On the shores of the Isle of Portmanteau, with a clear view of both mainland Ether Balm and the flat slab of Blarney Bluff, Princess Esmé held four wound cords of wonder wire. One in each hand, one balanced atop each shoulder. The weight bit into her flesh and threatened to buckle her knees. But she could not, would not, succumb.
Minutes before, Darby, pompous squire of Blarney Bluff, had dared her to swim the distance back to the mainland, unfurling the cords, setting down a wonder wire link as only men had done before. Earlier still, as the sun set, ending the annual seven-day feast of Sultana, where he was to have taken her as his bride, he’d denounced Esmé in front of the gathered clans.
“No woman of brown braids and muscled arms will ever set by my side.”
“I’ll do you one better,” she’d boasted, lungs puffed with pricked pride, blood warmed with pineapple rum. “I’ll claim the conjoined kingdom in my own name.”
The foppish courtiers and their pale princesses had laughed at her expense.
Now, under gray skies, resolve like steel in her strong biceps and thighs, Esmé turned to the sea.
Darby snatched hold of one end of the wire. As he prepared to yank it from her grasp, his palm was seared by the wisdom in the wire. There was no denying the pulse of this woman’s power, the inevitable bend in the history of their peoples. He saw it too, as a moving scroll behind his eyes. Esmé and her descendents, an epoch of peace and plenty. Before the re-birthed sun slipped into the sea beyond Blarney Bluff, the new order would begin.
Darby let loose the wire. He sunk to his knees in the prickly sand grass.
“My Queen,” he said. “To peace between our people.”
“To peace,” she said, stepping into the marbled waters of Columbine Bay.
“Long live the Queen,” came the shout from the hundreds gathered on the shore.
And she did. For as many suns and moons as there are crabs wandering the ocean’s floor, following the wonder wires, a sinewy web that connects the disparate tribes of the Greater Outré Islands with the mainland, and one another.
So say the Books of Yore and Yon, written in squid ink and tucked away in the landlocked caves beneath Blarney Bluff.
And who are we to say it isn’t so.
Dorothy Rice is the author of The Reluctant Artist, a memoir and art book about her father, Joe Rice (1918 – 2011), She has recent and upcoming work in Longridge Review, Proximity and Minerva Rising, among others. You can find her at www.dorothyriceauthor.com and on twitter at @dorothyrowena.