Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Introduction and a short story

Hi everyone,

Bea has invited me to become a contributor to her blog, despite my constant objections that beside a couple of short stories, I really don't have anything to contribute. In terms of the greater issues of the TG/TV reality. Bea insisted, however, so here we are.

Bea has posted a lot of my short bits in the past, so I figured I'd do the same. Until I can come up with something better.

Hugs to all,

Rosie.



The Queen, the King and the King’s Aide


“The King will see you shortly,” said the girl at the reception desk. The wait gave me time to admire her dress – it was most definitely made of pure silk, in a pale shade of purple. The fabric of her sleeves seemed to dance around her arms and when she got up to let me through the door, I saw there was a flounce to its skirts, as if she was wearing a petticoat.
This was just another sign of the Queen’s influence in the Royal Court. Immediately after our King Philip married Princess Gertrude of the house of Bergen and made her his queen, she started transforming the court. Transforming might be too mild an expression. With the help of her handmaiden (as she called her) Frieda, the giantess from the East (as we called her), she terrorized the whole court. Her idea of the Royal Court was very romantic, if this is the correct term. While the royal heads of today try to dress as much like the ordinary citizens as possible – and as far as I know don’t make attempts to influence the outfit of their staff, our new Queen wanted just the opposite. More and more of the staff were given a new style of uniforms – or were ordered to wear a uniform if they didn’t do so before. The serving staff now comprised of girls in full skirted uniforms with starched petticoats underneath them and pageboys in short trousers and silk stockings. But it wasn’t just the staff that wore clothes more fitting to the 18th century. The queen herself wore an extravagantly rich, if not bouffant gown for her crowning. That, however, didn’t surprise us as much as when it turned out that she would be wearing gowns of similar style for the most of the time.
This time, however, she was wearing a men’s dark blue suit with a double breasted jacket. In fact, when I entered the hall and saw her from afar, standing by the throne, I thought it was the King. The nearer I got, the more I thought that the King looked different – bigger somehow, perhaps taller, and more powerful. I put it down to the padded shoulders of his jacket until I realized it was actually the Queen.
“Your majesty,” I said as I bowed deeply before her – another custom she introduced at the court, “I was told that the King would see me.”
“And he will,” she said – then sat on the throne and put the King’s crown on her head. I was abhorred by such audacity, yet I had little choice but to kneel before her.
“My King,” I said humbly.
“You may rise, Robert,” she said, “You are one of the first to know. This evening I will be crowned as King Gerhardt.”
“What about King Philip?” I asked, “The land can’t have two kings.”
“King Philip is no more,” she said bluntly.
The words pierced me like a spear – I had been the King’s aide for years and though we weren’t as close as before the royal wedding, hearing of his demise was a terrible shock to me.
“My sincerest condolences,” I said, fighting my tears.
“Oh, he’s not passed away,” she said, “Let’s just say that he has abdicated his position in my favor. He is still very much with us. In fact – “she clapped her arms twice, “Darling!”
A door behind the throne opened and a lady, dressed in a very flamboyant gown, even by Queen Gertrude’s standards. I looked at her in puzzlement until I recognized the face of King Philip under the makeup, framed by masses of blonde curls. Although he was smiling, I could see his eyes brimming with tears. Not knowing what else to do, I bowed down before him.
“My queen,” I said.
“No, no, no!” Queen – I mean King Gerhardt stopped me, “Melissa is not the queen. Being the queen implies having a certain power, of which Melissa here has none. For now I call her the royal wife. You may address her as ‘madam’, I suppose.”
“Madam,” I said and bowed down again – though not as deep as before.
“You must be wondering what is going on,” she said, then continued without waiting for me to answer, “You see I came to this country hoping to become a queen to a powerful King. While in most monarchies the royal families are reduced to mere figureheads, in this land the king still held the reins of power. However, King Philip had no desire to keep them, as I have learned to my regret. Instead of taking firm action when it was needed, he talked about the will of the people and the acts of the parliament while the country slowly crumbled and decayed. I tried to convince him the country needed a firm leader and when he wouldn’t listen to me, I asked him to give me the power to act on his behalf. This he refused more vehemently than anything else. As long as there is a King, no one can rule but him, he would say, which made me realize I would have to become the King, not the Queen. Did you know that there is an article in your constitution which says that the Queen may challenge the King to a feat of strength? And that if she wins, she has the King at her mercy?”
