The Queen's Lament

Submitted for Contest #96 in response to: Start your story in an empty guest room.... view prompt

4 comments

Jun 04, 2021

Romance Sad Fiction

Dust motes spiralled through the air, illuminated by the dim light that easily broke through the netted curtains that hung, moth eaten. The tip tapping of tiny feet was the only thing that broke the silence, barely disturbing the dominating quiet that reverberated throughout the inn room. It had been paid up for the entire year, the inn keep asking no questions but also asking a thousand in his head. Who has the money to pay for a year? What do they want? Do I really want to be involved? Those were the thoughts of the middle-aged man who ran the establishment, though they were very rarely thought. In Grea, an inn was lucky to keep a tenant for more than a week, let alone for a constant time; year in, year out. 

This particular room, the inn keep itched to enter and search, but knowing it’s tenant he refrained from even going near the door handle. Anybody who paid for so much time in advance deserved to be left alone. So the peasants took the lower rooms, and the middle class stared enviously at the locked room that interrupted their feeling of power - looking at the door they couldn’t enter. But this door was only entered once a month.

Bustling sounds of wagons parading by hardly muffled that indistinct tip tapping, nattering it’s way across the coated, dusty floor; leaving tiny footprints dotted around the area. For a mouse to be free amongst the rooms of the Stag Inn was an insufferable nuisance, but in that particular room, the secret was kept by the silence of the walls. Merchants hawked their wares and random civilian voices graced the air as the morning light began to evolve in to a ray of sunshine, penetrating the curtains further and casting a harsh light in to the room’s previous privacy. The mouse froze in the centre of one of those rays, squinting angrily as it’s secrecy was exposed; the dust glowing like snowflakes as it swam lazily around the room.

Suddenly, the mouse darted away, hearing the steady thud of footsteps on the stairs. It’s urgency in it’s flight was needed, as the lock clicked and the door opened, screaming hinges rusty from lack of use echoing throughout the room, piercing the cacophony from outside. A hooded figure entered, scattering the coated floor in a wave of wind as the door swept open, footprints eliminated in moments. In their place a scuffed floor was left, made by much larger footprints as they moved towards the crisp linen that enveloped the sheets on the large four poster bed that adorned the better part of the room. On this bed, the figure sat, shoulders slumping as the hood fell down, revealing a face stained with tears, powdered cosmetics running haphazardly down dimpled cheeks, hair cascading in a blonde waterfall to tickle her shoulders as she sighed loudly. More a whimper than a sigh.

This was they had met, where they had shared touches, where their lips had connected repeatedly, the chasms of class meaning nothing in those moments. The place where a queen and a regular man could meet without question, the locked room in the Stag inn that all of the other tenants coveted. Though nobody but her and the man who shared that room knew that divine secret, which was the point. She sat there, steady sounds of the market street lancing through the air to break the blanketing silence that usually permeated the room, and she pondered. But no matter how much she forced her thoughts away from their depressed perch, they always wandered back to that white blanketed casket being carried in amongst the rest. Heroes of war, they called them. Barely trained before they were sent out to the frontier to defend against the Kerazar, fighting for a cause dated before they were old enough to walk. Sent out by her husband without thought of who it would hurt, despite his good reasoning. She cared for her husband, she truly did. But the electric love that coursed through her body at the thought of the man that shared this room with her was something different. Something more.

Rising from the bed, she moved slowly around the room, doing her best to tread softly and not alert anybody to her presence. In the past she’d never been so careful, sometimes moaning loud enough to be heard in the palace as she arched her back on the same bed she just rose from, though in pleasure not in sadness. Pleasure was the last thing on her mind in this day, broken as she was. They’d come in that morning, the ones that could be recovered. Her partner was announced within minutes, the speaker saying his name so blandly that she almost broke her secret and shrieked that his name deserved more reverence, so dear to her that it was. That though, would let loose a scandal that she couldn’t afford, so she grieved alone, in this room of solitude.

Underneath the disturbed bed, the nervous mouse peeked out from the shadows, unnoticed by the aggrieved woman. The tip tapping was almost unheard at that point, the woman pacing around the room, hands roaming through her hair in dismay as she struggled not to scream. How to keep a leash on the creature of sorrow straining to break free inside of her? Which hungered for her destruction as recompense for it’s creation. She heard it’s voice, urging her to end it all, or to lash out at others in anger; did her best to supress it’s cravings despite severely wanting to give in. But she knew it had to be locked away, only to come out in this very room, the room of secrets and passion. The only way was to lock the room forever, release it from her life, release him from her life. Thinking it ripped her soul in two, but for the sake of her sanity it had to be done. A clean break, leaving the memories behind. She turned, placing the iron wrought key on to their bed, her breath catching in her throat as her fingers struggled to let go. With shaking hands, she forced those unruly fingers to obey, feeling as she dropped the key that surely she could not survive this agony. 

Primal urges warred beneath the surface, but her face now showed only one glistening streak on her face, a sole tear retracing the road that it’s earlier brethren had carved through her powder. One deep, shuddering breath later and the woman threw her hood up, span on her heel and stormed out of the room, slamming the door savagely and causing a hurricane of raging dust to drop from the doorframe. 

All was silent and the dust relaxed, even the tip tapping ceasing as the finality of the moment settled in. Abandonment coursed through the room, bedsheets ruffled and scuffed footprints on the floor, iron key sleeping on the bed. The mouse chose that moment to creep out from beneath it’s hiding place, stopping after a few steps and sniffing an abnormality: a single teardrop, staining the sleeping dust with it’s sorrow.


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4 comments

Kelly Kaloo
15:18 Jun 08, 2021

This was tremendously sad and heartfelt. I absolutely love the way you used the impersonal perspective of the mouse to be the only silent observer in her overwhelming grief. The way you showed us her heartbreak was especially poetic. It was so sad but also so lovely. I love this. A lament, indeed...

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R. B. Leyland
16:57 Jun 08, 2021

I wanted a kind of personal feel but without a full insight in to the characters mind. Thank you so much! Glad you enjoyed.

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Kanika G
07:13 Jun 06, 2021

Wow, Ben! This was almost poetic! I loved the writing. It was smooth and engaging and immensely powerful. You're a very talented writer. I loved it. Well done!!

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R. B. Leyland
11:53 Jun 07, 2021

Thank you so much! Sorry for the late reply, was nursing a hangover from a party that day 😂 really appreciate the comment

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