlie nodded approvingly. “Good. Now come on, hurry up! I want to get something to eat!” Before James could stop him, Charlie ran off, his coat flying behind him.
James sighed, muttering to himself. “I swear, being with Charlie is like babysitting.” He raised his voice a bit as he began to quicken his pace into a run, “Wait for me, Charlie!”
As he ran, struggling to keep up with the blonde, James thought over the information he had just been told. A new student? Well, this would surely be something of interest.