Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 35

What a pleasure to have arrived at Friday again. Admit it: each week aren’t you a little worried it may decide to play hookey? Here we are, however, despite our communal paranoia about alien invasion, and I couldn’t be happier to see you*. Thank you for coming and sharing your story here!

* Unless They already took over, in which case my resident alien couldn’t be happier to see you.

A word about today’s prompt. Today in 1503 was the official wedding of Margaret Tudor to James IV of Scotland. Ohhh goodness, didn’t I get all giddy when I read that. Because it’s the UK, and it’s loooove, and it’s MARGARET Tudor, and those are all favorite things of today’s first-time judge Margaret Locke. Match made in flash fiction heaven!!!  I must confess the artwork I actually wanted (an illumination of Miz Tudor trotting into York) was not in the public domain or creative commons, so I’m taking a wee bit of imaginary license by going with this (still gorgeous) illumination of another Margaret (of Anjou) with another king (Henry VI) a few decades earlier. But it’s still weddingy, and it’s still a Margaret, and it’s still the UK, so I’m going with it. Now I’ve said my piece, amen.


And so here our judge is at last, our own beloved Queen and three-time Flash! Friday winner (as well as the winner of our special Dog Days contest) Margaret Locke. She is judging Flash! Friday today because she is hoping to make an emotional connection with your stories. Read about her ideal story partner here. Then write your very best, and perhaps on Sunday you will hear her say, “Dear Story Writer, will you please accept this rose?”  


Awards Ceremony: Results will post Sunday. Noteworthy #SixtySeconds interviews with the previous week’s winner post Wednesdays.  I (Rebekah) post my own unbalanced writings sometimes on Tuesdays or Thursdays. And on Mondays, one of your own glorious stories will receive airtime at the very fun #Flashpoints.  

Now, grab an oar and let’s get to it!

Word limit150 word story (10-word leeway) based on the photo prompt.

HowPost your story here in the comments. Include your word count (140 – 160 words, exclusive of title) and Twitter handle if you’ve got one. If you’re new, don’t forget to check the contest guidelines.

Deadline11:59pm ET tonight (check the world clock if you need to; Flash! Friday is on Washington, DC time)

Winners: will post Sunday

Prize: The Flash! Friday e-dragon e-badge for your blog/wall, your own winner’s page here at FF, a 60-second interview next Wednesday, and your name flame-written on the Dragon Wall of Fame for posterity. 

***Today’s Dragon’s Bidding (required element to incorporate somewhere in your story; does not need to be the exact word(s) unless instructed to do so, e.g. “include the name “Margaret'”):


***Today’s Prompt:

John Talbot's presentation of the Book of Shrewsbury to Queen Margaret of Anjou. Public domain, courtesy of British Royal Library.

John Talbot’s presentation of the Book of Shrewsbury to Queen Margaret of Anjou ca 1445 AD. Public domain, courtesy of the British Library Royal.


288 thoughts on “Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 35

  1. ‘My bodice Millie. Do not tie with such ferocity for I feel quite fit to burst.’
    ‘Yea my lady. Would my lady like a sip of a soothing herbal broth before she weds?’
    Lady Margaret nodded her approval in the mirror.

    Clutching her bouquet she lifted her head and began the slow march down the Church, her future husband all but a small dot in the distance. During the solemn ceremony, the time came to exchange rings. James pulled Margaret’s hand towards him, pulling somewhat forcefully on her forth finger. She felt a queasiness come over her. A dull ache gripped Lady Margaret and before she could clench her lower regions a loud noise escaped, filling the vacant air.

    Uncle Bert finished reading and closed the book. Timmy groaned.

    ‘That’s enough for tonight, but that my dear Timmy is how the joke ‘pull my finger’ came about!’

    Timmy chuckled. He loved bedtime stories. Uncle Bert knew all the best ones.

    160 words


  2. The Secret-Keeper

    I gaze upon my young queen, the heart of her court, her vacant husband at her side. The tilt of her head shows she is tired, and as she settles her white hands in her lap, I remember.

    A dark chapel, candle-lit, the night before a wedding. A child in prayer before an altar, the raiment of one shaming that of the other. A quiet sob, controlled. A hand, trembling, raised in supplication.

    ‘My lady,’ I murmured. ‘I have come –‘

    ‘To fetch me,’ she finished.

    ‘Your chamber awaits. It grows late.’

    ‘Yes,’ she agreed. ‘Too late.’

    She rose, permitting me to lead her. The morning saw her marry my king, her cool gaze a contrast to his, her steady pace unmatched by his rambling. She met my eyes as she passed, splendid in her wedding array, and in the heartbeat before I knelt I nodded.

    None would ever know she prayed to be delivered. None would know, but I.

    160 words


  3. “Plastic”
    158 Words

    Waiting…watching…praying. Always praying.

    A few feet and a cosmos of emotion separate Maggie and Jim. The plastic box sits between them. Its power is all consuming; it is fear, contained.

    Extreme senses fill this cathedral of apprehension. Arid heat. Clinical smells. Harsh fluorescent lights; broken only by UV lamps and crayon-coloured wires. Sounds of pumps and bleeps: intermittently fractured by fear-released, and the crying of others.

