As a child, she swallowed clods of loam soil, followed by smooth pebbles. When left alone she could turn this matter into a garden. And so as she grew, so a softer place grew up inside her: a quiet haunt that had not made a way for words to enter, a world left unspoilt by such imperfect things. It was a place another might like to find, to hide, someone who would not tread on the unfurling tendrils, nor dig too close to the roots, or take stones where they didn’t belong. Someone who knew all about silence.
He hadn’t been king very long when the revolution began; it was just like his father to give him the things he wanted at the moment they meant nothing. It was night as he lay in the chambers of his concubine, who still called him Principe, out of affection. The mixture of fear and love in her eyes disarmed him. He’d predicted that the revolutionaries would come on bicycles, though it was unlikely, as the invention hadn’t yet come in to fashion with the people. He admired their revolution, the people’s spunk. He’d willingly champion their cause, if only he weren’t their king.
Down at the docks at dawn he’d mount his forklift to watch another ship come in. In the summer they’d arrive with the rising sun, seagulls flying overhead; and in the winter, with that heavy fog over everything, he loved to see the searchlights breaking through, the foghorns crying out. The other men arrived eventually, carrying their coffee flasks, lunch pails, and hangovers. So he’d crank up, go about it, loading and unloading, silently, like the rest of them, yet knowing that one day he’d be on one of those ships to Europe: Paris, Lisbon, Madrid, anywhere; and once there, then he’d be living.