The Forest Princess

Author: • January 16, 2017 • Short Stories

But the next day, neither Wilhelm nor Steffi were free.

“I’m not disturbing you?”

“No.  I have plenty of free time this morning, but may I inquire why you’re asking me about Erika?”

“It’s always important to get the facts from many different perspectives.  Otherwise the story is one-sided.”

“If you insist, but for me there’s only one side.”

“When did you see Erika for the first time?”

“Two or three days after Wilhelm brought her home.  He hadn’t visited us in an entire week.  The rule for engaged people is that they visit each other regularly.  I’d begun to worry about him because he often took colds or was injured by his research animals.  Even during his last visit, his thoughts had seemed to be elsewhere.  And now I know; he was thinking about her.”

“What did she look like when you first met her?”

“Wild.”

“Wild?  Nothing more?”

“Do you want a more detailed description?”  The woman’s voice was lightly annoyed.  “She looked like a large child: hair unkempt, chewed with her mouth wide open, could barely sit still.  You’ve seen children before who behaved in this way because they were still so young.  Erika was just like that but as large as I am.  She appeared to be somehow retarded in her development.”

“How did she react to you?”

“I knocked on the door while they were all having tea.  Steffi invited me in, and as I entered the living room, I saw her and knew why Wilhelm hadn’t been to see us.  He sat next to her on the sofa trying to teach her how to drink tea from a cup.  From the appearance of her dress, she had been practicing for some time.  Steffi introduced me and began to tell me Erika’s story.  Erika glanced at me shortly but said nothing.  Wilhelm also looked over to me after a few minutes.  ‘Hello, Stella.  This is our forest princess. Isn’t she beautiful?’”

“You were all but ignored?”

Stella nodded.  “During the entire hour of my visit, Wilhelm paid attention only to her.  ‘No, hold the cup like this.  Yes, good.  And now drink slowly.  Slowly.  Sloooooowly.’  And when she did it right, he would smile.  He had never smiled at me like that.”

“But he loves studying new animals.  You, of all people, should know that.”

Her voice was cold.  “Yes, he always had time for his animals.  He never even wrote me a single letter when he was doing research in Africa all those years ago.  He was always busy with the giraffes.”

Helmut cleared his throat.  “Did you talk with Erika?”

“No.  She couldn’t say anything.”  Stella sighed.  “Wait, yes.  She yowled at me.”

“Why?”

“I wanted to say goodbye.  I’d already watched long enough how Wilhelm gave her his entire attention.  I stood up, walked over to him, and touched his hand lightly.  ‘I’m going now.  Will you come tomorrow evening?’  Before he could answer, Erika started yowling.  Then she scratched my hand with her long, dirty fingernails.”

“Jealousy.  Even animals have that emotion.”

Stella extended her left hand.  Three long rows of scratches, barely visible, covered the length of her hand.

“She appears to be very strong.”

“It bled for an eternity. Wilhelm’s mother tended to my hand. Wilhelm said, ‘No, princess, that’s not how to act.’  He shook his head exaggeratedly, but Erika ignored him, sitting there with a highly-satisfied smile.”

A baby’s cry came from the back of the house.  Stella stood up without the least change in her voice.  “Excuse me, but I must see about my son right now.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Zimmermann.  You were very helpful.”

#

About the Author

Cecile's Writer_Rebecca LinamAuthor: Rebecca Linam

Country of residence: United States of America

Nationality: American

Mother tongue: English

Rebecca Linam was born in the United States and studied in Aachen, Germany.  She visits Germany every summer.  She earned a master's degree in German and teaches German at the University of North Alabama.  Her short stories have been published in Ireland, Canada, Hong Kong, England, and the United States of America.  For more, visit her website at www.rebeccalinam.com or find her on Twitter@rebecca_linam.


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