Contains reference to incest
“You have no idea how hard it is to live out a great romance.” – Wallis Simpson
I behold, propped on my forearm, his chest rising and falling. He is my husband, this man asleep beside me, and I love him all right. But he’s just a man, not the king he once was.
He liked being commanded, malleable and trembling, liked eating out of my hand. Liked eating me out.
I knew the court would never accept the twice-divorced me. So we had great, scandalous fun, but by the time they demanded I give him up, I’d had enough.
Then he abdicated, surprising everyone. Supposedly, for me.
Only I never asked for his grand gesture’s shackles.
Regina Gravida Mori
Since I fell pregnant, Queen Anne has appeared in my dreams.
I wouldn’t begrudge her wishing me ill, yet she gazes upon me with tenderness instead. Little Elizabeth sits at Anne’s feet when Henry appears—my Henry, a boisterous mountain—and embraces them both.
Tonight, Anne is in labor. She gives birth to a boy, although she never had one while she lived. Midwives whisk the child away, then guards take Anne outside. She wears my nightshirt, bloodied.
An axe glistens and Anne’s head rolls into the grass.
I wake up to my insides rupturing, making way for Henry’s heir.
Tiger Nut Sweets
I am Iah, the Moon. King’s Daughter. Beloved King’s Mother.
For my brother and husband—the now-dead man who was briefly King—I bore two children, my only true loves, both sweeter than tiger nut sweets.
You are Neferu, the Beauty. King’s Daughter. And mine.
Tomorrow you marry your brother, our new King. At night, when he looks at you with the ember eyes of a stranger, your wedding dress sliding off like the cool waters of Nile, know that the moonlight on your skin is me sending you comfort, praying your daughter never has to become her brother’s wife.
Maura Yzmore is a writer and scientist based in the American Midwest. Her literary short fiction can be found in Jellyfish Review, Gone Lawn, Ellipsis Zine, Bending Genres, and elsewhere. Website: maurayzmore.com Twitter: @MauraYzmore.