Fiction: Dolores’s Decompression

 Disclaimer: The character of Dolores Madrigal and Abuela Alma Madrigal do not belong to me but to Disney and Disney Animation Studios. This is entirely a work of fan-fiction, inspired by Disney’s Encanto.

As Dolores Madrigal approached the shimmering golden door of her room, it swung open in welcome to greet her. Her scarlet skirts whispering about her ankles, Dolores wrinkled her brow at the cacophony cascading around her from all corners of La Casita de Madrigal and quickly stepped through the door. It swung shut soundlessly. In fact, nothing in the room made a sound. The plush, soft room, warmed in reds and golds, seemed to swallow all sound down into its fullness, from the tap of Dolores’s sandals to the tinkling of her earrings. Not a single sound at all.

    A great gust of a sigh groaned out of Pepa and Félix’s eldest child as she visibly deflated.

    Silence. Blessed silence, thank the Miracle!

    The sound of her sigh did not go far, seeming to drop off a soundless cliff just in front of Dolores as she made her way to and collapsed onto her bed. In the corner, a great tub tacitly filled itself with steaming water fragrant with cattleya orchid as the young woman let herself sink into the stillness. Here in her room, nothing could get to her. No chaos, no cacophony. She could not hear anyone’s cries, complaints, soliloquies, or secrets. Nothing made it into this room, not even through the window overlooking the tub being warmed by the afternoon sunlight.

    A literal cone of quiet.

    The only thing welcome here was Dolores’s own thoughts. She could finally hear them here, but she found them to be exhausted and sad. Keeping everything sorted was a monumental task, as was pretending to enjoy it, to glory in “serving the community” in this way. 

No, not the community. She served Abuela. Abuela expected her to listen in on everyone’s goings-on and doings. Abuela liked to be informed, but she really had no idea of just how much Dolores did indeed know. And some secrets were just not meant to be shared, not even with La Familia Madrigal. 

Abuela did not need to know about Catalina’s third miscarriage, as the woman had not even told her husband she was pregnant for fear of it happening again. She kept her sorrow hugged close and had every right to grieve in private. Dolores would leave a bouquet of Lady’s Mantle for her on her kitchen windowsill tomorrow.

Abuela did not need to know how Rosita’s parents–in cruel contrast to her lovely name–called her plain and undesirable, worrying that no one would want to marry her. Dolores would buy some bronze-gold ribbons for Rosita’s beautiful auburn hair, saying that she had too many to use them all and thought they would bring out the pretty sunlit undertones of her curls.

“So I am both spy and secret-keeper,” Dolores sighed, reaching up to take out her earrings and massage her earlobes. They itched a little. She’d heard chattering in the walls again. Rats, maybe? But what did they possibly have to talk about?

And then there was Mariano. It took a Herculean effort not to sigh at him. So handsome, so sweet. The way he played and sang for his madre after dinner, the way his papa used to do before he died. The way Mariano made up poetry while he worked…

Poetry for someone else.

Just her luck to be the girl who knew everything but that no one knew. 

Abuela never saw it: the way people in the community would go quiet around her or only talk in pleasantries and trifles. Everyone knew she could be listening, could be telling. Even her brothers and cousins called her a blabber-mouth and so rarely-to-never trusted her with anything of themselves because they expected her to run and tell Abuela. Maybe she had a lot when she was little, true, but she was grown now. Different now. Not that that made a difference to anyone else, though.

Undressing and slipping into the hot, sweet water with a soft hiss, Dolores sank in up to her neck, letting her body warm before slowly slipping beneath the surface into the watery, weightless tranquility of the tub. Here, she heard nothing, saw nothing, weighed nothing. The heaviness of her humanity did not count here under the water. If only she could breathe, then she could stay. Stay right here, where it was soundless and soft and safe.


