I have been lackadaisical concerning keeping up with Kendra's hostings of Character Encounters (a lovely linkup ~ please check it out!). I love writing about meeting up with my characters every month, but for some reason, I never think of it until a few days before the month is over. Aw, well... my apologies. I shall inform the lovely little thing known as inspiration to strike sooner.
This year, if you didn't know it already, I've dedicated the twelve Character Encounters this year with the exception of December '12 replacing June '13) to be one of each of my twelve princesses from The Twelfth Kingdom. And yes, that story is based on The Twelve Dancing Princesses, just for your information. To keep my own head straight, I'm including a list of links to the previous princesses' encounters, and then I shall follow that up with this month's encounter with a new princess.
"Dany, there's got to be a green one somewhere."
"Perhaps if you try that stack there."
I follow the direction of the slender finger, and push up a few notebooks upward to see beneath them. "Could you hold a couple so I can get deeper?"
Princess Danyelle holds out her hands, and I pile her arms generously with the notebooks. "Must we specifically find a green one?"
My nose is buried in Wal-Mart's back-to-school shelves, so my voice is slightly muffled as I answer. "I s'pose any would work really. They're all the same, save for the cover. Jess has just had a green notebook every year for school, and she's asked us to get the same color to keep the tradition up. It's her favorite color, you know."
"Your sister has excellent taste. Green is my favorite color, too."
I pull my nose out of a stack of 5 subject notebooks. "Green? Really?"
Dany gives me a wide grin and shakes her head at me, ruffling her brown curls. "Do you honestly think that because I am merely a figment of your imagination that you will immediately know everything about me?"
"You are all surprising me way or another when I meet you," I respond, stuffing my face back into the books. "I thought I knew all about you guys, but then I always seem to learn something new."
"You guys?" Dany's fair face falters as she stumbles over the strange words. "I do not..."
"It's modern lingo." I extract my hands from the dark shelves and wave it absentmindedly at her. "I wouldn't expect you to recognize that kind of talk because I don't want the twelve of you, or any of my characters to talk that way."
"And is it necessary for you as our writer to speak differently than you write?"
"Well, there's a difference there, I think. When I'm writing, I can think about what I'm putting down through my fingers, but when I'm talking... it just comes out."
I can hear the smile in Dany's voice. "Some would say, perhaps, that would be the reason the adjective of obnoxious has been applied to your person."
"Found it!" I deliberately ignore Dany's statement, and luckily the sudden appearance of a green notebook has provided the perfect escape from responding. Why is it that somehow we always get back to this topic? Laris spoke of the same thing last month. Is it really that obvious?
"Well done, Kiri." Dany places the notebooks in her hands back on the shelf.
"Green must be a popular color this year." I remark, holding my prize aloft and admiring it before dropping it into the woven iron depths of the shopping cart. "This must be the last one."
"What must we pursue next?"
I grin. "I love the way you talk, Dany."
The brunnette girl hides her smile and turns her petite nose up at me daintily. "I haven't the slightest notion of what you speak. And if I had, perhaps the time has come for you to address me as Princess Danyelle, daughter of the king and ward of the kingdom of Findenland."
"You like having titles that long? Seems too grand for a small princess such as yourself."
"Small?" Dany sniffed. "May I remind you I am 19 years of age? And until recent days, I held superiority to you in that respect."
"Yes, well..." I clear my throat. "Don't make me wish I'd asked Issie to accompany me today instead of you."
"I shall endeavor to be an amusing companion."
I consult the list my mother gave me before we walked into the store. "Uh... besides the notebook, the last thing we need is pencil erasers. Mom has pencils, but we kinda used up all the erasers last year. Oh, and a day planner." I tap my chin. "That's it."
"Lead away, O thou consumer of the great mart. I shall follow thee unto the very corners of this expanse."
The erasers are relatively easy to find, but it's only after I pick them up that I realize the planners were back next to the notebooks. So, with me heaving a sigh, and Dany releasing a grin, we backtrack to the aisles containing all the books.
"What does your sister prefer in a planner?"
I shrug, scanning the selections with a bored expression, not really seeing the ones in front of me. "Probably something green."
"Oh, Kiri! Look at this one!"
The cover of the planner Dany has picked up is clearly meant for a young girl, but the black and white photo of a ballerina in a large tutu is slightly faded, as if meant for an old fashioned feel. The edges were bordered with tiny roses, carefully threaded together.
"Is this what they call a dancer in your world?" Dany's fingers gently caress the figure.
"Yep. She's a ballerina."
"She's very elegant. I do wish I could see her dance. It must be a wonderful sight."
The look on Dany's face tugs at my heart, and I regret the recent months in which I have left her and each one of her sisters alone, without a new chapter or even a new scene. But the delicate smile playing about the princess's lips doesn't speak of sadness. Instead, it is one of wonder and delight, and in a mystic sense, wistful.
I turn away from her and rest my hands on the shelf. I know how much Danyelle loves dancing, probably as much as I love playing the piano. When separated from this love for lengths of time, I cannot deny that my fingers almost literally ache to touch the ivory keys and produce a tune. For Dany, the separation has been longer, and I can only imagine what longing she must feel.
"Excuse me, may I help you?" A store employee has just rounded the corner of the aisle and is looking expectantly at me.
"Oh, no, thank you. I'm fine."
She nods once and then disappears. I know before I turn back to my cart that Dany is gone. It's always like this. They never stay long, and almost never when other people are around. I wish the employee hadn't appeared, for it may have meant that Dany might still be here. I enjoyed talking with her, and her ready laugh and cheery comments made the shopping trip, something I usually despise, quite tolerable, and almost fun, indeed.
I sigh, and glance down at the cart. A small day planner rests on the top of the pile of items stacked there. I smile as I examine the green, polka-dotted cover. It seems Dany knows my sister just as well as I do.
"You'll be dancing again soon, Dany." I promise in a whisper.