    Touch is through wires, and needles puncturing his transparent skin.

    The incubator is keeping him alive. Yet it is his prison.

    Today was supposed to be their wedding day.

    In the wheelchair, Maggie looks at Jim. She looks at the priest, administering the Sacrament of the Sick.

    They both smile and look at her. Jim holds rings outstretched. Her returned smile is the first for weeks.

    They never leave this place. They say the wedding service either side of the box, always touching it. Within it lies salvation, hopes and unsaid dreams.


  4. Brocade

    Mary shook buds of lavender from the sky-blue folds of the dress, and helped me into it. Its weight pulled me down. She brushed my hair and crowned me with a wreath of white rosebuds. Mary had to stand on tiptoe, though she was two years older, and more womanly.

    The drawbridge creaked into life. ‘Just in time.’ We watched carriages rumble up. I recognised the black eagle from the book my father had shown me.

    Servants crowded round, and drew back to reveal a stooped, grey-haired man, wearing a golden crown.

    I hadn’t expected him to be old.

    Mary put a hand to her mouth.

    Footsteps rang in the passage. They were coming for me, to give me away.

    I drew myself up and straightened my rosebud wreath. Afterwards, it would turn into a crown. Another thing to bow me down.

    I cried out as the door opened, and a thorn pierced my finger.

    157 words



    Brian S Creek
    159 words

    Place your hand on the spell book, your majesty,” said the sorcerer.
    I did so. My husband, the king, sat across from me, his eyes fighting back tears.
    “Do not forget us,” he said.
    “I won’t. Once I am cured I will return, I promise.”
    “I’m sorry the magic of my world could not help you.”
    “Hush. This poison is from my world and it is there that I will be made well again. Today has been magical in so many ways. You owe me a honeymoon.”
    My heart skipped as he smiled. I will miss that smile. I truly hope to see it again.
    The sorcerer chanted. The booked glowed brighter.
    “I love you,” I said.
    “I know,” he replied.
    There was a flash of light and our castle chambers were gone.


    I wake on a cold marble floor, back in the gallery where it began. I look into the painting to see my love alone.



  6. Dieu et Mon Droit
    158 words
    David Shakes

    Her single teardrop falls, bursting across the richly illuminated manuscript.
    No parametric equation could adequately measure how its curve has captured the scene more perfectly than the brightly inked parchment it soaks into.
    Colours run, lines blur, the illustrated wedding more questionable now this droplet of reality has taken the definition from its carefully inked borders.
    She is the ‘princesse tres excellente’, Margaret of Anjou – now Queen consort of England.
    She is Marguerite, just fourteen and married off in return for the lands of her family’s ancestors.
    She is beautiful.
    She is terrifying.
    She looks from page to reality.
    There’s no romance to come beyond that in this frivolous folio .
    There will be no songs; no ‘chansons de geste’ in the England of Margaret’s reign.
    The War of the Roses, guided by her delicate hand, will last thirty years and decimate England’s nobility.
    And yet this tear, already drying, will be the last that she sheds.


  7. The Big Day
    By: Allison K. Garcia
    160 words

    As her servants tugged and pulled on her garments, preparing her for the royal wedding, Margaret’s eyes drifted around the large, dark room. Cobwebs in the one corner, bits of straw on the floor near the bed, cracks in the walls. If this were her father’s castle, someone’s head would already have rolled for conditions such as these.

    But, alas, this castle was not hers. Yet.

    Soon she would be Queen. The power to carry whatever she pleased was within her grasp.

    Trumpets announced the start of the festivities. She could only pray that Henry’s addled mind would last long enough for them to be wed.

    There was no one to blame, of course. Her father couldn’t have known he would turn out this way when he arranged their union. Henry was just a boy at that time.

    Yes, he was crazy. But, in the end, it didn’t matter.

    One must accept one’s destiny. And hers was to be Queen.


  8. Happily Ever After
    Van Demal (@van_demal)
    160 words

    How much longer? Amy’s satin dress clings somthing awful. She fidgets and Mum’s eyes issue another warning. But for the castle weddings are nothing like her bedtime stories. It’s taking forever!
    She thinks of knights and jousting. Such a silly occupation, jousting, but it’s what knights do so she imagines it. She dreams a tall conical hat wrapped with a sash of pink fabric. She wonders what it’ll be like when she’s eighteen and fair and boys will try to look at her chest without her knowing. Another silly occupation but Mum said that’s what boys do; that boys haven’t changed a bit in five hundred years; that they’ll follow a chest anywhere if it’s big enough; that they’ll promise the earth but never deliver. And run off with their secretaries.
    Finally they’re kissing! Happy faces. Except poor Mum. She’s crying and Dad’s not here to comfort her. Where’s her Happily Ever After? Weddings are nothing like her bedtime stories.


  9. The Hunger
    Devin McKernan @aknightadrift
    160 Words

    “And so, we are gathered here today…”

    The familiar words bored Margaret to the point of suicide. Ephemeral bonds for the humans’ fleeting, sun-deprived lives.

    Margaret glared at the pasty little man that was to be her King. A placid grin was plastered on his idiot face. Centuries ago, words were nothing in the face of tooth and claw and fire. In truth, she could barely hear the priest’s droning recitation over the thunderous bass drum of blood pounding in her ears.

