The Queen of Hearts
The Queen of Hearts was a delicate creature.
She wasn’t arrestingly beautiful like the Queen of Diamonds, or the Queen of Clubs; she didn’t have that quality that inexplicably draws the eye the way the Queen of Spades had. She was pretty in a quiet, unobtrusive sort of a way, in a way that you could almost miss if you weren’t looking for it. She was a chameleon of sorts, fading into the shadows, weaving her silence around her as armour.
She was the girl he shouldn’t have met, having gone reluctantly to a friend’s engagement party, unwilling to see that happiness and compare it to his own lonely existence. Still traumatised and in pieces since that night with the hammer. The last thing he wanted was company, noise, conviviality. And the Queen of Hearts: it was the last thing she ever wanted. As far as she was concerned there was pain beneath the laughter, roomfuls of people who were crying on the inside even as they were laughing too hard and too earnestly. Their gaiety was an increasingly desperate search for a way OUT. She hated knowing that. And yet. Her friend was getting married. She had to attend.
When Gordon saw her first, his instinct was to feel sorry for her, to sense that she was out of place here. His second instinct was to sense a refuge in her: she was safe, she was one woman he could be almost 100% sure would never try to beat him with a hammer, would never launch into the tirade that’d accompanied the attack. He was in pieces: he admitted that much to himself.
The Queen of Hearts blushed when he introduced himself to her.
“Melody,” she whispered in response.
“Prospective bride or groom?” He was keeping it light and chatty.
“Who are… you with? Jen or Tony?”
“Oh, Jen. I’ve known Jen since high school.”
“Tony. I’ve known him a couple of years. But he’s solid. You don’t need to worry about Jen. She’s landed on her feet with that one.”
She smiled. “Oh, it’s all right. She’ll always land on her feet. Like a ballerina. She has grace – in life I mean, in navigating life – she has that way about her. You know she’ll be fine.”
The Queen of Hearts was the opposite of that. All vulnerability. And at first he imagined that that was what he had with her. A woman he could protect; one he could love completely unarmed. He imagined she was undemanding.
But the Queen of Hearts was a philanthropist too. She picked up the pieces of him without him even knowing it. He never saw her sweeping them up, or sitting on a stool in front of a craft table gluing them all back together. When he reached inside himself and felt his heart, he was surprised to find in repaired. He was surprised to find in bigger and stronger and better. She was more than the better woman – the truth of it crept up on him – she was the one who made him better, she teased out his stronger parts, his compassion, his willingness to give. She did it so gently he hadn’t even felt it.
He’d thought she was weak, but it wasn’t like that. She was his strength, and he was hers. That was her gift: to weave herself in and out of him, to bind the two of them in a multi-coloured pattern, to need him unashamedly, and respond instinctively to his needs, meeting them before he even felt them.
When he knew that, he knew he’d drawn the right card.
The path ahead was clear. He watched her as she made toast in the morning, buttering one for him and one for her. She took the orange juice he poured for her, tilted her head to receive a kiss. He noted his own fascination with the way she tucked her butter-blond hair behind her ear.
On the way home that night, as it began snowing lightly, he stopped and bought a diamond to take home.
Picture credit/discredit: author's own work