Saturday, September 24, 2011

Prompt #37: Seriously, it was the worst thing I could have chosen to choke on.

            “Your Majesty, a man requests an audience with you. He claims to have found the cure.”
            Cirabel took one last swig of her tonic and dropped the small bottle into her pocket. She placed her palms lightly against her cheeks, sighing at the feel of smooth skin beneath her fingers. “Bring him in.”
            The courier bowed, then turned on his heel to retrieve her visitor.
            She straightened, leaning her head back against the chair. The courier gestured her guest inside and shut the doors behind him, leaving the two of them alone.
            A peasant stood before her, a hood drawn over his head. He clenched something in his hands. He stared down at it, not meeting her eyes.
            Cirabel cleared her throat.
            The man shifted his feet, but did not speak.
            She huffed. “I have been told you have found the cure I seek.”
            He glanced up at her, but quickly returned his gaze to his hands.
            A sigh blew between her lips. “You may respond.”
            “Yes, Queen Cirabel, I believe I have found the antidote you seek.” He spoke quickly at her command.
            “You believe?” Her voice was shrill. “Are you trying to kill me? What if, because you simply believe, I had drunken your ‘antidote’ and died of poison?”
            “I… I have,” the peasant stuttered, “I have t-t-tested it.”
            Cirabel’s voice dropped, becoming light and fluffy, and a beautiful smile appeared on her face. “Oh? Then I’m sure you won’t mind drinking some of it yourself.”
            The farmer looked down at the container in his hand. “How will we know if there will be enough for you if I drink some of it?”
            “I’m sure you can get more.”
            She did not look away until he unstoppered the beaker in his hand and tilted it towards his mouth, letting half of the contents spill down his throat. He swallowed and replaced the cork, his arms falling back to his sides.
            He stood that way for seconds, minutes. Not one thing about him changed.
            Finally, Cirabel said, “Well, at least it won’t kill me. Bring it forward.”
            The sound of his rough shoes against the floor pounded into her head. She ordered him to stop before reaching her. His hand stretched out, the vial held out to her.
            “Herald,” she called. “Come serve this to me.”
            The courier reappeared, rushing to her. He snatched the glass from the peasant’s hand and poured the liquid into a goblet he had brought with him. He knelt before her, extending the cup.
            She wrapped her hand around the chalice and he released it. “You are excused.”
            Herald nodded and left.
            Cirabel twisted her hand, looking at the goblet from all sides. “Do you know what would happen to you if you have brought me what I have so desperately searched for?”
            He nodded.
            “Do you know what would happen to you if this is a fake?”
            The man shivered, but nodded.
            “Good.” She lifted the cup to her lips and drank.
            It slid down easily, but left behind a film. She gripped the end of the arm rests, leaning forward and trying to clear her throat. She coughed and hacked but her throat still felt sticky and coated. And, on top of that, the coughing made her chest hurt.
            Cirabel’s eyes grew wide and she placed a hand against her chest. Breathing was hard. Air came out of her lungs in wheezes. Her left hand grasped the chair harder and she glanced at it. A cry left her mouth when she saw her fingers, the gnarled bones and veins showing through.
            She ran her palms across her face, feeling years of wrinkles. “No, no, no,” she whimpered.
            Her hand fumbled in her pocket, finally producing her tonic. She shook almost too badly to remove the lid. After eons it popped off. She swung it back, drinking all of it at once. Her throat closed around it, her body rejecting it. The coughs started again, and her wonderful, youthful medicine spewed across the floor.
            She tried to stand, but her legs were too frail to support her and she fell to the ground. She curled into a ball, soft sounds spilling out of her.
            A hand touched her shoulder. Herald kneeled next to her, a sad look on his face. “Oh, Lady Cirabel. You finally have what you wanted so badly. But what have you done to yourself in the process?”


  1. Interesting. The writing is good and clear, and the mystery surrounding the peasant and Cirabel is well-played out. I also like the implications and how nothing is ever really spelled out in full.

  2. I am going to ask you what I ask pretty much everyone when they mention mystery and such in my stories... What did you think was going on?

  3. Cirabel has eternal youth and longs to grow old. But in finding the cure for her eternal youth, she discovered at the last moment that she didn't like it and tried to stop it. So the thing worked...she just had second thoughts. That's my take.

  4. You kind of have it backwards. Cirabel is old and wants a cure to make her immortal, but in a forever young way. Her tonic makes her temporarily beautiful. The 'cure' makes her immortal, but she's stuck in her older body.

  5. Where was it indicated that Cirabel was young? When she ran her fingers over her wrinkled face and said "No, No, No" I didn't think that she was saying that because she was old. I just thought she was old and hadn't died yet and she wanted to die. I dunno...I guess that I think that not dying after having outlived all your loved ones would make you long for death...kinda like the dude in the Green Mile.

  6. I tried to show it at the beginning, when she rubs her face and is happy that it's smooth. I guess I could add a few more subtle hints if I ever revise these.