She stands on the dock, ignoring in the distance the bells' faint clangor. Every day as the Earth rotates,--the sun rising and falling--her shadow recedes and grows, and she waits. Waits for her love to return. Waits as she has the past twenty years, the past twenty years hence her lover's ship sank.
The wind tousles her graying hair, ruffles the tassels of her faded gold dress. Her eyes, deep, despairing pits, yield nothing but piercing blackness. Grief's total corruption. Yet in her guarded stance, her unceasing patience, there is hope. There remains a belief that someday her love will return. In whose arms she was safe, and who, when held by her, was home. The wind howls around her with all the stench of the sea, the fecund scent of death and life tussling amongst the waves. The ocean's constant cycle.
Come home, come home… The wind's piercing call joins her own lament, her own elegiac cry for the lost.
The local townspeople indulge her madness in public, pity her in secret. This poor mad mistress pining over one long gone. The innkeeper sighs each morning, watching her nibble at the same breakfast she and her love shared that final morning. Descending from the same room they slept in all those years ago before he departed to make the nation's fortune. The same room the inn now rents to her free of charge. She picks through hot porridge, pickled fruit, coffee and cream. Leaving, as always, half uneaten in memoriam of her other half, now departed.
She passes through the streets in silence, frozen in the past by heartache. In her mind they are unchanged from the fanfare of the morning all was lost. In her mind the same celebration rages, the same opulence, the same golden glow of the morning. She walks towards the shore, blind to the decay of time. The diseased reign now in this city, pockmarked faces watch in disgust as she passes by. Rats make way before her, allowing the queen of times gone by to watch the sea. She watches the waves as her kingdom crumbles around her.
By the coast, in her regular place. Her advisors bob behind her, faces etched with resignation and worry, brow darkened by the slow putrefying doom. One approaches, as they promised themselves one would every day. They implore her to return to the world, to save her subjects from misfortune's deluge.
"It's a beautiful day, isn't it?
"My Queen, I think we-"
"He would love this weather, this sun. This refreshing wind. I hope it's shining where he is. Wherever he is."
Her advisor sighs. It broke her heart to see her Queen suffer so. It warped her soul to see the nation follow her into the overbearing defeat bereavement dealt her. The same conversation passed every day, the same unanswerable longing. She joined her on the breach, where the mist and waves met with the dock's wooden planks. And took her unseeing Queen's hands in her own.
"I'm sure it is. Yes I'm sure."
In the ocean's pits, in the depths and in the murk, dragging itself along the bottom, comes a muddy form. A skeleton in the brack, flesh beaten away by the sea's torrential waters, by the pressure of the ocean entire. A gilded crown melded to its skull. He's been crawling a long time, driven by need, by instinct, by a brainstem too rotted to consider the why. All he knows is that at the end of his journey, still years away, lies the golden prize. In his mind echoes her smile, her piercing, black eyes. He remembers, if nothing else, how they used to captivate him at night. Their darkness matched the shadows that surrounded them, constricting the world to just the King and his Queen. To him…
My love, I'm sorry. My love, I am coming.