A Prescient Spring

We expected the king, but the princess we received with equal hush. She wore a fascinator of green feathers that shone like our lakes. Her convoy approached our archway. We applauded her. Instead of tucking her chin to her chest (so to prevent the archway from deposing the fascinator), she bent her head up, parallel with sky, and we saw emerge from above her suit her porcelain neck, and, for only a moment, her perfect Adam’s apple. All our fathers died within the week. Later, the town augurs would swear this was prophesy.

*

In private, the princess wore khakis and carried a tripod. Her specialty was camellias. She and my mother were married behind the manor in the quiet garden where she took her favorite photographs. I didn’t attend, but foresaw an elaborate series of events: she would latch the camera to the tripod, set its self-timer, look at my mother, trip over the tripod’s legs, drop with the camera into the grass, and the image would be of a space between them.

*

What surprised the townspeople was not the vigor of our new government but how frequently we sneezed. It afflicted us all with a reassuring regularity. Snot got everywhere. Allergies, most agreed, and blamed the flocks of swallows who had flown in from far-off to roost under our archway. This was, the town augurs reported, not inauspicious. Moisture-wicking fabric became fashionable. Daily my step-mother the princess blessed us as we blessed each other.

*

I badly wanted to avenge him. I stopped masturbating and drowned my childhood dolls in the lakes. I applied mascara and joined the resistance. When my mother and the princess went on their honeymoon I dug up their garden and scattered what I found—little bones, flower petals, dirt—like tea leaves in the foyer. When they returned I photographed then swept up the treasures, the swallows flew away, and we all stopped sneezing.

*

This was a bad omen, the town augurs said; the lakes might dry up next. They joined the resistance. My mother and the princess made plans to flee. They buried her camellia pictures where the bushes had been and said a queer prayer. But by this time I had invented the x-ray. I inspected everything from the garden. Under the lens it was obvious: the bones were hollow. Swallows’.

*

When they escaped, our resistance new government came to power. We were nervous. We need a scapegoat, the augurs suggested, trying to calm nerves. Make it a spectacle, do it on the archway. The word went out and I made preparations. I wore heels and my best fascinator; I told the executioner, bless you.