A Girl and Her King: Drawings on the wall

Philothea reached her home just as the storm settled in for a strong blow. On her walk, the wind first held her back and then pushed her forward. Light rain that speeded her step moved in sheets as the wind blew. “This is just one side of the mountain,” she told herself. “Another day we’ll see the meadow…and then we’ll eventually see the other side again.” These words played in her mind again and again.

It had been a terrible day. It was a day of movement, conversation, and worry. There was no silence that day. There were but a few moments when she tried to remember those words and the mountain, trying to find her way through the voices of those telling her how she felt, reassuring her in ways she did not need, distracting her from the understanding she had gained in that simple, short conversation.

When she returned home, Philothea rushed into the doorway out of the rain, took of her coat and hung it on the hook near the door. She removed her scarf and draped it over the collar of the coat so they both could dry. Her feet flexed with relief as she removed her boots and tossed them near the threshold. She stood in her home, surveying the scene of simplicity and quiet.

In this one room she beheld her table and chairs with her cabinet of shelves that held the ominous teacup around which so many of thoughts centered. Across the same small room sat a gathering of chairs and a fireplace. Through another door with a large wooden frame was her kitchen. There was a hallway with two bedrooms: one for her children and one she shared with her prince.

As Philothea surveyed her room, she fixed her eyes on the large wall behind the two spaces of this room. It was a plain wall on which a vision could be written. She took her drawing pencils left haphazardly on the table and walked up to this blank wall.

From the left bottom corner of the wall, she drew a line to the center as high as she could reach. Lifting her pencil, she walked to the right corner and bending down, began the same line, meeting just above the other in the middle, as high as she could reach. Her right arm could reach higher than her left.

Philothea walked back and forth along the wall, tracing the trail on which her life journeyed. Smooth at the bottom and gradually more perilous, ever going back and forth, back and forth, along this room, along this wall, until she reached the top. The top plateaued before the peak. She did not finish the path. She did not know what the rest would look like. But she drew this reminder into heart of her home.

A Girl and Her King: In the Waiting Room

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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“He’s coming! The Bridegroom is coming!” Philothea turned her head toward the shouting. In the midst of the crowd she felt singled out by the Bridegroom they could not yet see. A girl grabbed her arm, “He’s calling for you! He’s coming for you! Oh I wish he were coming for me!”

A wise woman stepped out of the chaos and said, “He will come for all of us. Come daughter, now he is calling you.” She led Philothea away from the frenzy and took her inside a home. She wiped off her face and straightened Philothea’s hair. Looking at her she said, “these clothes won’t do. Didn’t you prepare anything to wear?”

“No Madam – I did not know.”

“Did not know! Hah. I doubt that indeed.”

The old woman walked across the room and lifted the lid of an antique trunk. “This will have to do,” she said, and she pulled from the trunk a gown Philothea had seen before. The old woman held it in front of her. A pearl here, a diamond there – long and flowing with lace. But its brilliance seemed a little faded. Philothea looked disappointed. The woman understood.

1Getting Ready0122“Don’t worry, dear, its shine will come back with use. Try it on.” It fit her.

“This was mine,” Philothea said. “This was the dress I was preparing for him.”

“Why did you stop?”

“I didn’t think about it anymore. I had another dress, a simpler one, I wore that instead, for my wedding.”

“Well,” the woman began fixing it up as Philothea wore it, facing herself in the mirror, “you can wear it now. This is the dress of your soul. See how beautiful you look – my what dignity! You look so handsome in it. Don’t worry that its been put away, you have time to finish it.”

“Isn’t he on his way?”

“Oh, he always takes his time. There’s no rush. You just stay with me and we’ll bring this dress back to life.”

IN THE WAITING ROOM

Where had this journey taken her? The girl began in the battlefield, full of sunshine and excitement, thinking herself so brave, only to learn much later that she was in no danger at all. The king than took her to the arena, a closed circle for and her teammates to do battle against the enemy. The greatest struggles there were to learn to work as a team and to keep in loving in the difficulty of personal battle. After the arena, the king took her back inside the walls. It was here she would wait for him, wait for him to fulfill his promise to marry her. The greatest struggle here was to be patient, to be at peace with the places he would take her and the lessons he would ask her to learn. It was here, in this dusty place, that she learned to love him better, to stop condemning herself. It was here that he revealed to her the attachment of a little beast on her ankle, and freed her. It was here that he explored the mountain top and valley with her, only to return her back to that dusty haystack.

