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The Gift

The Gift (A short story of hidden beauty, and the treasures we often give away) By Andrea johnson

He was a king surrounded by his harem. Women flocked all over to do his bidding. If he wanted it, he acquired it. If it pleased him, he approved it. They were all the same to him. Pretty little glasses he could polish and shine to his satisfaction, and then place on a shelf once he was done with it. Another trophy to add to his collection.

But she had a different purpose. Her intentions had been unlike the other women. She admired his physique, even his indifference to the way he treated everyone. But she wanted more.

She wanted to be his friend. Not his plaything. She wanted to hear him laugh and talk about his day. She wanted to show him the joy to his pain. To sit and battle wits that other people could not comprehend.

She wanted to be the answer to his hidden question. But she could not. He hid behind his harem, their skirts creating a curtain that only allowed others who were willing to wear those skirts, to enter.

She was repulsed. Disheartened.

“You cannot heal me. You cannot even touch me. I could not love someone such as you. Where are your skirts? Where is your offering to me? You come to me with nothing, you insult me, you peasant. Be gone from my powerful presence.” The king laughed at her. And dismissed her. He could not see the gifts she had brought to him.

“Look again, my king. Before you send me away. Look again at what I offer you. I will never wear skirts that twirl like umbrellas around your face. And I will never appear like one of your harem. Look again at what I offer you.”

But the king sneered at her audacity. He was angered by her seemingly stubborn demeanor.

“Remove her from my sight. If she is not one of many, she is not one at all.” The king took pleasure in the hurt that appeared on her face.

Finally the woman nodded. “No need to send for your guards, my king. I will leave you alone. You have made it clear that you do not want what I offer.” She turned to leave and the king shrugged. Turning back to his harem who fondled and petted him.

But as she was leaving, a man who appeared to have arrived with her came up to her. He pulled out a robe made of purple and glittering diamonds. He withdrew a crown of sparkling beauty. His face held a look of anger as he bowed before the woman.

“My queen, why did you insist coming here without your royalty? Why did you remove your crown and pretend to be like these hapless women? Why would you lower yourself as such?”

As she allowed the crown and robe to be placed back onto her shoulders and head, the queen stood up. The quiet in the ballroom was now deafening, as the King looked upon her with shock. Her eyes were sad as she looked back at him. But finally turned away.

“I wanted him to see the gift I offered. Not my riches and wealth and titles. A queen never bows before anyone. But if he had loved me, I would have given the gift of my surrender.”

The queen and her guard then left the king’s castle. And no matter how long he searched for her, the king never found her again.


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