A Winter’s See You Soon

Author’s Note: Back in April, I visited Universal Studios’ The Wizarding World of Harry Potter for the first time. As my companion and I were heading down the walkway to catch the Hogwarts Express back to Diagon Alley from Hogsmeade, I had the distinct feeling and vision of two students, arm in arm, making their way from Hogwarts Castle to Hogsmeade to catch the train home for the holidays. I even wrote it up but I do not think I ever posted it. Perhaps I am wrong but, either way, this is a good thing. I had originally envisioned and written this as a summer holiday leave-taking, BUT in honor of the Christmas holidays of which we are in the midst, I changed it slightly. I hope you enjoy, dear Readers. 

Also, standard disclaimers: All things Harry Potter, Hogwarts, etc., belong to Ms. J.K. Rowling. They are her creative babies and I thank her for lending us all the use of them to enjoy. The image belongs to

= = =

Arm in arm, they walked down the path to Hogsmeade, much slower than the gaggles of fellow students streaming out of Hogwarts and into the gently-swirling snow. The Christmas excitement was palpable, but, for those two students, it was bittersweet.

“So I can still come down to London for New Year’s Eve?” she asked hopefully.

“Definitely, and don’t forget: I’m taking you to see Celestina on Twelfth Night, right before we come back,” he reminded her tenderly.

She beamed at that. “I still canna believe you wrangled tickets to it! It’ll be the best!” she gushed, at which her Slytherin companion tapped the cold-pinked tip of her nose, causing her cheeks to flush an even deeper shade of the rosy color.

The gold of her cozy scarf lent a softer glow to the emerald and silver sheen of his, and he found himself drawing her closer. She responded in kind, her grip a bit tighter on him.

“We will have the whole train ride, don’t worry,” he reassured her, to which she smiled, completely ignoring the looks some of Slytherin girls gave as they passed them.

“I hate leaving,” she then murmured softly, “Even if only for a little bit.”

“Me, too,” he agreed, gazing at her with those piercing blue eyes, once again marveling at the warmth of the Hufflepuff’s brown ones.

The peaked, snow-capped roofs of Hogsmeade appeared in the closing distance and they could see the hot steam of the Hogwarts Express frothing up in the cold December air, waiting to take the students back to Kings Cross and their families. Professor—excuse me, Headmistress—McGonagall had waved those heading home off from the gates of the castle, warmly wishing them a Happy Christmas and good winter holiday. Now these two drew closer and closer to goodbye, for now, at least.

She drew physically closer to him, her arm around his waist and his over her shoulders, a kiss dropped sweetly on her temple beneath her grey knit hat. Friends rushed by the sedately-strolling pair, calling out teasings and happy Christmases and see-you-soons, to which they replied with smiles and waves. They would be there in plenty of time, and she knew a friend would save a compartment for them; sixth years had a code, after all.

The train ride from Hogsmeade to Kings Cross felt all too short, filled with soft moments, laughter and reminisces and plans made with friends for the new year, last hours of togetherness shared. When they reached snowy Kings Cross and all were about to part ways—him staying in London and her for the platform back up north—he reached out and drew her to him before leaving their compartment. This kiss was deep but gentle, almost chaste and yet still blistering.

“To tide us over,” he murmured, squeezing his lovely Hufflegirl close.

“Just a week,” she agreed, sniffling back tears and clinging to the back of the hoodie he’d changed into.

Donning their coats, they left the train hand in hand. Their families waited in opposite directions and so fingertips lingered and parted, and he watched the lovely coral of her flutter beneath the warm, plummy coat as she moved to greet her parents, a look over her shoulder given just for him.

All around were shouts and greetings and well-mets and holiday greetings; one couldn’t help but smile, for whatever reason. Christmas was here.


Shadows Out and Beyond

Author’s Note: This is a creative writing for my X-men rpg (roleplay game) original character, Betsy Martin, based on the events in the film “Logan”. In the rpg I am a part of, Logan is Betsy’s mentor, teacher, and alpha; I knew that, after seeing this film, I was going to need to write her way out of all the feelings. This writing contains spoilers for the film so…read at your own risk, darlings.









