I gaze upon my young queen, the heart of her court, her vacant husband at her side. The tilt of her head shows she is tired, and as she settles her white hands in her lap, I remember.
A dark chapel, candle-lit, the night before a wedding. A child in prayer before an altar, the raiment of one shaming that of the other. A quiet sob, controlled. A hand, trembling, raised in supplication.
‘My lady,’ I murmured. ‘I have come –‘
‘To fetch me,’ she finished.
‘Your chamber awaits. It grows late.’
‘Yes,’ she agreed. ‘Too late.’
She rose, permitting me to lead her. The morning saw her marry my king, her cool gaze a contrast to his, her steady pace unmatched by his rambling. She met my eyes as she passed, splendid in her wedding array, and in the heartbeat before I knelt I nodded.
None would ever know she prayed to be delivered. None would know, but I.
This week’s Flash! Friday challenge was to use the prompt image, above, to write a teeny-tiny story of between 140 and 160 words. Just to make life more interesting, we also had to include a wedding. Not easy, particularly when you’re dealing with Margaret of Anjou, one of the most interesting characters of the late medieval world. Married to a king who lost his mind, mother to the only Prince of Wales ever to die in battle (allegedly, at least), left ultimately childless, widowed and bereft, she nevertheless ruled with courage and confidence, playing a vital role in the history of England and Europe. She was married at only fourteen to a man who was already showing signs of mental instability, and I imagined how it might have felt to know this was your fate, and to waver – even if just for a moment – as you struggled to bear it. It’s a lot to fit into 160 words, I’m sure you’ll agree. (I also struggled hard not to write it in Middle English, but thankfully I overcame my medievalist urges).
Happy weekend, everyone. Feedback on this story – and on any of my writing – would be welcome, and good luck with your own creative pursuits until we meet again. Fare thee well!