Divine Right of Queens

divine right of kings (n): the doctrine that kings derive their authority from God, justifying their rule


They called you a lesson in rituals, a test in devotion: prayers and                     I kept dirt crushed 
meditations, gifts and blessings. Stain glass refracted and reflected in your      beneath my fingers
wake, fountains rippled, olive branches extended. Did you know they              lest I ever started
called you a dove? Bringer of peace and welcome? To accept you was             to believe I was a
religion; to defy was sacrilege. Holy water doused over your feet, cleansed     deity.
and purified. You were everything. You were our saint.
                                                                                                                             I was no divine figure,
The first baby born in the thousandth year—the one of the prophecies. For     no message from heaven:
centuries before your birth, they awaited your coming, praying to a child        even if the prophecy held
generations away from the womb. As time trickled on, and with every            true, I was the fifth baby
year, the world strayed further and further away from its state in God’s           born in the thousandth
time. You were designed to bring us all back. You were our savior in more     year. my parents 
ways than one.                                                                                                    eliminated the other four
                                                                                                                            before others heard.

Your house was a sanctuary: I had always admired your parents. At least,      don't be fooled by
I used to until the marriage and the following familial revelations.                  fickle rumors:
Neighbors said there was never any fights or yelling, never any conflict or    it was a prison with bars
remorse within your household. Most left their families in their teenage        cleverly disguised
years to forge a life of their own, but you always stayed behind with your     suffering silence inside.
family, not wanting the strain of distance. That was one of the things that      every day, a repentance
drew me in—your love of the family—and I had hoped that one day we        of solitude.
could start one of your own. I’m sorry we will never have the chance.

Potential suitors begun lining up before you came of age, hoping to catch     the sun reveals crevices
a glimpse of your mint skin, doe eyes, or caramel hair. Rumors said a           and faults:
mere look upon you would bring good fortune for the coming year. Poets     I much prefer
scribed on creased parchment lauding your beauty, comparing you to the     the moon and its veil
sun and its brilliance. Saints don’t normally marry, but for you, they            of darkness.
would make an exception.
I’ll admit, I wasn’t one those first at your door. The king couldn’t look too     I was something 
eager, too involved in religious affairs, but I’d been watching you my            to be sold without
entire life—as royalty, I wasn’t allowed to mingle, but they would make        consent: a body with no
an exception for religion. They would make an exception for you. Your         voice. rumors said my
parents took control of your affairs, freeing you of the burden of decision,     vocal chords were slashed
and they didn’t hide as they measured pockets and weighed gold. Traced       out, tendons torn, a muted
family names and gauged potential. Which to favor: symmetrical face or       husk of a girl, but a sacred
charming wits? Lineage of the past or future prosperity?                                 one nonetheless.

My announced intentions to marry you sent a scandal through the                  it's funny they think I ever 
kingdom. Your parents didn’t object in the slightest—they could hardly         had a heart
find a more qualified suitor—but my advisors disapproved. They didn’t         pumping blood
want to mess in the affairs of religion, but in the state of the lands, we           through body
didn’t have a choice. Simply put, the crown was losing favor to you. More    with no soul:
and more devoted themselves to the divine, not to the royal. A marriage to    did it pump at all?
you would solve that and more, and so we were granted each other’s 

It was a golden wedding: strands woven into your silk dress, crown atop          vows are empty words,
your head, your eyes painted with liquid kohl, forged rings exchanged, and      a shell with no
petals lining the aisle. I don’t even remember what I wore—compared to         interior,
you, I was no king but a peasant—and when I looked at you across the            when love
alter, I knew I wasn’t a mere marriage of alliance to secure religion on my       will never blossom,
side. There was something about the way you caried yourself, something         when love is but a word
about the way you looked at me: every part of you drew me in. For years,        with no filling.
you had been the town’s idol. Now, you were finally its queen.

