Heirs and Errors
“No!” Rossannah screeched at me from the corner of my room. “No, if you do this that’s it. I will leave. I will go back to my father’s house. I won’t come around anymore.”
“Rossannah, please,” I pleaded. “I have to do this. You know what Hector is capable of. If I don’t do this, one day he could be in charge of you, he could be in charge of the tribes, he could be in charge of everybody.”
“No,” Rossannah repeated again, folding her arms and shaking her head definitely.
“Rossannah,” I whispered, searching for the words, “this is bigger than us.”
I understood why Rossannah had a problem with this, but it wasn’t as if I was going to enjoy what I was about to do. Her anger at me was just putting more stress on me than what I needed.
Rossannah threw her hands up in the air and stormed out of the room. I followed her into her own. She began to tear things out of her closet and throw them on the bed. I watched in horror.
“What are you doing?”
“Leaving,” she replied. I wanted to argue with her. I wanted to stay there and keep her from going, but I knew that if I did the fate of everyone else was sealed.
“I hope you stay,” I whispered and I walked out of the room, tears flowing down my cheeks. It was my only option because if I would have stayed for one more minute, I would have broken down. I had to sacrifice myself for the good of everyone.
The walk to the king’s room was excruciatingly long and painful. It seemed to take a lot longer than it actually did. I knocked on the door and found myself wishing that it had taken much longer to arrive. He opened the door to find me there and invited me in.
We stood there awkwardly, not daring to look at each other. After a few moments he began to pace uncomfortably around, not sure what to do in the situation. He finally came to rest on a chair on the other side of the room from me. Good. He was making me nervous.
I found myself sitting down at the foot of his bed. Maybe he saw this as an invite, because he stood up and came to sit down beside me. I scooted myself a little farther away from him.
“How do we do this?” He asked me, genuinely confused.
“I don’t know,” I replied honestly, “I thought that you would be taking the initiative here.”
“I really don’t know how,” he confessed. “I’ve never done this before. I mean…I know how…I just don’t know where to start.”
Two hours later I headed back to my own room, leaving him alone in his bed, asleep. I had gotten up, got dressed, and tiptoed out the door as fast as I could get out of there. On the way back to my room I bumped into Hector pacing the halls. He turned his face away from me as I approached him.
“I’m leaving in the morning,” he said in embarrassment. I reached out and put a sympathetic hand on his cheek. I reached down into my pocket and brought out the journal that I had been writing and handed it over to him.
“This will help your family and friends control those people that you become,” I explained as I handed over the little book.
“I’m sorry,” Hector whispered as a tear rolled slowly down his cheek.
“You didn’t hurt me,” I smiled, feeling charitable. “Roman did. He’s gone now.” Hector burst into tears and hugged me. I was less than enthusiastic about the embrace and I think he felt it. He let go almost immediately and I flashed him a warm but careful smile. It was true that he couldn’t seem to help his condition, but I knew the pain of not being able to tell when he was experiencing one of his episodes.
I left Hector quickly in the hopes that I could somehow escape the awkwardness between us. It would always be there now, even on the days where he was himself.
Before long, I was back at my room. I took a deep breath and opened the door. Rossannah was sitting there on the foot of my bed, waiting for me, eyes staring at the floor in dismay. I stared at her in disbelief as she stood and walked over to me. She embraced me and I let go of the tears that I had been holding inside.
“How did it go?” Rossannah asked sullenly.
“I don’t know,” I sniveled, “it hurt at first, but then it was just uncomfortable. I don’t think he noticed either way.”
“Do you think it worked?” she said gently, rubbing my arm.
“I hope so,” I cried, “I don’t want to do that again.” I took her hand and we both got into my bed and fell asleep. At this point, I didn’t care who caught us together. I just wanted to be near her. Rossannah and I shared a room after that night, and nobody questioned us about it, although Shyla would throw dirty looks our way every once in a while.
We were all relieved to be informed a few months later that I was indeed pregnant. Shyla explained to me that it was very lucky I had become pregnant so fast. I agreed with her.
The king seemed to agree as well. For weeks we had been unable to look at each other during meetings and over meals. We had started eating on separate schedules just so that our interactions with each other were limited. It was a mutual understanding that we wouldn’t even talk about it unless we were forced to do it again. Now that we were satisfied that we would never be required to relive that night, our relationship relaxed and our normal banter and arguments recommenced.
My new situation created a new annoying side effect. People had begun to treat me differently from all directions. The servants were the least of my problems. I had always been pampered and adored by them and was used to it. Pregnancy caused a slight increase in their attention to my care, which was hardly noticeable from what they had done before. Rossannah and Shyla fussed over me and demanded that I rest more. The walks in the fields with Rossannah became a thing of the past and I desperately missed them. The worst of them all, however, was the king. Before my pregnancy, he was content to let me be on my own whenever our coexistence was not required. Now the life growing inside me sparked his constant presence at my side. I couldn’t turn around without him being there. I began to regret my decision to let this happen immediately.
