So HRH Queen Liz was in Brisbane yesterday, perfect timing for me really, I was getting sick of the continuous rewrites that I’m trapped in the middle of, and I needed some kind of stimulus to get me moving again. Add to that the 6 for Sunday prompts and we were off. Also, we don’t really do Halloween here in Australia, so I thought I would use the (very Halloweeny) prompts in a story that wasn’t focused on Halloween. So here it is, dedicated to HRH Lizzy:
She stood, underwhelmed by this reception, overwhelmed by the stagnant heat of the tropics. The sun climbed, slowly approaching its zenith, beating down on the hotbox that was this pavilion. A heavy cloak drawn thick beneath that overbearing and intolerable glare. She flicked a withering gaze at her husband as the speakers droned out the now traditional acknowledgement of the land’s once native people; he was cursed with a cruel gift for controversy. He wilted under her bloodcurdling basilisk stare, the conversation with his neighbour cut short in a heartbeat. She allowed herself to drift off again. The people would cheer and wave those silly little flags when the time came.
She sunk deeper into her memories, thinking of her grandsons. They seemed to be doing so well for themselves, had turned out alright as if to spite their weak-willed father. The older boy, Bill, had looked terrified on his wedding day, his bride so glowingly, obliviously happy at his side. “It was as if the whole world were watching us, Nanna, I was so scared that something would go wrong.” He was a good boy, her Billy. He’d been bloody scared out of his wits though, it was about all he could manage to say “I do.” She smiled as much at the memory of him as at her secret profanity. He had seemed a little boy again, alone on those marble steps waiting for her. She smiled again at her silent swearing, the only time she felt free enough to curse was in thoughts. It was freeing, in its own way.
She thought back to her own son on his wedding day. About his gorgeous bride, twenty, no almost thirty years ago. About his wife, the bitch that she was. Another flush of guilty pleasure sweeps through her now ancient frame. Everybody loved her, that bitch, it was as though she weaved a kind of charm or magic spell around herself, kept her husband trapped in that web of infidelity and indiscretion for too long. She had been so pleased when they had finally divorced. When he finally cast her aside and they went their separate ways. She had to hide it away, like so much of her private life, like so much of her personal musings.
She looked back to her husband again, saw that oafish look on his face as she had expected to. He had been so beautiful, so exotic when they were young, his Grecian ancestry pulling him away from the others. She could almost see him in his naval uniform as he had been on the day they met. She sighed, although no observer would have noticed, and there were an uncountable number of them today. It was a curse, to never be alone.
The newspapers had revelled in the announcement of her arrival with predictable levels of raw excitement and hyperbole, ans so of course the mob had lined the streets. The crowd had roared their approval, the Union Jacks flying triumphant in the slightest breeze. Margaret elbowed her husband as she turned to face the stage as the opening strains of ‘God Save the Queen’ floated over the crowd, the public address system’s hollow echo failing to quell the monarchical fervour, ravishing the mob.
An old lady stands, alone in pastels. Underwhelmed by the now typical reception, overwhelmed by the memories of a life lived through interesting times, sweltering beneath the tropical sun. “We are delighted be here, in Brisbane once more, amongst you, the citizens of Australia, noble and welcome members of Our Commonwealth.” Margaret watches as she did in 1954, transfixed and in awe of her Queen.