What had he wanted from her? He wanted love. He wanted to teach her so that she could mature and grow into the woman he had made her to be. After all, when the story began she was a little girl. When the story would end, she would still be little and young, only to embark on the world he had for her.

Had he proposed? Were they to marry? She doubted and wondered as she waited. And as she waited, he brought his son, the prince, a man after his own heart, into her house. This was his plan. Not that she should marry and retire into the palace for prayer and sacrifice, but that she should wed and work and bear children. In this life, the palace was not to be hers, but after her death, she would be taken there to live with him forever.

It was in these days of the story that he formed her heart, he made her his. It was because of these days, because of the visions that should would weather the grief of poverty, of death, of loneliness. The visions would become quiet, the romance would transform into the simplicity of the every day, but the memory of these adventures would bring her back and remind her what it is to love, to bring forth life.

A Girl and Her King: Behold the Man

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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They were whispering on all sides. “Look the king has chosen someone! Who did he choose?”

“Who is that?” They whispered. “We’ve never heard of him! He’s too quiet! No, king – choose someone more like us!”

The king silenced the crowd. He ignored their words. Their words were not true – they did not matter.

“I have chosen this man of my own heart…Here is my daughter.” Beside the man a young woman stepped out onto the balcony. She had flowers in her hair and a veil over her head. Her dress was white with lace. She looked beautiful.

0892_B2DSC_0310The crowd began to yell. They did not yell kind words. The man stood strong. Philothea who had walked out smiling began to fear. She caught glimpses of what they were saying…and it hurt her.

The man looked to the King. The king looked to the crowd. “My people!” he said, “Behold the Man!”

Why didn’t the king say anything else? A storm of cries came from the crowds. The king joined the hands of the girl and the boy and he whispered to them, “do not be afraid. I have set my seal upon you – you shall be a light to the nations, dearer to me than all other people, though all the earth is mine.” Philothea’s hands shook but the man stepped toward her. He held her hands. He was not forceful. He was not mean. He may have felt fear, too. He held her hand gently. He was like her king.

2Mass0619“I love your heart,” she said.

Since the moment the king had brought them together she was drawn to this man. “He is like my love,” she said.

They joined hearts on that balcony and as the king pronounced the words a shout of joy ran through the crowd. The lies were silenced and angels hidden among the people celebrated and rejoiced this new union in Heaven.

“May they give glory to the king!” They shouted.

“And may His Glory reign on earth!”

Could she have felt sad? Later on she looked at the king. “But he is not you,” she told him.

“No, that’s true.” The king bade Philothea sit on his lap. “You remember the days I drew you out of the wilderness and called you mine. You remember the joy and the heartache as I courted you. Look my daughter, we shall always be in love. I will always be a brother and a father to you. I am the spouse of your heart, like the Queen Mother, she was given a husband because of my plan. You are not afraid.”

“No I am not afraid,” she had her head on his shoulder.

“Then arise my beloved, my beautiful one and come – your prince here on earth is waiting for you. He loves you. He has waited for you all your life and though you did not know it you have waited for him. Come and share your Master’s joy.

 

And that day there was much rejoicing.

A Girl and Her King: Set as a Seal

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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What did the king want from Philothea? He wanted love. He wanted to teach her so that she could mature and grow into the woman he had made her to be. After all, when the story began she was a little girl. When the story would end, she would still be little and young, only to embark on the world he had for her.

Did he propose? Did they marry? She doubted and wondered as she waited.

 

The king placed in Philothea’s hand a pearl.

“You have given this to me before,” she said.

He smiled and looked into her eyes compassionately, closing her hand around the pearl and closing his hand around hers.

“Yes, I have. You have endured so much for me, my little one— more than you thought capable.”

“But I attempted more than I could.”

“Should I worry about that now? No, it is done with. I’d like us to look on to press ahead, continually moving. You have so many ways to grow but you are seeing things with a much greater clarity.”

She did not feel so storm tossed now. No, the king had steadied her. Perhaps the rains should come again.

