I can't believe it. He's treating me like... like I would only have imagined princesses to be treated. I just stare at him in shock after he kisses my hand. I notice in the back of my mind that he doesn't actually greet Frederick, except for when he names him as a prince. But I'm too baffled by this man's reaction to seeing me to care about what goes on with Frederick for the moment.
"Hey, he's asking you a question," Mesi nudges me.
Oh, hmm? I think, and then realize I'm not speaking.
"She doesn't talk," Frederick informs the man, then looks down at me. "Tell him your name."
I show him the front of my notepad, on which I've written my name.
"Ahh, I knew a young girl called Annie once. It's such a pretty name." The man smiles, getting up. "Perhanps you could be her?"
I shrug and shake my head. I doubt it.
"Can you be sure? She was a small child, she should be your age now. She had a nice family."
My family weren't aren't nice, I show him. They |l|e|f|t| m|e|. I've scribbled the last bit out so much that it's barely visible.
"Sounds about right," The man mutters so quietly I almost don't hear it. I decide to ignore it.
Mesi exclaims, "What?" And I know she can't be talking about what I wrote 'cause she already knows that.
"Oh," the man says. "I said 'oh'"
"Derric! That's not what you said,"
"Yes it is."
I tug Mesi's shirt and then nod so that they won't start an argument. I know that neither Mesi nor Frederick buy it but at least Mesi lets it go. Derric sends me a 'thanks' look, so I then know that I was supposed to hear what he said.
I look down the queue to see that most of them are sat down, so I do the same and so do Mesi, Frederick and Derric. Then Maria skips down the enitre length of the hall and sits on my knee. She then takes my notepad off me.
I'm going to talk like this until you talk not like this.
You'll have to get another notepad, I write back.
We then enter a little staring competition which Maria ends by laughing just a second before I do. Maria then turns around to face Frederick, and looks at him pointedly.
"Frederick," Frederick tells her. I roll my eyes. This guy has obviously forgotten what it's like to be a young child. I haven't had a proper young child experience but I do know what it's like.
Teach him how to play Foggy Boxes, I write to Maria, and then draw ten rows of ten dots underneath. Maria nods enthusiastically and then moves over to sit next to Frederick. It's fun to watch him try to learn how to play the simple game, and I can tell Mesi and Derric are amused too.