Continue reading

[X-men: Legacy] The Time Has Come

Stale cigar smoke. Bitter beer. Earth. The coppery tang of blood that soap can’t touch.

She inhales deeply as iron strong arms wrap around her and hug her. Not too tightly but close. She can hear a heart beating alongside hers; strong, maybe a little slower than in the past, but still there. Tired. But still there.

When he releases her, she gives a small smile. barely there. “I’ll keep an eye on them,” she promises, not needing to state just who “they” are.

He doesn’t say anything in return, doesn’t have to. It’s been long enough that they understand each other without having to say much at all. Time will do that to you. Time marches on but, eventually, it takes you with it.

He doesn’t say anything, doesn’t even say goodbye. Just utters a grunted huff, the edges of a rueful smile pulling at the corners of his mouth. No…not just rueful.

Proud. Sad. Determined.

Reaching out he puts a hard, rough, calloused hand against Betsy’s cheek for a moment before letting it drop to her shoulder and giving it a squeeze that would crack the bones of a less hardy person.

Then the old bastard shoulders his pack and heads off down the drive. He hops into the old ’68 mustang, roars it to life, and is gone.

It’s hard to say goodbye. Maybe that’s why they don’t say it. For them, can it ever really be goodbye, though? Or will they just end up side-by-side again when the world has turned enough times?

Who knows? In either case, goodbyes are hard. That’s why they don’t say them. Time will do that to you.

Time marches on and, eventually, it takes you with it.

(Graphic credit: Imgur, by ManWhoLovesSuperheroes)

[X-men: Legacy] The Feline and the Charmer: Mardi Gras Moon

Betsy giggles as she pulls the pink plastic baby from its cakey cocoon. 

“Well! Look at dat, chere,” Julien chuckles to the feral girl as she pulls the treasure from her slice of king cake.  “And wit’ your firs’ King Cake, too.”

She sets the baby down on the side of her plate and licks her fingers.

“Now you know dat findin’ de bebe comes wit’ a whole host of responsibilities as well as the luck, righ’?”

“Oh, like what?” Betsy ripostes smilingly. 

“Ohhh, well!” The Guild Prince sidles up to his feline-esque companion, close but not touching her yet. “Some people say dat whoever finds it will end up with a little’un by end o’ year, especially if you a woman.”

Betsy fairly screws up her face at that. “Yeahhhh….no litters for this feral, thanks. Even if they would turn out as beautiful as you.”

“Oh, Lor’, no!” Jules agrees, still smiling, and those ebony and ruby eyes glimmer in the lights that glimmer off the French Quarter. “There are other responsibilities, tho’.”

Betsy looks up at him, her own eyes melding to a shimmery gold. “Tell me.”

“In our househol’, the finder owes the baker a kiss,” he says with a completely straight face.

“Oh, so I should go find Henri then?” the feral girl quips mischievously.

“He would be righ’ surprised at you, I’d say. Especially since he didn’ make dis one,” Jules assures her with that self-confident smile. “I did.”

Betsy arches an eyebrow in surprise. “You?”

“Well, I couldn’ let my lovely Elizabet’s first Mardi Gras be anytin’ but the most’ special, could I?” Julien Boudreaux smiles fit to be tied at his girlfriend’s surprise.

Betsy’s cheeks pinken deeply at that and her eyes become molten, like gold heated in a forge. Stepping towards the tall Cajun, she rises up on her tiptoes, even in six-inch heels, slender hands reaching up to draw his face down towards hers. “It’s been amazing, Nawlins,” she purrs through wine-dark lips. “The parties, the parades, the food…but you…you are by far the best thing about tonight.”

Julien meets Betsy more than willingly, hands reaching out to grasp her waist and pull her close to him, lips meeting lips and a contented (and simultaneously hungry) sigh rumbling in his strong chest. That rumble lights a warmth in Betsy’s belly that sits low and heavy, her form flushing in his grasp in the warm New Orleans evening.