“Here,” he said, “looking to your heart.” He placed a ring inside her heart. It was beautiful and pure. It held a single pearl and on each side a little diamond and a little sapphire. He had never given her a sapphire before. It was very beautiful.

Philothea protested, “my king, I don’t deserve this.”

“Of course you have never really earned it, but I desire to give it to you.

“I am not bold or courageous.”

“Then we will continue to work on that. Darling, you have everything inside of you. I gave it to you many years ago. We have only to find it now. You belong to me.”

“I do?”

“Yes. And to anyone else you might feel you belong – you belong first to me – then one day we shall have both. You are mine.” He paused. “Yes, you are mine. I can see the seal on your heart. You are all mine. You are all beautiful, my beloved, and there is no blemish in you.”

“None?”

“No. For I have made you clean. No go, and show yourself to the priest.”

A Girl and Her King: Back Inside the Walls

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.

To see previous installments, please click the Fiction Tab

Today they honored those many men and women of the court. There were beautiful celebrations all day long and Philothea’s mother attended one. Philothea and her mother went together. But Philothea felt very tired from the battle that weekend and she was ready for rest.

Yet, there was work to do and she must attend to that.

“Ah, my king, what can I do now?” Philothea asked him.

“Don’t worry” the king responded, “I’ll provide for you. I always do.”

Her heart felt very full and beyond being tired, every joy was hers. Like a child, Philothea played with his hair and said, “my relationship with you isn’t like others. My friendships with others began because I loved them first. And they grew because they loved me back. My relationship with you isn’t like that. It began because you loved me first, and it grew because I loved you back.”

The king grinned at her understanding. “And I know something more” she told him, “I must learn to love you first and receive everything I need from you, my king, and love others for who they are, not to receive something. You will always provide for me, others cannot always do that.”

“I’m going to give you something,” he told her.

She took his word very lightly, “You always give me things.”

“I know. I am going to give you something new.”

“You said that before.”

“I know. I want you to be ready for it. I want you to appreciate it.”

It would be better not to guess, she thought, though she was tempted to analyze with anticipation. He understood what he was doing. After all, he loved her.

 

The king seemed pensive. “I may have you speak in front of people.” While she said many things in front of others, she could tell he meant something very different. “I may have you tell them about me…about us…I want them to know.”

Philothea knew she was afraid of this but was uncertain why at first. As the day passed, she remembered her fear of others knowing just how close she was. It was not her faults and mistakes she feared them knowing, but those secrets between her and the king.

Yet the was telling her this as he had never told her before. Philothea agreed but on the request that he give her a place and someone to help, anyone he wanted.

Indeed, the young knight was a patron of such speakers. The king did not say when and so Philothea reminded herself that although she did not know the details, he would nudge her to pursue the opportunity when he wanted it.

Philothea could gratefully see in her the things she had wanted to see. All the qualities people noted in her were ones that she did not possess a year ago, but had wanted to. Philothea was different.

And she no longer went out to that little earthen pot near the gate. Philothea brought everything to the hands of the king. Some things he took out there, other things he just seemed to hold into, like her heart. The king was never without that. He knew that the time would come for it to be beaten about by the wind. For today he would keep it warm near his heart. Philothea was grateful, all the while knowing what the storm had felt like.

Philothea spoke at length with the princess. The ring made the princess pensive, as did many things. She could see more than Philothea was able to see. Philothea was more sensitive than before, but she and the princess were growing to a good understanding. A princess and a little princess – both loved by their king.

They served him diligently together, one from the desert, the other from a dusty haystack inside the walls.

Ah, and Philothea remembered! She remembered that it was not only dust. She remembered a moment with her father. There was a rainbow and he was broken about something. She was reminded of mortality, as was her mother, but he was broken over the loss of a friend. He sat near her and she put her head on his shoulder – father to daughter – knowing that affection would comfort him a little. But Philothea remembered his voice, the way he choked a little trying to get his words out, and she remembered the rainbow and in that moment she was more than grateful that the king had asked her to stay and to stay with her family.

