So here is a short story for Valetine’s Day, I hope you guys enjoy! ❤
Happily Ever After
I look out the small window in our small little kitchen, anticipating my Papa’s return. It has been two weeks since my Papa has left for the meeting in St. Petersburg. Oh how I miss him so. He made sure that I would take care of my two younger sisters, Victoria and Maria. They are such small little things, Victoria is only 10 years and has already started helping me around the house and Maria, so sweet and kind, is 6 years she loves to feed our cattle outside, she is definitely not afraid to get dirty unlike so many girls.
My sisters are my closest friends and only friends. My mother died when Maria was born and I was so little back then. Papa has been struggling to maintain us three girls, and when I finally was old enough to cook, I have taken the role of a mother. I love my Papa, he tries so hard and coins have been hard to come by lately.
Papa has been traveling around trying to find a decent work to provide for us. Sometimes we have to go to bed hungry and deal with it until the sun comes up the next day. I sigh seeing no sight of Papa in the distance. I hope he is well.
I get back to scrubbing the very few dishes we have with the hot water I had boiled.
“Elizabeth! Elizabeth!!” Maria calls from outside.
“What is it dear Maria? Why don’t you come here and tell me?” I reply.
Maria quickly rushes inside and tugs on my skirt. “It’s Papa! Papa is home!!” She screams in joy and runs back outside to greet him. I look out the kitchen window to see for myself, and indeed it is Papa. I take off my stained apron and place it on the wooden table and follow Maria out the door.
I smile when I see Maria on the ground at Papa’s feet, hugging them tightly to her. Victoria is close by and is hugging Papa and tells him everything that he had missed while he was gone. I walk up to him and hug him close to me.
“I missed you Papa. Now that you are here, everything will better.” I whisper into his ear. Papa smiles but I notice certain sadness in his eyes.
I frown. “Papa? Is there something I should know?”
“Not now Elizabeth, not when Victoria and Maria are around.” Papa answered quietly.
I nod and help Papa carry his bag inside. Victoria feeds Lady, our horse, a small apple and leads her inside her stall. Maria – still clinging on to Papa’s legs – laughs as Papa struggles to walk to get inside. Papa laughs along with Maria and continues inside.
I drop the bags by the door and begin to boil some tea for Papa to drink; it must’ve been a long ride to get back here. St. Petersburg is a 5 day journey on a horse from here. Papa settles himself in a chair at our breakfast table. Usually while the little ones are around Papa plasters a smile on his face so he wouldn’t upset them, when they are away Papa show his grief and stress. I usher Maria away so she could go help Victoria with Lady.
“Tell me Papa, what is wrong?” I finally ask as I poor some hot water into a cup.
“We are very low on money.”
“I already know of this Papa, why must you tell me this again?”
“That’s not the problem, my dear.” He frowns.
“What is it then?”
“I have received a letter, and it said that I owe some money to the King. And . . . if I don’t pay it in one month, I’ll be sent to prison.” Papa confesses.
I don’t cry or shout or scream. I sigh slowly and go over to Papa to sit on his lap like I used to do when I was little.
“Papa, don’t worry, all will be fine. I can help you; I will get a job in town to help pay these debts.”
Papa smiles warmly. “Where will I be without you?”
I hug him. “I love you, Papa.”
“I love you too, Elizabeth.”
Three Days Later
I had found a job at the local bakery in town. The man in charge, Dmitri, is very kind. He offered me two coins a day in exchange for my work in the bakery. I gladly accepted, he also added a loaf of bread for each week I worked for him, I couldn’t be any happier.
The two women I work with are very chatty and talk about what happens it town. The second day I worked there I learned about Anya and her eight newborn baby boy. Today they spoke about a rumor that said there is a prince in disguise going around and checking in on the village’s doings.
I was very interested in this conversation; a prince is in town? Papa never knew how much I wish that we were richer, I fancy those dresses I see on rich women who flaunt it as they ride in their gold carriages. And the diamond necklaces, oh how they shine! I did not want to tell Papa for I knew it would make him sad, he only wanted the best for me and my sisters.
Sadly, I knew this dream would not come true, so I go back to work on the dishes I was ordered to clean. The bakery was fairly quiet today and hardly anyone came. Dmitri says I could go home since today was slow and he would still pay me, I deny. I did not want to come home to my unhappy father; he is very scared that we won’t be able to pay of the taxes in time, even with my help.
