The story of A Girl and Her King, joins the young protagonist as she grows in her commitment towards her good king. She is young and he is old. He teaches, her watches over her, protects her. He has taken her to the battlefield, the arena, and now asks her to find her place inside the calm environment of her old home, where challenges abound to test her dedication to him in even in the smallest matters. She does not yet know what form their love will take, if he will one day bring her to live with him in the palace, or request she stay in that quiet home forever. But willing to wait, she receives the lessons he has in store for her.
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The next day they walked again.
The King interrupted the silence. “You cannot rush things to grow or patience or me. You cannot rush me. Why do you want to? I know you are so confused.” He was referring to the marriage Philothea waited for. The king did not accuse her. He wondered why she would not understand the things she already knew.
“I am protecting you. It is not a sword or any kind of weapon. I have scars. I love you. You can look at them.” He held out his hand. “Go on, touch it.” Philothea began to cry. The king’s tears fell, one on her forehead as he stood over her. She could feel the drop on her forehead. It cooled her head. Philothea felt so hot.
She put a finger to his wrist. Not smiling, something was happening inside her heart.
“I’m so happy you aren’t blaming yourself,” the kind said softly to her. “I’m so happy you aren’t believing what you used to believe about me, that I’d be angry or that you did this.” He gestured to his hand.
Thinking of it, the king began to cry and he hugged her tightly. “No, little girl. No, my darling, my beloved. No, no, I love you. No, you didn’t, you did not. I was saving you. I was protecting you. You used to cry. You wanted to be grateful to me but did not know how or why. Oh my little princess!” He continued to hold her. Had he said these things now or in those moments when she used to say she crucified him? She was surprised, so surprised by his tears. He was so strong and so majestic, but so in love and so real. He was no stoic.
“You almost don’t remember, do you?” he said. “You used to come to me to beg me to come to you. You could not get too close to these rooms for a while. I came to you and you would cry. Oh, you would cry about some little thing and say you hurt me, that you had wounded me somehow. Darling, you used to show me your scars, your cuts that you’d give to yourself on your heart.”
“When I think about it, I remember,” Philothea whispered, staring at the ground.
“Don’t be such a stoic! Let yourself go,” he told her.
The tears surfaced Philothea could feel her heart bubble in her mouth. “It’s just that I’ve been sick,” she told him as her voice wavered, beginning to cry. “And I sat back and didn’t want to laugh and the monsters are still there. They have not touched me, but they keep whispering things. My king, I was so happy when you came with me last night and told them to leave. I don’t want to live with them here. It doesn’t make me happy. They want me away from you. I don’t want to be away from you. But I love you. I love you radiantly…And I know I’m complaining but I don’t get mad at myself like I would before. I’m just a little surprised by that. I mean, where are we going?”
He looked at her sad face and shook his head. “You know. Just remind yourself. You make me smile and laugh and you do things for me because you love me. They think you’re something amazing, special, different, set apart. You know why they think that? Because I tell them about you. No one knows you like I do. Every now and then I like to tell people. They like to hear it. Mostly you do not know. You used to be prideful about it, now you are too shy about our love. But you’ve never been so vulnerable than with me and you’ve never breathed so well. Your heart has never beat like it does now. Trembling, yes, you trembled because of fear, anxiousness, a pressure. Those creatures became frightened as well. Isn’t it fun when we frighten them away?
The king continued, “I want you to continue living and being and being like a child and being in love. I know you became sick but no one even really knew where your heart was. You are inside the walls and this is different than the field. In the field, all is open, all exposed. Head to head battle, one army versus another and no man fights alone. Here inside the walls where I have asked you to stay, they hide and you must defend what you have against those thieves. You must go day-to-day life and live hidden, unnoticed, like you’ve seen me do. And look at what you are doing. It isn’t just for them either. It’s for you. Remember to listen to them. I want you to…Remember what I told you. I want to show you something.”
The king took her over a green hill. On it, the hill seemed very small, but over the round top of it were three flowers, purple ones. Philothea did not recognize them. And the sun was out, very large and very bright, but not at all hot. The king stood there with her.
“I want you to know that I am enough. You don’t need anything but me.” The king stopped, putting his right knee on the ground and, leaning to the right, he picked one flower. He handed it to Philothea and held another in his hand. The king said nothing. Philothea looked at the flower. It was the kind that grows on a stalk, not normal petals, and it was small, three inches maybe. And it had some pollen inside it, still where the petals were on different sides of the stalk.
Philothea started to smile. She breathed deeply. “I love seeing you.” She put the flower in his hand and held his hand. She felt so in love that she could barely move. One hand holding one hand, two flowers in the middle, and still one on the ground.
“I asked you to marry me,” the king said. Philothea held her breath. She had been remembering that day. She thought of it three days ago. She thought of it three times.
The kind said, “I stand by that, one day.” Philothea wanted to hear him add some condition, “if it’s right,” but she could not quite remember if he did. She told herself she could not recall him ever placing a condition on this desire.
“I hold you to the things you have said,” the king said.
“Okay,” she said, “I hold you.”
The moment stayed that way. They could have been there for days. She would not have known either way. The king gave her many gifts, so many things she asked for in her complaints. But he was enough.
They stood in this moment. Time stopped, if it even existed there. The sun disappeared and a moon rose with stars. It was not cold.
They stood together, one hand in one hand, two flowers in the middle. She remembered grasping a fistful of bluish purple flowers one day as she past quickly by a wall of flowers on a bicycle. Ah, freedom.
Breathe. See love. What a life she had before her. What a love.
They stood their all night until dawn came and as if still in a trance, he walked her back.
They stood there all night.
And as time passed, if she mentioned without thinking, “I love you so much, I want to marry you.”
They both would pause and think about what she had just said so casually.
Philothea was so removed at times from the promise, but it remained always there. They both knew it. He of course, knew the plan and all that would come to pass. She knew only that he knew. Philothea trusted that was enough.
Still they would pause and Philothea would ask herself if she really meant what she said. Those playful words drew upon a world of deep love between them, touching the surface. So they would pause and think for a second, not saying anything and go on with the day and the conversation. Still, they would pause.