The Bloggers Bash is sponsoring a flash fiction contest with the prompt “Royalty”. I’m not sure this really fits in, but it was fun to write! Following my entry, please see how you too can enter. (And if you aren’t attending that other Royal event in London on 19 May, please do join a fantastic group of bloggers for the 2018 Bloggers Bash. If you haven’t bought your tickets yet, I hear they’re going fast.)
If You Can’t Join Them, Beat Them
There were always rituals to perform before battle. If I skipped even one, results could be deadly. I knew—we both knew—at the end, only one of us could be queen.
From the security of her throne and decades-long reign, she’d been gracious but her message was clear. If I remembered my place, acknowledged her right by birth to rule, ceded all my men to her control, and remained an ornament to her glory, then and only then would I someday take her place.
I bathed, carefully donning my battle armor. My hair was washed, dried, and tightly plaited. Stepping to the mirror, I outlined my eyes. Some said they were my greatest weapon. I smiled and the woman in the mirror reflected the smile that didn’t reach her eyes.
Turning to my room, I picked up the black dress and matching shoes.
“Honey?” My husband’s voice was nervous. “Mom’s here. Are you ready?”
I held up the diamond pendant that so infuriated her, watching it glitter as I fastened it around my neck.
My hand on his arm, the other arm cradling my young heir, we entered the crowded room together, the picture of youth and charm and poise. The lights flashed, my smile was regal, and every face in the room turned toward us. My enemy stood, frozen, a forgotten glass raised as the crowd surged toward us, shouts of welcome and laughter drowning whatever she’d been saying.
My kingdom might be a third-floor walkup in a neighborhood the agent described as ‘up and coming’, but my wordless challenge was clear. “I sleep with the man who will choose your nursing home.” I met her eyes as she sank into a chair at the back of the room.
The queen is dead. Long live the queen!
PS: I should also note that the above story is complete fiction, as I’ve had the unprecedented good fortune to have loved my two spectacular mothers-in-law. But I’ve heard tales… My daughter does, however, frequently remind me to be nice to the ones who will be choosing my nursing home.