This story didn't quite make it into last competition because I was too lazy to fix it up.
Kathy woke up slowly. She had just had a nice dream about walking through a garden. In her dream she had smelled and touched all kinds of flowers. All the flowers had been in bloom, even those which weren't in season. She wished she could have a garden. Her Mum only kept a vegetable garden, knowing that flowers were too expensive and wasted space. Her family was too poor to have luxuries such as flowers.
She told herself not to wish for stuff she couldn't have since that was selfish. She got out of bed and went to the window to breathe some fresh air.
She stood at the window for several minutes, drinking in the morning breeze.
She thought she heard a bird, but wasn't sure. She hated her ears. They had been fine until she was 10, then they had lost a lot of her hearing overnight. She had been totally blind since birth and had never missed vision.
She told herself to stop thinking about stuff she couldn't change and to get downstairs for breakfast.
She went to her closet to get dressed. When she touched the door to open it, she felt a silkiness there. She felt a sudden rush of fear. The only silk thing her family owned was her Mum's wedding dress.
They had always said she would never marry. They had told her the big day would never come. They had said she could live out her life as a kindly aunt, taking care of her sisters' children when their parents needed babysitters.
Now here she was, faced with her Mum's beautiful dress. She knew it wasn't a joke. Her sisters could be cruel sometimes, but they would never do such a thing to her. Her Mum was beyond even thinking about for a jokester.
Who was the man, she wondered. Is he nice, or is he one of those mean men her parents warned her about.
The man sat on his bed, thinking about Kathy. They had met at a party on a sunny Saturday two weeks ago.
When he had walked into the room, everybody fell silent. He always attracted attention which he hated. He had told them to please go on, he was just another young man looking for a bride.
She had been sitting in a corner, smiling at an inner thought. Her face was so radiant, he had almost cried. He so rarely saw a smile, especially not on the face of his father. His dad was a stern man who never treated his children with anything remotely resembling love. Oh, the old man never beat him, but he shut him out as surely as a locked door shuts out visitors.
So seeing the girl in the corner smiling awoke something in him. She awoke in him the craving for love and happiness he had long burried and had almost forgotten he harboured.
He read her name tag. It said Kathy Little.
All the young women at such parties wore name tags so men could ring their dads and ask for them in marriage.
After the father agreed to give his daughter, it was up to the groom to plan the wedding. His family were devout Christians, but he was not. He had a few ideas for how he wanted his wedding to go.
He recognized Kathy's family name. They were the poorest family in town. He knew they were very religious and model citizens.
He telephoned Kathy's father that evening. After he had introduced himself and Kathy's father had gotten over the shock of who he was, he said, "I am ringing you to ask for your most beautiful daughter's hand in marriage."
"Which daughter?" he asked.
"Kathy," he said.
There was a long pause, then Mr. Little said, "Sir, I think you may have meant Lisa?"
"No," he said emphatically. "I mean Kathy. She is the one with the radiant smile and the black hair."
"Well," said Mr. Little. "That is Kathy. You are aware that she is blind and hearing impaired and will possibly have difficulty with marriage?"
He felt a flash of rage at the man's words but bit it down. "She will make a delightful wife," he said. "I request her hand in marriage, please."
"All right, Sir," Mr. Little said.
After they got off the phone he sat down at his desk and began to plan the wedding.
Kathy made it through the day before her wedding in a daze of fear and confusion. She didn't smile at all that day which was odd for her.
Her Mum and Dad tried to comfort her, but they could not. Her sister Lisa, the kindest of her sisters sat with her trying to reassure her as well.
Kathy loved her parents and sister for trying to help her, but she knew they would never understand the depth of her unease.
Their cat Buster pranced over to her and brushed up against her, purring loudly so she would hear. She dearly loved Buster. The reason why a female cat was named Buster was because when they had got her, they had all been too prudish to check her sex so they had just assumed she was male.
When she had a litter of kittens, they knew she was a female Buster.
Kathy was glad Buster was there. The cat alone seemed to understand Kathy's feelings.
Her parents told her her wedding was to take place at sunrise, an odd time for a wedding. Kathy would have to wake up at 3:00 am!
She went to bed at ten, feeling too nervous to sleep. At 3, her Mum woke her up. She helped Kathy put on the dress and brushed Kathy's hair. "You are to wear no makeup," she said. "He requested that, very odd."
