Gwen Twinklespark was upset. No, upset wasn’t the right word. Distraught, more like. The day had begun fairly well; she had seen no signs of it possibly going this bad. The eggs had been perfectly poached and her protein shake had tasted just the right amount of disgusting. Her D&G suit had been well ironed and her Jimmy Choos polished to the point where she could see her own carefully cared for picture perfect white teeth. It all began when her chauffeur had said “Get in, Barbie!” instead of the usual “Good morning ma’am”. She had been too shocked to react and simply got in.
“James, are you feeling quite alright?” James leaned over and grinned. He motioned for her to come closer and whispered “I feel like I’ve been whacked on the head with a what-do-you –call-‘em…a Humperdinck whale. Yeah, that’s right Barbie! A Humperdinck whale…hahahaha!”
Gwen sighed. She had been around parties long enough to realize that her chauffeur was drunk.
“Them tequilas are pretty good, you ought to try them! Do you really have to go for work? I don’t feel like driving you. In fact, I feel like flying. I always knew I should have become a pilot and joined the Coast Guard…”.
His voice faltered and he looked far, far away.
“James, go home, I’m late anyway, I’ll simply catch a taxi. James??”
He had passed out.
Well, at least he hadn’t covered the seats in vomit. Gwen called up her housekeeper and asked her to take James home. She set out walking and prayed fervently that she’d catch a taxi soon. Despite her gestures and attempted dignified yells, a taxi did not seem to be forthcoming. She walked faster and hoped that no one would notice that she had broken her own perfect record of full attendance at her office, when she eventually showed up.
The weather seemed to realize the fact that things had been quite perfect for quite some time. What had begun as a pleasant breeze had transformed into a hat-snatching gale. Gwen shuddered. She figured it would be easier if she took a shortcut by walking through the park. As she overtook an old lady with a pram, she suddenly stumbled and fell. Her Choo heels had decided get stuck among some slabs and she was the victim.
“Right, I’ll walk barefoot, no biggie!”
She hobbled along with her shoes in one hand and desperately trying to keep her hair out of her face. Taking a Hermes scarf from her handbag, she tied it around her hair. That felt much better. Now all she had to do was make it to the office alive.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a tree branch came whirling through the air and struck her in the face.
“Are you quite alright, there? You look like a raccoon, if you don’t mind me saying so! Now come on, open your eyes slowly, there’s a good girl..”.
The pain was terrible. She opened her eyes like she was told. She sat up.
“That’s better. You’ll be fine!” Strange, she couldn’t see her benefactor. Had her eyesight gone awry, perhaps?
“Um… excuse me, I can’t see you, there’s something wrong with me! ”Panic struck, Gwen looked all around her.
There was no sign of another human being.
“Of course you can’t see me! Wait, try now!”
A pair of very large green eyes gazed at her in concern. The green eyes were firmly ensconced in a purple face with yellow hair. There was no nose.
“Get away from me you… you… thing!!”
“Now that’s not a nice way to thank someone who just helped you to regain consciousness, is it? Especially if that someone is your Grandfather!”
Gwen wondered if the tree branch hadn’t just knocked her cuckoo.
Had the time come for her to see a shrink, like most of her colleagues? The hours on the couch… would they help?
“No, they won’t! Now quit that attitude, young lady and pay close attention to what I have to say!”
Right, the best thing now would be to play along and hope that her housekeeper had added some drug in her shake by mistake, or even worse, on purpose.
“She did no such thing! Velma is extremely responsible and has been caring for the Twinklesparks since generations.”
Gwen did the last thing she could. She pinched herself.
The green eyes were still there.
“I did not speak that aloud, how did you know what I thought? Who are you? Or WHAT are you? Get away!”
Suddenly, she felt as if she had been given an electric shock. She tried to raise her hand to push the creature away, but she couldn’t move a muscle.
She was completely immobilized.
