“CASSIE. CASSIE, DARLING, WHERE ARE YOU?” My mom came tumbling into the kitchen, almost knocking over the flower vase while she was at it. I looked up from my bowl of cereal and saw my mom, who was practically in hysterics, holding an opened emerald green envelope with a gold seal fapping every which way as she ran towards me.

Confused, I reached for the envelope when she had finally made it to my side. “What is this?” I asked over my mother’s joyful sobs. The envelope was heavy is my hands, but when I pulled out the letter inside, it was only that - a simple letter. Or so I thought.

My mother pulled a tissue out of her back pocket and wiped her eyes dry. “Honey, I am SO proud of you-“


“-I would have expected something like this from Hailey, but never from you, my dear Cassie-“

“-Mom!” I shouted, my heart pounding. What was in this letter that made my mom so… whatever she was. Only one way to find out, I thought.

“Just, read the letter, honey. I’m so proud of you-“


“Ok, ok.” She was so giddy she looked at if she was going to faint.

Slowly, I unfolded the letter, which had been hand written on the thickest, fanciest piece of paper I had ever seen in my entire 16 years of life. It was only until I saw who it was from that I stopped admiring the paper and felt like throwing it away instead.

To Miss Cassie Fray,

Your submitted piece to the nation-wide contest of literature and art has won first place for your social class/age group. As a result, Prince Carter Albertine formally requests your presence at the annual Whitlock Ball, where you will make a speech expressing your love for the kingdom and the Royal Family.

If for some reason you are unable to attend, that is unfortunately unfortunate, in your case. This is a required event. Formal attire will be provided at the Castle, as well as a place to sleep for your required two weeks of attendance.

On Friday, at noon, you will be formally delivered to the castle.


William Williams

(Royal Organizer)

I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t even move. Who had entered me into this contest? If it hadn’t been my mom…

When I finally found my voice, I stood up and glared at my mom. “Who did this?”

My mom’s brow furrowed in confusion. Hesitantly, she said, “You entered this contest, Cassie, dear. You wouldn’t have won if you didn’t-“

“I didn’t enter ANY contest, mom! This wasn’t my doing!” I blindly threw the envelope onto the table, which conveniently landed with a plop in my bowl of Frosted Flakes. With a shriek, my mom quickly picked it out of my bowl, fanning it with her hand in the process. Finally, I said, “I’m not going.”

My mom laughed. “Oh, yes you are. I don’t care if you don’t want to. You HAVE too. Did you even read the letter?”

My mom opened the milk-soaked letter and pointed to the letter. “See?” She said. “William Williams said so himself, dear.”

“Any guy with that as his name can kiss my-“

Just then, my younger sister Hailey came bolting into the kitchen, a fake tiara sitting lopsided on her head. “Oh, Cassie! It’s all over the news! No one from our social class has ever been chosen as the winner!” She was speaking unnaturally fast, even for an 11 year old girl. “I just knew you could do it. That’s why I entered you into the contest in the first place. Just think: You’ll be meeting THE Carter-“

“You WHAT?” I yelled, pacing towards her. She shrunk back into the wall behind her.

“I thought you’d appreciate it, since I knew you’d never enter it yourself…“

“What were you thinking!” I cried, willing myself not to rip that awful tiara off her cute little head. She knew how much I despised the royal family. She knew I hated the gowns and fancy parties and talking in front of crowds. And now, I’ll be going to the palace, going to fancy parties for two weeks straight, and giving as many speeches as the terrible Carter Albertine wants me to give.

I took a long, deep breath, smiled, and quietly said, “I’m actually going to kill you.”

My mom shrugged to Hailey. “At least she’s subtle with it.”

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