From the moment The Ex-Guardian saw The Mighty Queen sitting on the front porch, she’d known that she’d been dreaming. She was back in The Isolated Castle, instead of the rented room she was in.
The mass, global exile caused by the pandemic could drive her mind insane sometimes.
The scene reminded The Ex-Guardian of the familiar Sunday mornings back then. Sitting with The Mighty Queen on the front porch of The Isolated Castle, with two cups of steaming coffee. Sunday newspapers in her hand, because she’d always wanted to finish the crossword puzzles. Yet, she never sent her answers away, not even for the most interesting prizes possible.
“It’s just for fun,” she once told The Ex-Guardian lightly. “My personal source of entertainment.”
Meanwhile, The Ex-Guardian was always there, sometimes with a book to read or her notebook and writing kit.
Only this time, they both were sitting face-to-face. The Mighty Queen had looked so concerned. She reached out for The Ex-Guardian’s hand on the table. The Ex-Guardian stiffened, a bit taken aback.
Wait, she thought. What’s going on here?
“How are you?” The Mighty Queen started with a smile. However, there was something sad in her eyes. “It’s been a while.”
“I know.” The Ex-Guardian held her hand on the table. She smiled sheepishly, feeling her familiar warmth. “Sorry, you know why I can’t always come home these days.”
“I know, but you know you can always call,” The Mighty Queen insisted. The Ex-Guardian shook her head.
“I’d rather not burden you anymore,” she reasoned. “Besides, it’s supposed to be my turn now to take care of you.”
“That doesn’t mean you can’t talk to me.”
“We don’t have this kind of conversation,” The Ex-Guardian reminded The Mighty Queen. She smiled sadly before the old woman. “We never do this in real life.”
“Correction,” The Mighty Queen disagreed. “You used to do this when you were a child. You didn’t use to be afraid to say anything to me.”
That was long before reality, Ma, The Ex-Guardian had wanted to snap. However, as usual, she didn’t have the heart. Instead, she said: “It’s different now. I’m not a child anymore.”
“But you’ll always be mine.”
“I know I am.” The Ex-Guardian smiled a little. “Still, let’s not forget that we never have this kind of conversation in real life – at least not anymore. You also know that it’s not just me. It’s you too.”
Silence. The Mighty Queen looked really sad now. What could she have done? It was nothing but the whole truth.
The Mighty Queen had been used to The Ex-Guardian being independent, self-sufficient. The Ex-Guardian was never like The First Princess. It wasn’t mockery, just a state of fact.
“I am very sorry, my dear child,” at last, the old lady before her whispered sadly. “I’ve never meant to push you away.”
“I know.” The Ex-Guardian smiled back, sheepishly now. “You’ve been tired too. I don’t want to be your additional source of stress.”
“Too late for that.” The Mighty Queen smiled again. “Very well then. While we’re still here before you wake up, you can talk to me.”
The Ex-Guardian sighed deeply. Here we go again. She couldn’t remember the last time her mother had been that pushy.
“Okay,” she finally relented. Taking her mother’s hands in hers, The Ex-Guardian stared at her. “I’m not sure I’ll ever allow myself to fall in love again. In fact, I don’t think I even want to.”
The Mighty Queen sighed deeply. From the look on her face, The Ex-Guardian had sort of expected both disappointment and disapproval.
Still, The Mighty Queen asked: “Why?”
“I don’t want to fall, although I don’t mind love.” It was the most brutally honest confession The Ex-Guardian had ever said to her own mother since she couldn’t remember when. “I’m sick of the same damn result. I’m also sick of people telling me that I shouldn’t be all alone like this. I’ve been so good at being alone, even when it’s not always pleasant. But I’m not going to beg people to stay. I know it’s impossible for any of us to stay for anyone for always.”
To her surprise, The Mighty Queen smiled again – this time earnestly. More warmth flowed from her grip right into her hands.
“You know I only want what’s best for you,” she said softly. “You’ve always known what you want. You’re different. You’ll know when he’s the right one for you.”
The Ex-Guardian sighed deeply…this time with relief. Some time ago, back when The Great King was still alive and well, she’d heard the same thing too from him.
The Ex-Guardian had wanted to hug The Mighty Queen…
…but then she woke up alone in her room again.