Sometimes You Wonder

Photo by Lians Jadan on Unsplash

You hate being queen.

You hate the stares you get everywhere you go. You hate the suffocating expectations, the loneliness that is always lurking at the edge of the room.

Most of all you hate the act you and the king play. Two strangers in a careful dance, playing out a love story neither of them feel. Every day, he hands you compliments filled with hidden knives that you accept with fluttering eyelashes and a fake smile. Smiling tastes like ash, but you know that it’s the only way to survive in this world of glass shards.

But, as you stride around your palace, you know that you wouldn’t go back, even if you could. Before, you were a shopkeeper’s daughter. Now you are a queen. You won the beauty pageant. You won the queendom.

Now that you’ve been served bread on a gold plated platter, you couldn’t go back to kneading your own. Now that you’ve worn silk dresses laden with gems, you couldn’t go back to the plain, dirty dresses that chafed at the elbows and needed mending at the knees. Now that you have the power to fire anyone who bothers you — even execute them — you couldn’t go back to smiling politely as the butcher prattles on to get a lower price on the cut you need to buy.

Sometimes you wonder what kind of person that makes you.

Once, you found a tunnel that led out to the city. You borrowed a maid’s dress and snuck away from your entourage. You walked through the market, just watching. No one stared at you. No one cared who you were. You smiled a real smile for the first time in what felt like months.

You returned to the market many times. Each visit felt like a breath of fresh air. It was almost a game. Play peasant for a couple hours before returning home to your duties. It was freedom.

But one day you slipped up. You bought some pomegranates and flashed too much money for a queen’s maid to have. They said you must have stolen it. You managed to evade the guards, but the maid whose dress you wore wasn’t so lucky.

You watched in your silk dress and hands stained red from pomegranates as the maid was arrested. You thought her name was Rose, but you weren’t sure. She proclaimed her innocence. She begged for mercy. The purse of money weighed heavy in your pockets.

What else could you have done? Plead on her behalf? Reveal your secret? The market was your one chance at freedom. If you told of your tunnel you were never getting back out.

You still think about her sometimes. Is she out of prison yet? Probably not. Thieves aren’t dealt with lightly in your kingdom. But you don’t check.

You tasted freedom and power, and you can’t go back to the way it was before.

Sometimes you wonder what kind of person that makes you.

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Lover of Words, Stories, and Dragons. Freelance writer and editor. https://acaylor.com/

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Amy Caylor

Amy Caylor

Lover of Words, Stories, and Dragons. Freelance writer and editor. https://acaylor.com/

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