She woke up in the middle of the night, opened her eyes to the darkness. She couldn’t sleep. She couldn’t get “the thought” out of her mind. It was driving her crazy! Would she ever be able to sleep again? It had been a year since her father death and it had not been easy. The Royal Ceremonial funeral and mourning had been a very emotional time. The outpouring of the people had been beyond her expectation, and yet, it did little to comfort her. Beatrice slept in the biggest of beds, as would be expected for a princess, surrounded by dozens of pillows and under the softest of sheets. The bed sat in the middle of the most beautiful room. Her room would’ve been able to house a couple of families, but for her, it was a small prison. To the left lay a door to the balcony.
Beatrice got out of bed and walked to the balcony’s door pausing for a moment. She opened the door and stepped outside. Her balcony faced south and she could see the moon dancing above her in the sky. The breeze was cold but smooth, caressing her skin softly. She could see some lights in the village below; it was earlier in the morning and even though it was still dark and sunrise would be in a couple of hours, villagers got up early to work on the fields. To the West was the Lake of Hope, named a quarter of a century ago, after the victory on the battle at the lake. The King’s army defeated the Tonglusians, giving hope the war would be won. That was many years ago and the Tonglusians had since been defeated. To the East lay the Kossance mountain range, with colossal peaks dressed in white with snow. Of course, at that hour, Beatrice could only see their silhouette, against the dark blue sky giving the first hints of morning. The air smelled fresh and she could hear some dogs barking in the distance, as well as, the rooster’s morning songs. Beatrice stood for hours contemplating HER kingdom.
She couldn’t believe she felt so miserable. She never imagined this would be her life after the death of her parents. The thought that her imbecile brother was the King boiled her blood. She should have been crowned the Queen of Remenia! She knew it wouldn’t be long now. It had taken her a whole year to put all the pieces in place. She knew her brother’s weakness had always been women. She had made sure he would meet Alice, the daughter of Duke Roland. Beatrice had become Alice’s best friend so she would have an excuse to spend the day at the castle. Of course, her womanizer brother had wooed Alice and she was now one of his mistresses. But Beatrice didn’t select Alice just to be her brother’s lover, she was a better lover than her brother and had planned to rule Alice heart. Beatrice spent a lot of time with Alice, they were very close and Alice shared all secrets with her. They talked about everything walking around the castle, strolling through the gardens or flirting with each other lying down in the princess’ bed.
Alice didn’t suspect anything, she was in love with brother and sister, but her feelings for Beatrice surpassed anything she had experienced in her short life and would do whatever Beatrice asked. That morning started as any other. Alice would visit Beatrice just after breakfast for their daily walk through the gardens. The day was beautiful with blue skies; it was warmer than it had been for the winter. Spring just started and flowers were blooming all around. The hummingbirds danced from flower to flower following them as they strolled holding hands through the garden maze. After catching up on all the town happenings, Beatrice unleashed her plan.
“I found out something terrible!; I was so worried I couldn’t sleep last night.”, whispered Beatrice to Alice while looking in every direction. Alice was mystified.
“What is it?”
“I cannot tell you here! Let’s go to my chambers. Come quickly!” Beatrice led the way, walking into the castle. Alice followed in silence. They climbed the various stairs full of portraits, crossed a hall and then some more stairs. Her room was on top of one of the towers. They were moving fast and when they reached Beatrice’s room they had to stop and catch their breath. They didn’t speak for a while. Alice sat down on the armchair looking at Beatrice, who was standing in front of her looking the other way. Beatrice turned around and looked at Alice’s amber eyes.
“The King found out about us.”, she paused, “I don’t know how, I don’t know who told him, but we’re doomed!” Tears fell from Beatrice’s eyes, “I love you, I couldn’t stand loosing you!” Alice was in shock; all happiness had disappeared in an instant. She stood and walked around the room then, she stopped in front of a big mirror. “Don’t worry, I won’t let him harm you.”, said Beatrice while she approached Alice until she was standing behind her. She embraced Alice and leaned her head on Alice’s shoulders. “We cannot let him take us apart”.
“I … I …”, Alice couldn’t think. The thought of losing Beatrice was too great to bear. “I don’t know what to say!, I don’t know what to do!” She turned to face Beatrice, “Tell me, tell me what to do.”
“Alice… I don’t know…”, she walked to the other side of the room and was followed by Alice. “Do you love me?” asked Beatrice.
“I love you with all my heart.”
“Would you do anything for our love?”
