The Imaginings of Queen Katerina

I wrote this, originally for a writing competition but I had to edit it down so it wasn't too long, so I thought I'd put the original up here and see what you think.

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1. The Imaginings of Queen Katerina

 

 

“Attention please, er, excuse me…”

Poor Mr Rabbit wasn't getting very far with his speech, nowhere at all in fact.  Scanning his eyes across the cluttered congregation of creatures, Mr Rabbit saw that not one had seemed to even notice he was standing on the ceremonial tree trunk, never mind attempting to speak to them.

“Hush now!”

The gentle, sweet (but nonetheless firm) voice needed no help to acquire the whole group’s attention, and neither did the animal who owned it. Looming above all the other animals, as she was, she would have been an intimidating presence, if it weren't for her tender, caring eyes, putting her onlookers instantly at ease. Her lack of fur, scales or feathers did not make her look bare, but instead the small mass of smooth, shimmering hair that lay atop her head seemed to be all she required. Naturally, her delicate mouth was upturned in an infectious smile that never failed to charm. Everything about her being, seemed to emit a wonderful joy, which multiplied and multiplied, until it filled everyone’s hearts and souls.

It was Queen Katerina

I always find that afternoon naps, are the best types of naps you can get. You’ve just finished a long day at work, the kids are in their rooms, happy to please themselves, and the couch is just there; calling you. So is it a crime, even in these circumstances, if you occasionally over sleep.

“Shoot!”

Debra had overslept. Again.

“Kate, Kate! Where are you babes? He’ll be here soon darling. Are you ready? Kate?”

Still dazed from her sleep, Debra hurried into the hall, listening for any sign of her daughter, yet nothing. The house was still, no sound of voices, movement, not even a TV on anywhere. Pure, complete silence.

Debra was scared.

Cries of joy rang out through the crowds: “She’s here, she’s here!”… “Our beautiful Queen has returned!”… “Hip Hip Hooray for Queen Katerina!” and the like, until, with one lift of her graceful hand, Queen Katerina brought them all to a halt.

“My dears, I've only been gone barely two days! Do you really miss me that much when I’m away?”

Of course they did, and they showed it, the clatter and clamour of cheers soaring up into the atmosphere. Queen Katerina was their leader, their teacher, their protector, and ultimately their hero, every second in her presence was sacred, and every second away from it, slightly hollow.

“Why, Your Highness! We were not expecting you again until the Summer Solstice celebration next week!” exclaimed a rather alarmed Mr Rabbit, “I’m sorry to say, but we haven’t prepared anything, no food, no decorations, you have caught us entirely by surprise; not that this is bad of course, nothing you do could ever be bad my Queen.”

The Queen smiled. Dear Mr Rabbit always so worried about her, always fussing over things. He had never once complained about her often spontaneous (and dangerous) ideas or her extremely particular taste in food (although he did come precariously close to punching a tree once when he discovered the Queens aversion to carrots, immediately after completing a spectacular three layer carrot cake to commemorate her Highness's eighth birthday) that she wished she could help, but found she could not. As loyal as a loyal subject can be, Mr Rabbit was always, unfailingly by her side, and she loved him for that.

“I’m sorry, my dear Mr Rabbit, how thoughtless of me for not alerting you, but really I can assure you there is no need for all that, however lovely “that” is. My only wish is to spend a perfect pre-Summer Solstice celebration with my greatest friends.”

Waves of confusion, mixed with a stunned delight spread through the crowds at the mention of this new festival, evidently happening today.

“Your Highness, I don’t think I understand,” stuttered a perplexed Mr Rabbit, scratching the soft, fleshy area behind his right ear, “You want to hold the Summer Solstice celebration… today?”

The Queen’s smile widened, “Yes, I do.”

Trying not to punch something, Mr Rabbit mumbled in reply, “Any particular reason my Queen?

Airy and light, but with a taste of slight melancholy, she replied:

“No reason.”

Oh, don’t be silly woman, she can’t have gone far.

But Debra was being a silly woman, because Kate had vanished, and that’s what mothers do when their children go missing; they go crazy.

Pulling on a thin beige cardigan and a pair of battered princess slippers, Debra stomped out into the breezy, yet bright, June day.

Frantically, she inspected the back garden, (not that there was much to inspect, after all it was a very small garden) and she could find no signs of Kate.

Just as she was turning to go back round the front of the house, to check the road, a gust of wind hurtled past her and she heard a creak. The creak of a gate, an open gate, an open gate leading to the woods.

“Kate!” Debra yelled, racing into the woods.

“Ahhhhhhhhh…”

As one the creatures, and their Queen, let out one almighty, satisfied sigh, content after a celebration well celebrated. Ghosts of jokes still producing giggles, melodies of songs still playing in minds, remembered dancing compressed to a wistful finger-wiggle. Indeed, it was a splendid celebration.

“My dears, I have something I must tell you.” The Queen sat amongst the spongy grass, her faithful creatures flanking her either side, “I am going away.”

Exclamations of shock and sadness rang out through the ranks, at this most terrible of prospects. Their Queen gone, how could life carry on?

“I know you will miss me, but I need to go, it is time. That is why I brought forward our Summer Solstice celebration; I wanted to spend my last day with my friends. Now, I must say goodbye.”

Unhurried, deliberate, Queen Katerina lowered her delicate, bare head to the forest floor, her eyelids sliding shut, closing out the fading evening light.

 

“Kate, baby! Is that you? Kate!”

Mother?

Instantly the Queen’s eyes were open again, her creatures now out of sight, her gaze reserved only for her Mother.

“Kate darling, what are you doing out here sweetie? Doctor Hilton is back at the house, he’s got that new medicine with him, you know the one from New Zealand!”

Debra looked down at her daughter, nestled in the grass below her, and she knew. The look in her eyes told her.

“No. No, baby, no you can’t,” bleary eyes frantically searching for help, “no, you can’t give up now, not now.”

An overwhelming surge of love, hit Kate, as she glimpsed the broken woman her Mother had become. Perhaps now, she may begin to heal.

“Not giving up, merely moving on.”

Smiling as she sank once more into darkness, Kate began to let go, her spirit gradually fading from this world.

Watching cautiously from a distance, the woodland creatures peered out from the undergrowth as their worldly anchor weakened, breaking the bonds that held the there. Drifting into the air, the left this Earth, and instead re-entered the lands that floats above us. Disintegrating back into dreams, they glide, pensive and sad, awaiting the day when once again they can latch onto our Earth and become imaginings.  

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