Card Challenge: Day 7
Card Day 7: A fetus (my husband says it’s just a face…) holding a set of gold keys with the shape of a heart, a sword, and a skull cut into them. On its head is a lock, now open, emitting soft, yellow, glowing lights. (This one was a hard one to describe)
It is a strange thing to come into being. To be wrapped up, a synthesis filled already with early senses and environments. A jumble of my mother and father, elements and nutrients, and a blindly experienced reality, all knit into one lump of human skin. Yet I always understood, somehow, innately, that such a lottery of occurrences was in no way up to the fates. No, my destiny had been knit in the womb by intentional, knowing hands. As I grew, too young to put it into words, it was a throbbing sense in the core of my being, pushing me towards a goal only half glimpsed at times. Age and experience brought it into focus, but it was ultimately that unconscious known which propelled me along the path of life.
And it was here I had stood, upon the very literal and figurative threshold, a man about to embrace destiny with reckless abandon, about to leap into the very life I had been groomed for, the taste of my victory on my lips. I was a man about to be a king.
Kingship had not come easy, that I was aware. My destined path was not an easy one, but one that had been fraught with danger and disappointment. It was a path that had meandered far too long, but had finally led me to the promised land. I had fought for it, and now another’s gold was my honey, their linens my milk. In the ruined throne room, I sat on the tattered throne, already imagining the world I would build from these ashes.
From birth, the world had seen yet another fisherman in a long line of fishermen. A man who would live, grow, toil, and die with nothing but a hovel and homely wife to mark my trek upon this sod. But I knew better. I saw the great things I would become; I felt them in my soul. I had arrived.
But, as I said, my path to glory was not easy. It was filled with the trudge through mingled blood, mud, and ash. The path behind me was ugly, torn, and ragged. Not one befitting a king, but one befitting a warrior. Yet I was proud of the struggles I had endured. I had once slain fifteen men alone, crushing the militia of the small village that I so desperately needed to secure the attack path for the castle. I had spent seven nights alone, roaming the hills and gathering reconnaissance on a traitor in my midst. I had seen him hanged for his offense, in full view of those who followed me.
I had left my betrothed cold, hungry, and alone in a fisherman’s shack, waiting on word from the battle lines that I had survived another skirmish. She would soon receive word that I was victorious, installed to my rightful place on the throne. So many years removed from that pitiful village, I find her youthful image grows dim. She had been plain, a common beauty from amid a despicable town, and age had not treated her well since. She had the face of a fisherman’s wife, dull eyed and doughy around the edges. Her hair had lain in limp ringlets, a wild halo around her head. She came to me in my seat of victory, smiles and heart bursting. I, of course, did the right thing and allowed her a home among my castle, a place among the beautiful women I received as tribute. I cared for her, like any respectable man should, and made sure she was fed and clothed. If she longed for love, I left her to find it in the arms of another, though I never knew of such a union. She was a fisherman’s wife, but not the king’s.
She was an inescapable shadow within my court, always hovering just beyond the public eye, mooning over me as if her destiny was entwined with my own. She wished to be queen, I suppose, but she was never destined for royalty. I married instead the daughter of the Pirik ruler to the North. She was a woman worthy of the crown. Slender, tall, with mysterious eyes that always smoldered. She never spoke out of turn, and graced my arms for years. I was sad when the time came to set her aside, to accept a new bride more befitting the crown. But I did the respectable thing and cared for her until she passed last winter. What a funeral it had been.
What a funeral it will be. The thought flashes through my mind as it grows hazy. Yes, what a funeral it will be. I, decked in my finery, once again in front of my people. There would be days of mourning and feasting, dignitaries from the world over walking through the great halls of my castle, wondering at the magnificent works of art on my walls.
The blood is cooling—or perhaps I am. It is too hard to tell at this point. The pain has faded, just a dim knot on the edge of my awareness. My hands are growing limp now, tiring of their job to staunch the blood flow. Her knife lies beside me, wrenched from my own side. There the fisherman’s bride lays, her head dashed against the stone steps where I pushed her. But the door is barred, and there is no one to arrive until morning. My calls for help are hoarse, indistinguishable from the ragged wind raging beyond the windows. I had dragged myself a few feet nearer the doors, but darkness swelled at my vision with my exertion. I feared hastening death, already slipping near on its silent feet.
The moment replays in my mind. Dahlia, my rapidly ageing newest bride, smiled coyly at a promised surprise. She slipped from the throne room, leaving the door opened by a crack as her eyes willed me to wait. I, eager for my fill, waited in anticipation as she spoke with the voice of a queen, willing away the smirking guards. I stood by my throne, watching and waiting, as the curtains behind me rustled open. In the time it took me to turn, Dahlia had slammed and barred the doors, leaving me with the betrothed of my youth, her face worn, haggard, and scarred by a bitter life left unlived. The knife pierced as deep and true as the hatred in her eyes.
Coldness, darkness. I look once again at the still face lying bloodied at the base of the steps, seeing the limp silver waves of hair around newly dulled eyes. A fisherman’s wife who dared to dream of a destiny not her own, fought to take her unrightful place in the annals of history. A woman destined for a life in a seaside shack crowded with scrawny urchins, but ultimately the woman who undid my destiny in one stroke. As the darkness deepens within and without, I feel certain of one thing. I have lived the destiny I was promised; I have died the death I wrought.
I’m writing on a plane! I know none of you (mostly fictional) readers really care about that, but it is an interesting experience. I mean, not that interesting, but still. I’m writing from thousands of feet in the air! That has to count for something, right? And, soon I will be on the ground and off to interviewing early in the morning. It’s going to be a whirlwind. I am always open to any good thoughts, prayers, or positive vibes, even if I wrote a sad, dark story. I hope you…um…enjoyed (?) it!
This work by Katherine C is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.