    Margaret, the Dragon Queen, was hungry. And in the endless suffering of her wedding ceremony wanted only to devour the pathetic little mutt scampering around the priest’s frock. The agonizing minutes crawled by and soon the wrinkled priest presented the Queen with a Bible.

    “How quaint,” the dragon thought to herself.

    As if to taunt Margaret, the tiny white dog yipped and yapped to celebrate the ceremony’s conclusion. The Queen locked eyes with the pooch, salivating and sure…


  10. Tamara Shoemaker
    155 Words

    Promise Me

    “Do you promise to love?”

    He’s promised to love me, in the dark, beneath the fur coverlet, hot breath mixing with passion, his trembling fingers printing my flesh as his name whispers from my lips.

    “To honor?”

    Honor drives him from my arms. The gem-bedecked circlet that has lain, forgotten, on the bedside table, now slides across her slim white finger.

    “To cherish?”

    As I have cherished him, but no longer. The ashes of his many tortured letters even now blacken my hearth, decayed fragments of a once pulsing heat.

    “Until death do you part?”

    Ah, this is the knife that spurts the lifeblood from a wound which doesn’t heal—a journey from whence there is no return. My stomach twists, either in revulsion or in reaction to the babe within. I hide my face behind stone-white hands as they turn to face the world, their smiles covering empty promises.


  11. Vows
    (158 words)

    Her mother’s nerves rattled like a pill bottle- her father saw to that- so a young Rose took over. While her mother cradled and rocked herself, it was Rose’s arms that were wrapped around her brothers.
    Dreams knocked out of her, Rose showed her intelligence in pragmatic ways: spinning out cloth and spreading out food. Though not provided for, Rose saw to it that her brothers were still clean and clothed and cooked for.

    In the last year, the oldest of the brothers had stretched up to a height his father prayed he’d never fill out. But the day came when strength was matched, so when their father crept along to Rose’s room, her brother’s fists had one half of the answer, and Rose’s mettle the other:
    ‘Pack your bags,Old Man, and I’ll see he doesn’t kill you. I might have been made a mother in this marriage, but, I vow, I won’t be a bride.’


  12. Fallen Fiefdom

    Nothing says petty fiefdom, more than bright colors, lavish tapestries and groomed gardens. Would have been so much wiser to spend money on an army.

    The beloved king wanted to impress me, his bride to be. So he gathered the peasants and they put on a colorful show.

    When the ceremony was done, they presented me with a wedding present. It was a copy of the Bible. The people of this kingdom trusted and sought to model their lives after the teachings of this book.

    I was not raised with such ideals.

    When we adjourned to the bedchamber, I sent the signal to my soldiers from the window. By morning I was the sovereign of the land, and the king was under guard. The entire kingdom became my present. That was a present more to my liking.

    I put the Bible on display, open to 2 Corinthians 6:14.

    14 words
    http://www.christianflashweekly.wordpress.com (Rebekah Postupak is this week’s guest judge.)


  13. @pamjplumb
    159 words
    Lady – in – Waiting

    Perhaps there’ll be something useful left amongst the straw after the wedding. Maybe a lost piece of jewellery, a brooch or a ring stone, that I can sell or trade. A little sideline to add to my pay.
    Time has not yet provided me with the right opportunity to carry out my task. No one dares leave the queen unattended; there are always at least two of us. She is so precious to them considering their struggles to enthrone her. After the ceremony she will be even more secure in her position. Until I have performed my duty, that is.
    Piecemeal, I’ve gained her trust. Small touches, caresses while I brush her hair, help her dress. Wash her feet. Soon I’ll find a way to complete my orders, but for now I must suffer this charade, this pomposity and flourish of wealth that her counsel thinks will help her.
    Sadly she is rather fond of me. As I her.


  14. Title: Wedding Bells

    Every eye was on the bride as Margaret glided down the aisle, head bent in modest decorum. Soft velvet ensconced her body, a purple robe over her white wedding gown, which accentuated the lissome shape of her queenly form.

    Onlookers whispered their collective appreciation of the King’s choice of bride. Snatches of these exchanges fell on her ears, as she walked past them. ‘ ..very pretty..’, ‘…heard she’s quite the docile one…’

    Arrogance awaited her in the form of the King at the altar. She looked at him, her blue eyes not revealing the burning hatred she felt for him. Her thoughts flew to her brother, trapped alone in the Tower, held captive. And she was the ransom. Her marriage would seal the deal and secure his release.

    As the priest commenced the ceremony, Margaret lifted her head. Her smile concealed the rage as well as the seven-inch blade hidden in her bosom.

    Word count: 152
    Twitter: @shyvish


  15. Hidden Warning
    John Mark Miller – 159 words

    “I know who you are.”

    The message stood in place of the Royal Oath, penned in colorful calligraphy.

    Margaret caught her breath. She had been queen for five minutes, and already she had enemies?

    Sutton, the court priest, stooped in a reverent bow, but his eyes had narrowed into hateful little slits.