Philothea had a sister. Not a sister from the court, but one from that dusty haystack. They all seemed poor, when compared to the palace and her family there, her friends, little sisters, her queen mother, and the gentle, magnificent king. They seemed very poor indeed, just inside those walls but they were family and while Philothea loved the king very much, more than her own family, she wanted, some day, to bring them to that palace. They all seemed unaware of it, as though they worked without ever looking up. But she knew, yes, she knew they had seen it and come so close—perhaps gone inside. She wanted more. She wanted to be with them and bring them to the throne room to be received and blessed by the king. Philothea desired a seal, not only for her little heart, but for the heart of her family.

And the king knew she wanted this, and knew in the past she had tried to bring them but only for the ideal, not for them. She did talk to the king about them, and often. One lady of the court was constantly asking about them, after seeing Philothea in the palace alone.

Philothea came only for the king. Having had all things leave her alone at one point, having spent years being told to go on ahead, or to be left just a little behind, he loved her first. And Philothea loved him back. Thus she began the glorious love story between them with saints and angels and ladies of the court. He wanted her to speak, but what would she say and where could this story go as years went by? Her life began with many nights and tears and grew into full daytime. Having only truly seen the valley once and only truly been atop the mountain once, where would she be during the earthquake, or the storm, or the lightning? How would she find her queen when she felt so far away from the palace?

The king touched her hand. He said calmly “don’t worry. It isn’t done yet.”  Philothea listened, her heart breathing gratefully because if it were over she did not know what she would do with herself.

“It isn’t done yet.” He had said and he took her hand and led Philothea further inside.

A Girl and Her King: Another Skirmish

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.

To see previous installments, please click the Fiction Tab

“Ah, are we going away again?” Philothea asked the king anxiously. He stepped down from his throne.

“Yes, little one, we are going away.”

What would they do this time? They were going to a place without snow. There would be something else there. She had been there twice and could remember the place a little, mingled with many other memories of many other places. What would they do once there? What did this king have planned?

In the past week two individuals asked her about her engagement. They both said bluntly, “I heard you wanted to marry the king.”

How to respond? To neither could she tell the real detail that he had told her, proposed to her, and then asked her to wait. They knew no details. There was not the time to explain. The second time she rushed to the other room and saw him snickering. “you think you’re funny, but you’re not,” Philothea said as she rushed into his open arms. He held her there, snickering because he was responsible for the second person. She was not mad. He humored himself by getting a reaction from her. Very rarely did people remind her or ask her. She was most open when she could volunteer the information.

Philothea looked up at him and smiled. Yes, they were going away again. If they could, she would like to stop at her home and get a pair of shoes and kiss her father goodbye, but she did not know if she would be able to.

They king must have been excited, too. “Be a little foolish,” he told her, “be very foolish.” He made time pass effortlessly. The king knew what things Philothea longed for. He smiled as he anticipated ways to give them to her.

 …

The battle was heated.

It was not exactly a vacation and her fingers froze. At night a soldier comforted her. Philothea had no idea it would be this.

In the morning she learned that in the battle one must rid oneself of anything that will work against him. “You must keep all your strength; and do not lose your peace.”

Philothea did seem foolish. This was a weekend to learn what the king wanted to teach her. The battle was present, very present. She could see others fighting. Sometimes it seemed as though everyone was fighting a different battle.

“No, they are all the same fight. But when weapons are different, each combat is different, it seems like you fight alone.”

Philothea held onto the king’s arm, “but you’re here.”

He smiled and held her. “Yes, I am. You’re my little princess. Do not forget your ring.”

The lessons continued, “to fight one must know there is someone greater than you, but know that I am protecting you and they will never beat me.”

“You’re always victorious.”

“Always.” It was a matter of strength and trust. She got her sword ready. He placed a diamond on her forehead and said, “because you are mine.”

She repeated the words back to him, “you are mine.”

They fought for three days. The first attack came that first night. All night long the enemy swarmed around them. The king allowed Philothea to sleep some, but with the enemy’s shouts so close, it was difficult. She awoke very early, and found that the entire night she had been alone with only the king and the enemy’s troops around. At morning, Philothea took her leave from the battle and went with the king to sit and talk. He explained humility again to her and his words rested in her. Even in their brief conversation, Philothea could sense that the enemy was still near. They fought hard all day long, some moments she did not even notice what they were doing, other moments it was all too present. As night drew on, she found herself looking at the king in the moonlight. She could see him. Philothea broke from his gaze to defend another soldier. Seeing the battle, the king rushed in to protect the soldier. He used his shield to defend her and Philothea returned to her own battle.

