R. C. Smith — Short Stories and Vignettes

Do not read my works if you are offended by descriptions of sexuality and violence.
(Do not read them just for those descriptions, either.)

Loss

Audio read by RC (2:07)

“No, please, no, not our daughter! Surely the Queen ...” I did not continue, I did not know how to continue. “Not our daughter, not her, please ...”

“I am only the messenger,” he said. He had been here before, to summon her. More than once, more than most others, had she been summoned, to the feasts and ceremonies at the Queen's court, to serve the Queen's illustrious guests, and before that she had been summoned to undergo the painful procedure by which those guests would be assured that they would not, later, be confronted with claims by alleged, if illegitimate, heirs to their power or wealth. She had been summoned, and she had gone, for such summoning has to be heeded, but always had we been able to hope that she would return, and always had she returned. Sometimes crying, sometimes ill, sometimes wounded, but undefeated, and always had we nursed her back to health, to beauty, to strength, to life. And, braver than us, never had she tried to hide or to run, never had she cowered or given in, always had she stayed true to herself.

But this time, it was for a different kind of appearance at the Queen's court to which the messenger had come to summon her. Summoned to this one, no one returns.

“Not our daughter, not now, please!”

His expression was that of someone who had seen too much, too often. “I am waiting,” he said.

I tried not to cry before they were gone, but I failed.

(07/2014)
Author's note: Yes, the loss is real. No, I've never had a daughter.

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