    “How much does he know?” Margaret wondered. That she was an imposter? That she had viciously murdered the actual Lady of Anjou? That she had slipped into this time stream only months ago? That the king adored her mainly because she knew the future?

    A sudden memory brought a thin smile to her lips. Her eyes twinkled as she took the heavy book from the priest’s brittle fingers.

    If she remembered her history, John Sutton would be executed in the Year of Our Lord, 1445.

    And now she understood why.

    “Long live the queen,” Sutton spat.

    Margaret’s smile turned his blood to ice. “Oh, I intend to.”


  16. Sahara
    Creo Somnium
    158 words

    The Division

    Two women walk down the aisle of a church.

    “Isn’t this lovely? Oh, that painting.” One woman paused and continued, “The ballroom gown will look so beautiful on that altar.” “Well… so would the mermaid gown.” Daughter replied. Mother chuckled, shaking her head. “No, honey, you don’t want the mermaid gown. Not with your hips.” Daughter looked down.

    Mother continued, “Its right down the street from the Mill reception hall and will be easy for your guests.” “Mom, the Mill’s a little pricey, and we want a full bar.” “Oh, no, it’ll be fine! The guests won’t notice the bar!” Mother breezed. Daughter looked away.

    “Here I’ll be, in this pew.” Mother said, daydreaming, and turned, smiling. “Oh, this is wonderful.” Daughter took a breath and looked up. “Mom… we want to get married in Disney World.” Mother shook her head. “No. You don’t want it there.” Daughter looked at her.

    “Yes. We’ve already put the money down.”


    • I was leaning towards an elopement ending but the Disney World thing definitely threw a wrench in Mama’s plans, I think you might have made the story stronger by giving the daughter a name–but please accept that in the spirit I mean it to be–constructive. It’s a great story!


      • Of course, thank you for that feedback! I didn’t think about that, but doing so, particularly after introducing her as Daughter, would have further distinguished her as her own person! Thank you!


  17. Good portrayal of how people don’t listen to each other or know each other despite a close relationship. I liked the contrasts of the mother’s statements and the daughter looking away.


    • Thank you.This is my first flash friday effort, and I kind of stumbled on the daughter looking away from her mother. Sadly, my own mother and I kind of went through this with my wedding.


      • Oh, I forgot to say welcome! Posting to Flash! Friday can become addictive…I go through withdrawals when my muse goes on vacation–which is far too often for my liking.


  18. “Unexpected Toolhead Contact”

    The machine made a screech, three BOOMs, a soft whirring before falling silent, thin smoke drifting from the hatch.

    “No, no NO!” Marco pleaded, madly tapping the screen, now ominously crowded with dialogue boxes like “unexpected toolhead contact.”

    The machinist swore.

    Eight months he had labored at this machine, transforming one aluminum billet into the left half of a space-age turbojet, the first of its kind. He meticulously programmed the machine to cut ports and channels within microscopic tolerances, checked and rechecked, lovingly coaxed the part from the metal.

    Tomorrow, the piece was to be married to the right half in a ceremony attended by corporate groomsmen, their dark suits accessorized by hard hats and safety glasses.

    Their approval would define his career.

    Marco sighed and peered into the hatch. The metal bride lay like a stabbed corpse, the machine’s bit buried in a gruesome furrow.

    He called the office.

    “Wedding’s off,” he announced. “And I’m going home.”


  19. The Wedding Planner

    ‘Oh God, what’s this?’ Martin stared at the print that Neil had unrolled.
    Neil pointed at the bride. ‘Margaret of Anjou. She married…’
    ‘I don’t want a history lesson. Is this the ‘best wedding ever’ that you mentioned?’
    Neil ruffled Martin’s hair. ‘You’ll be King Henry and I’ll be…’
    Martin groaned. ‘Don’t say it.’
    ‘But look at her gown. Miranda will love making it. And Gregor can go to town on the tapestries.’
    ‘And the dog? You hate dogs.’
    Neil waved the objection away. ‘And I know where to source that gorgeous book. We can fill it with the photographs after.’
    ‘The set? Where…?’
    ‘Ikea have this kiddies castle-cum-Wendy house thingy. We can adapt it.’
    ‘And your mother and father? They’ll love being part of the Court.’
    Neil grinned. ‘That’s the beauty of this plan. As king and queen we throw them in the tower.’
    Martin nodded and squeezed Neil’s hand. ‘Alright, you win.’

    154 words


  20. Beyond the Woods

    Margaret placed lilies on Henry’s grave. The locket around her neck held a faded miniature of them on their wedding day. Sixty years had passed without her truly noticing. No one had told her that was what it would be like. They’d vowed to stay together forever. Even after death.

    Leaning heavily on her cane, she walked over to the ancient oak tree where they’d met. She took a small red book from her pocket and read out the unfamiliar words. The air rippled silver as a doorway opened.

    The mortal years fell away from her as she stepped through into the woods of the world she’d left behind. She stared back at the grave where she’d left her heart. No one told her that forever could be so short. No one told her life could be so long. No one told her the price she would have to pay if she ventured beyond the woods.