They called to one another in the darkness. The king was so close to her, so near to her that she could feel him inside her. It was then that she fell. Not under the sword of the enemy, and not quite from exhaustion. Philothea fell and the king carried her. He held her inside him as he continued to fight. She recognized the marks on the seal where the enemy’s sword had attempted to strike. The enemy failed.

The king prevailed and she understood the protection he gave her with his own heart. “Set me as a seal on your heart,” he had once written to her. Now he was there. In recognizing this, she could see that no matter how close the enemy seemed to approach, that it could never penetrate her. She would be forever protected. Philothea never had to fear. She would always be free.

 

Only after this, could Philothea take the ring off of her finger. She wrote a brief letter to the princess, but had very few words. Philothea placed the ring in a golden box and with the short note and an explanation of her heart; she placed everything inside the envelope, sealed it, and sent it into the desert. There were no longer adornments on her fingers, but she had a diamond on her forehead and the king’s seal on her heart. Perhaps one day there would be more. But this was all for now. She looked up at the king and looked into his eyes as she closed the envelope. He knew it would be okay. It was little and small, even though it was sad. And he loved her.

A Girl and Her King: The Triumph After the Valley

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.

To see previous installments, please click the Fiction Tab

Philothea felt she dreamed of this place. The sky was bright, draped with clouds, dark, gray, and light, and some blue sky. Everything was bright. Her queen mother waited at the gate for her and welcomed her, and gave her a nod which told her to proceed. Philothea saw a statue of the king. What was the dream? Was it to pass into the deepest part of the palace? Was it the marriage? The wedding feast?

Philothea entered the throne room. Was the dream to be received here eternally? She saw her king on his throne. She knelt in honor of him. She saw two ladies in waiting – one carried gifts to the king inside, the other was in the midst of renewing her pledge of love and service. There were no servants here. All had honor.

And there was so much light. Philothea’s dream was to be asked, to be desired by him, for him to love her, and carry her to the end. One can see the mountain on level ground. She could see the places they climbed. Just as it is more difficult to see the mountain while in the valley; on level ground, she could not see the bottom of that valley.

“Maybe we’ll go back someday.” He had said to her. Philothea nodded and said, “thank you.” He loved her.

She knelt and gave him a smile. He smiled back to her, shifting his eyes from her to those others in the throne room.

The king made an announcement from his throne. He looked straight at her with love and addressed all the crowd. It felt as though he spoke directly to her. “I will give you new things. I will make you something new.”

She planned to only stay in his presence and not approach the throne. Hearing her thoughts, he put his hand out to her and invited her. “Come,” he said, “Sit with me, let me be near you. Let me put my heart inside your imperfect heart. I love you so much.”

There were hundreds of people in the throne room. It felt like only two, as she made her way to him. As she sat, he said, “There, you belong no where else. I am going to keep you forever.”

What she had once dreamed when she was smaller was so little in comparison to all this. Philothea had no idea. A young maid approached Philothea and said, “the princess requests her ring back, but the king asked me to give you a seal instead.” It was written in Latin. It was for love.

Philothea did not feel little. She felt beautiful.

“You will talk to the young knight tonight” the king told her. “He will direct you. I choose him.”

She could feel the love of those who served the king. They lived in various parts of the palace, but all had access to those inside and outside the walls. The gate was open.

For her, he chose eight to serve her.

“There will always be more.” he leaned towards her. “Indeed,” he whispered, “they all love you.”

And the men and women of the court cheered in her honor.

“You will go to your mission. Some will follow you; others will stay behind. I choose these to keep me informed.”

“Won’t you be going as well?”

“Of course. After all, I must fight for you while you fight for me.”

“That is love,” she said. They smiled and stood ready for battle.

 …

She knew now what both the mountain and the valley looked like.

 …

She could not explain that fearful period in the valley, but she was nevertheless glad that is had been. She was aware of the king’s words that they would return again. This did not frighten her. While in the valley, she would often remember how the sun had felt on her skin. Now in the sunshine she did not forget the cool of the shadows. And now Philothea was also aware of a secret. She now knew of those beautiful, large, tropical flowers that grew only in the valley. She lived a little less attached then before, and the king was pleased.

