The memory

I have one memory that I shine like a bauble, every day, until it becomes even more fantastical than it already was.
It is the only memory that counts.
Every year I get to stand in the King’s Theatre, basking in the light of many candles and retell it to my audience.
The most eager listener is the King. He always sits right in front of me, in rapture as he takes in my words. He always sits surrounded by all he trusts. Their faces change, each year.
I do not think anyone cares that I add small details to the memory every year. I add them as sudden remembrances, and the King enjoys them greatly.
Truthfully, all the King cares about is that he is the one sitting in the throne, not his nephew, and that I am the one who helped him ascend the throne.
I still think of his nephew. A lot, in fact, now the days move me closer towards the end of my life.
The boy was five years old when I removed him from his mother’s side.
Every year I tell the King a story, of how I heroically battled the boy’s guards, three in total, and then poisoned the Queen at the death bed of her husband.
And then I tell the story of how I ended the boy’s life at Athelmare —the ancient tree-infested forest home of our people— by stabbing a bejeweled dagger into his heart, and how I surrendered his body to the roots of the old trees.
Every retelling buries another story deeper and deeper in my mind.
It is a tale where the Queen sits at the death bed of her husband. She rises up to greet me, and we kiss one last time. She hands me the sleeping boy and then sends me away so I don’t have to see the woman I love take her own life.
In this memory I take the boy through the forest to Athelmare, and hand him to servants of the queen’s brother, so the boy could be raised in safety, and one day return to take the King’s place.
The boy should be twenty and one now… I believe he will come soon. I wish to bow before the King that truly matters… My son.
And, until he comes, I shall shine the bauble that is my one memory, and pray my mind does not fall prey to the madness of old age before that glorious moment.

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