    Words: 157


  21. *** Judges entry, just for fun ***

    All the rage

    The King waited patiently for his wedding outfit to be prepared. One servant looked uneasy as he approached with a bundle of silk ribbons, “Your highness, the royal fashion advisor informed me this is your under garment for today.”
    “What is it?”
    “I think it’s called a force-it. He said it will keep everything in place. Apparently they are all the rage in France.”
    The King nodded to proceed. He gasped for breath as the servant heaved on the ribbons, before calling over others to help. His ample gut was successfully displaced, with most of it spilling out the top. He looked down, “This is preposterous, I have a bigger bosom than the future Queen. Get the fashion advisor.”

    The advisor appeared with a horrified look on his face. He mumbled, “Your highness, why are you wearing the Queens corset?”
    “The Queens?” The King bellowed furiously, “You wanted all the rage? Well now that’s what you’re going to get!”

    160 words


  22. Pearls
    (160 words)

    Hanging above my nana’s mantelpiece that picture had put me off studying history for ever; it put me off marriage too. Nana insisted I was named Margaret and then to make it worse she always called me Queenie which I doubly hated. My poor parents never stood much chance against my nana. She was a formidable matriarch, her husband dying in the trenches of the Great War leaving her with not one child to bring up but four; she never forgave him or the rest of mankind.

    “Wasn’t that nice of nana leaving you something in her will?”

    I gritted my teeth and smiled. A string of scratched, discoloured, artificial pearls wasn’t something I’d coveted. I laughed when I heard Cousin George had been left the Queen Margaret picture, laughing on the other side of my face when he sold it at auction for £100,000. That picture should have been mine. I was named after it. I was Queen Margaret.


  23. Cave Canem

    Actors say never share a stage with a dog.

    Here I am at court, presenting that book of hours it has taken a monastery of dedicated monks ten years to create, and all anyone cares about is a stupid dog.

    It’s an ugly little white dog the future Queen calls “Monsieur T”. While I am kneeling, like a good courtier, Monsieur T walks up and pisses on the back of my surcoat.

    Everyone is laughing. I’m not laughing.

    “What a good dog, Talbot,” says the King.

    People at court haven’t laughed this hard since Sir John Oldcastle farted at Henry V’s coronation.

    I’m not sure I will ever live this down. Of course, my new red surcoat is ruined, and I still haven’t paid my tailor bill.

    “It is a fitting wedding gift,” the French Queen tells me.

    “Less amusing than Monsieur T’s,” says King Henry, who thinks himself a wit.

    Every dog will have his day. Stupid Lancasters.


  24. The Feast to End All Feasts
    by A J Walker

    England’s elite, fat in girth and delirious with power were all at the castle. For here was their current King, marrying his Queen of convenience. Love was for other people, Kings had Kingdoms and they required managing, sometimes with such selfless sacrifice.

    “This is the greatest feast I’ve ever attended,” he said to his Queen honestly.

    She looked into his eyes, not understanding a word. He looked happy and sincere so she smiled back.

    “You’re a pretty thing really,” he continued chewing messily on a mixture of rabbit, pheasant and pig, “I could’ve done worse.”

    She smiled and clapped before spitting out some swan she’d struggled to get from between her teeth. She reached for her goblet of fine wine, a present from home.

    There wasn’t an edible creature within 30 miles of the castle that didn’t pass through their kitchen that weekend. The cook stood back, job done. Not one of the guests noticed his liberal use of hemlock.

    (160 words)


  25. The Royal Queen

    It has been a long road to dignity.

    I remember my wedding day with vivid details of the royal painting I once saw. Henry’s limp hand like a wet mouse rested upon mine. I had to hold it steady for the both of us. The wedding ceremony lasted longer than I thought, and I was worried about his expressionless eyes.

    My concerns were justified.

    Henry could never see beyond his own obligations which he carried out with fervor. Whenever I saw his pasty face speaking to the auditorium full of people, a little part of me crumbled thinking about his breakdowns behind the four walls of our private chambers, but I always put my proud face on.

    Those rumors, about Eddie’s patronage, founded on the slightest frown on my brow while I slogged like an ox through my daily duties, troubled me.

    With the strength of a royal queen, I fought the social war and won his dignity back.

    160 words


  26. Real Love
    157 words

    I told them I hoped they would be happy.

    She and I were best friends, and I, like an idiot, had introduced them. They fell for each other like I had first fallen for him. Neither of them knows that I had hoped to stand there beside him, saying our vows.

    Anybody but her and perhaps I would have told them, just out of sheer selfishness. But I love her too much to hurt her that way.

    As co-workers, I could tell he liked me, and I hoped that one day his friendship would turn into love, like mine had. But then he met her, and in a single day she swept him off his feet, sending my dreams crashing.

    Yes, anybody but her and I would have tried to ruin this wedding.

    But that is my sister standing up there like a queen, and she is happy. I wouldn’t steal that from her for the world.


  27. The Bride To Be

    Luxurious fabrics and fragrant rose petals caressed Isabella’s skin. Today had been a triumph, thousands gathering to witness their union, the bells pealing across the realm, a feast of exotic wonders.

    At the ceremony she had stood beside her true love, heart fluttering. She had never looked so beautiful, her dress accentuating every curve. Even the King had noticed, whispering lustful comments as they knelt in front of the Cardinal.

