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the people who could have stumbled upon Euphrasia, why
you?
 I said I was sorry about not being a prince.
 No. It is just . . . odd when you think about it. Had
you and Travis not been in Belgium, and had you not
been bored and looked for the beach and taken the wrong
bus . . . I might still be asleep. Or some Belgian boy might
have found me. In any case, I would not be here.
 It is weird when you put it that way, he says.
 Yes. Do you know the story of King Arthur and the
Sword in the Stone?
 I saw the movie with Keira Knightley. But they didn t
concentrate on the stone part mostly it was about Keira
in a breastplate. She was Guinevere.
Guinevere in a breastplate? How interesting.  Arthur
was the son of a king who died, I say.  He was raised by
Sir Ector, a knight. No one knew he was heir to the throne.
Then, one day, a strange stone appeared in a churchyard.
In the stone was a glittering sword, and written on it, in
letters of gold,  Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone
and anvil is rightwise king born of all England. 
I swing my feet a bit and continue.
 Many knights tried to take the sword, but none could
budge it. So a day was chosen when all could try, and jousts
were held as well. Sir Ector and his son, Kay, and Arthur
244
also came. But when it was time for the joust, Kay found
that he had broken his sword. He asked Arthur to ride back
for another. When Arthur returned to the castle, he could
not get it. That was when he remembered the sword he
had seen in the churchyard. The guards were away, and the
sword was there, alone. Thinking only to get a sword for
his brother, young Arthur took the hilt and drew the sword
from the stone.
I love this part!
 Why could he take it out when no one else could?
Jack asks.
 He was meant to be king. Destiny. Do you believe in
destiny, Jack?
 I m not sure.
 Do you not think, Jack, that perhaps it was destiny,
you going to the castle? Do you think you were destined to
be the one to wake me?
I wait. If he believes in destiny, perhaps he will believe
that he is my destiny. I sit, feeling the wind upon my face.
Below, the boys are finished playing. They run their several
ways, some stopping at the newly weeded garden.
 Hey, would you look at this? one of them says.
 Yeah. Someone got rid of all the weeds.
 Cool.
What will Jack say? What will he say?
Finally, he says,  I don t know.
 You do not know? The words explode from me like
cannon fire, and some of the children look up at us.  But
245
what do you think? Surely you must think something,
sometime, you silly boy?
It is useless. I was wrong to believe that Jack could be
my destiny, my beloved. He cares not for me at all. He
thinks of nothing but play.
 Never mind, I say.  It is of no import.
 But you didn t let me finish. I was going to say that I
don t know about destiny. I don t know if there even was a
King Arthur, or if that s just some dumb story.
I sigh, not merely because I adored Morte d Arthur, but
also because Jack is missing my point entirely.
 But what I do know is that everything s different
since I ve been with you. I m different. Like being here.
I might have thought about coming here, but I wouldn t
have. I d have been out partying. You made me remem-
ber. I don t know if I was destined to wake you up, or
if it was just dumb luck. But I m glad it happened this
way.
 Are you? I ask.
He nods.  Before, I d say I didn t want to do what my
dad wanted, but I knew I d end up doing it, anyway. I d go
to college and major in what he wants me to major in and
do what he wants me to do, and one day I d wake up and
I d be sixty and with all my decisions made for me.
His voice is soft, and he smells of dirt and the air above
us, and it is a clean smell.
 And now? I say.
 Now, maybe I won t.
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I nod. This is where he should say that he is in love with
me, that I have changed his life and that he loves me for it.
But he doesn t. Is it because he is shy? Or because he is too
young to say such a thing? Too scared after Amber?
Or is it merely because he does not love me?
The worst of it is, I am falling in love with him. Before,
I was merely trying to make him love me. My own feelings
were meaningless. But now, I, Princess Talia, am in love
with a boy, a boy who does not love me back.
Jack takes his telephone from his pocket and looks at
it.  I guess we should be going. Meryl just texted that my
dad s actually coming home for dinner.
 Really? I try to swallow my disappointment.  I look
forward to meeting him, and you can discuss some matters
with him as well.
 Some matters, meaning, of course, his hopes and
ambitions. I am one to talk, having run away from my own
father. Still, I suspect at least some things are easier for those
not to the castle born. While Jack s father may be angry if
Jack fails to follow in his path, it is the tradition of a mere
generation or so, not the divine right of kings. And Jack
will only be disappointing his own family, not an entire
kingdom.
Jack says,  Yeah, maybe. Can you get down?
I look, and I am dizzy again, but I say,  I think so.
 I ll catch you if you fall. Or you can fall on me. He
starts to climb down.
When we reach bottom, I say,  Jack, what is a garden
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club? When he gives me a questioning look, I say,  Meryl
said that you egged a car owned by the president of your
mother s garden club.
Jack shrugs.  I m thinking it s a club for ladies who like
to . . . garden.
 So then your mother is interested in plants as well?
 I guess.
 And you have never told her of your shared interest?
 I never . . . He shifts his knees.  I mean, she wouldn t
care. My dad wants me to go into his business. He s in
charge.
I laugh.  You do not know the first thing about women,
do you?
 What s that supposed to mean?
 Even in my time, we knew that men were not in
charge. Oh, they might bluster as if they were. But when it
came down to it, we women bore much of the influence. [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]




 

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