Once upon a time, a Dark Knight abducts a beautiful Princess and carries her away to an enchanted garden, desperate to win her hand. He’s absolutely convinced that only the love of a good woman can save his poor, woebegotten soul.
Ha! What a tired cliché! Unfortunately for the Knight, the Princess is far from a helpless damsel in distress or easily beguiled maiden, and as the Knight attempts to woo her, she in turn, works her own agenda.
Thy Secrets Should Be Sung is a novella about love, past trauma, and identity. It ran February – August 2020.
And so our tale comes to an end, in so far as stories ever end. SECRETS was originally written for the 2012 National Novel Writing Month. It then spent several years in editing, and then several more years languishing on my hard drive. After the modest success of Nin the Seeker (available to read on…
The Knight felt sick; his stomach quaked, his head swam—he blinked and blinked again but could not clear his eyes. He leaned against the trunk of a naked tree and waited. His mind was a war, filled with seemingly innumerable thoughts and feelings, all conflicting.
He raised his lantern to the night air. The forest was empty—only the bare skeletons of branch and bough remained, naked to the wind. Dead leaves littered the ground, paper thin and limp. The color had gone out of them, victims of the damp.
He had taken the little red table from the summer house—the one with the folding legs—and had set it up by the shore. The lake was calm, so he placed the table in the shallows, working the legs into the sand for support. Here they sat, the water lapping at their feet, lilac petals drifting…
The sound of leaves echoed in his ear. With every step and stride they crunched beneath his heel, with every gust of wind they rustled, shaken from their trees.
She sat under the sacred fig tree. The clouds drifted lazily above, the butterflies danced, a solitary ant crept across the lacquer face of the Princess’s birdhouse.
She took his hand in hers and led him up the garden path. “I had persuaded the Prince to give up the fight, if but for a day,” the Knight said to her, “but a Prince is a tenacious thing, and I knew his wish for a Princess-bride had not diminished.”
It was more than a week before she saw the Knight again, although she had no doubt of his inevitable return.
He’d kept watch for the past three days, but there had been no sign of the Prince or his woeful sister. The forest of the world was empty once again. Had they abandoned their quest?
He wore a regal sash, his clothes were pressed and prim. His shoes were spotless, as was his traveling cloak. He carried himself with pride, with wide shoulders and a long stride. A golden sword was clasped to his side. Chest-proud and tall: the raven-haired Prince.
He lay on the grass. His head was pounding, his temples throbbed, the cool of the evening brought him no comfort. “I am troubled,” he said, “and beset by miseries.”
All along the lake wildflowers bloomed, in white and gold and red—their roots crept down between the rocks on the southern shore, they gathered thick along the marsh, they grew amongst the tall grass, where always the sounds of bees could be heard.
One day there was a terrific storm, like the deluges of old. No amount of magic could hold back the downpour, and so a heavy rain fell upon the garden and soaked the Knight and Princess, both.
By his count it had been two weeks—two weeks since he’d last slept, two weeks since he’d bathed, two weeks since he’d eaten anything more than a passing morsel. Now he stumbled home, his breath caught in his throat, his legs like iron. A terrible languor had seized him.
The Knight stared out the window at the sun as it blazed away in a cloudless sky. It baked the grapes as they ripened on their vines, it shimmered and shined on the surface of the lake, it forced the swans to the north bank, where they pruned and fussed under the shadow of the…
A fat frog sat on a lilypad, sunning itself in the morning air. It kept a watchful eye on the swans as they gathered by the rocks where the bulrush grew. It watched the dragonflies as they danced beneath the willow trees. It watched the fish as they swam in the lake.
The day-lilies stretched and opened with the day. All along the bank of the knoll they bloomed, from foot to crest and all the places in between. Only a small stone footpath offered passage up the hill.
One morning, the Knight brought the Princess a present, a marvelous wooden box. No more than a foot square and perhaps ten inches deep, lacquered a dark and rich brown, clasped with ornate brass, emblazoned with intricate imagery: boars and oxen, bears and lions.
He pushed aside a fern and made his way downhill. The brush was thick here. Blessed by eternal spring, the thicket had grown tall and wild. Lichen, moss; branches bristled with buds, life sprouted from every corner, from every rocky crevice.