I learned the day they tore down my father’s statue that all power is a lie. I watched them replace it with ones of iron, copper, and marble — -till my twelfth birthday they replaced it with one of my mother in freshly minted gold outstretched in an embrace, catching snow flakes in her palms.
Their wise young Queen had risen again. She bends down to me and whispers in my ear for all the crowd and ther reporters with their big feather quills to see, but only loud enough for me to hear, “Jokes on them when they tear it down the whole middle is filled with sand.”
I watched them throw ropes around my mother’s golden neck. Her hollow eyes glinted in the summer sun. The kind smile on her shining lips seemed almost coy, she was getting the last laugh after all. Their malevolent queen had fled the country crowned jewels and lover in tow, blood spilling from her mouth from where the shrapnel had struck her. She would not live long. Her body dumbed on the side of the road. Perhaps into the East River — if they made it that far — where she would float south into the bay and be a feast for leopard seals and narwals that would gnaw on her bones and spit out the grand ruby that adorned my grandmother’s brow on her wedding day, and the sword hilt of her mother as she threw back the southron invaders, that my mother had worn on her coronation heavily pregnant beside my father, that I had worn around my neck to the funeral, that I thought I would wear atop my brow at my coronation and my children would wear atop their brows at their coronation around their necks to my funeral; at the bottom of the ocean among the salt and rocks, forgotten, in a grave of seaweed and cold water.
The sand spills out all over the cobblestones. The excitement of the crowd dies quickly. Painted tin filled with sand was hardly a wealth of riches. A man lets the grains run through his fingers, “of course,” he mutters. “Of course.”
I decide my statue will be filled with bullets. At least the revolution that follows me will have fuel to its fire, a gift from the queen it has forsaken.
Maybe then they will pity me, but I severely doubt it.
The thunderstorm the night before washed away most of the blood and gore from the battle. It had raged seven days and yet the city still clung to the hillside of the mountain, ancient, muddy, and filled with corpses waiting to have their eyeballs picked at by ravens. A size able hole would have to be dug and smoke would clog the air before the sun has set that evening. Those bodies were once the soldiers of the greatest army on the continent, now they were flesh waiting to either rot or burn with no grave to mark their passing.
I don a dress for the first time in nearly a year. I feel naked without the weight of leather and steel armor plating. But I cannot be crowned as a general, so I walk to the steps of the cathedral in a gray cotton frock. Wearing no jewelry, with my hair loose and flapping in the wind, feeling a terrible sense of inadequacy, with two hundred marble steps carved out of the bedrock in front of me. The steeple rises into the heaven among the tree tops and castle spires cloaked in fog and drenched in rain water they look other worldly and endless. I almost would have rather fought and died than to have won and stop here. Here I could fail, be once again deemed a liar.
The marble glides beneath my feet as the top grows closer. I hear a voice call out my name in the silent crowd. A ripple runs through it, a man in a horse, he stops at the base and lets down a young girl who races toward me arms outstretched. An ornate golden circlet with a ruby in her hand. I am unsure weather to weep or laugh. As I take a downward step toward her, she slips and the crown flies from her grasp, the ruby crashes against the marble and shatters into a shower of red light. The crowd gasps and the young girl looks horrified.
But I cannot help but laugh. A head thrown-back, side aching, stomach clutching, laughter. “It is glass.” I say between gasps. It was always glass. That jewel was the last laugh of someone long before.
I calm myself enough to hug the girl. “You didn’t break it,” I assure her,” it was always a false stone.” I the hug her father too, a fisherman from the bay, and soon I coerce the crowd
I mint no statue onto the vacant spot in the town square. It seems like a tacky idea to outright doom history to repeat itself. But one morning one appears artfully crafted out of clay. I wonder who’s hands made it as I study it with mine on my hips. No effort is made to remove it. It lasts until the first rainfall. It becomes a puddle in the street the children play in.
A fitting end for a dynasty.