By this time many of the other children had gathered at the maze entrance to see what was happening. Atamar stared around at them.
"Do you mean to tell me that you have been letting me win and that you get in trouble if you don't?!"
Everyone nodded. Atamar was shocked, but she knew they were telling the truth. "But that's not right. That's not winning."
No one said anything. "Would it help if I told everyone including your parents that I want the race to be fair and that I don't want anyone to let me win?"
Several people shook their heads, but Sesje spoke up, "No. They would still tell us to let you win. You are the princess, and it is your birthday."
Atamar looked around in puzzled disappointment for a minute when a new thought made her gasp. "But if you know that you aren't allowed to win, what fun is that for you?"
None of them would look at her. A lump formed in Atamar's throat as she struggled to get the next words out. "Would you rather I didn't join the race?"
A few people looked up for the briefest moment before looking back at the ground. No one said a word, however in those few glances, she had seen the hope, and she knew what she had to do.
With a sob, she said, "I don't want to get you into trouble again. I am sorry I didn't know before. I will not join the scarf race again, but in return for this, I ask each of you to make me a promise."
They had all looked up at her words and she could see the joy and relief in their eyes, but again no one spoke. They simply waited to hear what she had to say next.
She slowly looked around the group, making eye contact with each person before she said, "I want you to promise that you will always tell me if you have to let me win at something, and that whenever we are free from adults, that you will NEVER let me win.
I only want to win if I really won. Will you promise?" She saw several people glance at each other, as everyone nodded in agreement.
Atamar gave a sigh of relief but also of disappointment. Giving up the scarf race was hard, but she knew she wouldn't ever enjoy the race again even if she competed.
Before they left the shelter of the bushes, Fanfity spoke. "Princess Atamar, I know my mom would be upset if she knew that we had told you that we had to let you win."
Heads started nodding vigorously in agreement. "So, I suggest we have a code. What if we make it a greeting and say, "Promising day Princess." That way, if I have to let you win at something, I can say "Promising Day Princess" and you will know what I mean but my mother won't."
At the time, Princess Atamar had no idea how often she would hear those words... But it only took her a few minutes to begin to understand.
After their break, they headed back inside for more lessons. They were going to work on reading in Atamar's class. As the students filed in, each of them passed Atamar's seat and said, "Promising day Princess." Atamar had looked up in astonishment.
"What could it mean? They weren't having a race. They were only reading." Then it hit her. She was going to be the best reader. When it was time for her riding lesson later that day, the others who were riding with her came to say, "Promising day Princess."
The next day they had a math test and the first thing the others said to her was "Promising day Princess." By the end of that second day, Atamar's head was spinning.
She wanted to scream, but instead she cornered Enielda. "Tell me the truth Enielda, do you have to let me win at everything?" Atamar demanded. Enielda glanced around furtively before whispering, "Yes."
Atamar sighed in disappointment, then asked, "And everyone else does too?" Again Enielda glanced around and then softly whispered, "Yes."
Atamar turned away before the tears could start falling. "Thank you for being honest," she whispered before hurrying off...
YOU ARE READING
Princess Atamar has always grown up being the best. Of course, it wasn't of her choosing. Every teen in the kingdom, including her closest friends were forced to make sure Atamar always won their games, had higher grades, and was better at everythin...