By Tilda Bartlett
Estelle had a habit of walking around the castle at night. What she didn’t know is that her little habit would change her life forever.
Estelle Adrienne grew up in a dark room with vast windows overlooking the kingdom of Emrys. If one were to look inside her room they would likely find her surrounded by a pile of books or mixing different vials of various concoctions. Sure, she was a little strange, but she was as normal as she could be for a princess.
The candle painted a haze of yellow light against the dark walls as the floorboards creaked under Estelle’s footsteps. The moonlight shone through the slanted windows lining the hall. Whenever Estelle was unable to fall asleep she wandered around the castle in search of secrets that hadn’t yet revealed themselves.
Estelle gravitated toward her father’s office and heard sharp breaths and whispered shouts. Estelle nudged the door open just a crack. What she saw would stay with her forever. She ran away holding in a stream of her dinner as her father raised a bloodied knife above his head. Its destination: her mother’s chest. She had an inkling that her mother was going to be killed by her father, but this was the first time Estelle had seen anything like this.
Months passed and all Estelle could think about was the crimson dagger that held her mother’s life. She locked herself in her room and thought about how she could fix her swimming pool of thoughts. It had been days of Estelle doing nothing but pondering solutions to the problem. If we’re being honest, Estelle knew what to do the whole time, but it was only solidified as she uttered the words: “I need to kill my father.”
Estelle knocked three times on the grand door that held all of the kingdom’s secrets behind it.
“Come in,” the deep voice of her father answered.
Estelle pushed the door open to reveal the office, clad with dark paneling and three tall windows overlooking the kingdom she so badly wanted to be hers. The walls were lined with leather bound novels and all sorts of odd trinkets. It was perfect for a monarch.
“You know, I always thought this office would suit me more,” Estelle said to her father. She had always imagined herself as queen of Emrys. With her parents in charge she had nothing, no freedom. Her every move was dictated by their needs and ‘what was good for Emrys.’ Her parents didn’t know what was good for Emrys, not like she did at least. Estelle needed to be queen.
Her father heaved a great sigh before saying: “Estelle, I am a very busy man, I don’t have time for all your little mind games.”
Estelle laughed, “What mind games do you mean? The only mind game I play is the game of knowledge.”
Her father pushed himself out of the chair behind his desk and walked over to a bookshelf, staring lazily at the tomes. Estelle took this as an opportunity to take his place behind the desk. She swung her feet up and rested them on top of very important looking documents.
“Estelle, when you were a young girl your mother and I knew you were special. Then one day your nanny approached your mother and I. ‘Pardon me, but could I trouble you for a moment of your time? I know you both are very busy but this is very important,’ she said.
“She walked us to your bedroom where you were playing with a few of your friends. It was strange. You were holding dolls in your hands and the actions of your friends were mirroring the dolls’ actions. It was like you were controlling those poor boys and girls.
“That night your mother and I knew what had happened. You see, when you were learning how to walk you fell, knocked your head, and lost consciousness. We thought you had died. But you lived and something deep within shifted that day. Peculiar things started to happen, moments where your mother and I’s minds would go blank. It was like we weren’t in control.”
“You think I don’t know this, Father?” Estelle droned. “I remember it all and trust me, I figured it out long before you two imbeciles did. I knew one day it would come in handy.” The king never saw the knife behind Estelle’s back.
Taking Root: The Girls Write Now 2022 Anthology
For more than two years, our young writers have weathered an adolescence shaped by an ongoing global pandemic. But a harsh climate can also produce work of rare depth, complexity, nuance and humor. The Girls Write Now mentees in this collection have found new ways to build community and take root. This anthology is a catalog of seeds—each young writer cultivating a shimmering, emergent voice. In short stories, personal essays, poetry, and more, they reflect on life-altering topics like heartbreak, self-care and friendship. The result is a stunning book with global relevance of all this generation has endured and transformed.
The king took slow, sharp breaths. “The day your mother died I woke from a trance with a bloody dagger lying in my palms. I didn’t know what happened, all I knew was that I killed her. I was scared, Estelle, I had killed the love of my life and I didn’t remember it.
“What happened to you?” The king breathed wearily. “I don’t know who you are anymore, Estelle.” His eyes went blank and his humanity slowly faded until he was just another soul lost to the universe. Another victim to Estelle’s thirst for power.
From that day on Estelle sat in that chair, overlooking the kingdom that was now hers. Until she fell and hit her head… just like she did all those years ago.
This particular piece was derived from an assignment in English class. We were tasked with ‘Imagineering’ either a ride, food, or character. True to self, I chose to create a character and that’s where Estelle was born. At first I had planned on adding on to the original 1.5-page story I had submitted for my class. However, as I wrote more and more the story took a complete 180. The end result doesn’t include any of the original, but Estelle still has a story that makes me proud.
Tilda Bartlett is a ninth grader from Manhattan. She loves art, especially drawing and sketching. She likes realistic fiction and artsy movies. Tilda likes listening to Lana Del Rey and Taylor Swift. She hopes to embark on more creative endeavors in the future whether it be film making or art.