I, queen of the attic spaces, preside over my queendom clothed solely in my ghastly chemise. Say what they may, my nanny, the housekeeper. They do not know how the weighted burden of a people to rule will reduce a dress and petticoat to utter ruin. I would be no better than the water-filled potholes that live by the front of the house. No better than the wash basin, as drenched and overwhelmed as the milk Cook boils downstairs. My queendom is hot as it is, being the attic spaces. It is but spring, and I feel that I can live in no more than a shroud. I am but a swooning maiden, my hand resting dramatically upon my forehead at a helpless diagonal. A maiden, but a queen no less. They cannot make me dress. They would endanger my queendom, ‘tis sure.
My eyes snap open. The closet stares back. I am sweating, panting like a dog it is so hot. I look down at my t shirt, noting the darker gray that pools at the areas around my neck and armpits. What a strange dream I have just had; I was a child, wearing some sort of white dress- there was a chest of drawers against this wall where my bed stands. God, but it was hot! I can see what looks like sugar falling gracefully from the sky out of the window at the far end of the room. It is winter now, and I should be freezing. I look over the edge of the bed and notice a small pile where my covers have congregated after slipping from it. I should be an ice cube. There is a red light in my peripheral vision from where my alarm clock blinks every few seconds. It is maddeningly consistent. It reads two in the morning.
I stretch an arm out to gather the blankets that have fallen from my nest, noticing as I do that they are as cold as the rest of the room. They must have left me quite a while ago, to be this way. I am still raining sweat from my hairline. If they had fallen more recently surely, they wouldn’t be this cold. It is not so problematic, however, as I certainly won’t be without a cooling agent now. I pull the embroidered quilt up to my shoulders and shift to my side, resting my head against my arm and my arm against the pillow. I try to relax myself asleep again.
I can feel Nanny and the housekeeper coming to force me into my petticoats. This is not a good development. I would sooner die than be captured! Quickly, I scan the room. My castle is small, unfortunately, and there is not much to scan. There is a small closet against the wall by the door. I have hidden in it many a time when forced into similar situations. Namely, scenarios when ambush is the most affective way of defeating my enemies. But surely that is where they would expect me to hide? Yes, that will be the place they look first. I will outwit them with my cunning. I look towards the wardrobe by the window, listening hard for the heightened sound of footsteps that will signal their approach. Oh, but what I would give for my steed to whisk me out of that window! Alas, but he is lacking wings. Though I name him Pegasus and pay the girl down the street a hefty sum, he appears to have suffered no changes. His anatomy remains, regrettably, the same. It is a shame, also, for three days’ biscuits and the girl could not prove anything but her appetite. She called herself a witch. I scoff. She was no witch. She was nothing but a biscuit-stealer! “Thief.” I should have known. This time I shall put my cunning to better use.
The footsteps are growing louder by the minute. I look to the bed in the corner, fearing I shall have to face the numerous dust bunnies that make their perilous home in its underdwelling. They like to bite intruders; namely my hand as I reach for my queenly footwear- slippers, being my first choice. They are the wild, untamed part of my queendom, their grimy bodies among the most talented of shapeshifters. As soon as one is caught, it disintegrates, finding its lost appendages in the remains of another. I shudder. “Gruesome.” Another quick scan of the small room reveals I may have no other choice. There is nothing else furniture-wise besides my throne and a small stand, on top of which the wash basin lives. my throne is rickety, wooden. Not a good hiding place. I scowl. I must get it replaced soon. I’m thinking of using my petticoats as upholstery- that and my warspoils as decoration. I shall steal some knickknack from that witch-girl. The thought alone makes me smile. I congratulate myself on my brutal plans.
Ach, I must hurry! Idleness will win me no spoils in this war! I run my stubby legs over to the bed where I peer beneath to the outer-reaches of my queendom. No amount of shuddering will shelter me from my fate. It is either the dust-creatures or, God in heaven forbid, Nanny!
My own gasp is what startles me awake. My heart is racing, sweat even more evident when I look down at my shirt. The covers are on the floor again, somehow. I reach to retrieve them and feel my brow furrow in confusion. They are cold as the room around me, yet again. In my dream, the girl was panicked, agitated- it seemed so very real. I look to the clock at my bedside, expecting to see the blinking numbers changed to three o’clock, even four. But no, it is only fifteen minutes past when I woke the first time. My heart that had slowed beats a fresh beat of fear, prompting my hairline to grow damp with more sweat. My sleep is usually dreamless, comfortable, passing quickly. it is not often that I dream at all, let alone of some eleven-year-old living in my room! And what is she doing, running from a “nanny” and a housekeeper? Petticoats? When does this girl live, eighteen sixty-five? I drag my pillow under my head and turn to face the opposite wall, tensing and rolling my ankles in an effort to calm myself down. Sleep no longer seems appealing, but I have a meeting in the morning. It is never preferable to greet the day with night still lingering under your eyes. Shadows never go with suits, no, staying awake is not an option. I close my eyes and wait for sleep.
The bunnies have me surrounded. I am afraid my cough will give me away before my pursuers even enter the room. I curse the day I plead for this castle, thinking only of the glorious window-view, like it was some turret waiting to be claimed. I was warned of its disadvantages, starting with the dust I was told would accumulate here. But to no avail, for my determined and queenly nature prevented me from seeing past its potential. I can feel the loathsome paw of a bunny attach itself to my arm, and it is the greatest struggle not to cry out. I curse my unrivaled skills of persuasion. If only I had listened that day! I might be hid under a bed more fit for my title, my helpless body attracting nothing but the comforting cool of hardwood. Nanny insisted on Housekeeper dusting only the main rooms after that day. She wished for me to be taught a lesson. I remained stubborn in my choice, for the unescapable truth was that the other rooms would not suit my purposes. This, for how was I to rule a kingdom, issue decrees, and continue my undying search for the cure for flightlessness if I was cocooned in some main-floor hovel? What I did not consider, at the time, were the limitations presented when searching for a hiding spot. I have but the bed and the closet, and one of those is infested with monsters! Monsters that are eating me alive, I can feel it. I can picture them opening their tiny mouths, bending back their filthy jaws, and flashing numerous serrated teeth before they sink them into my bicep like a mutton steak! Oh, but how Nanny would grieve should this happen. I would die from blood loss, surely, and she would have no choice but to regret her decree. A Nanny would lose her ward and a people would lose their queen. Her grief is my only consolation.
I try to remain silent when I hear the door bang in from the outside, slamming against the wall. My fist goes immediately to my mouth, and I wince, as surely this hurts more than the bunnies! The footsteps come into the room, two pairs of them, before they stop before the closet, clearly peering in. My heart beats faster than Pegasus’ soon-to-be wings and I fear I shall die of fright before they find me. I wonder briefly why they aren’t talking. Surely, they would want to converse among themselves, compare ideas as to where the runaway queen hides. Perhaps they are simply stumped. Perhaps they are taken a moment to marvel at my cunning! I smile around my fist, at this thought, until the footsteps venture over by the bed. I hear a chuckle and it is swallowed by my scream as another pair of eyes make contact with my own. They have found me. It is time to come to terms with my fate. From here on out, I am a prisoner of war.
What a strange dream. Along with the heat, now lingers a strange sense of regret. I should have dragged out the armoire and hid between that and the wall. Where did that thought come from? I think back to what I ate last night and conclude it must have been bad salmon. I head to the bathroom to brush my teeth.