“I wasn’t aware of that,” I said – then remembered something.
“If it really is in the constitution,” I said, “Then the feat of strength surely must have take place before the High Judge, at the court of justice.”
“There isn’t any article like that,” she said, “But that didn’t stop King Philip from believing me. We had a little informal feat of strength last night, for a selected audience, which saw quite clearly that I was perfectly able to repeatedly defeat him in all of the events. In the end, I convinced him it would be less humiliating to just get it over with now and abdicate the throne to me there and then, then to suffer the indignity of being pinned down on the ground by his wife in a wrestling match that the whole kingdom would see.”
“That is a coup d’├ętat,” I said, shocked.
“Is it really? The King had voluntarily abdicated and thus thrown himself at my mercy,” she said, “I may have spoken misleadingly about the content of the constitution, but who should know the constitution better than the King?”
I looked at the former King Philip – for a moment our eyes met and as if to apologize for falling so stupidly in his trap, it was him that looked at the floor, not me.
“Read this document, please,” she said, handing me a piece of formally stamped paper, “I don’t want you to think I’m pulling the same trick on you.”
I quickly scanned the paper – above the official seal it stated that King Philip has abdicated his throne and legally changed his name to Melissa von Bergen.
“Which brings me to the question of what shall we do with you,” she said, “You were the King’s aide, but this position has been terminated. However, the court would like you to retain your services – if you are interested, of course.”
“I would be honored to,” I answered.
“I understand that you and the former king, now the royal wife had developed quite a close relationship,” she said, “And while there is no position of an aide to the royal wife, you could become the royal wife’s companion.”
“Companion, your majesty?” I asked.
“To be honest, you would be her handmaiden to all intents and purposes, but maybe that is an outdated term.”
“Handmaiden?” I repeated after her.
“More or less,” she said, “But I do need to warn you that your immediate superior will be the new head of the Royal Court staff, Frieda.”
On that cue, Frieda, wearing a pantsuit instead of her usual style of gowns, entered the room, accompanied by six maids. She bowed before the King, but completely ignored both the royal wife and me. The maids bowed deeply before the King, then curtsied to the royal wife, and then to me. It was then that I realized that they all were the pageboys from the serving staff, except that they were wearing the girls’ uniforms.
The thought of having to work for that woman sent shivers down my spine. Even before, when she had no formal power, I found her nothing less of intimidating. Being her official subordinate didn’t seem to be a very fortunate prospect.
“If I were to accept the position,” I began warily, “Would I have to wear…” I paused for a moment, before I could bring myself to finally say it, “dresses?”
“That’s up to Frieda, really,” the King replied, “But if you work as a handmaiden, it would be expected that you dress like one as well.”
“I see,” I said slowly, “With no disrespect or ungratefulness, but what would happen should I refuse your offer?”
“Then I would remind you that you are bound to serve the court until your contract is terminated by the King,” she said, a little less pleasantly, “There is always room for another maid.”
I thought for a second, though it was obvious there wasn’t anything to think about.
“I humbly accept the position of the royal wife’s companion,” I said with a trembling voice.
“I am sure the royal wife appreciates your loyalty,” the King said, “But before I give you over to Frieda, there’s one last formality of your name to be dealt with. What shall we do about your name?”
“My name, your majesty?” I said.
“Perhaps ‘Roberta’ will remind you too much of your former position,” she said, “So I thought ‘Priscilla’ would be a goon choice for you. What to you think? Any objections?”
I stared, with my mouth agape, and then slowly shook my head.
“No, your majesty,” I said.
“Splendid,” she said, and handed me another officially sealed document. This one stated that my given name was now Priscilla.
“We’re done here,” the King said, then turned to Frieda, “She’s all yours.”
“What are you waiting for, silly girl?” Frieda barked at me when I failed to follow her maids out of the room, “Get a move on! I need to make you presentable for the crowning ceremony.”

6 comments:

hopplewite said...

Welcome aboard, love your stories.

hopplewite

alexvyaz said...

I read this story at the fictionmania and I like it.

Tammie said...

Hi there Rosie, thanks so much for finally 'relenting' and posting here. I've always enjoyed your writing, you are so adept at expressing the best emotions and details in your short stories. Invariably they touch something with me. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

Gentle horizons beckon, pleasing exploits await, let's proceed.

2bteased

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