I accidentally lost the prompts for this week, so I have posted without a prompt. Don't ask me where it went because I don't have a clue.
I hear voices through the door, but I can’t make out what they’re saying. I wish I could. I have no idea what reception my lover has received from the Council, whom I have always considered arrogant and stubborn old men. Some of them are okay, but other look down on me and even sneered. I know what they were thinking; I have always known. It’s the same thing a lot of people in the kingdom think – that I am a joke; not fit to be king. My mind, my honour, my good intents are irrelevant. All they care about is my ability, or lack thereof, in war–making.
I have never pretended to be a war–maker. I barely keep in the saddle when I gallop a horse. My constitution is delicate and my sensibilities even more so. I could blame childhood illnesses, which came one after the other since I was a toddler, but the truth is, I take after my mother who is also delicate. Of course, that’s fine for a woman, especially a queen, but not a ‘real’ man. Father should have realized he would have surprised no one if he had simply admitted to my relationship with Tian.
How much longer must I pace, my ears straining for some sound, no matter how small, to tell me how the meeting progresses. Perhaps I could crack open the door. Just a tiny bit. No one would notice if the door opened a tiny bit.
“I wouldn’t do that, dear.”
I jump, my hand still on the handle of the door. How does she do that? How does she enter a room so silently, and how does she know my thoughts.
“You’re a witch,” I say, not for the first time.
She smiles, her enigmatic smile and shakes her head. “It doesn’t take witchery for a mother to know her children.”
“But how do you always arrive at the moment I am about to act?”
“Luck. Now, tell me dear, how do you really feel about this?”
I open my mouth to tell her I’m fine, but I catch her eye. I have never been able to lie to my mother when she looks me in the eye.
“It hurts. More than I would have imagined. They were right to prevent me attending the meeting. I don’t know how I could pretend I was not in love with him. I don’t know how I will do it in the days to come. I am not naïve enough to believe I will not be expected to spend time in their presence. There will be balls and dinners…. How can I do this, mother? How can I watch him with her and not reveal my pain? How can I look at him and conceal my thoughts and feelings?”
My mother sits and pats her lap. It has been a long time since I curled there and whispered to her of whatever ailed me at the time. Many times the ailments were physical. She has rocked me through pain and fever many times. Now the pain and fever are different, but none the less real.
For a moment, my father’s words ‘stand up and be a man’ echo in my head and stiffen my spine, but I have been told many times I am no man, and at this moment I have no desire to be.
My mother’s arms do not feel as comforting and safe as they did before. Something is missing, and I realize with a sick start what it is. She is not Tian. I will never again feel as safe with anyone other than he. The understanding makes me sigh and twists the knife a little more in my gut.
Mother strokes my hair and croons. “My poor boy. This life was never for you. They say you would be a bad king, but I know better. Your father has made this kingdom strong with his body. You will make it stronger with your mind. You have the intelligence, courage and strength of character to make our kingdom truly great. You will introduce revolutionary measures that will enhance the lives of everyone within our lands and will secure for you a greater place in history than your father. Your name will be remembered long after his is forgotten. You will be known as the wise kind who heralded in a golden age, an age of peace and prosperity, when our neighbours become friends, and our kingdom’s allies make us stronger than we have ever been before.”
My mother’s words are hypnotic, and pain pictures in my mind that I like. I like them very much and I do not doubt for a moment that the words are true.
“Until then, you will do what you have to do. A strong king cannot allow personal matters to intrude into affairs of state. Think not of what you lose in distancing yourself from your love in public, but what you will gain from an alliance with his father. The key to your future is with Tian’s people and that will become obvious soon enough.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean you should bide your time and the future will come to you sooner than you think. Once Tian’s position is assured with our people we will send a diplomatic mission to his father, to secure our position and formally introduce him to Tian fiancée.”
“And that is supposed to make me feel better?”
Mother kisses my hair. “Fear not. Tian’s father knows the truth. There, you may be open with your love and it will be Jandra who takes the back seat. By the time you return, everything will have changed, and there will be no more need to hide your feelings for him.”
“What do you mean ‘everything will have changed?’”
Her words have an ominous ring, but her only response is that smile again. Before I can inquire more, the door to my father’s room opens.
Now go check out the rest of the flashers this week