The Dragon Sash
I still wore the veil held in place by a jade comb, but I refused to wear the elaborate headdress. I relented to wearing everything else. The shoes I was wearing were made with a soft red fabric. Green turtles were stitched into the sides. The dress I was wearing was white with a red robe. The sash tied around my waist was also white but with red dragons stitched into it. It was the final piece to the whole ensemble. It was a gift, he had asked me to wear it.
We were out in the peach grove under all of the blossoming trees. I was in a palanquin, a light silk fabric screening my face from him. I came from just as much a royal family as he did. Surrounding me were twelve men. He was alone. We had only meant twice before and those times were only coincidences. He held out both hands. Folded over them was the sash. He said he would be honored if I wore it. How could I have refused him? It was probably the most beautiful gift I had ever been given. However, I should have known the intentions behind it, especially since it was coming from him.
It was only a few weeks after that, when I found myself sitting in my room surrounded by maids. They were all combing my hair, touching my skin, trying to decide how to paint my face. I turned to them and said, “Dress me how you want, but you must choose whether I wear the headdress or the sash. I will not wear both. I will not let others seal my fate when I am perfectly capable of deciding my future for myself.”
I was without the headdress, but the sash suddenly felt too tight. I wanted out of the Bridal Chair and into the open air. I wanted out from behind the curtains and the veil. Looking ahead I saw the palace doors open. Looking behind me, I watched them close. With the gates behind me and the crown prince somewhere in the palace in front of me, I knew the dragon sash tied around my waist had tied me to this occasion. I now had little to no part in my own future. I knew that whether I liked it or not, I was now bound to the crown prince and his future the moment I accepted the sash, something I never should have done.