The King

Heavy is the head that wears the crown.

Or so they say.

I beg to differ. Never quite noticed the weight. Until it no longer sat on my brow, that is. Like a maimed man, I feel now, without it. Phantom pain is my sole companion, when we used to be one, before. Would anyone argue I miss the comfort of my crown, then? The cool touch of metal. The weight of wealth. Power, too. The piercing, dazzling realness of it only a hundred different cut jewels can bestow. Aye, crowns always suited me. Felt right at home, seated atop my hair of silver.

I am no less king without it, mind you. My captors might think otherwise, I concede them as much. They suffer from delusion. An old nemesis I’ve never quite found a way to purge from my people’s minds. They’d have me locked in this tower now and think I’ll quiver, beg for release even. They forget their place. My ambition built this palace, and much more. A realm. Alas, people have short memory. And shorter imagination still.

I have been the mason. I knew precisely where the mortar and brick and stone would go, before the construction started in earnest. Like any architect, I knew when to press, when to cajole, when to smile to seal the bargain and whose blood to spill to forge what men now take for granted. My mind orchestrated the lives of so many, for so long, they forgot to stop and reflect on the greatness we achieved together.

The tapestries adorning the walls of my gaol are a fading reminder of greatness, now. The king-sized bed and the fireplace are cold companions to my solitude, utterly devoid of warmth. Meals the serving maid has been bringing have been anything but fare worthy of a king. Somehow, they took note I was talking to her and decided that was one pleasure too many offered. The sour-faced hag I see three times a day now believes the looks she throws my way will force me to jump out of the window. I confess, the thought has flitted across my mind. But then, ink and quill and a sheaf of parchment, the candle on my work table too, are the lighthouse keeping me awake in the encroaching darkness.

Such are the thoughts of a king devoid of a crown.

Naught but silent shouts into whatever darkness is coming to take me. I will tear them up, before anyone sees them on paper. Now that my ears strain, waiting to hear the headsman’s footsteps any moment, I cannot help but feel a weight pressing down on me. My head droops.

Heavy falls the head without a crown.


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