january | 14th | monday
title: truly madly deeply, one direction.
Banks of flowers begin to pile outside the gates of Buckingham Palace. The king has been officially declared dead and the ascension of King Edward will take place soon. No one shall be there for the ascension, save for the king and those involved in the ceremony. Funeral arrangements have begun for the King and the Royal family must gather together to make decisions regarding such. In the evenings, a quiet dinner with family and friends will be hosted.
England was grayer than usual.
Not the kind of gray where the sky is somewhere between choosing a cloudy white or the black dead of night, but the kind of gray where you know that something’s gone wrong. It wasn’t just the sky either. Shops were closed and people were at home. The telly specials were nothing more than a distraction to the inevitable and the rain was falling in broken rhythms, going and coming, the splotches slamming against the floors one minute and then disappearing altogether the next.
To put the situation in light, it was how I’d imagined England to look in Harry Potter when the Dementors were running amuck, but unlike the childish scenario in my head, this was real, raw and unbelievably humbling.
The King had died.
The funeral planning had been long and rambling and did not put my uncle’s death to justice. Everyone was fidgeting in their seats, their eyes darting and the world seemed to be on watch for the Windsor family.
Something had gone wrong.
Something had veered from the plans, and King George was not meant to die, he should not have had to, but something had changed the course of history and no one was ignorant enough to address it nor realistic enough to bring it up.
Outside the palace the city lay quiet. Crowds of people flocked to the palace gates to drop bouquets of flowers, the only color in the city painted like an old black-and-white film.
We sat in the dining hall, quiet and mumbling, chewing away our thoughts.
Only the family was there and those closest to them, meaning no distractions from the reality of the matter.
“Pass the bread.” Someone would mutter, and thus the bread would be passed.
Every once in a while Mags would shed a few tears, and brush them away with her cloth napkin. Max would let out bouts of frustration by ripping his meats a part while Lydia would shoot him looks of worry. Annette, Max’s new (and defiantly exciting) friend looked out of place amongst the fine china and stuffy dresses. The Queen would rub her temples and had, mid-meal excused herself to the bathroom and my mother had shot up after her. My sister was swirling her food around and around and around, dizzying anyone who looked to her plate. Charlie would whisper to her cousin Dory, who had arrived at possibly the worst time, instructing her on what to do, while Eddie continued to glance at the empty chair at the head of the table. The other adults in the room were avoiding eye contact and the conversation was kept to a minimum.
The King was gone.
Just like that, in an instant he had disappeared, like magic, in a second there was no breath in him, no color in his eyes, his face had paled in moments and I couldn’t keep myself from wondering how it had happened…
It was a morbid thought, but I was never good at acting well in serious situations. I was having trouble sitting still, I had so many questions that I wanted to ask and I would turn to my father, open my mouth and then look away, not sure if any of them were appropriate for the moment.
The last person in my family to die was my late grandmother. I didn’t really remember her much, just her curly hair that was always up and pulled back and her pine scented hugs. I remembered her laugh, how it only came in bouts and how she liked her tea with only a single cube of sugar. That was all I remembered though, I didn’t remember the way she talked, or what her favorite color was, or what she even liked to wear in the confines of the castle.
I wondered if that was how the King would become, just a figment of a long lost memory, just a smell and a sound long forgotten.
“So,” I began, everyone looked up, some startled others sleepily, “who do you think will win the match on Wednesday?”
“You mean Man U against West Ham?” Max asked, his voice raspy as if he hadn’t spoken in days. He had earlier, the witness being his French friend, tried to reprimand me for my poor behavior, but it seemed he was too tired to try his hand at it again.
“Man U, obviously,” Lydia shot in, her eyes trained on Max, as if she hoped that he would take his mind off of the matter looming over us all.
“She’s right,” my father added in, “West Ham doesn’t stand a chance.” Another man at the table, maybe Lydia’s father or Charlie’s father or something of that sort choked out agreement.
“They’ve been winning so far,” Charlie stated, breaking a piece of bread. Someone along the far end of the table nodded furiously.
“Yes, until they play against Man U on Wednesday,” Eddie concluded, smiling awkwardly as if he were in a room of strangers and his mind was nowhere near the present room.
“I think you’ve forgotten that the Windsors are staunch Man U fans,” Delilah joked half-heartedly, stabbing a piece of food and twirling it on her fork.
“I can’t wait to see their reactions when Manchester loses,” Tallulah teased, but without any lightness, more in a croaky manner that was brought on by the need to say something, anything.
“I guess you’ll never get the pleasure of seeing it, since they’re a shoe-in to win.” Victoria lamented, sipping a glass of bitter red wine that I had personally swayed from.
“Is Man U, or whatever, like a soccer team?” Dory asked, her eyebrows furrowed. I rolled my eyes. I looked to Annette who stifled a laugh, it seemed even she knew what we were talking about.
“Only the best football team there is.” I added.
“We’ve trained her well,” Mags noted with a watery forced smile, and I straightened my shoulders for the show of it and a few chuckled.
Again the table fell into a silence, this time a warmer one. I brushed a lock of flaxen hair from my face and sighed in content from the filling food. Slumping in my chair I looked out the window.
I could feel my sister’s scowl on me, her obvious disapproval with the way I was handling things. I heard another sniffle and realized that the small break from reality had only been just that, Mags excused herself from the table and the quiet that followed was unbearably loud. It wasn’t as if I wasn’t sympathetic, but more so that I didn’t really know what to do in the situation. It wasn’t as if everyone lived forever, and yet in the harsh reality of the moment it seemed that no one would ever overcome the death of the king.
