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Queen of Swords: a novel

Duel between a stepmother and stepdaughter turns deadly.

Chapter I – The Knight of Swords

My mother was bitten by a coachwhip while carrying me; that’s how I got my second sight.  My stepfather, not a witness to the event but someone who always had the be the smartest person in any room he was in and the greatest living authority on everything, said it wasn’t a coachwhip but a blue runner and it never would have killed her anyhow.  It wasn’t until I left home that I discovered they’re the same snake.  So that argument, like most they had, was entirely pointless.

She would have killed me deader than any snakebite but she was too fat to even realize she was pregnant. So that was the first lucky thing in my lifetime string of magical good fortune, the second being that I didn’t drown in the toilet. Let’s say my “home birth” was quite a surprise.

To those blessed with second sight time is circular. There I was: an old soul born to pawns of fate just up from rats. When they come back it will be as cockroaches. I was seventeen when I came into my royal nature as Queen of Swords. The Queen ‘s blood is power, intuition is her oxygen, action is her throne. I am the only one who recognizes truth. My sword cauterizes like a laser. You might as well submit; you’ll feel better after. All living creatures, whether they know it or not, draw breath in fealty. I grant consciousness and unconsciousness; just as I choose.

This morning, I pulled a card, as is my daily custom. And there you were, my Knight of Swords, leaning down from your horse to penetrate a dragon’s proffered belly. I must have need of you because when I summoned; you came. My late husband used to say, “When the servant is ready, the master will appear.” He thought he knew who was the servant and who the master — a dangerous assumption to make when I’m around.

In my beautiful Doré deck this Knight is teen-mag handsome, with a carved-marble face, blocky jaw and a panther’s square nose. Luxuriant blonde hair, rippling into curls, is tied back for battle. His quiver contains a multitude of arrows unlike the poorly-equipped King of Swords. A “suicide king”; his blade is turned against himself.

This knight is also slightly cross-eyed, like a Siamese cat. Does it mean that, like me, you see forward and back? I almost feel I’m looking at an echo of my double-eyed face – one eye green and one eye blue. He is ready to launch himself on his heroic quest; but one eye still looks behind him.

There’s fate for you. Even when you don’t believe in it, it believes in you. Let this card inaugurate my new life. I have been feeling something missing. My ideal lover is out there waiting for me to find him. In a way, I feel I have invented you. Or perhaps you, lonely as only gods are lonely, have invented me. I rose up out of one of your nocturnal emissions in my most seductive guise. Blonde (of course), full-breasted (of course), boy-hipped, five feet eleven in stilettos. Come and get me.
Since I can recall eternity I must have always been here. We are primal elements: archetypes. We are fated to meet maskless. History itself evolves to smooth my path. I will teach you mastery of the future. I inserted your card in a gilt display box and left exposed it to the consideration of the universe on my mother-of-pearl dressing table.

I live surrounded by beautiful objects, such as this suede book in which I write with my ivory pen. I too lived my early life as a beautiful object, much sought after by collectors. Beauty is my birthright, but conquest has leaves me lonely.
Until now.

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