Writing prompt #49

Write a story about waiting — but don't reveal what's being waited for until the very end

Queen of the Night    clcronan2020

Some myths and legends show themselves only when the time is right. The Queen is just such a legend. She is both a wonder and a tease. She lives for the game, and only for the game. The legends that try to describe her are too varied to offer any clarity, but it is just that ethereal quality that creates her power of seduction.

The Paiute tribe say that when in search of this illusive beauty, it is a good time for the Ghost Dance. The dance was given to them in a vision. The vision said people must be good and love one another, and not fight, or steal, or lie. The dance was a way to show their good intentions. But you must respect the dance because evil will not surrender to virtue easily. Many deaths trail the dance, for those who do not know the price of deception pay dearly. It is only meant for those of clear vision. Drawing out illusive spirits requires clear vision. 

Toltec lore says that twice The Queens likeness was captured - once by paint, once by chisel, but that the images mysteriously vanished, and it was understood from that point forward that anyone who looks upon her is to be present, and accept her only into memory and heart. Her fleeting time among the living is meant to inspire, and for one to commune with her for that purpose requires a singular focus. 

The Apache tribe claims that The Queen is the returning spirit of a woman warrior. Bravery and purity are prized traits of the Apache women. And the story of the White Queen is that she is the mother to all the tribe, but being a woman, she holds a special place within her heart for all Apache women. She appears on rare occasions to express her pride in her descendants.

According to Shoshone legend, they once had a queen who forgot her place. She mistreated her people badly and so nature turned on her for this. The rivers ran dry, the plants withered, the animals went off in search of food. The spirits took her away but cursed her to return every year to see the damage she had done to the land and to her descendants. She was tasked by the spirits to communicate without words the need to respect all natural things as the true way. The Queen only comes out at night in hopes of hiding her shame. The Shoshone seek her out as a way to remember, and to reflect and to share the story with every generation.

She passes almost all of her time hiding in plain sight. Gray and spindly, as something that would easily pass for dead; or nearly so. 

She is part of the desert, just as the desert is part of her. In the desert time passes slowly under the scorching heat of day, and the bone-rattling chill of night. She thrives there. 

Those who hope to catch a glimpse of her, when she decides the time is right to show herself, will go to extraordinary lengths to try to guess her timing and what the magic combination might be to predict the event. Are there hints in the gravel or the desperately arid soil? Are there hints in the weather - the weather that so rarely changes? Occasionally a breeze might whisper as the dusk rolls in - the breeze might be speaking, if only the spirit hunters could understand. The monsoons are know to make her happy. As the fleeting streams that follow the storms disappear into the earth, that is a time one must be especially alert. 

Those who have studied her ways seem gifted with the ability to detect changes that announce that the game is afoot. The humidity might go up a point, the heat at midday might have an aura of calm instead of it’s usual vengeance, the stretch of summer daylight might extend one extra minute. Perhaps the full moon will draw her out.

Those that will bother with the extra effort required to catch sight of her might wait at the edge of the wash, gone dry so quickly after a deluge, or perhaps huddle next to a dessert shrub, as those are rumored to please her.

And they wait. They wait for the Queen of the Night.

At first they pick up the slightest hint of fragrance: thin, distant, sublime. But as the fragrance grows ever so slightly stronger, they assume a posture of high alert; nostrils flared, necks craned, eyes as wide as those of a night owl.

Then, there among the unruly gray limbs of the sprawling cactus, she slowly unfurls the cloak that has kept her hidden. Her outer armor, made of long, thin saber shaped needles, twitches as it slowly opens to reveal the cottony cocoon it held under it’s protection all year. Her white petals slowly and gracefully fold open to display silky six inch blades, strikingly white and pointed, which form their own satiny chalice. The vessel holds an abundance of delicate stamen that sway provocatively like sirens singing out to the hawk moth to come and taste the pollen they wish to share on just this one night. Dancing just above the dusty heads of these enchantresses is the lobado stigma, acting as choreographer, directing this ballet of birth and life and death which has played out across all of time.

As dawn begins to break, the flower begins to wilt. Its lifetime lived in a single night. The hawk moth’s job here is done. The pollen that feeds the future has been delivered. The Queen of the Night exhales, sighs, and droops her head toward the arid soil and then she disappears back into her disguise as the craggy dry branches of a lonely cactus.

The flower hunters shed a tear for the honor of being witness to this rare, secret, special event. They carry the fragrance of her on them as they carry the memory of her back to the world. They are now the ones who will share the lore and legends. They may feel the spirit of the warrior women in their hearts, they may dance the Ghost Dance on the way back to their homes. They may try to bring the young ones out to see her next year. That is, if they can be patient enough for the hunt, for the wait.

Cited: https://www.desertusa.com

This story is fictitious, as are the legends used to tell the story,

The flower, however, is real.

July 09, 2020 21:38

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