Despite her weaknesses which confronted her, the things she did, words she said, face expressions, actions, emotions, anger at nothing, and a contempt for things he created and loved, Philothea walked into his throne room, sat at his feet with her hands on his lap. She dared to confront him so. Even her own heart accused her. What right had she?

What right hadn’t she? When did he ever ask her to be perfect, to be his greatest subject, and greatest love by being the most loyal, most unerring, the noble citizen? No, the model citizens make more mistakes than the rebellious ones—at least the rebellious ones know what they are doing. So she sat at his feet and looked up at him. He was glad she had come. “You rushed,” he said.

She stayed the afternoon, and in the evening went out to work.

The king asked her to love. “If it isn’t love, it isn’t worth that. If it’s love, it’s worth everything and your consent to my love makes it better.” The king held up Philothea’s hand. “Ah, the princess’s ring. I remember when I gave that to her. I’m glad you had it for a time. Don’t worry; I have diamonds for you yet.”

Diamonds for the faithless servant.

“No,” he said. “Diamonds for my little love and if you like I can make you better.”

Philothea was a soldier, he explained. “They won’t always see you, but you’ll look so marvelous.”

A Girl and Her King: Inside the Valley

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.

To see previous installments, please click the Fiction Tab

The wind was knocked out of her. It was a fast hit, so fast Philothea did not anticipate it. Then it was hard to breathe. She struggled and suffered and lay in the king’s arms, gasping for breath. He held her, held her arms and whispered to her, calming her. She could not make out his words—she did not understand. Philothea’s arm began to shake. She pushed herself closer to him. Attempting to swallow her breath she asked, “what happened?”

“You were attacked.” the king told her.

“Yes. Yes.” She said beginning to cry.

She turned herself over and hid herself in him, sobbing.

Philothea thought, he didn’t save me. She quickly cast, threw, the thoughts away from her. They fell and they shattered. A little beast ran and hid behind a bush.

No! she thought, not against him. Philothea must not turn on the king when she needed him most. She buried herself deeper inside of him, inside his robes, trying to escape the air around her.

“We’re surrounded,” he whispered. “Stay strong.” Philothea wrapped her arm around the king, continually moving closer.

He is the king, she reminded herself.

She kept her eyes shut. The darkness was too dark. The valley?

Philothea was too scared to see.

“Shhh. Shhh.” He soothed her. The king leaned close to her ear, “look around.”

She kept her eyes shut. She dug deeper trying to disappear.

“No” he said. “I don’t want you to be afraid.” It seemed so dangerous to her yet he seemed perfectly safe. The king knew nothing could really happen to them.

She peeked out with one eye. Yes, it was dark. She shut her eye and turned her head back over.

“I know it’s dark,” she told him. “Why look any longer?”

“You’re eyes will adjust and you’ll see things. We may be here for any amount of time.”

“You won’t tell me.”

“No, I don’t think you’ll ask. Shhh, it’s okay. I’m here.” He cradled her into him like a baby. “You’re so big to be so little.” All the while he was okay that she stayed, eyes shut. He was okay that her little piece of heart burned a hole in her pocket occasionally. He was okay that—well, he was understanding that it collected dirt or thoughts against him. He did not really like that. But, he did not love her less. It was not okay. One creature got a hold of it and left a tooth mark when it was going after her. That was why she hid with so much fear. She almost lost her love.

It was better that she hid from the demons. She believed this. What more could she do? But she knew she had to be strong, that she had to keep fighting. “Peace won’t come on it’s own. Sometimes you must fight for it.” Te king told Philothea. “I did take you out to the battlefield, but aren’t you fighting so much more here?”

“So much more,” she repeated. He held onto her heart in his hands, pleased that she gave him every piece. “You’re safe,” he told her. “Really, it’s beautiful here.” And she peeked out again with that same eye.

 …

Soon, the king had her walking. They were still in the valley. She clung to him, often still hiding herself and her face in his robes. Without saying anything he gently pushed her away from him. Philothea was startled by it and when she opened her frightened eyes, she was bathed in sunlight. “King!” She smiled exuberantly. He stood with her. She hugged him joyfully. He was happy she liked it. She found herself enraptured by the warmth and light. Philothea danced and began to dance with him.