It didn’t take me long to reach my boiling point. It was the middle of the night and I was lying awake, staring at the glass of water on my bedside table, contemplating taking a drink from it. I didn’t want to move and wake up Rossannah who slept so lightly that even if my body would shift slightly in my sleep it would wake her up in concerned grogginess. Tonight she had her arm around me as an added bonus to the possibility that she would wake up the second that I moved.
I heard footsteps in the hall that stopped at our bedroom door. I heard the creak of the hinges as it opened and light flooded the room. The king stood there staring down at me as if what he was doing was not in the least bit out of the ordinary.
“What are you doing in here?” I screamed as I got up to my feet. “Get out!”
“I’m sorry,” he apologized, “I was just checking on you. I do it every night. Usually you are sleeping. I thought if you needed anything I could get it for you.”
“Rossannah will get me anything I need,” I yelled pointing at her. She was now sitting upright in bed with a look of horrified confusion on her face. “I do not need you checking on me.”
The king turned around and hurried away. I turned back to the bed, but couldn’t bring myself to lie back down. I walked across the room and sat down in the chair and wondered how many times he had been in my room.
“You need to sleep,” Rossannah yawned and threw the covers off of her. She came over to me and coerced me to stand up and come back to the bed.
“Soon, we won’t be able to sleep,” Rossannah smiled as we stared at each other in the dark. “Let’s take advantage of it now.”
I reached out for her hand and we fell asleep, but it was an uneasy one for me. I couldn’t get past the realization that the king had known that Rossannah and I were sharing a room, and a bed. It followed me into my sleep as dreams painted all kinds of scenarios as to how this could come back to haunt me.
Over the next few nights I woke up sporadically. My body seemed to be trying to catch the king in the act once again. I sometimes heard his footsteps in the hall. They would stop beside my door for a moment or two, but the door never opened again. Instead they just walked away in the other direction as quickly as they had come. Throughout my pregnancy these sounds would wake me up, but I became used to them.
Then one night, I welcomed that sound. I was at the end of my pregnancy and Rossannah had spent the night with her father because he was on his deathbed. I was alone when the pains started. For two hours I laid in bed, unable to move as the pain came in waves, and so tired in between that I would fall into a deep sleep. Then they started to come closer together and I didn’t know what to do. I screamed out for Shyla to come and help me, but she either didn’t hear or wasn’t in bed yet.
Then the familiar footsteps came and landed behind my door. I cried out. He knocked on the door first and I invited him in. It was another one of those times where the situation called for the unsettling trust between us and he ran off to find someone to help me with my labor.
Shyla was at my side moments later, stroking my hair and speaking to me soothingly. Rossannah appeared minutes after that. The time came for me to push and Shyla caught the baby girl as I clenched Rossannah’s hand. She was dark like I was, but when she opened her eyes they mirrored the emerald in the king’s and Rossannah’s.
Then the labor pains began again and I gave birth to a second child. I did not see him right away and I heard Shyla gasp as she saw him. I asked her what was wrong and she looked at me with joyful tears.
“I hoped it was true,” she laughed, “this entire time I guarded myself in case it wasn’t really you. Now I know that it is.” She held my son up to show me. My blonde, white son with the lion-shaped strawberry birthmark across his face: a genetic trait of the royal family.
After a few moments alone with Rossannah, Shyla, and my newborn children, the king was invited to come and see the babies. He could have said a million things about them, but what he chose to say was the least of what any of us thought that he would.
“Which one was born first?” he demanded hurriedly.
“The girl,” Shyla informed him.
“We should tell people that it was the boy,” he addressed me, “The boy with the birth mark of the first king. He should be the next ruler.”
I was aware of the rules of first birth in the kingdom and considered this. I had foolishly assumed in the few moments that I had alone with them that they would be given equal station. I looked at the children symbolically and realized that one of them would have a great amount of freedom while the other would be trained to be a great ruler and decided that I would most like the girl to be free. She embodied most what I was. I agreed to the lie.
I named the boy Prince. It was a way for me to redeem myself from the lie and to expose him for what he was and should be forever. Even when he became the king one day, he would forever walk around with that name, hopefully keeping him humble long after I was no longer around to remind him of the truth. The girl I named True. I had robbed her of her position, but gave her a title to show that she was the true ruler of the land.
After the birth of my children, I noticed a difference in the amount of warmth that Shyla presented toward me. I no longer found her mechanical and distant. She was also a tremendous help with the babies. She told me that it was because they were symbolic on what she had missed out on and she was happy to have a small part in their lives.
As the children grew, we knew that we had made the right decision about the boy being the next leader. He was laid back and methodical, a perfect candidate for a student. The girl, however, was more like me. She was hard to control and spontaneous. The only person that could seem to rein her in at all was Rossannah. She was just like me.