The music and ruckus of the French Quarter float up to meet them, the party going strong down in the streets. But here on this little rooftop oasis that Julien has concocted, they are as alone as they could possibly wish to be. Betsy has felt no silent, hidden presence watching them; Belladonna has in fact warned her people off the two teenagers for the night. Let them have their fun. Tomorrow the streets will be quiet, the church bells ringing in Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. But, for now…

Leaving the cake behind, Betsy draws Julien under an ivy, flower, and curtain strewn bower, letting the gossamer and heady scents envelope and hide them from the world for a while. After all, why go into Lent with no “sins” to confess?

Furyan Flame

Inspired by “The Chronicles of Riddick”, starring Vin Diesel.

My life–such as it was–was over. Until the day that I met the Furyan.

They had spread across the great expanse like a wave of darkness, leaving destruction in their wake, blinking out planets and stars like so many candles snuffed in a breath.  You know the story: if they could not convert you, they would kill you.

My race was not eradicated. No, we were converted, whether we chose to be or not.

The Necromongers needed us.

My people, we were of a particular mind. By that, I mean, we were of a Great Mind. Our minds are moon and stars above that of many other species. We are Connected. We can communicate telepathically, even across thousands of light years, and can even carry the thoughts of others with us across the expanse. We can see into the minds of others, reading the impressions left upon their cerebral cortex. Thoughts, experiences, memories.

They called Him (quietly) the Holy Half-Dead, but, if anyone was half-dead, it was us. Where we had been artists and philosophers, oracles and orators, now we were communicators and weapons. We had become the Quasi-Dead.

Most of the time we didn’t know one moment from the other, always lingering on the edge of life and death. That is, until we were required to touch minds. Rip into them was a more accurate description.

My life had been over for a hundred years. Until I touched the Furyan’s mind. Such rage was there. Fierce, undying, ever-burning rage and desire for freedom. We cried out the only thing this latest Lord-Marshall could possibly do to stand under this creature’s fire.

“Kill the Riddick! Kill the Riddick! KILL THE RIDDICK!”

It was as if his mind fed back into mine, opening me, shattering me, filling me with this fire. It burned through my mind, lighting the dark corners of death where I had been kept for so long. And, somewhere in the dark and the dead, I prayed to the stars.

Let them not kill Riddick. Let the Furyan prevail. Let the fire burn.


BloPoMo Day 9, Part 2: Facts, Fiction, and the Truth of Them

Methos glanced at the address in his hand as his cab pulled up to Bulfinch Street in New York City. Woodland Luxury Apartments. Yep, this was the place. He paid the cabbie, shouldered his bag, and made his way through the great iron gates.

A smiling man in uniform greeted him at the door. “Good day, sir, and welcome to Woodland.”

The old man nodded in reply. “I’m here to see Miss White.”

“Of course. Please, just step into the lobby and the attendant will call her for you,” the doorman directed, still with a large smile.

Nodding again, Methos stepped through the open door in the sumptuous, old-fashioned lobby. Following the doorman’s directions, he spoke to the person at the security desk.

“It’ll be just a moment or two, sir,” the guard said, hanging up the phone.

Methos declined to sit and just waited near the staircase, glancing around. As he stood there, someone came tromping down the stairs and bumped shoulders with the old immortal as they passed.

“Hey! Watch it!” It was out of Methos’ mouth before he could suppress it. Blast it all; didn’t he usually try to avoid confrontation?

The man who had bumped into him paused in the midst of pulling a battered old trench coat over his shoulders. He turned and glanced at Methos, a cigarette clenched between his teeth, his eyes narrowing slightly as he finished pulling on the coat.

Methos didn’t feel threatened, more like the man was trying to recognize him. The man leaned towards him as though to speak but, instead, he sniffed the air around Methos.

“Heh,” he finally grunted. “Didn’t think I’d ever see you again.” With that and nothing more, the man turned and strode out the door.

