Tending to the Princess

Written in 2011 from the writing suggestion:
Use the Amsterdam Writers Story Jump-starter to start a story of your own.

by Jennifer Croft

The princess is depressed. She cried her eyes out all night, which only makes my job harder. Somehow I’m supposed to make the poor old girl look as fresh as a spring morning. Her husband, the prince, has run off again. It wouldn’t be the first time he shows up in a cheap supermarket tabloid with a reality-show celebrity in a tiny bikini, or nothing at all. He always claims it’s not really him—but the princess knows better and so do I. I’d recognize that chest of his anywhere, because I waxed it.

Today she has a big charity event: grand opening of a center for rescued Rottweilers. I try to cheer her up by chatting about the excellent condition of her hair. She needs flattery like a plant needs water. Her skin is a mess, with pillow creases on her cheek. “What color dress?” I ask, rummaging through my makeup supplies. She sighs, as if choosing whether to raise taxes or invade Canada. “I can’t decide. Do dogs like green?”

There’s a knock at the door. I’m expecting the hat consultant, but it’s the princess’s assistant Gertie, her pink face twisted into a grimace. She’s holding an iPad, which the princess calls the voodoo tablet—she hates technology. Gertie approaches and stops next to the princess, her hands shaking. “Your highness,” she says, voice trembling. “The prince has had—oh, how can I say this—an unfortunate night.”

“Not J-Lo again,” cries the princess, her hands flying to her face.

“No, madam, I’m afraid it’s much worse. He fell off the yacht and hasn’t been found. It seems he may have been… eaten by sharks.” Gertie, always one for drama, lets out a sob and buries her head behind the iPad. I look at the princess in the mirror: her face is frozen, but at least the creases are gone.

I give her a pat on the shoulder.

“I suppose that’ll be a black dress, then,” I say.

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