Well, I can pretty much tell you exactly what I was thinking. I was eleven years old. I bored as hell. And judging by the content of this fifty-page story (27 smudged, torn notebook pages, front and back), I was boy-crazy and full of gooey romantic ambitions.
Betrayal by Family follows the life of a young princess named Ea Mara. Yeah. Her name is Ea. Pronounced Eee. I deserve to be shot for that name alone.
Anyway, the story opens with this line, written in bubbly cursive:
Princess Ea Mara sat in the carriage, not exactly thrilled with her parents for making her go 'there'.
Y'know what, it's not an awful opening line. It's bad, but it isn't super cringe-worthy. If I were allowing myself to rewrite, I would change it to "Ea sat in the carriage, not exactly thrilled that her parents made her go there." But I'm not allowed to rewrite. I have to relive this without making it easy for myself.
"There" is her Uncle Unriché's palace (oh, FML... Unriché should NOT be a name that exists). I go into a tell-don't-show spree as I explain absolutely everything you need to know about Unriché throughout the entire story:
Ea never liked her uncle Unriché. He was rather sly and cold. His gray eyes always glinted with malice, and he was never very kind. But she had to stay with him in his large and unwelcoming palace. Just until her parents could come and take her home.
Yep, I know what you're thinking: I wonder if this Unriché fellow could be the villain?!?! Well, I won't spoiler it for you. You'll find out soon enough.
And, wow. Disappearing Parent Syndrome. Of course. I was eleven. Parents were the devil.
The footman opened the carriage door and Ea looked out at Uncle Unriché's palace. Large and gray, the palace sat alone on a giant hill.
"Thank you, Jeeves," she said to the driver.
"Your highness," he said gruffly.
Ea stepped onto the walkway up to the palace as the carriage pulled away. Her uncle walked up to her with a few soldiers behind him.
Jeeves? Jeeves? Seriously?
Also, "her uncle walked up to her with a few soldiers behind him." Lol forever.
Anyway, Unriché says some stuff in an "oily voice" and then he leads Ea up to the palace. I'm actually really surprised I didn't take this all the way up into Ea's bedroom and describe every last detail of her bed and pillows and wardrobe. I'm impressed.
But I had more important things to describe. Like the love interest.
In the bushes outside the palace, Princess Ea Mara's only hope hid. Ea's father's swordcrafter, a 17-year-old young man named Emmith had heard of a plan being plotted by Lord Unriché. He knew right away he had to save Ea before it was too late. He brushed away his curly brown hair and looked up at Ea's window. It took all of his effort to control himself from screaming up to her, telling her the plot. But he didn't. His only hope of taking her with him was if he whisked her off at night. He wasn't quite sure what he would do, where he would take Ea once he had her. But that didn't matter yet. He sat in a tree braiding and tying rope to make a rope ladder that he would use to climb to Ea's window that night.
BRAIDING AND TYING ROPE.
Oh my God, I wish I was joking. I wish I had never written this paragraph. Braiding... and tying... rope. WTF?! If the rope is, in fact, rope, it would already be serviceable in its ropey form. Why must it be braided, Emmith? Why?! Why are you sitting in a tree, brushing your curly brown hair and braiding what I can only picture as long chunks of stringy hemp in order to fashion your dashing method of escape? If speed is so important, why didn't you bring a pre-made rope ladder? Or just a ladder? Why in the name of God are you braiding your own rope?!!??!
Okay... so, meanwhile, Ea goes to dinner with "her hair perched on top of her head in an elegant bun," in an "unappealing dove gray dress that she hated" (for some undisclosed reason). At dinner, "the food was good, but the company was terrible. Unriché just ate, smoked his pipe, and stared into the fire."
And then it becomes a bodice ripper.
Well, not really. But Ea goes up to her room after dinner and the instant she's alone, she "ripped off her dress and crossed the road to her bed in her petticoat" -- crossed the road? -- "only to look up and realize she wasn't alone in her room."
That's right! Everyone's favourite rope-braider is sitting on her bed!
Now I'll treat you to a choice excerpt, demonstrating my fabulous dialogue-writing skills.
When she saw Emmith sitting on her bed, she jumped with surprise.
"Emmith! What -- what are you...?" she stuttered. Emmith cut her off.
"Quick, Ea, pack your things and come with me! Your uncle means you harm! We must leave..." he blurted out, crossing the room to the princess.
"Emmith, tell me why we must leave! Please!" Ea cried.
Emmith sighed. "All right, but you have to believe me, okay?"
"When you go down to the great hall for breakfast in the morning, your uncle will put you under arrest! Your parents have been captured in the north, on their way to Stevron. I decided to come and save you, because I was the only one with courage enough to do so," he sighed. "And also I wanted to -- to -- to," he looked at his feet. "Oh, I'll tell you later. We have to go." He gathered up the rope ladder, secured it and turned to Ea. "Do you need help to get down?"
"That would help," she said, stunned. "You may help me, yes."
He helped her onto the rope ladder and held her waist as he climbed down. After they were safely on the ground two stories from the window, Emmith cut the rope ladder down, and the two of them disappeared into the night.
My God. What to pick on first? The idiot rope ladder, which would be a thousand times slower than if Emmith just broke into the palace? The constant use of names in the dialogue? The exclamation points? The use of "he sighed," even though exclamation points previously pointed out that they were excited and, well, not sighing?
I'm not going to lie. I just burst out laughing at so much of this scene. And as I leafed through the pages and read some lyrics doodled in the margins, I remembered that I pictured Emmith as Josh Groban.
"Why would I braid my own rope ladder when
there were perfectly reasonable alternatives?
You wrote me as a moron, Becca."
Sorry, Josh. I did it out of love.
Stay tuned for part two! Lots more idiocy to come!