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The story of A Girl and Her King, joins the young protagonist as she grows in her commitment towards her good king. She is young and he is old. He teaches, her watches over her, protects her. He has taken her to the battlefield, the arena, and now asks her to find her place inside the calm environment of her old home, where challenges abound to test her dedication to him in even in the smallest matters. She does not yet know what form their love will take, if he will one day bring her to live with him in the palace, or request she stay in that quiet home forever. But willing to wait, she receives the lessons he has in store for her.

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Outside the wind blew. Walking out into Philothea caught her breath with delight. Her hair and dress jumped around in the wind, in front, behind, and she laughed.

Cloudy, windy, and gray—inside the palace it was a little darker, but there were beautiful things: roses, candles, light, and princesses with some coarse, radiant beauty inside them.

She walked along, outside balancing herself one foot in front of another, as on a balance beam. “With a little sadness” The king observed, walking out with her. “I love the way you follow your heart.” Philothea was surprised the king was speaking to her. He walked alongside, occasionally grabbing, holding her hand, ready if she should fall.

“I…follow my heart?” Philothea tried to tease his seriousness. “Remember, I left that piece back.” She tried to tease by attacking herself.

“So defensive. Don’t be afraid to soften up. You’re defensive.”

He leaned into her, and whispered, “You still gave me the little piece, and the whole thing yesterday.”

Sarcastically, Philothea responded sharply, “lot of good it did me.”

“You said you wouldn’t get mad!” Was the king hurt or was he joking? She could not tell. “Soften up,” he told her. She began to fall and he caught her around the waist.

She exhaled. He kept his arms around her waist. “Why do I get sad so often?” Philothea asked.

“You might ask the knight.”

“I did.”

“What did he say?”

“It’s because things go contrary to my will.”

“Do you have a remedy?”

“To forget my will—only not forget it, just not hold onto it, you know. I’m fine at first, but then I hold on and then I get anxious.”

“And what did he say about that?”

She pretended to scold herself, “that it’s very bad.” After a short pause, “Well,” she announced, “I am an imperfect heart full of sadness and moods and anger,” she kissed him on the cheek, “but you love me.”

“I do.”

“Then I want to love you back. Really, I’ve got my whole hand on the heart now. Then I want to love you. You. Both hands, all my heart.” She spread out her arms and held them to each side; palms opened, leaned in and kissed him. “You,” she said. “I don’t have to wait anymore.”

 

“It isn’t the gifts,” Philothea continued trying to find what would give her joy. “It’s something else.” She decided to try something new. The pot was still outside the gate where it rained and the wind blew hard. Either her little heart had blown away or it took the beating of those fierce water drops.

“I think I need a picture of you,” she told the king. “I’ll carry one. It will remind me as I work.”

“Okay, we’ll try this,” he responded. She chose a picture of him as a baby; even then subjects adored him as king.

Philothea thought, “It’s raining too hard to put anything out by the gate, but I have a couple things I want to leave there.”

“Then give them to me,” he offered. “I don’t mind the rain.”

She took from her jacket pockets a few items and placed them in his hands. She closed his hands over them and did not look.

“Don’t you want…?” He began. Did she want a last look? Did she want to hold onto these things?

Philothea peered in between his fingers and saw the little relationship she had put there. “It’s okay.” She told him. “I still have that piece with me.”

They saw the little redheaded girl walking in the palace. Philothea observed aloud, “look, a little girl.” She pointed. The little girl was walking in one of his hallways in the palace. The king smiled at the sight of her. “She looks like me, doesn’t she, my king?” Philothea asked.

“When you were younger…I think you were probably very similar, some differences.”

“She looks so urgent.”

“Yes, she does.”

“Have you talked to her?”

“Oh, quite a few times, but I like to be quiet. I like the things she says and she has so much love. It’s sometimes fun when she’s urgent. She’s urgent to love me.”

The girl said, sarcastically, “and one day you’ll do all the talking?”

“Softer, darling.”

“Yes, softer…”

“One day I’ll tell her some secrets, you know, the ones you’re so eager to hear.”

That little girl came up to her and they spoke briefly. When the girl left, she left singing a song. Philothea turned to the king. “Wow, she loves you an awful lot.”

The king smiled and put his arm around her. “Softly, be always softer.”

And they prayed.

 

“Maybe you should stay the night at the palace again.”

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