I went to front of the bakery to mop the floors, meanwhile I hear someone enter. I ignored their entrance and continued mopping.
“Excuse me, miss?” asks a very deep voice.
“Hmm?” I say and straighten myself to see the source of the voice. It is a young man, a little older than me and he was strikingly handsome. His eyes were a very light blue and his brown hair fell down into his eyes. What a strange combination, blue eyes and brown hair! I think. The young man smiles at me.
“Can I speak to the owner of this bakery?”
I smile back. “Yes of course. Let me go fetch him.” I take one look at him and walk over to Dmitri’s room.
“Dmitri? A young man is requesting to speak with you.” I inform him.
“Bring him over here, Elizabeth.” Dmitri replies.
I return to the young man. “Dmitri would like me to bring you to him. Please follow me.”
He nods. “I’m sorry, where are my manners? I am Peter, and what be your name my fair lady?”
I blush. “I am Elizabeth.”
“Such a beautiful name.” He reaches for my hand and kisses it; this makes me blush even more. A man has never treated me with such manner before.
“Thank you, Peter.” He lets go of my hand and I lead him to Dmitri’s room.
“Right in there.” I point and return to my mop and bucket. Peter smiles once more and walks into Dmitri’s room, closing the door behind him. I sigh dreamily, what a gentleman!
For the rest of the day I am in a dream-like state, I fly across the room cleaning tables and floors, not even noticing when it was time for me to return home. I put away the mop, and I quickly say farewell to Dmitri, collect my two coins and follow the familiar pathway that leaded me home.
“Papa!” I call when I return, excited tell him about Peter.
“Elizabeth, what is it my dear?” Papa answers and welcomes me at the door.
“There was young man who visited the bakery today, he was such a gentleman, and he even kissed my hand. I think I am in love!” I cry and twirl into the living room picking up stuff off of the floor as I go.
“Don’t be silly, you’re just a little girl.”
“But Papa, I’m not. I know how to clean and cook, and even take care of children without a mature adult.”
Papa sighs. “How do you know loves you back?”
“I don’t know, Papa.” I stop and sit down in a chair.
“See? Please just be my little girl a little longer, someday you will find another man, and he will tell you if he loves you.”
I don’t want to argue with Papa, so I give him the two coins and go over to my bedroom that I share with Victoria and Maria. I wish the man I fall in love with has lots of coins, so then Papa will be happy with who I chose. I fall on my bed and slowly drift off to sleep.
The Next Day
Like usual, I enter the bakery for another day of work. I don’t see Dmitri in his room so I go to back to look for him. That’s unusual, where is he? The other two women work here aren’t anywhere to be seen either. I leave the bakery and head to center of the town, there were a few people milling about and minding their own business. I say hello to a few I pass by.
I take a seat at the fountain in the middle of town. I love the sound of the water as it falls and lands into the bottom of the fountain, it calms me. I almost fall asleep and fall into the water when two strong arms save me from the fall.
“Oh!” I cry and look at the face of the hero. It’s Peter!
“Peter?” I ask.
He smiles. “Yes, looks like I saved you the trouble of drying your clothing, dear Elizabeth.”
I laugh. “Thank you, it takes quite a while for them to dry, it’s true.”
He laughs slightly. “Yes, I’ve heard.”
I didn’t notice he was still holding me until he let go.
“Umm, are you going back to work at the bakery?” He asks.
“I was, but no one is there. I came here to look for Dmitri and the others. But I can’t find them.” I say.
“Maybe they are not there because today is a holiday.”
“Really? What holiday?”
“Why it’s St. Valentine’s Day.”
“I’ve never heard of this before.”
“Because it was declared a holiday just today. Perhaps Dmitri decided to give everyone a day off.”
“Hmm.” I’ve never heard of such a holiday. What does it celebrate?
“What is Valentine’s Day about?
Peter smiles mischievously. “Well, I’ll show you!”
Peter grabs my hands and pulls me to the sweet shop in town that I never had enough money to afford. Peter asks for several chocolates and hands some coins to shopkeeper. My mouth goes open in shock.