Methos barely had time to be nonplussed, for a voice rang out halfway up the stairs. “Adam! Adam Pierson, is that really you?”

He glanced up to see a woman coming down the stairs towards him. As long as he could remember, the only way to describe her was “lips red as a rose, hair black as ebony, and skin white as snow”.

“Well, don’t just stand there like a hobo waiting for a handout, come on.” She smiled and led him up the stairs and down more than a few halls. “My office is this way. Welcome to Fabletown, by the way.” She smiled over her shoulder at him.

Let’s just say Methos was more than happy to follow form, so to say.

Once they were in her office, she closed the door behind them and Methos proceeded with gaping.

“This isn’t an office….it’s…Ali Baba’s cave!” he gasped, as they stepped into the yawning space that Miss Snow White called her office.

“Close,” she laughed in reply.

“Ooooo, Miss White, do we have a visitor?” Methos suddenly found himself face-to-face with, of all things, a flying monkey.

“Yes, Bufkin. This is my friend Adam Pierson,” Snow introduced Methos by his “mundy” name.

“Call me Methos,” he rather stuttered.

“Oh, lovely to meet you,” Bufkin grinned. “I’ll rustle up some tea for us all if that’s all right, Miss White.”

“That would be wonderful, Bufkin, thank you. Where’s Boy Blue?”

“Out to lunch!” the monkey threw over his shoulder as he flew down the corridor.

Methos let out a low whistle as he glanced around Snow’s office. “Impressive. I never thought…”

“You just thought I was insane, didn’t you?” Snow said, chuckling. “A girl who claims to be the Snow White and to run a community of fairytales and fables.”

“Well…I’ve never been much for fables. After all, I was one.” Methos smirked, sitting in one of the leather chairs across from her handsome desk. “Oh, speaking of your citizens, I passed someone on the stairs. Rough looking guy, trench coat…?”

Snow nodded knowingly. “Bigby. Bigby Wolf. He’s our Sherriff. Don’t worry, he’s that way with everyone.”

“You mean, he sniffs everyone he passes?”

Snow cocked her head to the side and raised an eyebrow questioningly. “No…not necessarily. He did that?”

“Yeah, rather strange. He spoke like we’d met before but, honestly, I think I’d remember. He’s too much like another person I know,” Methos added

“Perhaps you have met before, just not while he looked like that,” Snow suggested, lifting teacups off the tray that Bufkin had just brought.

“What did he look like before?”

“Try the largest wolf you’ve ever seen and then multiply that by about 20,” Bufkin laughed, setting the teapot down. “And he huffs and he puffs…”

“Wait, wait! Big…by Wolf. He is the…”

“…Big Bad Wolf, yes,” Snow supplied, “So you have met before?” She reached for the teapot.

“No, allow me.” Methos took it from her and did the honors of the tea service as he spoke. He shook his head in disbelief as he did, smiling in spite of himself. “Long, long ago, when I lived alone in the woods, I came across a wolf in my cattle pen one morning. Sugar and cream? A huge thing, it held a bull down with one paw while it tore its throat out. One lump or two? Naturally, I tried to kill it but…”

The door crashed open as Methos hurtled through it. It was unusual for his small herd to be so restless, especially out here away from everything. But something had those animals spooked, because they were lowing up a storm.

His Ivanhoe drawn, he hurried to the cattle pen. It was probably thieves; couldn’t let an honest man live his life without butting into it and making things difficult.

“All I wanted was to be left…alone?” Methos felt something die quietly in his brain. There, in the cattle pen, was the single largest creature he had ever seen. A wolf. No, a leviathan. It held a bellowing animal down with one paw, staring at it for a moment before neatly snapping its neck in two, nearly severing the head.

Damn it. That was his only breeding steer and eventually starving to death was not a happy prospect. Methos lost no time moving against the wolf. As he leapt from the fence, sword held high, the wolf suddenly turned on him with a snarl.

