"Morning, everybody," I greeted cheerfully as I walked around the breakfast table. I walked past the one side of the table purposely, so I could kiss both my sisters and my mother on their cheeks. Rose and Rosie both just made a slightly annoyed groan and focused their attention back to the plate in front of them, both barely eating. My mother smiled at me.
"Someone’s very happy today. How refreshing. Your siblings have been carrying dark clouds over them since they woke up," my mother said as I sat down next to Matthew. I looked around. My mom wasn’t joking. Rose seemed to have reached breaking point and didn’t even try to hide her sadness anymore. You could clearly see she was miserable, and it killed me to see her like that and know I couldn’t do anything about it.
Rosemarie seemed moody. She had not smiled once this morning and she was usually the one lifting the terrible mood if there ever was one at the table. Matthew was just quiet. He didn’t seem sad or angry or frustrated. I could not tell what was wrong with him. Usually it was very easy, but I honestly had no idea that moment. I took another sweep glance over the table. My father was silent as always, so I just ignored him.
"So what’s eating you guys today?" I asked as I stuck my fork into the scrambled egg in front of me. Rose raised her eyes to mine and silenced me with an evil glance. I cringed and knew better than to aggravate her. Rose and I were too alike, in other words, I wasn’t the person to handle her right now. Matthew took care of Rose and I took care of Rosie.
"Rosie?" I asked. Rosie slowly raised her eyes to mine. Her mouth opened slightly but she didn’t seem like she wanted to say anything.
"Yes?" She asked, her voice sounded so raspy. It was usually cheerful and sweet. Her eyes begged me not to ask her anything about her mood now, so I dropped it.
"You looked really pretty last night," I said.
Rosie smiled, looking grateful. "Thanks, Mark," she said.
I smiled again then looked at Matthew, but he was ready for me. Matthew looked at Rose. "Rose, it’s a great day for a swim. Let’s go after breakfast," he said. Rose’s eyes shot to Matthew. She smiled sadly and nodded.
"So what has got you so happy today, Mark?" My mother asked. I looked at her. She tucked a hand under her chin and smiled sweetly.
"I met this girl last night," as soon as the words escaped my lips, both my sisters and brother came to life simultaneously, all groaning. "Hey, hey, hey. Relax. Wow," I said looking from the girls to Matthew and back. "Wait, this one’s different," I said and dropped my fork.
"Oh, yeah? I would love to hear why," Matthew said, leaning forward slightly. I looked at Rose and Rosie. Rose had raised her eyebrow, half out of her dead state by now. "She’s just so different. She is like the female version of me. She loves sports, she’s headstrong, confident, fun, intelligent and gorgeous beyond compare," I said, smiling.
"Ah-huh? So what does she look like?" Rose asked.
"Long blond –."
"Wait, this is that blond girl you first hit on last night?" Matthew asked, confused. "Yeeeeah," I said slowly.
"Whoa, you only hit on one girl last night?" Rosaline asked and sat back in her chair. "Man, I cannot wait to meet this girl," she added. I smirked.
"Funny you should say that. I invited her to the –." I had to stop myself there.
If I had mentioned the engagement party, it could have sent Rose back into her zombie like state and I didn’t want that. "To the castle next weekend," I finished.
Rose smiled slightly. "Should make for an interesting day," Rose said sarcastically.
I smiled. Usually Rose’s sarcasm was not much appreciated but I hadn’t heard it in such a long time that I was actually glad to hear it in her voice. She was still Rose. "Well, I am sure, she’s a lovely girl and what about her social standard?" My mother asked and at that second, Rosie’s fork fell from her fingers into her plate, making a clanking sound.
I glanced at her, she was suspiciously focused on her plate, I made a mental note to ask her about it again. I looked back at my mother. "Well just the fact that she was invited to Chanelle’s party should already tell you a lot about her social standards, mother," I said.
"Oh, my word, are you talking about that girl with the silver dress?" Rose suddenly asked. Her excitement surprised me for a moment. I nodded. "Oh, she had the most incredible shoes! It has to be a personal design because those shoes matched her dress so perfectly," Rose said.
I laughed and so did Rosie and Matthew. Rose looked at us, confused before giggling uncomfortably and then actually laughing. It was good to have her back for a while.
When we all rose from our seats after breakfast, my mother called me back. "I would like to speak to you alone, if that’s alright," she said.
My siblings all shot her a look then me before exiting the room. I sat back down and looked at my parents, preparing myself for whatever was to come.
"Yes?" I asked.
"Well, your father and I have noticed, you and Chanelle seemed to be in each other’s company a lot lately," my mother said.
I smiled. "Yes, well, she –."
"We do hate telling you what to do but, dear, please do not get too personally involved. Dating is a wonderful thing and I am not saying that she is not worthy of you but... well, she’s not... Chanelle is not. She contains too much pigmentation in her skin, dear," she said.
I raised an eyebrow. "Wait, you’re telling me that I cannot be with Chanelle because she’s not white?" I asked, almost disgusted.
"Well, that is what it boils down to," my father said. I looked at him, really disgusted. "That’s absurd! Mother, you grew up with her family. You’re the last one I would expect this from," I said.
My mother glanced at my father, pleadingly and I knew this decision had nothing to do with her. "Matthew, please try to understand. The image you will be projecting toward the kingdom –."
"Cannot be anything but positive," I cut her off. "Who cares what her skin color is? It’s not like it changes the person she is and if I start dating her, how could that affect us in a negative way? Isn’t that what we are trying to project out to our kingdom? That racism is something of the past?" I asked.
My mother sighed and looked away. She stood up and looked back at my father, I saw anger in her, something I had never seen my mother project toward my father.
"I am not doing this anymore. You talk to your son and you convince him. I am done!" She almost yelled and walked out.
I watched my mother in pure astonishment. My mother never rose her voice to anyone and she was always so understanding toward my father. Where had that outburst come from? I looked at my father, expecting whatever he may throw at me. He raised his eyes to mine slowly. His eyes were emotionless as always. Usually, I would have backed off just because my father was as frightening as he was but this was about Chanelle. I would not have anyone insult her like that.
"Matthew, if you do not end all this, I will forbid you from seeing her ever again," he said.
My face fell and I stood up. "Don’t be ridiculous," I said. My father raised an eyebrow. He wasn’t expecting that. "Father, you cannot forbid me from seeing her," I said.
My father rose from his seat and almost glared at me. He wasn’t used to someone telling him he can’t do something. "I am your father and I am the king. I can do whatever I please," he said.
"No, you can’t," I said calmly. "There is a lot of things you can forbid but an interracial relationship?" I shook my head. "You can’t. You are the king, you need the respect of your people. What would your people say if they found out their king is a racist and he forbid his own son from seeing a girl, just because she was a non-white?" I asked rhetorically.
My father took a deep breath, I could tell he was annoyed, but he knew that I was making sense. I took a step back from the table and pushed my chair in. "I may not have as much power as you, father, but I have been brought up to think like a royal. Forbidding me from seeing Chanelle, that would not be a very smart move, father."