These are the first two pages of Chapter 1. There used to be a prologue, but I cut it in an attempt to get to the heart of the story quicker (Hatshepsut meeting with her father). Please critique to your hearts’ content!
“Stupid girl!” Thutmosis’ voice cracked, the prince’s voice pimpled as his face. “I’ll climb up there and get you myself.”
“I’d like to see you try.” Hatshepsut rubbed the pebble bite on her shoulder, clutching the sycamore’s branch with her other hand. He was bluffing. Her pudgy half-brother was terrified of heights- always had been. However, if Hatshepsut wasn’t careful one wrong move would send her plummeting to the grass below. That was an experience she could quite happily live without.
“It’s time for our lessons and we’re going to be late,” she said. “Let me come down.”
“As if I care about being late,” Thutmosis said with a sneer. “Nebtawi will just have to wait for me- I’m the prince.”
Hatshepsut rolled her eyes. She wished Neferubity was still at her side, the two sisters united together against their obnoxious half-brother. But her older sister had died from a fever almost a year ago, leaving Hatshepsut to fend for herself.
“I’m sure Nebtawi would consider himself blessed by Amun if he didn’t have to teach you today,” she said to Thutmosis.
Again, Hatshepsut received the sharp reply of a pebble, this time perfectly aimed right between her eyes. Squealing in pained surprise, both hands flew to her face. Too late Hatshepsut realized she had upset her precarious balance on the branch. She reached out to the tree’s taunting limbs, but they merely mocked her, already out of reach as she fell backwards, the green needles of the tree disappearing into the blue expanse of the Egyptian sky. Time slowed for the merest of seconds in the awful realization that she was going to hit the ground in an explosion of inevitable pain. Hatshepsut hit the grass with a thud that knocked the wind from her lungs in one pained gush.
Thutmosis sauntered over, his thick lips pulled back in a gloating smile. “You deserved that,” he said, chuckling as he sheathed the slingshot in his belt.
Hatshepsut was dying to respond to her brother’s barb, but couldn’t force the air into her lungs to breathe, much less talk. She lay on the grass, trying to ignore the wave of panic as she struggled for air.
“Too weak to get up? What a wimp.” Thutmosis’ sandal nudged her deeply in the ribs. “I should have suspected as much from you.”
He was enjoying this. She lay on the ground a few moments more before her lungs finally expanded, taking in ragged breaths of sweet air.
Struggling to her feet, Hatshepsut glowered at her half-brother. She was about to berate him, but was interrupted by the growl of a furious woman.
It was her mother.
The princess’ heart plummeted to the soles of her feet. It was obvious the queen was in a perfectly foul mood, but despite her nasty glare, Ahmose was still breathtaking stalking across the landscaped green. This afternoon she wore a shimmering sheath so artfully embroidered that the water and fish along the bottom hem splashed and jumped with each step she took.
Hatshepsut felt like a bug scurrying out from under a rock. The welt on her forehead certainly wasn’t going to help her mother’s mood.
“What in the name of Amun are you doing, child?” Ahmose sized up her daughter with a mixture of annoyance and disgust. Since Neferubity’s death, her mother rarely looked upon her with any other combination of emotions, but today Hatshepsut could hardly fault her for being upset. She was supposed to meet with her father this afternoon and it would hardly do for her to see the Pharaoh looking like she’d just fallen out of a tree, even if she had.
“She started it, Hemet.” Thutmosis was always more than happy to throw the blame at Hatshepsut. “It was her fault.”
“I’m sure it was, Thutmosis. It usually is.”