When next he could think, all that filled his mind was the arm that the wolf had seized him by and flung him a hundred feet, crashing into a tree.

The arm was completely shredded, forever useless; if he had been mortal, that is. Methos heard the beast approach, the bull in his maw. The wolf just looked down at him from its towering height and sniffed at the man.

Methos was keenly aware that one of his ribs was lodged in a lung; he was dying, sure as the sun rose. He struggled to look up at the wolf and, he was just delirious, to be sure, but he was certain that he heard the wolf mutter around the bull in his mouth.

Later, when he would reflect on it, Methos would almost swear the animal said, as he died, “Idiot.”

“….needless to say, that was a battle I lost. I always wondered by he didn’t finish killing me.” Methos shook his head and chuckled ruefully as he handed Snow the cup.

Snow smiled, cradling the saucer. “We can tell what you are, almost like we would tell each other. It’s a different feeling entirely, like a different consciousness, but it’s there. You Immortals are as much a fable as we are, in a way. And Bigby never forgets a scent.”

The old man shrugged as he prepared his own dish of tea. “Lucky me, I guess.”

The two took their tea in quiet for a while before Bufkin started up. “So…Methos…you’re Immortal?”

The old man almost guffawed at the winged monkey’s attempt at small talk. “Yes.”

“Bufkin might be quite interested in what you’ve brought us, Methos. Shall we show him?” Snow suggested mischievously.

“Ooo, ooo! What is it?” The monkey perched on the back of her chair excitedly.

Turning to his bag, Methos opened it and pulled out a rather large, heavy book, setting it on Snow’s desk with a respectable thump. “Welcome to my world, Bufkin.”

The monkey’s eyes widened. As the Fabletown librarian, he had a fondness for books and knew where each and every book and document in the Fabletown offices and library were filed.

“Bufkin, this is Methos’ Chronicle; it’s his life story,” Snow began.

“Kept since writing was invented so I hope you’ve brushed up on your hieroglyphics and Ancient Greek,” the ancient finished.

“Methos needs somewhere safe to keep it; the Immortals are in more danger from Mundanes than we are, Bufkin. And he is the oldest of them all, if what he tells me is true.”

“And where else to hide something you don’t want found…”

“…than with people who don’t exist. Got it!” Bufkin flapped up over the desk and settled on the edge, next to the great book. “Let’s see, where shall I put it? History, Memoirs, or Languages?” he asked himself more than anyone else.

“Wherever you like, Bufkin. You’ll be the only one who remembers where it is anyway,” Snow offered.

“Yeah, that’s true,” the monkey agreed. After a few moments, he figured a way to heft the book and then flapped off into the depths of the library.

Snow smiled gently when he was gone. “We will take excellent care of it, Methos. The proof you exist is safe here.”

The Immortal nodded but, before he could say anything, the office door banged open and there was Bigby. “Snow!”

She sighed. “Don’t you knock, Bigby?”

He ignored the question as he strode up to her desk. “Just got word from Wheyland up at the Farm, Colin’s run off again.”

Snow sighed. “That pain of a pig. OK, let me know when he shows up, because you know he will.”

“Always does,” Bigby grunted. Then he looked down at Methos. “How’s the arm?”

Methos looked confused but then recollection flashed behind his eyes. “Just fine, thanks. Mended perfectly, now that you mention it.”

“Yeah, would figure it did,” Bigby muttered around his cigarette. “So what are you anyway? Cuz you’re not a fable.”

“Well, he is…of sorts,” Snow offered, “Among his own kind.”

“And that would be?” When they both hesitated, he pulled the cigarette out of his mouth, exhaling heavily, “If I’m gonna protect this place, I need to know what’s going on. What are you, bub?”

“Immortal,” Methos replied.

“But not like us, huh?”

“No, not quite. From what Snow has told me, your immortality hinges on how much you are believed in, right?”

A grunt in reply.

