Elizabeth Elwood's story "Number 10 Marlborough Place" wins Best Short Story in the Crime Writers of Canada 2022 Awards of Excellence.
KATIE MEETS THE KING, Or how not to go AWOL if you don’t want to get caught out.
During a Royal visit in March of 1998, it was announced that Prince (now King) Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry would make a visit to Burnaby South High School. Katie, then fourteen, naturally shared the worldwide crush teenage girls had for the young princes, and she and her friends were desperate to snatch their chance to meet the royals. However, the royal visit was scheduled during the school day, and Katie’s school was in East Burnaby. She begged me to let her have the day off, but given the mobs that were predicted, I pointed out that she would never be able to get close to the princes and flatly refused to give her permission to skip school. She was most annoyed with me, but sulkily acceded and set off for school in the morning. When she returned home that afternoon, she looked smug and was unusually quiet. Nothing more was said and I assumed I was forgiven for being the world’s meanest mother. However, when the two local papers were delivered later that week, I realized why my daughter had looked so pleased with herself. There she was, all smiles, on the front page of both papers, along with the headline, “Burnaby Teens Love the Prince”.
Katie was only momentarily abashed to find out that she hadn’t got away with her escapade. However, far from being contrite when I waved the newspaper in front of her face, she was jubilant about her triumph and pleased as punch that she’d been proved right. In spite of the crowds, she had succeeded in talking with all three Royals. Charles, she giggled, had a twinkle in his eye, probably because one of her friends had cheekily handed him a slip of paper with her phone number and asked him to give it to Prince William. Having chuckled and told them they were naughty girls, the future king moved on and left the two young princes to shake hands with and charm the girls. A triumph for the teenagers indeed.
I suppose I should have realized that Katie’s lack of argument was highly suspect and that she would ignore my edict and go AWOL with her friends. I have to admit it was highly enterprising of them to get to the front and actually meet their idols. Hugh and I managed to maintain appropriately disapproving expressions when we remonstrated with her, but we laughed a lot later when we were on our own. Our amiable daughter obviously had an independent spirit and a lot of determination under that docile façade, but what a public way of getting caught out! Those press clippings said it all.