She took one step beyond the light. In the dark and cool, she suddenly felt very frightened. The king held her again. “Look,” he said. She saw a friend approaching. “You two should talk.” And he whispered, “talk about me.” They did. She confessed her fear in the valley with him. All would be better. During the conversation she realized how deeply she trusted him, how scared she was, yet the depth at which she knew it would be okay.

“Ready?” He asked. She wrapped her arms around him, prepared, but found herself not so frightened in the darkness. There were places where the shadows were darker, the air colder. She had everything she needed to know. Philothea had joy.

“You see,” the king told her. “I have wanted so much for you to see the battle you are fighting here. It is a mightier battle. I knew you could fight it.”

“Only because you keep holding up my sword.”

“Well, what else could I do? Besides, not everyone lets me.”

A Girl and Her King: Continued resistance

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.

To see previous installments, please click the Fiction Tab

Outside the wind blew. Walking out into Philothea caught her breath with delight. Her hair and dress jumped around in the wind, in front, behind, and she laughed.

Cloudy, windy, and gray—inside the palace it was a little darker, but there were beautiful things: roses, candles, light, and princesses with some coarse, radiant beauty inside them.

She walked along, outside balancing herself one foot in front of another, as on a balance beam. “With a little sadness” The king observed, walking out with her. “I love the way you follow your heart.” Philothea was surprised the king was speaking to her. He walked alongside, occasionally grabbing, holding her hand, ready if she should fall.

“I…follow my heart?” Philothea tried to tease his seriousness. “Remember, I left that piece back.” She tried to tease by attacking herself.

“So defensive. Don’t be afraid to soften up. You’re defensive.”

He leaned into her, and whispered, “You still gave me the little piece, and the whole thing yesterday.”

Sarcastically, Philothea responded sharply, “lot of good it did me.”

“You said you wouldn’t get mad!” Was the king hurt or was he joking? She could not tell. “Soften up,” he told her. She began to fall and he caught her around the waist.

She exhaled. He kept his arms around her waist. “Why do I get sad so often?” Philothea asked.

“You might ask the knight.”

“I did.”

“What did he say?”

“It’s because things go contrary to my will.”

“Do you have a remedy?”

“To forget my will—only not forget it, just not hold onto it, you know. I’m fine at first, but then I hold on and then I get anxious.”

“And what did he say about that?”

She pretended to scold herself, “that it’s very bad.” After a short pause, “Well,” she announced, “I am an imperfect heart full of sadness and moods and anger,” she kissed him on the cheek, “but you love me.”

“I do.”

“Then I want to love you back. Really, I’ve got my whole hand on the heart now. Then I want to love you. You. Both hands, all my heart.” She spread out her arms and held them to each side; palms opened, leaned in and kissed him. “You,” she said. “I don’t have to wait anymore.”

 

“It isn’t the gifts,” Philothea continued trying to find what would give her joy. “It’s something else.” She decided to try something new. The pot was still outside the gate where it rained and the wind blew hard. Either her little heart had blown away or it took the beating of those fierce water drops.

“I think I need a picture of you,” she told the king. “I’ll carry one. It will remind me as I work.”

“Okay, we’ll try this,” he responded. She chose a picture of him as a baby; even then subjects adored him as king.

Philothea thought, “It’s raining too hard to put anything out by the gate, but I have a couple things I want to leave there.”

“Then give them to me,” he offered. “I don’t mind the rain.”

She took from her jacket pockets a few items and placed them in his hands. She closed his hands over them and did not look.

“Don’t you want…?” He began. Did she want a last look? Did she want to hold onto these things?

Philothea peered in between his fingers and saw the little relationship she had put there. “It’s okay.” She told him. “I still have that piece with me.”

They saw the little redheaded girl walking in the palace. Philothea observed aloud, “look, a little girl.” She pointed. The little girl was walking in one of his hallways in the palace. The king smiled at the sight of her. “She looks like me, doesn’t she, my king?” Philothea asked.

“When you were younger…I think you were probably very similar, some differences.”

“She looks so urgent.”

