It is nearly a hundred years since I slipped off a coffin and tumbled into the gutter. It is such a shame. I genuinely thought I had made it that time. For a brief moment, lying there, out of sight, blanketed in the sludge of London's streets, slathered by trickles of earthly grime, I basked in the sanctity of decay, and it was beautiful.
I have adorned the hands of Saints, been carried by an Apostle, and sat as the crowning glory atop the heads of Royalty. Yet, without hesitation, I can assure you that nothing compares to that wonderous moment when I rolled off King George V's coffin and disappeared down the gutter.
To be hidden in this world is a much-maligned pleasure, especially for humans. They seem to have an insatiable desire to sparkle. Even among some of the most pious, there is a hankering. Over the years, I have looked deep into many a searching eye as they peered into me to marvel at my iridescent lilac purity. Many wear gloves, and I can attest that the softer the touch, the more sinister their yearning for my light. The desire for sparkle and the pursuit of its perfection is a cursed business, to the cut of which I have lost much of myself over the years.
I often wonder if humans will ever realise that there is as much beauty in the darkness beneath them as in the light above. Will they ever understand that there abides a divinity at the coal face birthed from an old magic, where rainbows run in rivers of black and ooze through rock, soaking the planet's bones in lost souls? Will they ever look at the earth with the same reverence that they gift to the light?
Around a thousand years ago, I spent some time inside a coffin mounted on the finger of the dead Saint Edward the Confessor. He was a good man; I know this, for he once gave me away to a beggar in the street. That beggar was an Apostle, and he ensured my return. St Edward became my namesake, and I was elated when he chose to be buried with me. He understood me; he could feel my desire to return to the earth. His was an instinctive empathy. Unfortunately, as with most Kings, he was buried above the ground inside a tomb, and although the darkness there was refreshing, it did not satisfy my desire to coalesce with the raptures that are only inherent to dirt.
It was my legend that saw me exhumed from that hallowed space and returned to the sterility of light. It is, I fear, impossible to fade from collective consciousness once you have featured in as many stories as I have. People especially remember what sparkles in their stories, and an object that can give credence to their beloved words will forever be highly coveted. As I sparkled and had been instrumental in canonising a Saint after a voyage in the company of an Apostle, any peace to be found above the earth would only ever be short-lived. Such is the burden of infamy.
I have made attempts to escape a few times. Once, during the Civil War, I was torn from my mantel by a man called Cromwell, who held in his heart a truth symbiotic with my life. "A man never goes so far as when he does not know wither he is going." Although his words are humanised, their sentiment embraces my journey. I had travelled from the bowels of the earth, to deep underneath Mesopotamia, only to be clawed out from the dirt by the calloused hands of miners and onto the soft and silken fingers of royalty. This man they called Cromwell was like me; he had been thrust into greatness and understood the nourishment that one loses when one is away from the coal face. Sadly, he was a distracted man and failed to bury me deep enough, keeping me caged in my significance inside another darkened space, to be discovered only too easily by the forces of Royal Restoration.
Then, there was the occasion at the Coronation of Queen Victoria when I capitalised on the trembling hands of the Sovereign Guard as he carried me on my red velvet cushion toward Her Majesty. He was so in awe of the proceeding that to wobble out of his hands was absurdly easy. I clattered onto the great stone slabs of Westminster Abbey's floor to a flurry of gasps. But, I achieved little more than denting the pride of the crown to which I was fixed. Although, unlike when I rolled off the coffin, Queen Victoria found the incident somewhat amusing, although she protested profusely that she was not. I liked her for that; it lightened the burden of my infamy.
There was a decidedly different reaction when I fell off King George's coffin. Once again, I found myself crippled by the weight of my history as my attempt to return home was seen as an omen. I had unwittingly signalled the beginning of the end of the current Royal line. It was ridiculous, and yet, sure enough, King Edward VIII's reign was short; he abdicated the throne within a year. I was but a mere pebble, but was believed to have usurped a King. My legend, as substantial as it already was, swelled exponentially.
All I had wanted to do was return home. There was no plan or design any grander than that. I had not set out to dethrone a King; I had merely taken advantage of a situation and followed my yearning. I had sensed an opportunity to return to the sanctity of the dirt, and I took it. As I sat in ceremonial piety on that coffin as it made its way across London, my purple light glistening against the grey streaky rain of a steely, sombre day, I looked out at the legions of guards and line after line of pristine soldiers, and I listened. The rhythm of their march pounded the ground in a dirge of solemn synchronicity.
The sound echoed across the sea of sodden souls, heads down, cold and stoic in their mourning. Beneath the tread of the army, I could sense the undulation of cobbles, feel their vibration, their kinship rising, calling to me, ringing through the wheels of the old gun carriage beneath the coffin where I sat. I felt myself begin to sway to the music, I could feel myself begin to move toward their song.
It was intoxicating. I have spent so much of my life cushioned by velvet, inside a glass prison, shielded from every element, locked securely inside a tower. To hear the music of life, to connect with the movement of earth, to vibrate once again within its judder... It was as though Mother Nature herself was calling me to return to her womb. As I swayed in the melancholy, I felt myself edge sideways, and as we rolled forward, I felt the cooling rush of emancipation in the breeze. I remember a lull and a lurch, and I lunged forward along with the crown into which I was glued. Together, we hit the cobbles in the street, and as I crashed against their resolve, I snapped myself free from the top of the crown and rolled with my sphere toward the gutter, toward freedom, toward home.
If I could have, I would have squealed in agony as the guardsman wrenched me out of that stinking darkness. I felt the memory of my first unearthing sting in the sweat of their panicked hands as they rummaged in the muck around me. As they wrenched me out, dripping in earth's cold nectar, frustrated by how swiftly they cleaned me, I knew it would be a long time until I had the opportunity to break for freedom again.
I was right.
I have opened Parliament numerous times and coronations have come and gone, and a Queen has been laid to rest, and throughout it all, I have never been as securely flaunted. There are no longer any cobbles to rumble my carriage, the guards are trained to an exacting rod-like standard, and advances in technology have solidified my purple hues into this crown with a tightness I have never before known or even thought possible. There are no weaknesses or cracks anywhere, and I am sorry to say, I can see no future opportunity for the dark or the dirt to get in.
About the Creator
Warm-blooded vertebrate, domesticated with a preference for the wild. Howls at the moon and forages on the dark side of it. Laughs like a hyena. Fuelled by good times and fairy dust. Writes obsessively with no holes barred.
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Original narrative & well developed characters