In answer to the weekly challenge Kill Your Darlings: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/editing-challenge/
The result of my editing: chopped it from 2,183 words to 1,592
She’d been here four years and it was the first time her parents were coming for a show or at all. It was always difficult for her father to free himself. When they arrived at the amphitheatre she was still in costume. She enjoyed the sensation of being someone else and the dark blue silk dress felt safe and comforting. It made her smile that her father kissed her cheek instead of hugging her because of it.
“Why are you not principal honey?” He asked.
“Others are better than me.” That was the truth but only just. Like her mother she was constantly fighting anxiety, mostly at being the centre of attention. That’s why the stage was good for her. “Hello mother.” She said as her mother’s eyes darted here and there scared of being in such a big place.
“Hi sweetie,” she said kissing her cheek too. “You look beautiful.”
“It’s only a costume mum. And I should be getting out of it before I make a mess of it and get in trouble.”
As she turned her eyes met Marco’s, their lead in the show. She barely knew him although he was always courteous and nice. He was now flirting with two girls of the choir or rather they were. Everyone assumed this was Marco’s last show: La Scala had offered to hire him as soon as he finished his Ph.D., something unheard of in recent years. She wasn’t so sure: she barely knew him but she’d seen him with other students. He enjoyed teaching as much as performing. Now he came to greet her as if he knew her.
“Ciao Erin. Good rehearsal today. Is this your parents?”
“You introduce me?”
“If you want. But won’t your friends be waiting?”
He shrugged and suggested they go and wait for him at the Piazza Navona later.
“Mum, Dad this is Marco our lead singer.”
He took her mother’s hand and kissed it probably to make her mother feel more comfortable. She might not have liked the Italian kisses on the cheek.
“Pleasure to meet you Senora Wilde.” He then shook her father’s hand with what must be a powerful hold for she could see the look of approval in her father’s eyes. “And you Senor.”
“Are you one of Erin’s singing partners?”
She flushed and coughed. Of course…
“I don’t have the… che… privilege. But I hear she’s very good, great even.”
She was sorely tempted to tell him to shut up but there never seemed to be enough time to stop her father when he spoke of her ‘talent’.
“She’s talented but too shy. I’m sure she’s better than the lead female. No offence really. But she probably messed up her audition. She was never good at these.”
Marco looked at her with a raised eyebrow; she was mortified but what could she say? The only audition she hadn’t failed was to come here because they always took place behind a panel that judges would not be influenced by the looks. Theatre came after singing. And she wouldn’t tell her father she hadn’t auditioned for the principals. Thankfully Marco he took his cue from her and didn’t comment.
“I’ll go change. Marco have a good afternoon,” she cut in before running away.
Corinna wasn’t happy with her and started berating her in Italian.
“I’m sorry Corinna.” She apologized. “I just said hi to my parents. It’s always packed in here just after rehearsal here.”
“Let’s get you out of that dress.” Corinna’s tone changed. She knew Erin didn’t like the crowded space she thrived in. Erin untied the laces on the side while Corinna undid the button at her neck. It was easier to get undressed with someone’s help though she could technically do it herself. As the woman left she changed into a blouse and a long cotton skirt: it was only May but it was getting warm. Pressing the heels of her hands against her lids she closed her eyes…
And opened them to find herself in the middle of a paved street that she knew very well. She looked around; horses trotted on the pavement in place of cars. She looked down: at least she still wore her clothes. She had landed here and in other worlds naked a number of times. She couldn’t really remember the first time she arrived in this particular world though she knew it was a story people told. The Queen died giving birth to a stillborn daughter and the King had come to the sanctified wood with his sons to pray for her. Instead they found her in front of the temple. Many here thought the god and goddess sent her as a message to the king and to the world. She just thought she’d been lucky that it was the royal family members who found her. Someone tugged at her sleeve forcing her to look down: a boy with a big smile on his face.
“My Lady Erin, they said you might come today. Your father awaits you.”
She followed the child through the streets noticing as she went that things had changed. How much time had passed since her last visit? Time didn’t always run the same way between the worlds. In some places a month was a hundred years, though in the two she’d spent most of her life, time was somewhat aligned. It had taken her some time to understand which world was her own, and which one was – not the product of her imagination as a shrink once put it – not really hers. Because she had known for a long time she wasn’t imagining these places.
The king once said the god and goddess’ oracles prophesized her arrival. She was found on sacred grounds, but she didn’t know what that meant. The first time she had spent four years in this world but returned to her two year old self in her life. That had been a surprising experience to not be able to talk when she knew her first words and letters. Afterwards she had – somehow – grown up in both world simultaneously spending her days on earth and her nights in Lestarion, the kingdom the man who claimed her as his daughter ruled. Here they knew she was a traveller of the worlds, a gift of Aeon and Aditi to protect them in their dire need. But until now nothing had happened. Her last visit was two months before, which was quite a long stretch for her.
At the gates the guards hailed her: she asked them to give a silver coin to the child for his services. She would repay it later… and then she moved on as the boy raced back into the city his new treasure in hands. She had barely taken two steps when she was lifted in a bear hug.
“You’re here.” Declan kissed her cheek. She was an only child in her world and she had always enjoyed the sibling dynamic of this world. Her brother twirled upon himself before setting her down, dizzy and dishevelled but laughing nonetheless.
“Perfect. I probably look like the mad lady from Persal. What will father say?”
“That you are gorgeous as usual. Come! They will be glad to see you. Damian’s been nagging the oracle for two months to know whether you’ll be here for his wedding.”
“Wait! What? Damian is getting married. But…”
“You’ve been gone two years my love.”
“Two years! How! I was gone two months. What’s going on?”
“I don’t know for sure. But the oracle is worried it might mean trouble. We’ve had skirmishes with Tarselan but… Let’s not talk about that today. Today’s Damian’s.”
“And you dear. What of love?”
“Ah,” he shrugged. He was never very interested in the notion. But she’d been gone two years. “We shall not speak f me today.”
“Alright. As you wish.”
Taking her arm he led her to the throne room. She knew the etiquette here and she knew she couldn’t hug the king where anyone could enter and witness the casual expression of affection. So she curtsied offered respect and congratulations before going to her appointed apartments where she cleaned up and changed. She heard the door open just as she finished tying her dress.
“Sarina had a dress made for you for the wedding. You’ll like it.”
“Damian.” She hugged her brother. “Happiness suits you.”
As Declan followed in Erin remembered people thought Damian more handsome than his brother whose ruggedness sometimes frightened people. To be fair Declan was an impressive 6 feet 7 with a warrior’s bulk. Damian was less intimidating. The elder brother was a soldier, who would not enjoy sitting in a throne room to rule a country and provide heirs for the kingdom.
“You will be heir, won’t you?” She told Damian, not really asking.
“You should be our oracle dear child,” the king said as he too entered the room.
“I shouldn’t father. But I know the three of you. Where are you going Declan?” His raised eyebrow was telling. But it was Damian’s day. “Searching for a bride in far away Persepolis?”
“Probably not far enough,” Declan answered his eyes twinkling with mischief.
So they spoke and she listened. She had missed much and it concerned her but today was one of celebration. She had come back just in time for her brother’s wedding. The ceremony would happen the next day at moonrise: marriages always happened when Aeon’s moon and Aditi’s sun both graced the sky.