“Yes, I would! What should we do?! Please tell me!”
“Alice …we’ll need to get rid of him.”
“Beatrice! What are you saying?” Alice didn’t know what was worst… losing her love or killing! “How could you do something like that? How could we?”
“Don’t you know him? My brother is going to vanish you; he will take everything from your father and your family. He’ll take you away from me! He’ll punish me, hurt me, lock me up!” Beatrice wept with emotion. Alice couldn’t bear watching Beatrice crying. “What do you have in mind?” whispered Alice softly, as she placed her hands on Beatrice’s shoulders. Beatrice glanced sideways at Alice and then cast her eyes across the room to a side-table. Alice saw it. Silently, Beatrice approached the side-table, opened the drawer and took out a very small dark flask. She looked at Alice, which was standing next to her, and said, “Be careful. You need to use just one drop.” Alice nodded without saying a word. She extended her arm grabbing the flask, concealing it in a secret pocket within her dress. Beatrice looked at the balcony and knew it was going to be noon soon. She could tell by the shadow of the banister. “My brother must be waiting for you.”- she said with serenity- “Kiss me.”
Beatrice and Alice parted. Alice closed Beatrice’s room door behind her. Beatrice smiled as the door closed. She felt more relaxed and happier than she had been for a long time. She went to her favorite spot on the balcony and sat partly under the sun. The warmth of the sunshine on her skin was comforting. She could hear the sounds of the town below. Everybody went on with their daily life without suspecting of the intrigue developing inside the castle. She breathed deeply savoring the freshness of the air. Every sense was stimulated and she felt alive!
It had been an hour or so when Beatrice heard someone knocking at the door. As Beatrice opened the door, Alice rushed inside crying. “Alice! Tell me what happened?” Alice could not speak, she couldn’t stand still, she walked around the room from one side to the other. She couldn’t live with herself at that moment. She finally said, “Beatrice, I cannot believe it! What have I done?! What have I done!? I’m a terrible person. Beatrice, I did it, Beatrice! How could I? No, no, no! I shouldn’t have!”
“Calm down Alice! Please calm down. You did what you needed to do. Please stop moving around! Come here.” Alice kept crying as she got closer to Beatrice. Beatrice embraced Alice, “Here, here; you are okay. You are safe now. Don’t worry, I’ll protect you.” Said Beatrice as she caressed Alice hair. ” Come on, sit down here.” Said Beatrice as she pointed to the bed. Alice obeyed. Beatrice crouched down in front of Alice. “You know I love, don’t you?”
“Yes, I do and I love you with all my heart.” Replied Alice.
“Please, rest some, lie down in the bed”, again Alice obeyed and Beatrice sat right beside her. “Tell me, did you give it to him?”
“I put a drop in his beverage. He drank it.” -said Alice as she started crying again- “He complained about stomach pain and dropped to his knees. And then…” She couldn’t continue, closing her eyes as the image of what just had happened crossed her mind as if she was reliving the moment. “Please continue.” Requested Beatrice. “Beatrice, then he…he realized what was happening and he looked straight into my eyes! Beatrice! He asked me with his gaze…’why?’ It was horrible, Beatrice! No!” She closed her eyes again. “Finally, he fell to the floor and he laid there… Motionless…”- She paused-“Looking at me”- She looked at Beatrice.- “Even dead, he looked at me!” She finished softly.
Suddenly, Alice sat up frightened, “Beatrice, they will come looking for me! What will I do? What will I tell them?” Beatrice said, “Don’t worry my love, I will take care of it. Please rest now and calm down. You don’t need to worry. I have it all planned.” Beatrice words reassured Alice, who laid down again in the bed, closing here eyes for a moment. It was at that moment that Beatrice picked up a pillow and put it over Alice’s face. Alice opened her eyes in terror! Beatrice pressed down hard and smiled. Alice opened her eyes wide. “Don’t worry my love; I will take care of everything.” And she kept pressing. Alice started to suffocate and got exasperated. She was trying to liberate herself from Beatrice trap but it was too late. Alice started to fade. She could see Beatrice smiling. As Beatrice saw the life fading away from Alice, she bent down and whispered on Alice’s ears, “Sorry you had to commit suicide… I love you.”
There rested on the bed Alice’s lifeless body. Beatrice remained a couple of minutes beside Alice’s body; looking at it and feeling bliss. After a while, the Queen of Remenia yelled for help.
Alice’s Box continues the Beatrice and Alice story.