“Yes, she does.”

“Have you talked to her?”

“Oh, quite a few times, but I like to be quiet. I like the things she says and she has so much love. It’s sometimes fun when she’s urgent. She’s urgent to love me.”

The girl said, sarcastically, “and one day you’ll do all the talking?”

“Softer, darling.”

“Yes, softer…”

“One day I’ll tell her some secrets, you know, the ones you’re so eager to hear.”

That little girl came up to her and they spoke briefly. When the girl left, she left singing a song. Philothea turned to the king. “Wow, she loves you an awful lot.”

The king smiled and put his arm around her. “Softly, be always softer.”

And they prayed.

 

“Maybe you should stay the night at the palace again.”

A Girl and Her King: Seeing the good

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.

To see previous installments, please click the Fiction Tab

Philothea sat in an armchair at the palace, out of sorts, looking at the ground. The king walked to her.

She said to the king as he approached her, “if you’re looking for a place to put for your heart, mine isn’t the spot.” Philothea had no reason to be in such a mood. She felt tired. She had been away from him again that day. “It may not be the best place. I’m just not always that good,” she paused, “but you still can if you like. You can still put your heart here. I still love you. I do, honestly,” she paused again, “we’re awfully quiet.”

Philothea continued, “you just have this heart that is so good and with all that’s been going on—you stay good. You raised me up. You raised me up passed a servant. You’ve been calling me your little princess. This diamond seemed more like a drop of water, but a drop of water that belongs to you. It cools my head. It feels different than the diamond used to feel.”

He remained silent, allowing her to speak her full.

It seemed like an empty room with this chair in the center, sometimes by the wall, sometimes near the window. She often sat there in these moods. It was just the two of them: him, with all his heart, no words at all.

The girl looked back at a time with the soldiers and the arena. They were putting their weapons away, preparing for a banquet and were about to pray together for their benefactors. She approached a fellow soldier and asked him how he was. “Okay, you?” he said quietly.

“Okay,” Philothea responded. Their tones matched. The same sadness when things were neither well nor good, just…okay.

“Want to sit and be okay together?” he asked her. She couldn’t remember the moment perfectly. It was a moment of allowance, allowing the other to be neither well nor good, but just okay, with love and understanding. Deep down she loved the king, even though she was mad at him now. Even if she threw things, he continued to love her…deep down.

After some time passed, the king approached her again. He took her hands (clasped together around an object) and stood her up from her armchair in that great empty room of the palace. “Now, what have you here?”

Philothea opened up one hand, then another. He had each hand of hers gently in his.

“What’s this?” He asked very lovingly, wanting her to answer.

“It’s a little piece of my heart.”

He closed her hands around it, kept her hands in his. “Oh, my little love, did you go out and take a piece off from out by the gate?”

“Yes.’

“You can keep it, you know.” The girl tried to give it to him, moving her clasped hands towards him.

“But I want you to have it.”

“Maybe you do, but you aren’t ready to part with it.” He smiled at her gently. “I’ve seen you walk out there and look at your heart and touch it.” He smiled, “and put a hand around it, but never pick it up. You took this when I wasn’t looking.”

“You’re always looking.”

He laughed a little. “I am. Because you’re my little love and if you did things in secret I couldn’t love you like I love you now.”

Philothea protested, “but I’m not willing to give it up. How can you love that?”

“Aren’t you better for it? Aren’t you better full of personality and fears and desires and confusion? Isn’t it better I love you and you need it, than marry me and it’s done.” She remembered something she said to him the night before. In a rush of love and sweetness she said, “I love you. I want to marry you,” or something near it. She tried to mean the second part but her heart was not there.

“It’s only a small piece,” she told him.

“True. You’ll get there, darling.” They were not afraid. She would get there. “No more sneaking around, though, okay?”

“Is it unbecoming of a little princess?” she asked.

“Terribly. Come now, let’s have everything in the open.”

She knew very honestly that he’d never be disappointed in her, that he’d love her always, and that she never would have a quota to fill on actions to show her love.

In simple truth, she was not yet ready for total abandonment. That was clear.

And he loved her. He loved her full of these things. She used to try to hide a great deal from him. She counted the little moments for less in those days. Love was more than that.

The king showed her.