Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: BAGGAGE (02/08/18)
TITLE: Check-in Time
By Francy Judge
LEAVE COMMENT ON ARTICLE
SEND A PRIVATE COMMENT
ADD TO MY FAVORITES
Requests the honor of your presence
Sunday, the eighteenth of February
At twelve o’clock in the afternoon
If you accept this invitation,
you may stay in one of the guest rooms.
Pack only your most valued items
And this invitation.
The sisters mailed their reply the next day. They had one week to pack.
“Why would the King invite us to his banquet?”
“We are related. Maybe he is inviting anyone related.”
“Our father is related by marriage, third cousin twice removed, if that counts. It’s strange, but thrilling.”
Charlotte waved the invitation like a fan. “Does it matter why? Let’s pack.”
They pulled every dress out of their closet. Nothing seemed appropriate for a party with the king, so they raced to the mall and charged a week’s worth of outfits. Silk floral tops, flowing skirts, designer gowns, and high heels, worth a month’s wages.
Madeline laid her new clothes on her bed. “We’re going to need bigger luggage to fit all this.”
Charlotte folded her clothes as flat as possible and tossed in perfumes, a hair dryer, her laptop, and phone charger. “Watch how I do it.” She sat on the bulging suitcase and zipped it using all her strength.
“We’ll need to borrow an iron from someone.”
“I’m sure the palace must have one. I’ve never seen the King in wrinkled clothes.”
Madeline held up her chartreuse strapless gown. “I can’t wait to wear this.” She folded it neatly and placed it in the center for minimal creasing; then she placed her invitation in the center.
On Saturday morning, they lugged their forty pound suitcases three blocks to the train station. Their back muscles ached as they traveled from city streets lined with reflecting skyscrapers to rolling hills draped with emerald grass. A golden path led them to the gate of the palace adorned with jewels.
Madeline sighed as she placed her bag on a cart. “This luggage is heavier than when I packed it.”
They joined a weaving line of guests, carrying various size duffle bags and suitcases, each weighing down the carrier. “Looks like we aren’t the only ones who over packed.”
The distant sound of violins and flutes textured the air around them as attendants wearing white suits escorted each individual to private rooms.
“Before entering your room, the King has asked us to open every guest’s luggage to remove anything superfluous.”
Madeline couldn’t imagine what he meant, but listened and unzipped her suitcase. Her cheeks flushed as pile of clothes nearly jumped out. “I may have packed a bit more than was necessary.”
“You’re not the first to be burdened by an overabundance of needless stuff. The King has promised to provide each guest with what is needed.”
Madeline watched the attendant toss every item packed into a bag, including her laptop and phone. “Ah, there it is. The King will be pleased. You remembered to pack the only needed item.”
Madeline peered into an empty suitcase. The attendant handed her the invitation she brought. “Here. You will need this to enter your palace room.”
She opened the envelope and pulled out a solid gold key. Madeline’s heart nearly burst with excitement. As Madeline opened her door, she was greeted by the scent of honeysuckles and lilacs. “I trust you’ll enjoy the pleasing aroma for your time here.”
“It’s glorious. Thank you.”
Meanwhile Charlotte’s attendant removed her satin gowns and paraphernalia from her luggage until it was completely empty.
“What are you looking for?” Charlotte heart felt uneasy at the pouting look on her attendant’s face. “What’s wrong? Why did you empty my suitcase?”
“None of this was needed; you forgot the most important item. You don’t have your invitation.”
Tears streamed down Charlotte’s cheeks. “I didn’t know I needed it. My sister brought hers, so I thought that was good enough.”
“The instructions were clear. Your invitation held the key to your room. Without it, you can’t enter the palace. I’m sorry.”
Charlotte left with the other guests who didn’t have a key. An emptiness consumed her.
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