“My dear girl, sorry I had to do that, but you’re not being very cooperative, are you? Listen to what I have to say. I am your grandfather; you may call me Grandfather, none of that Grampa, Gramps, Grandpappy nonsense for me. You are the youngest of the last of the Twinklesparks. Your brother is getting exceedingly bitter and utterly embroiled in the existentialist baloney that his good friend Jergut Iceglitter has fed him and refuses to rule anymore. He wants to spend the rest of his life in as meaningful a way as he can. Poor child. So now you have to take the throne, I’m afraid. I’m too old, you see.”
Gwen stared at his purple skin and said, “Listen, Grandfather! There’s a problem here, you know. I can’t possibly be your granddaughter; you’ve got the wrong girl here. I’m not purple either! And I have no brother! What exactly is this “brother” ruling? How can I rule anything? I have a job, and I’m quite happy because my life is more or less perfect. By the way, what do you mean Velma has been serving the Twinklesparks for generations? I took her in just three months ago.”
“Gwendolyn Amelia Cassiopeia Twinklespark, I am the former emperor of the Argadentian empire, of planet Argadentia in the Degeneratialli Solar system of the Andromeda galaxy. You, my dear, are expected to take over the throne in a few days. There is no other hope for our planet. You have led a normal existence as a human being thanks to your mother, who thought that life in Argadentia was a tad bit too boring and decided to settle on this little planet called Earth. Your father took to writing horrendous poetry and had to be locked up as a result. My poor darling son! Your mother has made you look like the others on the planet, she has her powers. We all have powers. “
Gwen blinked. Twice.
“Didn’t you ever find your name a little odd from these humans’ names? Twinklespark. It has eons of royalty attached to it. You have green eyes, still. Just human size. Haven’t you ever been told how wonderfully green they are? And your hair? The loveliest golden yellow. A pure Argadentian trait, that! And I made sure that Velma became your housekeeper; I anticipated your brother’s abdication for quite some time. Our planet needs you to survive, it cannot be ruled by anyone than of royal descent. We will perish if another dares to try and rule. Our civilization has been through that once, a long, long time ago. You have to come with me; we need to hurry, please. The people are getting worried about their emperor’s antics.”
“You want me to leave the life that I have and believe all this and come with you? Grandfather, I really…”
Her phone rang. The electronic sounds that emanated from her phone sounded strangely discordant amidst the soft rustling of the leaves in the park. The gale had long since subsided.
“Hello? Yes, its Gwen, I’m fine, just got hit by a tree branch, I’ll be there Steve, I’m sorry, I really am. No, actually… hello? hello?”
Great, Steve had cut the call. He hadn’t even bothered to ask if she was alright. Her fiancé suddenly seemed more hideous than the creature who claimed to be her Grandfather. It was always about work with him. All play and no work makes Steve a dull boy. That was his motto.
“Do you love that insolent creature, Gwendolyn? Trust me, I love you more. If you still don’t believe that I’m your Grandfather, will your mother’s word be enough? I can summon her here, right now, if you wish”.
“But mom’s dead, Grandfather, didn’t you know that?”
“She did that, did she? That Regina Dratejia Falintruble of the Falintrubles was the wrong one for my son, I told him that. But did he listen? Of course not. Your mother is actually in Argadentia, Gwendolyn. She returned. Your mother couldn’t bring you back because you were too old. After a certain age, only an Argadentian who wishes to come to Argadentia with all their heart can reach the planet. Especially a Twinklespark.”
He took a glowing golden ball from his pocket and stroked it thrice.
(Yes, apart from the purple skin and the huge green eyes, they really looked the same as human beings and wore clothes too.)
A silvery light emanated from the ball and soon took the unmistakable form of her mother.
Looking extremely sheepish, she attempted to smile at her daughter.
“I won’t try saying sorry now, though I am awfully sorry for putting you in this mess, Gwennie. Please listen to your Grandfather… come home. You deserve to meet your father and your brother after all these years. And save the planet, of course. Toodles honey, I have an urgent appointment.”
Gwen struggled to digest all this. She thought of her apartment. Of her perfect job and Steve.
Her grandfather’s huge green eyes mirrored her face. He was brushing aside the leaves from her hair.
Gwen smiled. She knew what she had to do.
Anushka Susan Mathew