White Funeral, part two

Fiction By Hannah W. // 12/31/2009

**Happy New Year, everybody! Here is part two. I would love to hear your thoughts on this second installment. Hope you enjoy! :) **

 

They don't say that she was standing at the window watching the sunset the evening she died, the way that my father remembers it. He and I are sitting alone by the fire one night, the house silent as if the whole world is sleeping except for us, two lone silhouettes by the hearth. It is deep wintertime now, and I am knitting a sweater, saying nothing, just listening to the crackle and snap of the logs popping in the heat of the fire.
Father sits in his rocking chair, his hands folded, rocking slowly back and forth. The chair and the floor creak just the slightest bit as he did. Suddenly he says, "She was watching the sunset that evening."
"Who?" I look up, startled, but he just keeps rocking, not looking at me.
"The Queen," he says quietly. I stop knitting, and listen.

They don't say that she turned from the window with a look of innocent surprise as the door crashed open, the way my father remembers it. He tells me the story, slowly, quietly, his voice a velvet monotone to which the crackle of the fire keeps time. The flames dance to the tune of his words, and as I watch them I think I can see them blossoming into lilies. 
"She smiled at him. She said hello. He whipped out his gun, and she backed away. Her back was against the wall. I ran to him... I jumped him. He pulled the trigger as he fell. I heard her gasp as the bullet struck her, and the other guards came running in. One of them took a lily from the vase near the window and handed it to her, and I watched as she took her last breath, her assassin lying half-unconscious beneath me. She fell limp to the floor, and he caught me off guard. He pushed me off, jumped through the window before we could grab him again. Fell and died right on the steps, and then we carried the Queen to her chambers."
I can feel my stomach churn and clench, my throat contract and my breath catch in it. I had never known. All I can think is that I had never known. Even as I watched that tiny white boat slip over the shining horizon all those years ago, I had never known. 
"You were one of her personal guards?" I ask. There are so many other questions pushing their way to my mouth, but that's the one that slips out first. I had known that Father used to work for the Queen when she was alive, but I hadn't realized that he'd been so close to her.
Father clears his throat and nods, still not meeting my eyes. I look at the knitting in my lap. The yarn seems impossibly tangled now, and somehow I can't muster the energy to work it out. I place it into my sewing basket and say goodnight.

****

They don't say that the dress she was wearing that day was burned, the way my mother remembers it. The day following Father's story, I find my mother kneading dough. I offer to help, and then I tell her that I know what killed the Queen.
"Oh, Elsa," Mother says to me, and the look in her eyes makes me recall why I've never asked her about the Queen, besides that one time. She splits the dough up and started balling it in her floured hands, rough and cracked from working. Then she tells me, "I remember seeing her when the guards brought her into her chambers. When they left we just stood there staring at the Queen, frozen. Finally I went to her bedside, and closed her eyelids. Her skin was still warm... Her fingers were still wrapped around the stem of that lily. I had to leave for a few minutes, breathe a little. I came back into the room and the others had undressed her and thrown her dress into the fire. We washed her in rosewater, got the blood off. It was awful. We were too shocked to cry; it was like we were watching ourselves from the other side of the room. We very carefully put her into the funeral dress, combed and braided her hair..."
"How were you so close to her?" I ask. The real question that was eats at me is, How much did I not know about my parents?
"I was one of her ladies-in-waiting," Mother says softly, finishing the last ball of dough. She dusts the flour off her hands with care, her blue eyes holding mine. 

They don't say that the bullet that killed her was left in her flesh, the way my mother remembers it. She finishes her story by telling me that, and then she bites her lip and stokes the fire in the oven. I slip out of the house, walking aimlessly down the road toward town. The wind is bitter and cold, rushing in from the sea. We live very near the Capitol, which is in turn very near to shore, and from the hills on which the palace rests one can see the grassy outcroppings where we stood watching the funeral boat disappear. In this weather the tall grass is dry and brown, beaten down low by the harsh wind.
After a while of walking, I enter the town and find the streets full. I wonder what is going on, and then I see that a line of rough-looking soldiers are marching down one of the main streets, led by a tall man on a fine horse. He looks clean and strong, and he waves to the crowd. Who is he? I try to move in closer, to get a better view and erhaps more information, but instead people are pushing and crowding and I stumble backward. Someone catches me. I turn to thank them, and when I do I see that this person is a young man perhaps two years older than me. Somehow, I think he looks familiar.

And then, I know why.

                                                           *~end of part two~*

Comments

It was great! But I'm

It was great! But I'm confused, how does the young man look familiar? Where has she seen him before? BTW, Elsa is a great name, isn't it? I really love this writing style, Hannah. I wish my dreams made sense like yours!

Erin | Thu, 12/31/2009

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

amazing..........

...........so intriguing....................I love it.

Bernadette | Fri, 01/01/2010

I am captivated.........Your

I am captivated.........Your writing style is great and the storyline is intriuging.

 

Maethorwen (not verified) | Fri, 01/08/2010

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