    Isabella was prepared to surrender herself, becoming a queen through his conquest. Comforted that the goblet of wine, thrust into his hand as he ascended the stairs, was laced with something slow acting and untraceable.

    He would be dead in the morning, a heart attack the doctors would declare.

    The nation would mourn and Isabella would vow to honour her departed king by never taking another man again.

    Thankfully her true love wasn’t.

    She just knew that the reign of Isabella and Beatrix was going to be a joyous one.

    160 words


    by Kay Barten
    150 words

    My fingers brushed the fabric of her wedding dress as the book slid from my hand to hers. A ghost of a dimpled grin crossed her features before she tensed and resumed her serious façade, glancing sideways at her new husband. My heart lurched with both joy and desolation as I remembered that smile—remembered the way its brilliance had blinded me as it shone forth, unfettered, during our long strolls through the soft afternoon light so many years ago. Her goodness had opened a window to my soul, and her fiery spirit had consumed me. Our connection, forged in those sun-drenched days before royal obligations had ripped us apart, would last for eternity.

    I glanced once last time at the book, and raised my eyes to hers. The book. It was my secret, my way of giving her my heart forever. She would find me and be free again.


  29. “The Nuptials”
    by Michael Seese
    159 words

    The town hummed with excitement. The day finally had arrived.

    “I don’t understand this marriage,” Baron Claudio said to his friend Count Sebastien.

    “What do you mean?” he asked.

    “Normally, a king arranges for his eldest son to marry into the family of a near-ally, to strengthen his position. But this marriage… They are not even close to the same station.”

    “Perhaps they’re in love.”

    “Love?” Claudio scoffed. “What does love have to do with marriage?”

    “Nothing, I suppose,“ Sebastien said. “Though, I’ve heard they make a very handsome couple.”

    “Oh, that will get them—”

    A trumpet fanfare, followed by the release of doves, signaled that the ceremony had concluded. The giddy couple stepped out onto the palace balcony and waved. The royal herald cleared his throat.

    “Ladies and gentlemen, citizens of Antioch, it gives me great pleasure to present Crown Prince Reginald, and his husband, Prince David.

    “You were right,” Claudio conceded. “They do make a handsome couple.”


  30. By The Book

    They’d been told the ceremony would be strictly by the book beforehand; had the spiel on protocol. Now, they were listening to words familiar yet foreign; not foreseen in the circumstances – at least, not today. It had kind of been sprung on them. Kelly thought she was a little young yet to be making her vows for forever – though she hadn’t been asked to voice an opinion – felt dwarfed by the tall priestly presence before them, bible at the ready. James was shuffling sideways, hands in blazer pockets, increasing the distance between them, to the extent that he was able. That was fine by Kelly, too. If by some miracle he made it out the door, it would save them both from their coupled fate in the presence of witnesses who would never let them forget it.

    “Do you..”

    Soon it was over. Married in name and taught her lesson, Kelly thanked God the Religious Studies session wasn’t binding.

    (160 words)



  31. Little Peg Tudor (160 words)
    by Rachael Dunlop

    A Peg to hang a wedding robe upon, so heavy on her sparrow-sharp shoulders she thinks her knees might buckle. She runs a finger across the brocade, stroking the slippery silk thread where it stands proud of the nubbled backing cloth.

    A Peg to hang a marriage on. She brings power, he brings blood. She knows, though, there will be blood of her own to shed – in the bed, in the birthing chair, in the generations of her progeny. Only she will not think of them as progeny, they will be her children, soft in her arms, bound to her heart, her own.

    A Peg to hang a crown on, to keep it from the Pretender’s head. Her priest tells her crowns are in the gift of God. She knows they are won by the mothers of sons. She drops her shoulders, stretches her neck and finds comfort, now, in the weight of the cloth on her back.


  32. His Heart’s Desire

    Eric had wanted her from the beginning.

    He pretended not to notice, sneaking surreptitious glances, counting the moments until she was his. On the surface she seemed so delicate and fragile, but he knew that she was older than she appeared. Stronger too. She had weathered so much, been possessed and cast off with equal abandon, given away and sold for a king’s ransom.

    Now, he was determined that she would be his alone.

    He reached out, hesitantly, as if even the faintest touch might betray him, that his clumsy fingers would damage her, but he couldn’t resist. His warm breath fogged her glass.


    He spun away from the wall, pasting on a smile.

    Darling! I was just admiring your father’s tapestries.”

    “Oh, bother those old things. I’ve spoken to the wedding planner again.”

    He smiled, resigned to another endless afternoon of identical fabric samples and crushing boredom, but he didn’t mind;

    He was already thinking of the honeymoon.

    160 words


  33. A JOB TO DO

    By Ian Phillips, Age 13
    157 words

    Geoffrey stood behind the thronging crowd of people eager to get a glimpse of King Henry VI on his wedding day. However, Geoffrey was not interested in the wedding at hand. He was on the lookout for another man. “Get me the Shrewsbury book by tomorrow night or you will be very sorry,” his employer had growled.

    Geoffrey searched for the Earl of Shrewsbury who supposedly had the book—and there he was. John Talbot, the first Earl of Shrewsbury, slowly approached the king and queen as they sat on their thrones. The earl knelt down and offered the book to the queen.