“Hello?” I kicked a rock in my path, everyone was having tea inside the palace, still refined to three word sentences.
“Hey! I’ve been meaning to call you,” the voice on the other end responded. I smiled to myself and pulled my jacket tightly around me.
“Yeah, yeah, I got wind of the news. I’m terribly sorry.” I stopped pacing about the garden and stared at a shaped bush that was starting to branch out just in the matter of not being tended to for two days.
“It’s alright, I mean, it’s not alright, but I’m fine…that sounds a bit brash doesn’t it? I don’t mean to sound like a wanker, but I’m starting to think that everyone here is silently reprimanding me for being such a prick.” I shoved a hand into my jacket and pulled out a pack of cigs which I’d knicked from my father’s desk.
I pulled one out and lit it, the electrifying feeling of doing something so grotesquely un-royal in the most royal place I knew, overwhelmed me.
I dragged the cigarette and watched the gray spirals twist into the air like broken stacks and contrast against the now blackening sky.
“What d’you mean by that?” Adam asked, there was a clatter on his end of the line as if something had fallen to the floor and there was shuffling as he no doubt switched his phone to the opposite ear.
“I dunno, I mean everyone dies right? This had to happen sometime, yeah it’s tragic and all but everyone’s ignoring the real importance of it, y’know?”“
“Not really, love, clarify a bit more for me,” I heard him chuckle slightly and I rolled my eyes. He was such an arsehole when he wanted to be.
“I mean everyone dies at some point, so instead of worrying about why he died and who did it or how the explosion came to being, all these morons are bumbling about and tripping over themselves with grief.”
“Oh,” he had not expected my raw words, and neither had I. I was only eighteen and yet I sometimes felt that I was a lot older and a lot more bitter for someone so privileged and young.
“It’s just, they think they can solve the problem by replacing the King, right? But isn’t that the problem? What if someone planted the explosion? Has anyone even checked? Am I right? What if they put Eddie in my uncle’s place and something terrible happens to him too…? I just, I’m getting rather fed up with all of this and it’s only been a day since it happened.”
“Who do you think did it? I mean if it wasn’t an unfortunate explosion that just came from a faulty car.” Adam asked, he seemed enraptured suddenly by the possible conspiracy theories - he was such a boy.
I took another drag of my cigarette, staring into the contents of the hole within it, filled with charred tobacco and then shrugged, a moment before realizing that Adam could not see me.
I was being silly, this whole matter was ridiculous. I should have been mourning the death of a family member, not sitting about and wondering how he died. Everyone had loved my Uncle, there wasn’t a soul I’d met that had anything ill to say about him, why would anyone want to do away with him? I almost laughed at my own immature stupidity, I was just a child and this whole matter was beyond me.
“I don’t know.” I muttered, I rubbed my head and then sighed again, “well I should be leaving you I guess,” I sing-songed over-dramatically waiting to see if he’d ask to stay on the line. “Leave you to your Oxford duties.”
He roared with laughter, “you’re mad Adelaide, barking mad. Alright then, if you must go,” it was good enough for me, “I’ll talk to you later then, ‘night.”
I leaned against a pillar, puffing out clouds of cigarette smoke and then dropped the cigarette to the floor, crunching it with my shoe and then picked it up, leaving it somewhere within one of the bushes where no one would find it until we were all dead and gone.
From the numbing of my nicotine scented breath, came the realization that I mustn’t be selfish, at least not at a time like this. I tried to imagine myself in the place of one of the King’s children, one of my cousins. How terrible they must have felt at that very moment, to have someone so close to them just ripped out of their lives forever and to have a pain fill them to their very core and encircle their lungs, tugging to take the last breath away from them…there had never been a moment in my life where I had thought so selflessly, on the behalf of another.
I itched for the warmth of a pen between my fingers, wanting to close my eyes and draw the creases in my uncle’s eyebrows the laugh lines by his eyes and the bump of a belly appearing under his most formal attire. I began to imagine what it must have been like for my father, someone who grew up alongside my uncle his whole life, who played and fought and laughed with him...
The moment passed quickly and I resolved to not caring again, to fight off the contemplative thoughts that were consuming me.
People die everyday.
I nearly bumped into someone on my way in, it was Charlie, Eddie’s girl, she was fumbling with a lighter and her eyes widened at my sight.
“Oh!” She looked to the lighter and then to me, it was much too late for her to shove it back into her coat pocket and pretend I hadn’t noticed.
I, finding it rather amusing, quirked my lips at her and felt my eyes light up at her deer-in-the-headlights expression, “lovely evening, isn’t it?” She nodded slowly at me and then I grinned at her, walking back inside without a care for anyone smelling the rotting smoke on my jacket nor for noticing the pack of cigarettes bulging out of my grasp.
Obviously though, no one would notice for the moment I stepped back inside I saw a mane of dark hair that I thought I wouldn’t be seeing for quite a while.
And if I had left the room with pale, sickly people, I had returned to a room where almost everyone looked as if they could join the king in his casket.
England had brightened for just a fraction of a second.
i tried and therefore i should not be judged...
i hope i portrayed your characters well, i tried to include everyone, if there's something you don't like i can change it or take it out. also please let me know what relationship you'd like our characters to have
also there is in fact a match on wednesday and my dad and brothers won't shut up about it. (fun fact...or not)
@hannah-grace , @ducktape, @the-clary-project, @glitterinmyviens , @haute-and-about, @semper-eadem, @roses-are-roses