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Why I Sing-


“Ana.” My mother’s sharp, clipped voice shrills through the air. “Get down here.”
My head tilts back.
“Please,” I whisper softly, “set me free.”
I jump down. Unlike my mother, I’m smart enough to know not to wear a big poofy dress in the
middle of the forest. My outfit is simple-short black training shorts and a matching black turtleneck.
The dead leaves crunch and crack loudly as I land, sharp pain flaring up from the balls of my feet.
I ignore it, used to the pain, and take several slow steps forward towards my mother. Hands slipping into
the large leather brown gloves that dangle from my belt loops, I wrench them free and stop in front of
the woman. My knuckles crack and pop as my hands clench and unclench into tight fists.
My mother allows her red eyes to skewer me for a few moments. “What do you think you’re
doing out here?” She growls. “There are things to be done. The whole kingdom is coming to the ball
tonight and it is your duty as Princess to help prepare for it.”
“You don’t need my help.” I say coldly. “I will only get in your way.”
My mother is a perfectionist, to the extreme. Once she has her mind set on something there’s
no turning back. Everything has to be done a certain way, otherwise it’s simply wrong. And my mother
doesn’t like wasting time during the infamous Countdown Hours.
“That doesn’t matter.” My mother barks and snaps her fingers as she twirls around, the telltale
sign that she wants me to follow and I don’t exactly have a choice in the matter. “Your preparations are
in other areas. Come.”
“Oh,” I fall into step behind her, glaring at the crunchy leaves. “That’s right. You’re selling me off
tonight.”
My head jerks to the side, pain stinging through the skin of my now bright red cheek. The
cracking sound echoes through the forest, cutting through the air like a gunshot. Painful tears swell up
around the rims of my eyes, threatening to bubble over, but I blink them back-hands curled into tight
knuckle shattering fists at my sides. Emotionless ruby eyes meet my mother’s.
“I am not selling you.” My mother hisses through her bared white teeth. “All of them have asked
for your hand in marriage. It is up to your soul to decide which one you will be with.”
I don’t answer. If I do, I cannot guarantee it will be nice or appropriate.
Taking my silence as defeat, my mother turns back around and continues forward towards the
castle. I follow silently, eyes zeroed in on the trees around me. Soon the number of trees begins to
dwindle and I find myself stepping onto the familiar carved path that my parents installed when I was
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