Deep within the vacant snow covered forest, her carriage and horses awaits her fateful arrival. The carriage sits atop a peak, ice clings to every inch of the golden and white tear drop. The horses appear to be standing alert but they do not move nor breathe. Their jeweled headdress sparkles with the frozen crystal coating them.
Today though, the right horse gives movement. His red eyes make erratic movements back and forth, searching. He knows only she can unlock the whine that harbors deep between his ribs. He also knows his patience will soon be reward. So he searches the frozen world around him.
Long ago, snow and ice blanketed the forest taking the forest from sunny liveliness to freezing silence. The only warning they received was a shot of lightening and roar of thunder. Then she along with Love went into deathly hibernation.
But there is bite in the air now, there is anticipation. The humidity spikes and soon fog begins to form. Down below the peak, a small valley sits and inside the valley is a graveyard. The fog sweeps down where it starts to collect in the gravesite.
Once the magical fog touches the cryptic land, the ground starts to jostle. Everything in the forest shakes and quakes down to Earth’s core, disturbing those who try to rest in peace. The beautiful gravesite turns into smattering of broken vases and the many red and pink rose petals cover the area.
Only one thing remains undisturbed. There is a glass sitting atop her tombstone. Inside the glass there is a dead rose submerged in glittering water. Through the quakes it remained steady on her tombstone. Once the earthquakes cease, color started to build into the rose until it shines a deep red.
The forest pauses then up on the forest there is an explosion. Soon following the explosion whines of horses boomerangs through the air.
Another rumble turns into another earthquake. Except the quakes only effect the gravesite and seem to be coming deep down below. The quakes are so violent it splits the earthy grave down the middle.
The quakes finish leaving a little gaping crack below her grave. Blood red claws reaches from the core of the earth out. When her long nails pull at the earth at unnatural speeds it comes crumbling to dirt pieces and the crack grows. As suddenly as the hands began, they stop leaving a globe shaped hole.
A black as night eye peers from the hole before it disappears. A growl begins softly then louder until her anger is heard all around.
All at once the earth detonates and roses and dirt fly into the air along with her.
The Queen of Hearts floats several feet in the air clutching her heart jeweled scepter. Her long black tulle skirt opens up like wings at her side before her feet connects to the soft ground.
Dirt clumps falls from her long curly ebony hair; dirt streaks attempt to blend into the deep brown color of her face. The earth clings to her heart shaped corset and her red and pink jeweled crown.
She is unsteady on her feet. Her eyes squint as the sun finally graces the forest and sweeps away the fog. She take an unsteady step forward.
Someone has called her from her slumber. A slumber she didn’t remember how it came to be. She growls, tracking left and right looking for the guilty enemy. She needs to find out what happened.
And where was Love?
The thought becomes a mantra playing through her head over and over.
Where is Love?
She couldn’t remember a time when they were separate. Her heartbeat his and vice versa. Without him near her heart feels different.
An inch starts to burn at her chest. With a painful gasp she grabs her chest as pain slams into her. The scepter falls to the ground and rolls until it comes to a stop at the tombstone across from hers.
She shuffles after it and when she tries to touch it pain rolls through her heart. But wait? She limps to the tombstone her ears alert. She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath through pain. A heartbeat. She can her a heartbeat. When she opens her eyes, her vision is blurry and the tombstone in front of her comes in and out of focus. She runs a gloved hand over her eyes before focusing again.
Herein lies Love.
Love is dead?! He can’t be! She screams a sound of raw unaltered pain but remembers she heard the heartbeat. She drops to her knees and begins to claw the earth. The earth doesn’t split fast enough for her. So on unsteady legs she stands with the scepter in her hand.
It feels warm in her palms and continues to heat as she raises it in the air. With a banshee scream she slams the scepter into the ground.
Awakening the earthquake again. Through the rumbles the dirt around Love’s tomb ruptures. Many hands followed by arms, head and finally bodies begin to raise from the grave.
Men and women make their way to her. They are all wearing armor and a red heart etched into the metal.
There are about ten of them. They stand with glazed eyes waiting for command.
“Bring me Love.” The Queen of Hearts rasps then steps back to watch as they rush forward.
They gain more ground in minutes than she could have ever done. When they step back she runs forward and see him. Love. His beautiful long black hair is braided into two braids at his sides and he is wearing his crown. He is lying still taking shallow breaths. His pale face is still and it pains her heart to see her lover this way. She places a swift kiss upon his cool blue lips.
There is a heart charm hanging from his crown and it’s not glowing. Empty.
She knows what will help her sleeping beauty. At her command Love’s army carries him and they follow her up to the forest. The horses’ whinnies get louder until the Queen spots them.
Alive and well and with her carriage. She greets them and they give her sweet horse kisses.
The army places Love into the carriage, wrapping him in the wool blankets found inside. Once they have him settled they gather the remaining fabrics and her things.
She stands still as they dress her in boots and gives her a double breasted militant navy coat that sweeps the ground. They fluff out her curls before placing the crown on her head.
In her hands they place a tiny satchel. In the red satin satchel are little rose quartz heart. She places her hands inside and grab four and reads the scripted stone. Love Thyself, Love Thy Lust, love Thy Nature and Love Thy Animals.
There are five remaining stones. For now, she plants into the cold ground those four stones. A door materializes in front of her and looking beyond the first door they are three more.
Time to for Love to return. She places the hood onto her and enters the first door.
Quanisha A. McGruder