Self-aware. Self conscious. Self induced.

Telling Tales 214

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Seeking an Acceptable Solution

Although Conomor had been pleased with her idea for the pavilion, he picked at her first results. “The alabaster orchids don’t belong with the bone lilies.” It was only partly the colors that bothered him, which was a revelation to Belle. It was also that the plants had different properties, and while Belle was more than capable of picking out colors that went well in her clothing and dress, she did not have his expertise in the outdoors. Conomor seemed to treat those same properties in the same way she might have discussed a shawl that clashed with a dress’s lace.

“Could you show me the proper way it should be done?” she ventured.

“I have time neither to play the fool nor to teach you a second time what I have already told you once!” he swore as he stormed away.

She planted her screams in the growing patch beyond the hedge, just out of sight of the kitchen, and when she was free of them, she considered his actions.

I should never think that I can nurture him so quickly. This is the work of a lifetime, to be sure, she thought. Apparently, he considers our single tour to have been enough to have taught me all there is to know about the palace and its grounds, and her I thought it was only an introduction! His eyes must be a great deal more sensitive than mine. These are the things that I must learn. I must do them on my own and I must do them quickly for the sake of our marriage. 

Belle gathered the gardener and his assistants and explained the situation. “We have no time to make any more mistakes. The ceremony will be this Sunday, and I trust you to correct what I have done wrong. We will create a central aisle here, as though we are in a church that nature built. There should be seats on either side. Functioning seats upon which any of us could sit without fear of our cloths, skin, or bodies being harmed.” Without thinking, she twitched her still-red fingers and her palms echoed the pain. “Young saplings to suggest walls and flowering vines to suggest stained glass windows. We must at the same time pay heed to Lord Conomor’s needs and attend not only to the differences in coloration, but in what each different flower, tree, vine, and bush may do. This is your palette and you are the painters and carpenters in this garden. Find me if you have the least question, but believe me, I have every faith that you and this garden will be able to accomplish the task.”

On Friday she led Conomor out to show him what they had done. The plants had responded to the gardeners with joy. Green and brown walls of bark and leaves reached toward the sky. Branches stretched out above them, not connecting. The blue and white of the heavens above shone through the leafy skeleton of the floral cathedral. Her stained glass flowers were actually translucent and brightened with the sun. The servants had outdone themselves. On the four windows on each side they had cultivated portraits of their lord and lady, Belle in pure white, Conomor in shades of blue, looking as though he were in a noble suit. Roots from the wall-trees made enough seats for two hundred, and a dense bush at the front shaped the altar before which they would stand.

“Do you like it?” she asked, a scream curling around her stomach.

“It’s perfect. Too perfect,” he answered.

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