“Peter . . . you don’t have to buy those for me . . . chocolate is so expensive . . .”
“Nonsense, Elizabeth. You deserve them.” Peter takes the chocolates hands them to me. “Eat one, you’ll love it.”
I look at Peter, making sure he wasn’t joking around and carefully picked one up and unwrapped the paper it was hidden underneath. I placed one in my mouth and chewed it. Mmmm, it was delicious! It is sweeter than sugar that we rarely have to pour into tea and the apples that grow in our tree nearby our home.
“Oh, Peter. That’s so sweet of you; I cannot just take the rest.”
“But you will, and I can get you more if you wish.”
“No, no this is great! So Valentine’s Day is about sweets?”
Peter shakes his head. “No, that is not it. Follow me.” He laughs and rushes out the door. I follow him and stuff the chocolates in my skirt’s pocket.
I find Peter at the flower stand that I love to admire every time I walk by, the smells of the lilies and roses make my knees go weak. I watch as Peter tosses the women who owns the stand five coins and picks up a bunch of red roses.
Peter hands them to me gently. “These are for you, as beautiful as they are, they are noting compared to you.” Peter says.
I smile; I never have been wooed by a man. I’ve heard stories of princesses and their prince charming showering them in flowers and presents of all kinds. But never would I thought I could ever feel such bliss.
“They are lovely, thank you Peter.”
“But that is not it of St. Valentine’s Day; it’s not exactly about roses or chocolates. I have one last thing to show you, dear Elizabeth.”
“What is it, Peter?”
Peter reaches for my hand and I give to him. He takes me to the stables to retrieve his horse. I look at his majestic black stallion, “She’s beautiful.” I utter. Peter gets on top of the horse and pulls me with him.
“It’s a gift from my father. Her name is Midnight.” He explains.
He takes the reins in his hands and instructs me to hold on to him. I put my arms around him as he commands the horse to go onward.
I watch the scenery we pass by, but there wasn’t enough time to look. We rode fast and far away from the village and closer to the lake that surrounded my home town.
Eventually we stopped and Peter hopped off to help get down. He puts his arms around my waist and lifts me down. I blush as he lets go of me gently, but he did not let go of my hand. He walked with me a few more feet closer to the lake. I gasp, it was a breathtaking sight; the sun was setting over the lake making the water appear orange.
Peter sits down in the grass and urges me to do the same. It was a chilly evening so he let me cuddle up against him. Together we watch the sunset until it grew very dark.
“Elizabeth, I think I have fallen in love with you.” Peter finally says.
I look up at his handsome face. “I think I have too.”
Peter smiles widely, and pulls me in for a deep kiss. I am not lying when I say it was magic. His soft warm lips welcomed me and I couldn’t stop. Eventually Peter pulled away reluctantly.
“I must tell you something important.” An urgent look appeared on his face.
“What is wrong, Peter?”
“I’m not who you think I am.”
“What do you mean?”
“It means, I do not live here in this village.”
I let go of Peter. “What?” I ask, confused.
He sighs. “My father is the king of Russia.”
I gasp and stand up suddenly. “You’re not the heir to the throne, are you?”
Peter stands up and grabs my hands and pulls me close to him. “No, I’m the youngest son. I’m just worried you won’t love me if I told you.”
“Why would I not?”
“Because many people despise my father and my brother’s and I. not everyone is as wealthy as we are. And I learned that today when I came to you village. I wish could help all of you.”
“My family and I are poor. My father owes the King some money for taxes. We can’t pay them back, and my father will be sent to prison.” I confess, tears starting to roll down my cheeks.
Peter lifts my face up with his hand, “That won’t be problem any longer.”
Peter gets down on one knee and pulls out a shiny diamond gold ring from his pocket. “Elizabeth, will you marry me?”
I gaze into Pete’s eyes, and I know everything will better from now on. My father will not go prison, my sister’s will not starve any longer, and I will marry the love of my life.
Peter smiles and kisses me on the lips. “I love you.” He whispers into ears.
“I love you.” I reply and sigh with joy.
I now understood what St. Valentine’s Day is about, it’s about love and sharing happiness with your loved ones. And I’m sure my father will be very happy when I tell him the good news. I close my eyes and smile. My dream did come true and I will live happily ever after.
Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!