A GIFT • by Bosley Gravel

“Figs, my favorite.”

“We harvested in the wilds, my Queen, as you requested. Have one.”

“Soft, but yielding, a sweet scent, ripe and blameless as the sands.”

“Then taste, my lady.”

“Rich as honey, each bite a twitch of pleasure, each nibble a tiny death. But there was more I asked for.”

“Indeed, we are your humble servants, to follow your command is our only wish. We sent the most diligent of your maids to collect the choicest of figs, unspoiled by the ants and the locusts. Each fig bathed in cold water and dried as lovingly as we dry the Queen herself.”

“And my male servants?”

“They searched, my lady, around the grasses by the river, in the shade of the palm trees. They found beetles shining blue and silver, like hoarded treasure. They found dates firm and ripe, they found golden apples hanging in the orchard.”

“But did they find the asp?”

“Indeed, my Queen. It sleeps under the figs, enchanted by your royal seer. It was found in the noonday sun, curled tightly in sleep, horns like little thorns, throat broad as a sword.”

“Another fig, then. See the pinkness in the center, supple and slick as virgin lover? Will the asp wake from my greed?”

“Yes, my Queen, so says the seer.”

“Then I shall devour them all, one by one. Have I been a fair Queen? Am I beautiful? Will I be remembered? Describe my glory while I eat.”

“There has been no one so just, my Queen, so wise, and so beautiful. No other’s eyes can be darkened in such beauty, no one can shoulder such burdens and stand with such strength. Your body was surely sculpted by Ra himself; he blessed you with the glow of the very sun. They will sing your name for centuries, into immortality, into the unmaking of this world.”

“Your tongue wags as smoothly as the asp itself. Look how it stands, it knows I belong to it, and it to me. Look how it sways, tasting my breath, watching my eyes.”

“Yes, my Queen.”

“And see how it desires my breast, and see how it makes the faux-strike, how close it comes. Savoring my beauty.”

“Yes, my Queen.”

“Oh, but now it strikes.”

“Does it hurt my Queen?”

“No, only numbness as the poison bleeds across my breast. Only darkness, and finally long rest, good night — ”

“Look at her beauty, even in death. Straighten her crown, close her eyes. And look as the asp flees back to the wilds, drained and free from it burden. She’s left us a single fig as a final gift in the basket. Indeed, a gift, soft, but yielding, a sweet scent, ripe and blameless as the sands.”

Bosley Gravel was born in the Midwest, and came of age in Texas and southern New Mexico. He has worked numerous dead end jobs, and now makes a living working on computer networks and various related activities. He has been making up stories from an early age, and from time to time they end up on paper.

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Every Day Fiction