    Geoffrey silently shrank back into the shadows. He had a job to do and he would wait here, hidden, until everyone else had left. And then, when he was alone with the king and queen, he would steal the book and make his escape. That was his mission, and he never failed his missions.


  34. Cold Feet (160 words)

    Todd banged his head over and over against the cement of the parking garage across the street from Cornerstone Baptist Church. Blood trickled from a slit in his forehead onto his white boutonniere.

    The dead girl was five feet away behind a dozen construction cones. Not totally obscured but enough until Todd could clear his head.

    At that precise moment he was supposed to be at the other end of the aisle gushing over Portia’s glowing bride face.

    He had told his best man he just needed a moment to breathe in the bathroom. Instead, he went through a backdoor and to the parking garage.

    And bludgeoned the first girl he saw. A petite redhead zombified by the glow of her phone, thus oblivious.

    That morning, as he showered and suited up, he had what he thought were pre-wedding jitters. He should have known better. It had been months since his last fix.

    Not quite the fairy tale he’d pictured.


  35. Queen of the Castle

    She had a My Little Pony castle. I brought my Star Wars figures, and we played for hours in her garden. I was Han Solo and she was Princess Leia. When the battle was won, we got married, and the stormtroopers crowded into the castle and Luke sang ‘The Final Countdown’.

    When my dad found out, he beat me. My Little Pony was no thing for a boy to play with. If I wanted to be a girl so much, I could wear my sister’s clothes. I stood in the corner at the top of the stairs in a Minnie Mouse t-shirt and striped shorts.

    The next day, he let me wear my own clothes, but I still had to stand in the corner. It was weeks before I saw her again, by which time she’d been warned. Our marriage had been annulled.

    (144 words)


  36. What is wedlock forced but hell
    @dieterrogiers – 159 words

    Margaret was a simple soul, from humble origins, and all this pomp and circumstance surrounding the wedding was mostly lost on her, even though she was at the centre of it. The king had swept her off her feet but a fortnight ago and already the mud of her father’s pig farm was a remote memory.

    In the quiet of her bedroom, after the festivities, Margaret’s mind immediately wandered to the book. It had been just one of many gifts, most of them far more valuable, but the important etiquette surrounding its offering intrigued her.

    She opened the book. There were no words, just pictures of unspeakable acts, in graphic detail. Etchings of a naked man and woman, cavorting endlessly.

    As her new husband entered the room, flabby and filthy and naked, the reality of the inevitable aftermath of a fairy tale wedding hit the naive country girl, now queen.

    “There is no stork involved, is there?” she cried.


  37. Hold Your Peace
    By Charity Paschall
    140 Words

    “We are gathered here on this joyous occasion to join these two people in holy matrimony…um, are all of these men groomsmen? That seems rather excessive Your Highness.”
    “Oh, no, we are not here for him, we are here for her.”
    “Begging pardon?”
    “Well Padre, Miss Margaret here, she had a few suitors before the king came calling, and she broke a few hearts when she accepted his proposal.”
    “I see.”
    “So, we’re here kindly just in case.”
    “In case of what?”
    “Well, in case she should change her mind ’bout marryin’ the king.
    “Oh, well just pipe down during the proceedings okay?”
    “Sure thing, Boss.”
    “Uhh, wait…”
    “You may kiss the bride.”


  38. Paid in Full
    (155 words)
    Under a sparkling mantle of stars, the queen succeeded. Mab chose the shape of a rather decrepit looking white dog for the occasion- all the better to go unnoticed as vows were made and God praised. No one in the court had dared question King Phillip when he’d declared his sudden, undying love for the baker’s daughter. Some whispered of sorcery, but Queen Mab alone knew the true cost.
    The peasant turned royal placed her calloused hand upon the bible and swore loyalty to her new husband. The little dog licked her lips as the lovestruck king did the same. Huzzahs rang out through the halls as the happy couple retired to their wedding chamber.
    Queen Mab wagged her tail as she slipped off to re-take her true form. The baker’s daughter would soon be with child and in only nine months, Mab would return. A babe for a crown, she’d been more than fair.

    ~Taryn Noelle Kloeden


  39. Thorn Among the Roses

    Henry clasped her hand and would not let go. By all Margaret had heard, her husband-to-be was pious, and for that she was grateful. More than one maid her age had been joined with a drunkard or a profligate. As her uncle’s property—as much as his realm of France—she would have to wed the man he selected. Yes, she could do much worse than England’s Henry VI. Becoming a queen at fifteen was no small accomplishment, either.

    She wanted to have the wedding now, but the English were adamant about their ceremony and tradition, like the monstrous book Master John Talbot was presenting her.

    “For your edification, Your Highness, and the instruction of your sons,” he explained.

    The book was indeed a beautiful thing, richly illustrated and adorned, worthy of a queen.

    She looked again at Henry, and in his piety she now saw weakness. No matter. An Anjou could rule as well as a Lancaster.

    @unspywriter (Maggie Duncan)
    160 words



    Cotton and linen. Cotton, the new; linen, the old. I shall mix these as I fashion a wedding coif for my mistress, Margaret. Little she knows of my Spanish secrets within the folds of my gown: many bodkins with which to jag, made of fine Moorish metal, another secret my people held close.

