It was another night of that never ending night. When asked how she was, Philothea could answer, “the others are well…I am where I should be,” and leave it at that. The girl, alone, before bed, sent a note by messenger to her king. “Be the king you once were,” it read. And she retired to bed.

The darkness came, with the clouds, with the storm, with the awareness that though there was a moon, it was impossible to see through the thickness of the clouds. Philothea was growing used to this, resigned to take what comes. The storm grew louder as the rain pelted her windows. The childhood joy of mud thrown washed away in the rain only to leave a sodden mess below. Her child cried. She rose to check on him. Nothing was different. It was as it should be.

Before returning to her room, she heard a knock at the door. Philothea was not afraid. She walked to the front room and opened the door. It was her king. In a way she was surprised, and yet…

More surprised was she that when she saw him, she felt like a girl again. She felt free in her heart to stand atop the hill, to see the ruin of a forest below and its darkness, to pick wildflowers and stand there allowing him to bless her until the sun went down. She could see him and know him and love him and trust him. She could trust him yet again. “I have brought you something,” he told her and in his hand held a little brown sack.

“I do not know where you like to keep these things,” the king explained, “but I know you have needed this comfort.” It was the dress her daughter wore. It was the dress she wore when she was taken away from her, when death claimed another prize, when the darkness began.

There was only a little blood on it. Philothea thought that perhaps it was more likely her blood than the blood of her daughter. The dress was small, had been sewn for this child of the stars. Philothea held it close to hear heart, pressed it between her hands, folded it up and put it back into the small brown sack. She looked into the eyes of the king. Her body felt paralyzed.

But in his eyes she knew him. “I love you, and I am with you, my beautiful daughter,” he said. It felt like everything was happening to her. She could say nothing.

How good it felt to have a friend again.