Listen to Rednex “Cotton Eye Joe”.
“Do you remember when we first met?”, she was sitting beneath empress’ legs, touching inner part of her right foot. Empress was laying on her tummy and wasn’t reacting to the touches so she continued.
“You were 16. So was I. It was raining that night, nature was raging for a reason unknown to us. You had been riding and hunting with your father for several days. Your dad decided you deserved to sleep under a solid roof that night so you two sought cover in an Inn you came across.
It was a dirty place, that Inn, full of diverse men. My father called them unpleasant but you found them very amusing. Loud men seemed to be alpha males only on the surface, because they surrounded themselves by calm men. The truth is, they were so drunk and mentally unstable that only calm men knew how to handle them. A few years later I learnt you were right about that. Anyway, you were dressed like a boy. I remember you telling me that your father doesn’t mind you dressing like that when you are hunting and you felt much safer pretending to be a boy.
That Inn was so full that there were no rooms left for you two to sleep in. You saw me there, sitting next to my father. Your father sat next to us and immediately started a conversation with my dad. Soon enough, formal conversation turned into warm conversation and within an hour, your father arranged for you to sleep in my room. Our fathers decided to sleep in the stables but they got so drunk that the next morning we found them sleeping where we left them.”
Her hand was now playing with empress’ lower leg. Going up to the knee and then back to her foot.
“We talked a lot that evening. God, I was blinded by the light of your mind and so grateful you are allowing me to have a glimpse of it. When the time was right, you took me by the hand and took me to our room. I took off my dress and you noticed a pale red stain on my undergarment, I was embarrassed. That storm slowed us down, we were supposed to be home by then. I had no fresh patched pads. You made some joke about it and told me about your embarrassing moments. That calmed me down. You were good at calming people down. You were also good at fixing problems. You passed me a towel and demanded that I hand you my pad. Then you washed the fresh blood off it by immersing it in your washbowl. You were very thorough in doing that. You couldn’t do much without a proper soap but you were immersing and squeezing that pad until there was no fresh blood in it. While you were doing all this, you were talking to me, trying to find out who I am. I remember you kept interrupting me saying – That is not you, that is what other people expect you to be. Try again. – When you finished washing my pad, you put it aside and washed your hands in my washbowl.”
Woman stopped for a moment, not sure if she should continue. She cleared her throat,
“When you came to me, I was wondering why you came so close. You were standing like that for a few moments, then you put your right hand on my lower back and pulled me closer. Did you notice how my breathing changed? All I could think about was your hand on my lower back. My eyes met yours and you smiled to me. Slowly you put your left hand on my cheek. That hand slid to the back of my neck. At that moment, I wanted to feel your lips on mine but you were a huntress and you knew how to prey. You took your time, were very gentle and, I mean, the fact I had a period didn’t even bother you. I was confused at the beginning, didn’t know what to do. Whenever you felt my insecurity, you somehow knew what to do to make it go away. You were my first, you know…my first kiss…and…you know…”
Empress smiled, “Yes, I know. I enjoyed it as much as you did.”
“You girl have a diverse taste for men and women. I mean, you ended up married to the emperor.”, she smiled too and patted her heel, “What did they do to you, my dear? I barely recognized you. If there wasn’t for the beauty mark on inner part of your right heel, you would end up at the chief doctor. He stitched you up and I managed to persuade him to hand you over to me.”
“I counted on you remembering and recognizing my beauty mark. Are you still a nurse here? Didn’t they accept your knowledge and skills?”
“No, it is hard for men here to surpass their egos.”, she changed the subject, “I had to restitch you, chief doctor is such a bad surgeon. Your wounds are healing up nicely, your wrist scars should be barely visible. How are you feeling? Are you up for a run? “
“Sure thing, I could use a good run!”
“Good, because you will have to run tonight. I will help you escape through the window.”
“No, this will put you in a great danger. Besides, there is only one window here and we are on the second floor. If I jump down on those cliffs, I wont survive.”
“I wont be in any danger. I am on a sick leave today and I sneaked in here. Nobody saw me.”
“Shhhhh, yes, I knoooow, there is always a possibility someone saw me. Not this time though, I used personnel entrance and I am wearing a doctor’s uniform. This is why my hair is in a bun under the hat.”
“Yes, I was wondering about that.”
“Back to the chase, this bed sheet is long enough for you to get to the first floor. After that you will have to jump. It is a bit risky but I remember you as a nimble person, you will be fine. When you land, just jump into the river and swim up the river for as long as you can.”
Empress frowned, “They will hunt me down, I am too weak to swim for too long.”
“They wont track you. I will drop a body of a woman similar to you as soon as I see you land safely.”
“You didn’t kill anyone I hope! I cannot allow innocent people dying because of me!”
“No, this is a body of a whore. She got whipped by some customer and her tight-fisted boss didn’t want to pay for the doctor to heal her wounds. Her wounds infected and she died in pain. He called me to help him get rid of the body. I wouldn’t normally do that but I knew you were here and I was waiting for some body to come up. I stitched her back, made cuts on her wrists and stitched them too. I cut her hair to look like yours and smashed her face. You, my dear, will officially die on those cliffs. River will take you downstream and eventually somebody will find your body.”
“A body of a whore for an empress. Kind of poetic, don’t you think? Which brothel was she working in?”
“Red rose, near the dock. The loudest bunch of sailors in the country.”
Empress was on her feet. Night came and she was opening the window. “All right now, tell me again, where am I?”
“Remember the castle of your captor?”
“Well, we are 2 km south from there. Once you pass the bridge, try to get out of the water. I wanted to put some dry clothes there for you but I couldn’t risk being seen there so, unfortunately, you are on your own from now on.”
“I have been on my own for almost two decades, don’t you worry about me.”
Empress was ready to get out when she noticed the woman staring at her. She came to her and hugged her,
“Thank you for this, I hope I will be able to repay you.”
“Don’t bother…we are now even.”
Empress kissed her cheek and whispered, “I know you want me to kiss you. I am sorry but I can’t. Maybe next time…”
Descending down the sheet was very hard, her wrists were still weak. Thankfully, her legs remembered how to land properly and her mind knew the shape of the cliffs so at least that part went well. She looked up to the window, her girl was still there, leaning through the window to see if she was OK. She waved her goodbye even thought she knew her girl can’t see it.
“No period, no kiss”, she muttered and soundlessly entered the river.