    As my bodkin and I bind tiny linen strands together, the coif becomes airy in appearance, the sun dancing in delicate, Fleur-de-lis shadow and light patterns on the wall. I view the coif’s white on white embroidery and remember the impending marriage. My mistress, who barely has become a woman, will marry an aging royal.

    The eye of my metal jagger cries fine cotton fibers at this repetitive thought, as repetitive as the patterns on this elegant coif. I drive the sharp into the emery hoping to blunt its tip, but knowing it becomes ever more gleaming in readiness for venerable linen and fresh cotton.

    WC = 158, excluding title


  41. Title:Margaret
    Word Count: 154

    The gunshot echoed.

    Margaret’s bouquet smoked and smelled of sulfur. The priest had just pronounced her “Wife of King Henry and the new Queen of England.” But Henry now lay dead at her feet. The flowers had fallen away revealing the small pistol that was hooked in the wrist of her white wedding dress. She looked at the priest who was ghostly pale.

    “Give me the book,” she said to him. He stuttered but said nothing. He pulled the book out of a chest and proffered it to her. She pulled the trigger again and the priest fell limp next to her dead husband. With the book in hand she picked up the scepter that still lay at Henry’s fingertips. The panicked public in the square watching the wedding stood still when Margaret raised her head tall.

    “I am now widow of King Henry, and acting priestess of the Church. I am Queen Margaret.”


  42. Maximilian Thinks Fast

    Lord Maximilian Delirious was delighted to soon be wed to Grainger, busty, and oft called the Lusty Countess of Haute, ninety-sixth in line to the Perillian Throne. But first, his dear Father had to be laid to rest in a tortuously long Ceremony of State.

    “Oh, can we please speed this up?” Max pleaded with the pall bearers stumbling under his Father’s massive sarcophagus.

    Max waived to the smiling Grainger in the stands as he pushed the pall bearers into the castle bailey. At that precise moment the Peranoids, arch-enemies of Perillia, decided to launch their Grand Assault. Perillia, as usual, was totally unprepared.

    Immediately Max saw an opportunity, “Quickly bring forth the Holy catapult, I sacrifice my Father’s sacred sarcophagus in defense of Queen Margaret,” Max commanded.

    With skillful aim and a wink at Grainger Max launched the loaded catapult directly at Lord Draxmore, War Leader of the Peranoids. The loud squishing sound raised massive applause among the gallery.

    Evan Montegarde
    160 words


  43. King Me
    [Judge’s entry — just fun and games.]

    “Lord Shrewsbury, I protest! I cannot wed her!”

    The wise and wizened Earl of Shrewsbury thumbed through the massive tome, titled “Statvta Britannia Penvltima”. Young Henry craned his neck to read the page, but the volume was written in Canis Latina, a dead language spoken by an ancient civilization that flunked Latin.

    “Our beloved planet Britannia Penultima’s laws are perfectly unambiguous,” the Earl told him. “I quote: ‘He who bests the Queen in the royal contest, shall her immediately wed.'”

    “But Lord, do we not already have a king?!”

    “Eleven, sire. Her Royal Highness is notoriously terrible at checkers.”

    Queen Maggs winked at Henry. “Our game is rather Texas Hold’em.”

    Henry wondered how to break the news to his girlfriend.

    “Come, come. Cheer up,” Queen Maggs said, taking Henry’s. “Now we shall have one husband for each month of the year.”

    A priest approached. From somewhere nearby, hidden speakers began to play the Wedding March.


  44. Title: For Her Country
    Word Count:146
    Twitter @melissamauthor

    Margaret tapped her foot. What is keeping him? She wondered as she smoothed her underskirt. Her marriage ceremony was within the hour inside the Holyrood Abbey and she was eager to speak with Patrick beforehand.

    “Lady Margaret, forgive my tardiness.” Sir Patrick charged into her bed chamber. Pulling his hat from his head, Margaret watched his eyes grow wide.

    “You look lovely.” He whispered, taking her hand.

    “Patrick, don’t.” Margaret pulled away and clutched the jeweled chain that hung around her neck. “I just wanted to say that I wish…..things could be different.” Sighing, she looked in his eyes. “My country needs me to do this, though.”

    Patrick nodded, pain evident on his face. “Then allow me to escort my childhood sweetheart to her wedding.”

    Margaret squared her shoulders and took his outstretched hand. I have to let go of Patrick today. For my country.


  45. @marthajcurtis 143 words
    And Then I Blinked

    She pleaded with me, insisted I must present the gift. I had no desire to witness the only woman I ever loved pledge herself to the only man I ever loathed, but she promised the favor I asked of her. Now, here I kneel before her, my heart sobbing where my eyes cannot. My courage to continue this facade came from her promise alone. We each held to the book, neither willing to break the tie that would separate us forever. My hopeless eyes met her triumphant ones. But then I blinked and Margaret removed the ribbons from the book. I watched as she opened it, and withdrew the blade that would end my misery for all time. I turned away then to make it easier for her. Shouts of “The King is Dead” filled the Hall as I exited the room.


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