Rise of a Queen

By: Rina Kent

When she finally manages to shrug it off, she bunches it in her small hands, hides it behind her back, then drops it to the ground.

I smile at the mischievous look in her dark eyes. From this distance, I can’t tell if they’re brown or blue, or a mixture of both.

As soon as she finishes her mission of getting rid of the veil, she leans over the woman and wipes her eyes with the back of her tiny hands.

“Don’t cry, Alicia. She’ll be reight,” the little girl says in a brittle voice with a northern accent. Yorkshire dialect? “Our mummy is happy in heaven.”

That only makes the older woman cry harder, her sobs echoing in the air like an opera gone wrong.

So they’re siblings, not mother and daughter. The age difference is too large, though. The older one must be at least twenty, if not more.

The little girl wraps her tiny arms around the woman’s neck and squeezes her. “I love you, Alicia.”

“I love you, too, Claire.” The woman, Alicia, manages to say between hiccoughs, her arms caging the small girl against her chest.

They remain like that for a second before the girl, Claire, pulls away. “Hey, Alicia. I’m gonna make ya happy.”

“Really?” Alicia ruffles her hair, a sad smile on her lips. Her tone and voice are more sophisticated than the younger girl’s, hinting at a more refined upbringing. “How?”

“I’m gonna dance for ya.” She points a thumb at herself. “I’m the best dancer in town.”

“You are.”

“Aye. That’s right.” She grabs her sister by the wrist. “Come on, lemme show ya. Not here, cuz I don’t want ghosts to see.”

“Okay, okay.” Alicia staggers to her feet and follows the small girl’s lead.

Claire discreetly looks back, and I think it’s at the grave, but then she kicks something on the ground. The veil — she’s trying to bury it.

Her eyes meet mine, and she freezes. The colour of her irises are blue, a deep dark one like the undiscovered bottoms of oceans. A mischievous smile pulls at her lips as she places an index finger to them.

I wink at her and her grin widens before her sister drags her out of sight.

After they’re gone, I cut the distance to the grave they were visiting. Smiling, I crouch and take the tiny veil that’s half-buried in the dirt. My smile vanishes when I read the name on the tombstone.

Lady Bridget Sterling

Beloved Wife and Mother

I couldn’t miss that name even if I wanted to. She was Lord Sterling’s wife — the one who committed suicide not so long ago.

My gaze trails to the path the two girls took. One of them is Alicia Sterling, the only offspring Lord Sterling ever had.

In that case, who was that small one? She called Lady Bridget her mother, so is she perhaps illegitimate? The northern accent fits in that theory if Bridget had a lover in the North.

She doesn’t matter, though. The one who shares Lord Sterling’s blood does.


I commemorate the name to memory for later, shove the veil in my pocket, and join the burial of my mother’s.

People are everywhere like flies, their heads bowed. Some are sniffling, others are feigning sympathy they don’t feel.

I come to a halt at the scene in front of me. James is patting the back of my rigid father, whose face is paler than Mum’s skin is as she rests in her coffin.

Taking a deep breath, I join them, standing on the other side of Father. Gregory King has a slim built and his hair has been slowly balding over the years. His grey eyes and straight nose are the only things he shares with me and James.

My older brother is buffer than me with wide rugby shoulders and a build to match. He also has a charming presence that instantly makes him the more approachable of the two of us, even though I’m three years younger.

“You’re late,” my brother hisses at me under his breath. “They closed her casket.”

“I’m here now.” Not that I wanted to say goodbye. I already did that at the hospital, then kissed her forehead and covered her again with the sheet.

I don’t know how to say goodbyes. Not when Grandpa passed away, and certainly not now.

“Well, you could’ve come earlier,” James snaps.

“Or I could’ve just come now.”

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