“Well…our Immortality hinges in whether or not our head stays attached to our shoulders.” Methos’s mouth curled sardonically.

“Well, then, Methos. From what you’ve told me…I guess the three of us are going to be around for quite a time, huh?” Snow snickered, leaning back in her chair.

Bigby sort of grunted again and then turned towards the door. “Well, enjoy your tea, ladies. Some of us have business to attend to.” With that, he was gone again.

Snow sighed in annoyance, pinching the bridge of her nose. “And that’s when he’s polite. You have no idea…”

Methos raised an eyebrow, smiling in that infuriatingly superior way he had. “Oh, don’t I? Let me tell you about a guy named Logan. But they also called him the Wolverine…”

A Sorting Hat Rhyme

So I am guilty of exactly ONE piece of Harry Potter fanfiction from several years ago (not including the online Hogwarts forum roleplay game that I ran for a short amount of time), and I will say that I worked very hard on the Sorting Hat rhyme for the beginning of the story. Hope you like it.

Welcome to Hogwarts,

First years of all.

We welcome all,

Witches tall and small.

Wizards bold or quiet as mice.

You’ll learn your lessons here

In a quick trice.

Now I am brought here

To Sort you, you see,

Into Gryffindor, Hufflepuff,

Or Ravenclaw tree.

Or perhaps into Slytherin,

Sly as a snake.

Here’s hoping that you all

Will very well take

To the House you belong in,

Made so long ago

By witches and wizards

Of the very best, you know.

Gryffindor, brave and strong

As a beast.

Ravenclaw’s intelligence when

All else has ceased.

Hufflepuffs work away to

Achieve the best marks.

Slytherins plot and plan.

In them, resourcefulness is art.

So step forward now

No need to be shy.

I am the Sorting Hat!

You’ll go where

Say I.

The Sorting Hat by liquidscissors on

Fan-fiction: The Daughter of the King

Author’s Note: Based on the television show Forever, starring Ioan Gruffud,. This is written from the perspective of a female character as she rides in an ambulance towards the end of the episode “The King of Colombus Circle”.

“Courage. You are the daughter of a king.”

The daughter of a king. I certainly didn’t feel like the daughter of a king. I was lying in the back of an ambulance, the klaxons whirring and whining overhead, drilling into my temples, my blood leaking out onto the gurney. And he sat over me, reminding me that I was the daughter of a king.

A dead king.

A king who was assassinated. By an assassin who had now come for me. And for my son.

My son!

My baby!

There I lay, shot and bleeding. Soon, I would be dead. The dead daughter of a dead king. Soon, my son would be as I had been: an orphan. Shuffled back and forth through the system all his life. My precious, beautiful, black-haired baby boy.

I felt the tears on my face but I couldn’t tell if they were hot or cool, whether the world was loud or quiet. All I could feel was the weight of fear on my chest.

I couldn’t leave my boy an orphan. I couldn’t let him grow up like I had: shuffled between foster, group homes, and CPS facilities all his life until he aged out, never cared for, never loved. I thought I had found love, once, in the arms of his father. A man with a wife and family of his own, but I convinced myself that he loved me. He didn’t.

But he gave me my son. And I loved him. My son who would soon be motherless.

No. I couldn’t let my son grow up like I had: wondering every day where he came from, why he was given up, why no one loves him. I couldn’t let him go through that.

I could not die.

I would not die!

He held my hand, that man from the police, with the lilting British accent. The man who had told this Cinderella that she was a princess. He told me to have courage, that I was a king’s daughter.

And the world slipped to the left, darkness flipping over my head.

= = =

When I woke again, I saw my son. He was in the Queen’s arms. She smiled and, seeing me awake, came over to the side of the bed.

“I hope you do not mind me holding him,” she said, “It’s just that he looks so much like his grandfather.”

Grandfather. Father. Gone. But I had not been forgotten. My son would not be forgotten. He would be raised with a family, with love. A grandmother and a mother who adore him.

Princess or not, I would give him a legacy.