A Malady by Mehreen Ahmed

Look at what we leave (2) by Edward Lee

The English roses in full bloom. The waxing moon poured a love spell into the virgin queen. Her heart tight with pure romance; she waited within the palace walls of the rose garden at the Hampton Court. A few moments of delightful rumination, she saw him mounting on a white charger. The anxious queen was poised; she steadied herself for the man, she had appointed the master of horses. 

Over the palace walls, the setting sun rouged the sky with a motley of unidentified hues—magic streaks of mixed pink, orange, and red on a canvas of blue. Who knew? Bright they surely looked. She cared less for the pecking order, he was her romance, for whom she was prepared to lead virgin life.

Was this a malady in the queen’s head? Her ministers pondered. And was this just as incurable as the malady in the breast of her lover Dudley’s wife? Clearly, there was a problem. The powerful queen fought formidable foes but she was weak when it came to consummate this relationship with whom she could have had a lifetime of pleasure beyond any measure in matters of the heart, where politics or common wisdom stooped. Her heart throbbed of love aches amounting to that of ‘fifty-thousand brothers.’

On this date Dudley thought, he could please her majesty; pleased, because he brought her glad tidings. He told the queen of the sudden death of his wife. An occasion to be rejoiced, sadly, brought her no joy. He told her that the death was not on account of the malady of the breast but from a fall. It was an accident…an accident, but who would believe it? This clandestine affair was rumoured throughout England that Dudley was mad to be the queen’s consort. Mad in love, acceptable only in poetry. An opportunity had opened up, the time had arrived to ask the queen’s hand in marriage.

No marriage could take place over this bloody death. The queen knew best. If the marriage could not be made in heaven, then let there be no marriage at all. Because it would be tainted. Werewolves cried murder to the waxing moon in the blue forest. She took the hint. This crime was not some kind of game which could be cast away. She had already been implicated. In the state’s interest, she stifled her romance instead, and distanced herself. Her heavy heart had not lightened since; no offspring to tether connection to the Dudley genome. The only one way to stop this leaching in her heart was if she metamorphed. In her beating heart—a crying werewolf—the state itself, she wore a white pacifist’s mask to hide her scars— neutral; betrayed no emotions, happy nor sad. She declared, “I am England.”

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