For Children

Samara Choudhury

A Change in the Air

3rd & 4th Grade Prose Honorable Mention

I, Pierre Marisque, woke up on a cold slab of stone. I barely had 4 hours of sleep. My body ached, and I felt as if I had climbed a mountain even though I had not moved a muscle. I am a servant at Versailles, to King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette. My main duties are cleaning the bedpans and collecting and disposing of rubbish. I feel miserable here; I desperately want to leave.

“Pierre! Wake up!” said Guillaume Henri, the closest that I had to a friend.

“Ughhhh!” I groaned, not wanting to get up, but I somehow managed to stand up and walk a few steps. My legs were bruised, too bruised, and my hands were callused, too callused. I sneezed loudly as I staggered towards the kitchen.

“Marisque! Ferme ta gueule!” The head servant, Mathiew, shouted.

I felt my eyelids starting to close, but I rubbed them before they shut.

“Henri and Marisque, come over here this instant!” Mathiew hollered.

Guillaume and I shuffled over to where Mathiew was standing.

“You two must fetch the bedpans from the Royal Chambers. After that, you must clean them.” Mathiew yelled.

So that is what my life is—cleaning bedpans. If that is true, I am not content. I sighed as Guillaume and I slowly walked up the red velvet staircase that led to the Royal Chambers.

“Guillaume, do you like it here?” I asked. “As a matter of fact, Pierre, I do not.” Guillaume replied in a tone of despair.

“I do not like it here, either. I feel as if I have no self-worth. I want to be equal to everyone else—I want to be free.” I said in an equally hopeless voice.

“Well, one day we will leave,” Guillaume said quietly. “I just know it.”

***

I wonder if I will ever see my mother or father again. I had to leave them when I was eleven years old to come and work here, at Versailles. I have been here for two years, so for two years I have had callused hands, bruised feet, and a sluggish body.

Others may say that I am lucky—getting food, shelter, and clothing. But to be frank with you, I could really do without shelter. I would rather be with my mother and father, who are living on the streets. I would rather be with them than be King of France. Suddenly, a familiar voice interrupted my stream of thoughts.

“Pierre! Look what I have acquired!” Guillaume called.

“What is it? Can I see it?” I asked excitedly.

“Sure. It is yesterday’s newspaper!” Guillaume said as he hurried towards me.

“How are we supposed to make sense of it, Guillaume? We cannot read,” I said.

“Let us take it to Mathiew!” Guillaume said in an excited tone.

“Marvelous idea, Guillaume!” I said as I stood up.

Guillaume and I started to trot towards Mathiew’s spot on the stone cold floor. Mathiew grunted when he saw us.

“Monsieur Mathiew, may w-we t-trouble y-y-you to read th-ththis n-n-n-newspaper?”I stuttered, my heart pounding in my ears.

“Only if I get to keep it,” Mathiew replied grumpily.

“‘Tis a done deal,” Guillaume said as he and I sat next to Mathiew.

Mathiew’s eyes skimmed over the newspaper. “The majority of the newspaper is about how the peasants are revolting and how there is a rumor that they plan to storm the Bastille. There is nothing worth knowing after that.”

“Merci, Monsieur Mathiew,” Guillaume and I called in unison as we walked away from Mathiew.

When we were out of earshot, I asked Guillaume,” Shall we join the peasants?”

“‘Tis time,” Guillaume replied.

We sprinted in the direction of the palace gates.

“Just where do you think you are going?” A palace guard hollered.

Guillaume and I ignored him as we sprinted out of the palace. It felt as if we were sprinting away from containment and towards freedom.

And for the first time in forever, I had a feeling of self-worth that I had never felt before.