A Girl and Her King: A Small Vessel

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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There was a gate outside the palace, out of place compared to the grandeur of those walls. It was tall and brown and rough to the touch. That week Philothea took a small earthen pot, of a reddish brown color, and, with her hands, dug a small hole beside the gate at the opening. She placed the pot inside, deep enough where the rim of the pot reached the top level of the dirt. The opening to the pot was exposed.

Here she placed many things, many honest things, in undefined shapes. Philothea placed her relationship with her family; she placed the arena and the soldiers she fought with; she placed a young man who attracted her; she placed her learning and schoolwork; she placed her pain and her tears. In undefined shapes, she placed her confusion, her bitterness, her hurt, and her love. She placed the bigness of her heart, knowing no such word existed, and she placed all the love inside her that she was always too scared to show.

Philothea placed the past, in undefined shapes, some lessons she still held onto that she never should have learned. She placed her attitude, her rudeness, her bitterness. She placed her snobbery, her anxiousness, and her lies—although there were not so many, they burned a hole in her bag and she could not carry them. More things would fall out if she held onto them. And then, she placed her heart.

She drew the dirt in to the outside edges of the pot and patted the things down nicely without covering them. Her heart was on top. Keeping her palm set on these undefined shapes, Philothea lifted her head high. A breeze began to blow and it blew her hair away from her neck. She breathed in. She left the pot with the things uncovered, and the bag with holes in it, and walked through the gate. The king handed her a new and empty bag. He said, “I love you.” It sounded different then before.

Philothea stood in front of him, not altogether happy, but there she stood, with the shoulder strap of the new bag in her right hand, the bag sitting empty on the floor, and a little dirt still left on her hands. Her other arm hung at her side. She looked at him, sad.

The king put his hands on her shoulders. “Come,” he said, “it’s all right. You don’t have to be sad anymore.” And Philothea dropped the bag she held, threw her arms around him, hugging him tightly, and cried.

Her feet barely touched the floor. Others were looking, but they said nothing. A few whispered to the person next to them, explained what she had done. When one whispered too loudly, “how strange!” everyone except the king and the girl looked at the stranger in shock. He was quickly hushed. No one needed to explain it, because it was love, an abandoned kind of love.

Philothea did not say anything, only looked at the ground or at the kings shoulder, or she rested her head against his shoulder and looked at his neck. He held her still. He saw her heart, as vulnerable as it was, as it had never been in years. At least, years she could not remember. He held Philothea. It was much different then ever before.

She had done a foolish thing. But she did not feel foolish. She did not feel shame. She did not feel regret. Sad as she felt, she felt free and real. And as sad as she felt, she finally felt like herself.

It was a act she might never understand, but if you still look, the pot is there. She sees it often although she does not often leave the palace and she does not often think of it. It is there, with all those things patted down softly, with traces of her heart on top, and dirt all around the sides.