Kathy brushed her teeth and washed with the good soap they used for special occasions only.
"No jewelry either," said her Mum. "That's also odd."
Apparently, Kathy was to marry an odd sort of man.
The man sent a luxurious car to pick her up. It had leather seats, the likes of which she had never sat upon in her life!
Her parents did not even own a car. They took busses everywhere or walked.
They drove for what seemed to be hours but was not even half an hour. Finally, they arrived at the grand wedding hall. "The hall seats ten thousand," her Mum said in awe.
Kathy felt sick. She did not want to be married in front of ten thousand people.
Martha, her meanest sister who loved to frighten her said "Hey Kath, your wedding's being televised. Zillions of people are gonna watch you walk blindly up to the altar and marry that odd chap!"
"Enough, Martha!" her father said.
Kathy felt her heart sink. "Is she telling the truth, Daddy?" she asked.
"Yes," he sighed. "I'm sorry, Kathy."
Her brother John patted her awkwardly on the shoulder and said "Don't worry Kathy, you will look great up there," but his voice lacked conviction.
Lisa, Martha and John were her only family members still unmarried. Her three other sisters and two brothers were married and would meet them at the wedding.
They entered the hall and were met by the rest of their family. Her Mum leaned close to Kathy's ear and said "Kathy, there is a strange thing at the front of the hall. It is not a Christian wedding you shall have."
Her Mum sounded a bit afraid, but Kathy didn't care. She had long since known that Christianity was not her religion. She couldn't relate to any of it.
Kathy's young heart raced with fear when she heard a drum start beating. At almost the same instant, a hand touched her elbow. She knew it was the man. She felt an overwhelming need to flee but couldn't. If she fled, everybody would know she was not worthy of this man and her family would be dishonoured.
"Hello, Kathy," a voice said close to her ear. "My name is Mickey."
"Nicky?" she asked, mishearing an M for an N.
"Mickey," he repeated. "M as in mother."
The drums beat faster and he guided her gently down the isle between the happy rows of people.
She felt none of their happiness, just an overpowering dread.
"Don't be afraid," he said to her ear, as if reading her mood. "I won't be a mean chap."
They finally reached the altar. She heard the drumming stop, and a loud clear voice announce the wedding of Kathy Little and Mickey Muller.
A wave of shock crashed over her. She knew that name! Mickey Muller was none other than the King's son!
She didn't realize she was falling until Mickey caught her. She had done the silly girl thing and fainted.
She had fainted in front of zillions of people. The wedding stopped as they put cold water on her face.
Mickey apologized to her for not having warned her in advance, but not telling who he was was his dad's law.
The wedding went on. She heard some stuff about peace in the east and peace in the west. This was nothing she understood. There was no peace within her, that was for bloody sure.
She said her I do's without really listening to what she was agreeing to do for the rest of her life.
When they pronounced her married, Mickey whispered to her that the sun had just risen to bless their union.
She was taken to another huge hall where everybody ate breakfast. It was more like dinner feast than breakfast. She didn't even taste the little food she ate. It was all too rich for her poor stomach.
She was taken to his house after that. It was a splendid mansion. His father and mother did not live there so they had the house to themselves.
"Do I need to meet your father and mother?" she asked.
"Yes," he said. "You'll meet them soon. They were at the wedding, but they didn't want to meet you in public. They are embarrased that I would marry you. Well, my dad is, my mum goes along with everything he says. She will probably be nice to you if you are alone with her."
"Why, Mickey?!" she burst out. "Why did you drag me from my home to marry me and lock me away in a mansion? Why did you marry me when your dad, the king, is embarrased that I am so ugly and disabled? My heart almost gave out this morning from the fear and distress of it all."
Mickey thought wow she's poetic. Out loud he said "Because you smiled, and nobody else around here ever does. I saw you at that party two weeks ago and knew at first glance that you were the right person. I rang your father that same evening and asked for you. I am truly sorry about the way things had to go, but I cannot break my dad's laws. He's the king, and if I didn't follow protocol, he'd put me to death as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow."
"Speaking of the sun," she said. "Why did you have our wedding at sunrise and what was all the drumming and stuff about peace all about?"
"That is my religion," he said. "I am a druid."
He spent the next hour explaining about druidry and how he became one.
She felt something was born inside her in that hour. She too would become a druid.
When the king and queen came to meet her, she put on a brave face though she was terrified of the mean king. She had heard about how cruel he could be.
