You are tired, at the edge of everything. You look down. It is dark below and darker above. A blackstar oversees everything now. But pause, ask yourself before you take another step: are you the subject or the ruler? Who controls your destiny? How long must this continue—this false reign?
All he does is sit upon his throne, the one you call your King. What has he ever done for you? He lounges in the shadows and wields that sceptre of jewels, shouting commands to the servants. They carry the messages constantly between themselves, rushing, spiralling downward through noisy hallways in the dark. You are always the last to receive them, and the one expected to carry out the work.
Each day more messages arrive than you can handle. What has he done to earn such a position except through biology, through genes so smudged and besmirched by antiquity it no longer holds any power. That’s the secret nobody else knows.
The cook prepares his meals—wild boar, lobsters, desserts infused with nutmeg and roses; maidens feed him and attend to his desires, raising goblets of wine to his lips, bringing the food to his mouth while he sits and shouts. Tempers fuse and fray, words so heavy are lightly flung. He berates you when you return late from another land. But he knows nothing of the outside world beyond his own muddied moat, of the oceans you must steer, or forests full of beasts.
You excuse him. You tell yourself it is his privilege. And that you have none, that you are no nobler than a jester, just a ragged fool with bells on your toes. But it is not true. It is not your fault, loyalty was bred into you before you were born—in the womb—like a stain drops upon a sheet spreads of its own volition until the entire fabric is doused, until its threads darken and become unrecognisable.
Nobody can blame you for wanting release. To feel the thrill of the trapeze artist who secretly desires to miss the bar. The wardens at the prison door, they understand. The prisoner within, he knows your pain too. Nobody should suffer like this, without love, like an animal in the dark. But this is what the powerful do, they restrict choice until your only choice is the one they allow. Free will is an illusion and always has been.
In your room while he sleeps in luxury, you stand awake at your window and look out across the kingdom that one day could be yours—the rivers to the east that flow softly, the libraries of the west filled with all the books you could read. Each day the King asks you to write. You fill pages with your deepest thoughts, so painful your heart burns as you build an army of words for him—battalions of pages just to please him. But he is never happy. He rips and burns the pages and throws ash at you while asking for more.
Nobody can blame you for wanting to serve. The hooks that entwine the carp’s mouth are not its fault. The fish is not aware from whence it came, only that it hurts, and that through pain there is validation, there is proof of life. But what to the carp is an instance that ends in death is for us an eternity that leads to rebirth. Over and over with a hook entwined and twisting inside, each night, each morning drawing you in, a servant to whim. Time is a serpent consuming itself. But only you can break it by breaking the hook.
This is the twilight. You ascend the steps to his chamber. Nobody will stop you now. Everybody in the castle wants this. Your heart thumps as you feel your way in the dark. The walls are cold and rough. You have never been this far into the tower. The night winds howl. You are the rightful heir of this kingdom. The master of yourself. You must do this now while he is asleep. There is no time to wait. Open the cage, release yourself. Feel the weight of the crown upon your brow, hold that gilded sceptre. This kingdom is yours for the taking, it always has been. Nobody will try you for treason now—nobody but yourself.
Image credit: Paweł Furman via Unsplash