I feel this is one of the best shorts I ever wrote for the Daily Cabal. It is certainly one of my all-time favorites. Enjoy! Tell me what you think.
The Queen of Egypt sat on the steps of her House, watching her father’s boat start across the sky. She thought she could almost see the oars flash.
Maybe she would have them take out the barge today. The river would rise soon, they would move the household, and it would be pyramids, pyramids, pyramids all summer, with letters from her husband Pharoah, off in Libya, saying, “How goes my monument?”—before he asked after his children.
She thought about the golden treasure of barley sinking level by level in the granaries; she heard the servants in the night, when she walked and rocked her youngest son in her arms. She liked to carry him herself. She felt they had not succeeded with her other sons, who had a “How goes my monument?” look to them.
The High Priestess of her sister Bastet came down the steps, bowed, and sat at her feet, resting one hand on her sandal.
“Do you remember,” said the Queen, “when we used to get up this early to run around the garden?”
“I remember,” said the Priestess.
“What is this day lucky for?”
“It is lucky for conceiving a great ruler,” said the Priestess.
“One who will keep the granaries full, listen to his people, stay home where he won’t waste young men who ought to be farming and fathering…and who—this is important—won’t bother with a great fat pile of rock more than he has to?”
The Priestess turned to look at her and smiled.
“It’s worth a try.”
“With my husband far away.”
“The gods might step in.”
In the hot afternoon, while her younger children ran around the garden and her older ones drank beer and designed chariots, the Queen climbed the wall and set her goblet down. A falcon hunted over the eastern wing of the palace. She watched it circle and backwing. She looked beyond, where her father’s boat continued slowly, above the flashing river. Then the falcon flapped above her, gilded eye turned to hers, wings fanning her face—there and gone. Something fell with a splash into her goblet.
“If you’ve crapped in my beer, I’ll go get my bow,” she told the vanished falcon. But instead a seed of lapis lazuli blinked in the depths. She looked at it and raised her cup, saying, “Bring me a good Pharoah,” before she drank it down.