BY REBECCA HARRISON
Princess Emilia wanted a green dress. At the court, she had emeralds pried from necklaces and rings— Duchesses and maidens moped at their bare hands. The jewels were crushed into a dye and soaked into a silk gown. Emilia stared at the dress. She ran her fingers on its skirts—it glinted like shattered songs. “Greener,” she screeched.
The soldiers were sent to the green lagoon. They scooped the lagoon into ten thousand buckets and marched it across the land. For fifty days, the lagoon was boiled and stirred until it fit into a beer barrel. Then a cashmere dress was dyed deep. Its green glare was as savage as a volcano burst. Princess Emilia poked the sleeves. “Greener,” she screamed.
The huntsmen clamoured through the forests and woods, plucked each leaf from the trees, tied the Kingdom’s leaves in bundles to the backs of hounds and hurried them to the palace. There, each leaf was torn into a thousand pieces and spiced with dew collected from diamond mines. A velvet dress was rolled in this green for one hundred days. Princess Emilia stroked the collar. She smiled, put the dress on, and paraded through the palace grounds.
As she strode past statues, the sky rippled with wing beats, with magpies and robins, wrens and crows. A chaffinch fluttered low and settled on her shoulder. Princess Emilia smiled. A dove dropped onto her head. Princess Emilia stopped smiling. Birds flocked and lowered and landed on her until she was hidden beneath beaks, eyes and feathers. The King and Queen and all the courtiers scrambled inside. The palace doors were closed and bolted. From then on, Princess Emilia wandered bird-laden in the bare woods.
Rebecca Harrison sneezes like Donald Duck and can be summoned by a cake signal in the sky. Her best friend is a dog who can count. Through the WoMentoring Project, she was chosen by Kirsty Logan as her mentee. Rebecca’s been nominated for Best of the Net, and her stories can also be read at Rose Red Review, Maudlin House, Luna Station Quarterly, and elsewhere. Find her on Twitter.