In my palace, I have a lot of people who say they would do anything I ask them to do-they make me call them my subjects, and there are hundreds-hundreds and thousands! The pale floorboards are sodden, cold, and the subjects are clumsy, always turning over in their sleep. I listen to them sometimes, groaning and snoring as they toss and turn with the same bad dreams I have. Sometimes they talk to me, but I can tell they are frightened of me and I don't know why.
Sometimes, when I go to walk down the creaking floor that threatens to break beneath my footfalls, they will throw themselves into my path, allowing me to cushion my steps on their vulnerable bodies; this is the dedication they give me, the high reach of their loyalty, all because I can do the ultimate sacrifice with a single word-the echoes that they cry scare me.
Margaret is both my closest confidant and lady in waiting-she holds order at the court as well, so she is worshipped as well as I. She often trails behind me in my path, ears pricked and alert, tail swishing gracefully with the smooth momentum of her rippling body, muscles stretching and coiling underneath her gleaming white fur. Margaret often bares gifts for me in her mouth, usually fat little mice with whiskers still snuffling, as if she wants to me to accept approval I have already given her with these little subtle bribes.
However, the blackbirds she brings to me, their feathers glossy and neatly kept, hardly bloody in the light of the fireplace, are Margaret's greatest gift of all. Each feather may be plucked forthright from their nearly naked carcasses, easily taken from their goose pimpled flesh like dying leaves from an old tree. I do this with glee, legs crossed, sat in the chapel, singing and laughing as I thread the individual feathers together to make jewels for my ever growing crown.
In my glamorous yet sparsely made up throne room, the wall paper peels and bows her frail head in my presence, as do the flowers on the oak table. When I sit on that throne, Margaret takes her ever rightful place curled at my feet, the lace hanging from the back of the throne like a comfortable blanket.
I walk on the old, ratted carpet that squelches under foot, tiptoeing over to the spot that you can look up, out straight through the crumbling roof into the ever pale winter sky, birds, mainly crows and blackbirds, fly and caw and screech in their seemingly growing swarms until I cry out at the great pain it causes my head.
Seating myself down, I snub out the dandelion seeds that dare come close to me. I implore you, please read the pages you have lain before you, worn through the years with soiled ink, bled through with damp and the occasional dirt streak. Looking over at the fire, full with the ashes of three deadened blackbirds, I throw my head back and cry. I howl for the time that he will arrive. Although he clock above me is motionless and set to a time before I, I know he will always be here. Same time, every single day.
He is so unlike the others, who, one by one, arrived, on bended knee, asking for one favour. One favour that does not grant them to stay with me here, where I am to stay eternally alone. But, after a while, one by one, have decided to leave me. I cried, howled even, at the moon that always seemed to howl back, ordering it to bring them-or at least him-back to me. This boy was my favourite. His voice would subdue the creaking trees, the groaning of the doors on their old hinges, the unbearable, cruel, whispers of the wind.
I'll always wait for him. I miss the kind, small gifts he brought, the thoughtful, questioning way he asked my permission if I could kill for him, again and again, and again I killed for him, for he was my favourite. But then he left, never to be seen.
I'll always wait for him, whatever the circumstances.