"Mother, I don't want to go to the Pledging Ceremony. I don't want to be married." Catherine Veller insisted, pulling up the blanket on her bed.
"Catherine, you are nineteen years old. You are of marrying age in the kingdom, and you will be pledged at the ceremony today at noon. There will be no further discussion. Now get dressed, we must leave in an hour." Her mother, Lucille, said, leaving Catherine's small, bare white room. Sighing, Catherine stomped to her closet and picked out a simple peach-colored ankle-length dress. It had flowing short sleeves and ruching detail along the waist. It was a gorgeous dress. Catherine hated it.
But Catherine always hated dressing up. Everyone involved in the Pledging Ceremony was required to dress up, because it was one of the most important days of your life. It was the day when all nineteen-year-olds in the Kingdom of Welshire were pledged to another nineteen-year-old, and married a month later. Catherine was the only person she knew who didn't want to be married.
"Catherine! Come on, you have to eat before we leave!" Lucille called. Catherine began her trek down the stairs while trying not to trip over her own feet, which were now caged into a pair of white high heels.
"Ooh, someone looks fancy." Catherine's 16-year-old sister, Amelia, teased as Catherine entered the kitchen.
"Catherine! Apologize to your sister right this second!" Lucille demanded.
"Sorry." Catherine muttered. "Anyway, this will be you in three years, and I'll be laughing then."
"Yeah, when you're married. Probably to Charlie!" Amelia exclaimed, biting into her muffin.
"I will not be married to Charlie." Catherine stated firmly. Charlie Smith was their nineteen-year-old neighbor, whom Catherine had known since they were born. Charlie was very sweet, but Catherine would never marry him.
"You're jinxing it!" Amelia exclaimed. "You're going to marry Charlie!"
"No I'm not!"
"Girls, stop arguing!" Lucille shouted, scooping some eggs and bacon onto Catherine's plate. She handed Catherine a peice of toast covered in raspberry jam and a tall glass of orange juice. "Eat quickly. We have to leave in twenty minutes." Catherine did so, scarfing down her food while making sure her dress remained spotless. She hadn't realized it had been twenty minutes until Lucille abruptly shrieked,
"Time to go! In the carriage, girls!" They headed outside and climbed into the carriage led by two gorgeous white horses. They normally would've taken a small cab, but since Catherine was being pledged, they had to take a carriage. It took ten minutes to get to the Pledging Hall, where the ceremony took place. While Lucille and Amelia sat in two empty chairs near the middle of the rows, Catherine went up to the front, where all the nineteen-year-olds sat. She had just sat down next to her best friend, Grace McKinn, when a woman from the Pledging Hall came up to the podium.
"Welcome everyone!" She spoke clearly, her voice booming out of the microphone. "I'm Eva Dorrel, and I will be calling the pledges this year. Alright, let's jump right in!" Eva reached into a large, clear tank and pulled out a slip of paper. She looked at it and spoke into the microphone,
"Ana Hale!" A girl four seats over from Catherine stood up and walked onto the stage. She walked to the other glass tank and stuck her hand in. It was tradition that a girl was called first, then she chose her husband by picking his name from the other glass tank. The girl brought out her hand, which was shaking, and handed the slip of paper to Eva.
"Lucas Quall!" Ava screeched. A boy who had been sitting on the right of Catherine got up and walked on stage. He formally greeted the girl and they walked off to the Pledge Room, where they would officially be pledged to one another. Ava put her hand back into the first tank.
"Catherine Veller!" Catherine inhaled and exhaled, then went on stage. She looked at Charlie, who smiled at her, then she looked at Lance Fischer, whom she had always had a crush on. She took another deep breath as she pulled a slip of paper out and handed it to Eva.
"Charlie Smith!" Eva called the one name Catherine had prayed not to hear. Charlie came up on stage and bowed, then kissed her hand, the formal greeting in Welshire. They then walked to the Pledge Room and sat down. Catherine sighed and sat back in her chair, wishing she was anywhere else but next to Charlie, about to begin the plans for their wedding, and their entire lives.