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The Queen’s Alternative



(The prompt was a painting of a Queen, flanked by a guard on her right and a scribe, reading a scroll, on her left.)

“By the authority vested in me by his Majesty King Potsdam of Lower Lumbago, you are to be escorted to the Tower, Madam. There you will remain ‘til the moon passes through two phases of the wandering planets and await execution by beheading on the eve of Ascension Day.”

Her Majesty sighed, and under her breath she muttered, “So the old fool went ahead and did it.” She wished this scribe did not have bad breath, as he intoned the fateful words, the odor of garlic filled her chamber. On her right side, the castle guard stood by stoically. Like all the others in the court, he knew the reason for the King’s displeasure with the Queen. She had not yet conceived! Unforgivable! Imagine ... five Queens and the House of
Potsdam was without an heir to the throne. There were some at court who suspected the King himself was to blame, but no one dared speak it aloud, yet it was patently absurd to believe that five Queens had been infertile. Like the old fairy tale of the fictional Emperor unaware of not wearing clothes - no one dared mention the fact.

The scribe droned on, describing in detail the method of execution -- he was an old hand at such matters, he had read these pronouncements to four previous queens and countless other members of the Royal entourage who had roused the King’s displeasure.

As he spoke, the Queen counted the days on her fingers. “Two phases of the wandering planets,” she considered, “Hmm, a little more than two months ... well, all was not lost ... there was an outside chance.” She cast a measured glance at the castle guard to her right - young, virile man - would he be discreet?

The scribe was now finished. He rolled up his decree and turned to the castle guard. “You will stay with Madam until the escort arrives,” he said.

The door closed behind him as he waddled out carrying his scroll and garlic laden breath with him. The Queen looked at the castle guard once more. “Young man,” she said throatily. “We don’t have much time, let me tell you what you must do.”

The End

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