The Proper Princess Protocols

What To Do When Meeting Your Princely Husband For The First Time:

1. Smile adorably, even if you’re being jerked out of a pit with coarse rope.
2. Don’t correct him, when he claims his chicken is a phoenix.
3. Don’t correct him about anything, really.
4. Smile adorably, even if he’s smiling at another princess.

Within the realm of Things That Could Be Wrong with your Princely Husband, Juan’s flaws were really quite minor. In fact, Leonora was even willing to call them Wholly Understandable, if not Entirely Overlookable or maybe even Completely Forgivable (terms she was well acquainted with, considering their flagrant use to describe her father’s peccadilloes). After all, Juan’s positive attributes more than outweighed his imperfections. For one thing, he wasn’t Majarlikan. For another, he only had one head, walked on two feet, and had nice, even teeth instead of poisonous fangs. Which was not to say that Lea had anything against her latest spurned suitor, who wasn’t Majarlikan, but had seven heads, no limbs and a rather dangerous smile. (Except that Lea did have a small issue with how inhuman her suitor looked, though she knew it wasn’t his fault he was born as a seven-headed snake.)

Despite the unassailable logic emblazoned in her mind, Lea still found herself uncomfortable with the given circumstance. It wasn’t because Diego, Juan’s older brother, was ignoring her (Lea had come to understand that a number of people were destined to have dubious taste if not imperfect eyesight). It wasn’t because Pedro, Juan’s oldest brother, was giving her some Flattering Attention (Lea couldn’t fault him for being appropriately dazzled by her beauty, charm and ample breasts). It wasn’t even because Juan was smiling at the Sampaguita-Smelling Princess in pretty much the same way he had smiled at her (because Juan was obviously just being polite).

The only flaw of Juan’s that bothered Lea, really, was the chicken.

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The Turning

I’ve called my granddaughter, the one who enjoys my stories the most, to join me this afternoon; there is one story I would like to tell to her, and to my favorite tree – a big one with branches cascading downward into a canopy, and sporting a low lying branch one can comfortably sit or even sleep on. It is rather funny looking and its leaves are always rustling in the wind. Whenever I go there, I take the outside route that I always prefer: not through the house and out the backdoor, but through the narrow path at the right side of the house into the old play area at the back, where, if one comes by on a sunny afternoon, one will be greeted by the sight of kids running under soft sunlight streaming down through branches, the ground mottled with shadows, and a drizzling of leaves to welcome me.

I still visit them, our trees. I would sit underneath them for hours on end to bask in their presence, to accept the quiet understanding and comfort they offer when I need it, or to listen for the secrets that only they can smile about.

The trees always welcome me back.

“You’re looking a fine green today, hija,” he said as he dragged himself out of the front door and onto the porch.

“You should sun yourself here, Lolo.”

“Thank you, hija, but I’ve already had my share of the sun earlier,” he replied as he sat in his big chair.

Things remained normal in our part of town that day. A friend, fresh from a trip outside the country, was back to selling his trinkets right outside his house. Another neighbor, a very interesting old pair and among our very good friends, had just gotten themselves a cute little pup that they showed me a day earlier when my grandpa and I went to visit. They waved as they passed. The street was littered with people who were out for a walk on that lazy Saturday afternoon.

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