Continued from Green-Clad in Gardens.
The princess stood on bare feet in the tub. Sticky, color-shifting liquid clung to her toes, and she held her skirt tight at the gardener’s instruction. He stood behind her, bent at the waist and gripping the hoop that rested in the liquid.
The man shook it in the liquid, and bubbles formed, rainbow and delicate-looking.
“Ready?” The man’s voice was eager.
She nodded, and suddenly, the hoop lifted around her, up over her head.
She gasped, eyes wide as before her, a wall of shifting rainbows danced in the slightest breeze, just in time for the sunlight to finally penetrate the small sanctuary. Her eyes slowly traveled, and she gazed at every part of the beautiful curtain of liquid she could take in without moving. “Pretty…” The word was barely a breath, and with that one word, the curtain fell, sending tiny drops of liquid onto her dress and arms.
“It broke!” She turned to look back at the gardener. “Did I do something wrong?”
“No, no.” He grinned. “It doesn’t last very long, that’s all.
“Oh.” She looked down for a moment and nibbled the inside of her lip. The silence lengthened as he watched her.
“Want to do it again?” The large man tilted his head.
Her wide-eyed gaze didn’t leave him, and she nodded quickly, then faced forward again as he lowered the ring down into the basin.
“Ready.” She nodded, then held her breath as the shimmering wall lifted again. It looked how she wished her chambers looked, and for a moment, in that shimmering ring, she felt weightless. A smile teased at her lips, and then a grin broke free. She felt light in her stomach and giggled, quickly closing her lips to hold the breath away from the delicate wall.
It felt like so much longer, but it was only a few seconds before the liquid suddenly crashed downward, and the man lowered the ring.
“Can we do it again?” She turned to him without hesitation.
“Want to see something else we can do with it?”
The princess’s smiled lessened, and she tilted her head. “Yes?”
The man handed her one of the sticks with a hoop on it. The stick’s loop was tied on at the top and at the middle of the rod with a smooth cord. She turned it over in her hand, and then looked at him.
“Dip it in the juice.” He picked one up for himself and dipped it into the basin, pulling it up to reveal a similar curtain to the one before, though this was clearly much smaller. He let it drip once, and then blew through it.
Dancing orbs of rainbow colors burst from the curtain like doves from a cage. They floated weightlessly, bobbing and swirling.
The princess rushed over to mimic the man, though in her rush, she blew too hard and popped her curtain. She looked to the man with a pout.
“Slower. Air that’s in a rush cuts right through, instead of making bubbles. Just try again.”
Over her next few tries, she experimented with different blowing speeds until finally, she found the right balance.
The following hour was filled with drifting bubbles and the laughter of two strangers as they threw aside their worries.