Mig has her first glimpse of a better life

When Mig turned seven years old, there was no cake, no celebration, no singing, no present, no acknowledgment of her birthday at all other than Mig saying, “Uncle, today I am seven years old.”

And Uncle saying in return, “Did I ask ye how old you were today? Get out of my face before I give ye a good clout to the ear.”

Mig has nothing to look forward to but more abuse – she can’t even dream of a handsome prince or knight coming to save her, because who would ever want a cauliflower-eared girl like her?

A few hours after receiving her birthday clout to the ear, Mig was out in the field with Uncle’s sheep when she saw something glittering and glowing on the horizon.

She thought for a moment that it was the sun. But she turned and saw that the sun was in the west, where it should be, sinking to join the earth. This thing that shone so brightly was something else. Mig stood in the field and shaded her eyes with her left hand and watched the brilliant light draw closer until it revealed itself to be King Phillip and his Queen Rosemary and their daughter, the young Princess Pea.

The royal family was surrounded by knights in shining armor and horses in shining armor. And atop each member of the royal family’s head, there was a golden crown, and they were all, the king and the queen and the princess, dressed in robes decorated with jewels and sequins that glittered and glowed and captured the light of the setting sun and reflected it back.

“Gor,” breathed Mig.

Then the princess notices her, waves and greets her, but of course Mig doesn’t hear it.

Mig did not wave back; instead, she stood and watched, open-mouthed, as the perfect, beautiful family passed her by.

“Papa,” called the princess to the king, “what is wrong with that girl? She will not wave to me.”

“Never mind,” said the king. “It is of no consequence, my dear.”

“But I am a princess. And I waved to her. She should wave back.”

This is one of the first indications that the Pea is really a bit spoiled, and she fails to understand much outside her own (very narrow and privileged) experience.

Mig, for her part, continued to stare. Looking at the royal family had awakened some deep and slumbering need in her; it was as if a small candle had been lit in her interior, sparked to life by the brilliance of the king and the queen and the princess.

For the first time in her life, reader, Mig hoped.

And hope is like love . . . a ridiculous, wonderful, powerful thing.

Mig tried to name this strange emotion; she put a hand up to touch one of her aching ears, and she realized that the feeling she was experiencing, the hope blooming inside of her, felt exactly the opposite of a good clout.

She smiled and took her hand away from her ear. She waved to the princess. “Today is my birthday!” Mig called out.

But the king and the queen and the princess were by now too far away to hear her.

“Today,” shouted Mig, “I am seven years old!”

Next time: A wish…

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