Do you not hear the orchestra prepare, my love? The tight piercing whistles of alarm, the shouts of fear, the clatter of steel and iron, a cacophony of instruments tuning to a single herald’s trumpet calling the young the dance floor.
The hush descends before the first note struck.
Hear the chanting beyond the walls - shouting - calling you to join the dance. Your name biting the spring air, though their lips, their tongues, their teeth, devouring the night with spear-sharp hatred directed toward you, their king.
Do the musicians await their conductor’s baton, the dancers, the drummer’s beat, the audience their violent spectacle, and I? I await your hand in mine. Do not disappoint.
You must remember me, dear one, for I remember you. The first we met, you were a princely wallflower in a uniform of tin and ribbon that ill-suited you, ill-fitted you, and ill-represented your cowardice.
That marvelous ball of yesteryear, hosted by your father, was resplendent with bugles and blood, horror and bravery, saber cutlery feasting upon the meat of the kingdom’s youth. The party favors were unique and sumptuous, the menu favoring your younger brother and three sisters. Your own mother’s mezzo-soprano voice was calling to them, their names, repentant upon her majesty’s moist begging lips as their heads were dashed bloody to the staccato rhythm of boot heels.
Do you not remember me that night, but oh, you must? I, dressed in a marvelous affair of grave beauty. My milk-white hair set high upon a skulled porcelain face. I was your lover, your mistress, your approaching doom, for I am Death herself, the end of all things.
The Cannonade, the cannonade, the cannonade of flint and gunpowder resound while Jericho tumbled down about us. The performers filed into the ballroom, boots bloody and blades keen, so you tore your inheritance from your arm and bent at the knee before me begging for a new deal, a new lease, a new contract to save you from the void and grant you the gift of a long life worth living.
You seduced me. Melted my resolve toward forgiveness and forbearance with your promises and vows, denouncing all the sadistic passions and masochistic joys of tyranny that your family had celebrated.
So I spared your life, for life is mine to spare.
Your steps were stumbling at first, unaware your lead was misguided. However, you learned to listen to the tempo of the orchestra. Bridging the gap between kingship and governance, you gathered the once revolutionaries to you like children.
But as all things promised in fear, you forgot your vows. You became brazen of step, and with an arrogant posture, stole the lead and swept me across the floor without care for the cadence of the dance.
Your dungeons filled with injustice while you indulged yourself with the innocents of your people’s faith that you were different, you were better, you were their savior.
I was the fool, for I was the first to believe in you. As the dance wore on, I became the broken-hearted wallflower. Shy with shame for teaching you the dance you now caper too.
So tonight, my love, one final time.
The orchestra plays a waltz to the thunder of cannons. My screams shout from your court’s mouths! Take my hand. The chord is struck, dancers to the floor, and one final dip into my embrace.