READER SUGGESTION “One Foot” by Walk the Moon
Once upon a time, in a distant desert, there lived a queen without a kingdom. She lived in a big castle with beautiful tapestries and incredible statues but no subjects. And no friends.
For years, she wandered her castle, enjoying the sumptuous foods and finest clothes that anyone could. It was a life filled with the kind of luxuries most only dream of. But it was empty. And it was lonely. Terribly, terribly lonely.
One day, the queen grew tired of being royalty. Of being a queen of nothing.
And so she packed a bag, traded her crown and cape for something more rugged, and set off on the road. She had no direction in mind and no idea what to do when she got there. She only knew she had to go.
Out of the desert she traveled, one step at a time. Over the hills, then hiked the mountains. She forded the river and traveled through the forest.
She saw villages. She saw towns. She even saw cities. And still she walked. She declined donkeys, she declined horses. Once, she even refused a ride from a friendly dragon named Gallant. She thanked them all but explained she need do this all on her own. Until she found where she needed to be, she had to walk, one step at a time.
She had been walking so long when she came to the town of Doonfalls then she could not remember when she began. When she arrived, she was greeted with smiles and invitations for dinner. She smiled in return and accepted an invitation or two. Nonetheless, she made it clear after a day or so, she really must be moving on.
Then, on the evening before she was to return to the path, she say in a local tavern enjoying a mug of mead and a bowl of stew. A young barmaid, perhaps 3 years the Queen’s junior, asked if the Queen minded if she sat with her to eat her dinner. The tavern was unusually full and she hated to eat in the kitchen. The Queen, kind to a fault, nodded her head. And so the barmaid sat.
After a few minutes, the barmaid, who loathed silence, asked the Queen how she was.
The Queen reacted with surprise. Stunned, she asked the barmaid to repeat herself. Once more, the barmaid asked how she was. And the Queen answered. Slowly at first. Then at length.
She told the tale of being a Queen of nothing, of having it all but being so alone. Of the castle and the desert. Of her journey. Of all she saw, of all she smelled, of all she heard, of she touched, and of all she tasted. She spoke of the people she met and the conversations they had. And then Queen realized, until now, in all her time walking, the barmaid was the only one who had asked her how she was.
And so the Queen returned the favor. The barmaid spoke of rough customers, of long hours, of bosses who treated her less as an employee and more as a slave.
By the end of the evening, they realized what they needed to do. And so the Queen and the Barmaid traveled back from where the Queen had come. Vising the cities, the towns, the villages. Through the forest. Fording the river. Hiking the mountains. Going over the hills. Back into the desert. All the way, they spread the word. Of a new kingdom, open to all. Of a place for them all to be themselves. Of a place where a Queen or a Barmaid, or a kind dragon, or just a regular old citizen could feel safe and comfortable and cared for.
When the Queen and the Barmaid arrived back at the Castle, they saw to it that it was taken apart piece by piece. That the finery was sold and the gems, gold, and building supplies from the deconstructed castle were put to use to build a town full of homes, and shops, and taverns. The Barmaid and the Queen moved into the first home. And opened the first tavern. And welcomed each and every new resident who came. And while the desert remained a desert, soon it teamed with life. She was no longer a Queen of Nothing, no longer a Queen at all, really. But she had the Barmaid. She had the tavern. She had friends and neighbors. She had a life. And she lived, all the rest of her days, mostly happily ever after.