Ever since I was little, I knew the crown came with sacrifice. Even so, in the spring I turned eighteen, I met a girl in our court who loved Lady Guinevere as much as I did. My sweet Primavera. Like her name indicated, she was as fragrant as the April breeze.

The day I married to make peace with our enemies, however, Primavera hanged herself. Even before that, becoming queen had been the last thing I wanted. I tried, in vain, to spare my daughter the same fate, but my womb withered.

Two guards drag my husband to the blood-caked execution block and force him to kneel. The masked executioner raises her ax high in the air.

“Halt!” My voice echoes through the chamber. Despite having witnessed countless executions since my coronation, I fight to keep myself composed.

“Henri, do you wish to say anything before you die?” I hate the tremor in my voice.

“You’re a nightmare dressed like a daydream,” he says through gritted teeth.

“I believe gratitude is due.” My lips tremble. “I searched all over the kingdom for an excellent executioner.” Little did I know she’d always been with me. “It takes skill to sever heads with one clean swing.”

I take a step forward and touch the executioner’s shoulder. She brings down her blade, severing Henri’s head. His blood splashes like falling petals before ebbing to a trickle.

I force myself to stare ahead. My daughter removes her mask.

“Are you alright, Mother?”

I nod. “Yes, Primavera.” More than ever, she resembles her namesake.

A draft blows through a caged window, and the scent of petrichor fills my nose.

Toshiya Kamei is an Asian writer who takes inspiration from fairy tales, folklore, and mythology. They attempt to reimagine the past, present, and future while shifting between various perspectives and points of view. Many of their characters are outsiders living on the margins of society.

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Every Day Fiction