Day 598

“Grief is the thing with feathers.” – an astonishingly different take on grief by Max Porter.

An extract:

Once upon a time there was a king who had 2 sons. The queen had fallen from the attic door and bashed her skull and because the servants in the kingdom were busy polishing sculptures for the king, she bled to death. The king was often busy with futile curse-lifting and the prevention of small wars. And so it was that the little princes would fight.

They slapped. A little cuff, a little jab. The short fat younger prince (called Ivab the Lazy, or Guilty Beast, or Greedy Wolf) would move the chair and send his brother tumbling to the cold marble floor. Trips, shin-kicks, tickles.

Then, as they missed their mother, more ans less, the fights got better, worse. The handsome one (called Prince In-a-Bit, or Idle Eagle, or Hungry Deer) would kneel on his brother on the fleshy underarms, and roll his knees upon the slipping muscle. They would lie at opposite ends of the throne-room benches and kick kick kick kick kick until his sobbing brother pleaded mercy, harder.

Then they bit. Then they tried to drown each other. Then they tried to burn each other’s hair. They tied each other up, they twisted wrists, they wedgied, they spat.

Then they found a poison book and took turns to make each other sick. Then they hanged each other. Then they flayed each other. Then they crucified each other. Then they drove rusty nails into each other’s skulls.

One day the king, who happened to be strolling through the palace maze, chanced upon his bloodied sons armed with crossbows, each prince ablaze with murderous intent.

‘My little yearlings, my lovely hoyden boys, why do you play this way?’ asked the king.
‘Because we miss our mammy so,’ the little boys sang in unison.
The king roared with laughter and patted his pig-tight belly.

‘My darling imps, you’ve got so much to learn about what it means to be king. The queen was no more your mother than she was my own. God only knows which corridor wenches spat you two out, but it certainly wasn’t that friend-of-a-friend I called Queen.’

So the boys, quite relieved, shook hands and went on to become very successful kings of large and profitable kingdoms.

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