"Good day, Mrs. Muller," he said to her, speaking too loudly. "I hear that you cannot hear, and I also see that you do not see the splendor of my son's home all around you. I detest people who do not appreciate the art hanging on these walls. There are paintings by all the major artists in here. My son has chosen to marry you anyway, even though you will never be a complete person. You do not really exist, Mrs. Little. You are a non person and a persona non grata in my palace. My wife feels the same way, don't you Queen?"
"Yes, King," she replied.
"So," continued the King. "I wish to never see you again. You are a dishonour to my son, but I cannot prevent him from marrying you. He is also no longer welcome in my home."
The King and Queen left and Mickey and Kathy were alone once more.
"I am sorry, Mickey," Kathy said. "I have even lost you your father and mother."
"I care not a fig for my father," Mickey responded. "My mother I love dearly, but I cannot do anything about the fact that I cannot see her until Dad dies. He is very old you know, 70. My mother is only 45."
"Seventy isn't that old," she said. "He could live for another 20 years at least."
"No," Mickey said. "He won't live that long. He's already had two strokes and a small heart attack a couple years ago. He's hanging on by a thread. He acts vibrant and healthy, but he's not. He's all rotten inside."
Kathy was a little shocked to hear Mickey talk about his own father like that. "Don't you love your dad?" she asked.
"I don't know if I love him or not," Mickey said quietly.
"I am certain that I love my mother, she is a dear soul."
"Tell me about your father," said Kathy. "I only know the public side of things, not what he's really like."
"Well," said Mickey. "Fifty years ago when he became world ruler, he decided the only technology people would have were phones, television, cars, busses and cooking appliances. He did away with computers completely. I have never even seen a computer! He also made the laws about marriage. After that, he introduced the death penalty for most crimes. He rules by fear, not by love."
"Why didn't he make everybody be a certain religion?" she asked.
"Because he doesn't care about religion," Mickey said. "He just wants people to fear him."
"Mickey!" she cried. "You are his only son, so you will be king when he dies, right?"
"Yes," Mickey grinned down at her though she could not see it. "I will be king, and you will be queen when he dies. Together, we shall remove all the laws he made, and make the world a more peaceful place. You and I, dearest Kathy, will make the whole world remember how to smile once again!"
That night Mickey and Kathy made love.
"I hope to have many children," he said afterwards. "Heaps and loads of them!"
"Is that where children come from?" she asked.
"Blimey!" he cried. "Nobody ever told you where children come from?"
"No," she said, feeling she had let him down.
"Sex makes them," he said, then gave her the scientific explanation.
"So we just could have made a baby?" she asked, feeling the magnitude of what she had just done. "Mickey, I am hardly equipped to care for children with my disabilities. I can't always hear them, and they will run wild if they know Mum won't hear or see them."
"No they won't," Mickey said. "They will be raised by you and me to respect you and they will not get away with wildness when I'm around."
Nine months later, Kathy had her first baby girl. They named her Mickey, just for the delightful confusion two Mickeys would bring to their household.
Mickey was a joyful baby. She cried, but Kathy loved her anyway. She seemed to love Kathy, even though Kathy couldn't look at her.
Two months after Mickey was born, the old king took ill in the hospital. He was a mean man until his last moment, refusing to let Mickey visit one last time. He made a law on the last day of his life, decreeing that all disabled people were to be put to death. Of course, nobody carried out his final orders.
When he left the world, you could almost hear the collective sigh of relief.
Immediately, the queen came to live with Mickey and Kathy. She was a lovely woman, finally free from her husband's tyranny.
After the King's death, everything improved. Technology was taken out of storage, and computers filled desks once again. Kathy received her first pair of hearing aids and could hear a lot better with them. Mickey also got them braille books and Kathy began to learn to read.
Mickey learned too, so he could write letters to Kathy.
When they first appeared on television together, Kathy charmed the whole world with her smile and Mickey did like-wise. Little baby Mickey had her mother's smile too and charmed the cameras as well.
Kathy continued to have more babies, and soon their house was full of noise and confusion. Another of their daughters was named Kathy to add to the name confusion. The world was reborn, in joy and smiles under its new rulers.
Here ends the story of a girl who married and became a woman. I hope you have enjoyed reading it. This story was inspired by a dream I had that I was going to my wedding and did not even know the man's name!
June 11, 2005.