After and Before

Word Prompt: There was sadness in her face

Wednesday has come around again and I’m happy to present this week’s flash fiction.

Prince Jacob stood in the gallery ignoring the slow creep of the sunlight’s angel through the window as he stared at the painting. For the past hours he’d tried to tease out her expression.

“Jacob,” the ever-nervous voice of Nathan, his squire, sounded nearby. “I searched everywhere for you. Council began a half hour ago.”

“Obviously, not everywhere. I’ve been here.” Nathan moved behind him partially blocking the sun. “Tell me, what do you think of this painting?”

“I. Err. What do I think?”

Jacob turned around. “What do you think? Of the subject? Of her mood?”

The man dithered looking between the painting and Jacob. “Your mother was a lovely woman, but we should be–”

“This is research for the meeting.” Jacob turned back to the painting.

“How?” Nathan asked. “She’s been… gone for years? How does she figure into the ball’s plans?”

“They painted this shortly after she came to live here following such a ball.” Jacob raised a hand tracing her outline. “If I am to discuss repeating such an exercise should I not know more than vague tales?”

Nathan said nothing. The lack of response hardly surprised Jacob. Nathan, younger than Jacob, had less cause to hear the tale. A princess chosen at a dance. A queen vanished in the night leaving only this portrait and a son behind.

However, the painting held no answers. Jacob sighed. “Fine, let us go.” He glanced back at his mother’s countenance. There was sadness in her face.

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