My one regret in waiting too long to propose. Rumors of your parents soon     I played the part so well
surfaced: secrets of a household seeped into the public. Why your dresses       they never considered
were always so modest—hiding plum and orange and lemon stains                 the rumors were 
beneath. Why your house was always so quiet—threats made into cloth          intentionally released; 
gagged your mouth. The public began to call me a hero, saving you from       they never asked
your household, saving the damsel in distress. But all I called myself was      by whom
too late; I should have saved you sooner.

I’m sorry our honeymoon was so unfortunate. I had planned a lavish                 take a guess
retreat, I had planned to offer you the best that money and power can buy,        of the balance
but the morning we were meant to leave, you couldn’t even leave your             between reality
room. Co-dependent, people pitied. After years governed by your parents,        and crafted illusion
you couldn’t exist alone. I consoled in every way I could, tried to rescue 
you, but progress was a lopsided battle: victorious one day, tear-stained
cheeks the next.

But in time, you healed the scars and opened up, love finally blooming.            you must have known
As we walked side by side, we shared careful touched, linked pinkies,              it was all an act:
whispered comforts. Our signs of affection weren’t bold or exorbitant, and      like a painter with pastels
that made it all the more intimate. All the more outs. Together, we thrived.       concealing
Together, we ruled. Together, we were the crown and religion combined:         the base coat.
the divine right of kings.

The idyllic life only lasted a year before cracks festered. Nights of pain          my mumbled words were
and aches surged, I couldn’t even muster the energy to get up in the                hardly a prayer:
morning. My entire body withered away into ash, and I wondered if a             no one way connection
strong breeze could topple me over and scatter the remains. When I                to a lord above.
tumbled over dead in the middle of the night, it almost felt better than the       I mumbled of reprieve,
burning. I wish I could have said a proper goodbye. I wish you didn’t have     of success and 
to wake to my dead body, cold hip pressed against your side, waking the         determination, of death
entire town with a scream. They found you were, still in bed, clutching my     but not sorrow, of passing
hand and praying over it. But you were the one prayers were sent to, so          but no remorse.
who would answer your cries?

I watched as lockdown ensued for the following weeks. As the search for      they never inquired the
my mysterious assassin continued, you were trapped in your room. I’m         process of speeding up
sorry if this reminded you of your caged childhood, but you were the            natural processes. they
queen—no harm could come to the only remaining ruler. Purges and             never investigated the
questioning, investigations and perusal, but every expert was called up and   connections the supposed
no cause was identified. They examined my body: no wounds, no cuts, no    saint of the town may
scars. Natural causes, they eventually ruled it, a normal human passing. I      possess. they never 
couldn’t tell them that it felt anything but normal.                                           suspected me.

The single ruler, the throne and crown were an extension of you. Never           I never wanted to be
before had a queen ruled alone, but no one questioned your mourning. No       a divine goddess:
one questioned your authority. Your position was absolute, your rule even       unnatural power,
relished. I was proud of the brave face you put on, proud of your power.          but the queen was
The population turned black and grey, not mourning for me, but for the           a desired title, and for 
pain of a wife without her husband. For the pain of the girl, the divine, the      that, I would sacrifice
princess, the queen they had honored her entire.                                                all. 

I still watch over you, and I feel my love only grow stronger. I’m sorry I          I'm sorry you were 
left you alone; I’m sorry I didn’t get to say goodbye. But you are their              collateral damage, but
God. You are their queen. I cherish the day we are united again, and I will        if you really loved me,
wait every second for you, my love.                                                                     you would know I
                                                                                                                              needed the power more
                                                                                                                              than I needed a husband.
                                                                                                                              I needed you, darling.
                                                                                                                              Your Queen

Natalie Hampton is a junior at the Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in the Creative Writing Department. She has been recognized by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, the Harris County Department of Education, the Young Poets Network, the Pulitzer Center, and Ringling College of Art and Design. She serves as an editor at Polyphony Lit and Cathartic Literary Magazine. She has taken online workshops and classes with Iowa, Brown, and Sewanee. She can be found @nataliehamptonn.