Posted in Short Story Sunday, Writing

Short Story Sunday #47

DRUMS

The drums beat louder, but she didn’t understand why. She poked her head out of her bedroom window and scanned the area. There was no one in sight. She looked up on the high mountain in the distance and could see a flicker of flame at the very top. She gasped and ducked her head back inside.

The young woman ran out of her bedroom, down the stairs, across the hall, and into her parents’ bedroom.

“Mom, Dad, the beacon is lit!” she exclaimed.

Her mother stood up from her bed and walked over to the window. She pulled back the curtain peering out the glass. She let a small squeak escape her lips before closing the curtains again. She turned to her husband, who was still laying in bed.

“Roxanne is right, Horace. The beacon is lit. I told you I heard the drums beating!” her mother grumbled.

Horace sat up, but remained in his bed. “Girls, go back to bed and go to sleep. The king and guards will take care of everything. You should know that by now.”

“But I have never seen the beacon lit before. Something must truly be wrong if we’re calling out for help.” Roxanne clasped her hands together over her heart. She stared at the window, even though the closed curtains blocked her view.

“The guards may be calling out for help because there is something going on up at the castle that they can’t handle.” Horace snorted. “I told King Harold to get better guards and servants, but did he listen to me? No.”

“Do not speak of the king in such a tone.” Roxanne’s mother glared at Horace.

“King yes, but he is also my brother. Or have you forgotten? It has been quite a while since he invited us up to castle.” Horace grunted and laid back down. “Rosie, dear, come back to bed. Roxanne, go back to your room and get a good night’s rest. All will be well in the morning.”

“How do you know that?” Roxanne demanded with a glare.

“Roxanne, do as your father tells you.” Rosie sighed. She stared at her daughter with pleading eyes.

Roxanne rolled her eyes. She turned around and exited the bedroom closing the door behind her. As she walked away she could hear her parents arguing.

Horace was King Harold’s younger brother. It was just the two of them, no other brothers, and no sisters. Their mother died when they were very young and only a month after King Harold came of age, their father passed away from an illness. King Harold was the rightful king as he was eldest child and he was of age. However, that left Horace in the dust.

Once King Harold found a queen, they had children of their own. Horace moved out of the castle into the village among the commoners. Ever since then he had disliked his brother. Jealousy blinded him.

Horace felt as though because he wasn’t able to become king, he wasn’t able to give his wife and his daughter what he felt they deserved. He was disappointed that he couldn’t give them a castle to live in with servants and guards, and he was also disappointed in himself that he wasn’t able to give them must of anything because they did not have a lot of money. Roxanne and her mother didn’t care about that, though. They were just happy to have each other.

When Roxanne was a little girl, she used to go up to the castle and hang out with her Uncle Harold all the time. Then when he had children, she was always playing with her cousins. However, they were always too busy to hang out anymore. She couldn’t remember the last time she had even seen them.

Roxanne made it back to her bedroom and she closed the doors behind her. She took another peek outside the window. The beacon on top of the mountain was still lit and another beacon was lit even further than that. She could see a third beacon even farther than the second and it was very dim. She could not see past that one, but she was sure more beacons were being lit by the moment.

The drums were still ringing. Still, no one was roaming around outside. It was night so the village was bound to be quiet, but there were always a small handful of people walking about. Some had work at night and others would just be taking a nightly stroll. Now was the perfect time to do it since it was the middle of spring.

Roxanne closed the window and shivered. She didn’t want think of what was going on in the castle, but she needed to push it out of her mind. If she didn’t, then they were never going to be able to get to sleep. If her father wasn’t going to be worried about this, the she was going to try not to be worried about it.

She laid down in bed and closed her eyes. Eventually, she fell asleep. When she woke up the next morning, she felt refreshed, yet… something seemed wrong at the same time. She instantly remembered what happened the previous night and ran to the window.

It was early in the morning, but still no one was around. Something must have really been wrong.

Roxanne left her bedroom and entered the kitchen. She opened her mouth to say good morning to her parents, but only her mother was sitting at the kitchen table.

“Where’s Dad?” she asked instead.

“He is up at the castle,” Rosie looked up at her daughter with sad eyes, “King Harold is dead.”

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Author:

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Rachel Poli is a writer and blogger. She has an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a bachelor’s degree in English Studies. She enjoys writing young adult novels, middle-grade, and children’s picture books. She is currently working on her first novel.

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