*The Horse I Rode in On

They chose a black stallion as the horse that I would ride in on to my death.

I had been called to aid the delivery of the first heir to the throne. I knew the moment I arrived that the child had died and I would need to expel the fetus from the Queen’s body. I also knew better than to announce the death as I would be called a “seer of evil” and blamed.

Cat’s claw, sage and willow bark simmered in a kettle. This brew would cause the Queen’s uterus to contract and push the little body through the birth canal. The herbs took affect and within the hour a limp, blue male child slipped from the Queen’s body into the midwife’s hands.

“A male.” The midwife swaddled and passed him to the physician. He was whisked from the room before the Queen could see her dead child. The bloodied sheets were removed and I was left to comfort the Queen.

“My son! Where is he?” the Queen cried.

“You must rest, Your Highness. Surely the physician will be back soon.” It wasn’t my place to tell the truth, although my heart ached for her.

A sudden burst of agony had the Queen doubled over in distress. I wiped her brow when the next wave of pain rolled through her.

“Call the physician. I can’t bear this!” the Queen wailed.

I ran to the door and told the guard to bring the physician. The Queen was sweating and grunting. With a primal scream, she arched forward and we were both shocked to hear a baby’s cry. She had delivered a healthy child.

I had saved the life of the dead child’s twin by moving his body out of the birth canal. The live child was female, a wasted birth to a King in need of a son to assure the royal family’s power. I was blamed for making the wrong child die.

The Queen sent her attendant to dress me and lead me to the tree outside the castle walls. A quiet hanging would take place instead of the usual public event on the same day as the royal son’s burial. It would be only me, the attendant and the executioner.

“What is this creature’s name?” I asked the attendant, who had remained silent despite my other questions that morning.

“Azreal. It is the Queen’s steed. A gift from the King when she became pregnant,” she answered, catching my eye.

Just as the executioner was reaching for the horses lead, the attendant tripped, causing the stallion to rear up. I dug my boots into the horse’s sides.

Azreal, known in my Jewish faith as the Archangel of Death, was now my savior as we galloped towards freedom.

**********

Written for the  To Live and Write October 2020 “Flash Lit” #1. We were challenged to write a piece of fiction, non-fiction or poetry of 500 words or less to the theme “The Horse I Rode In On” and post the link in our group. 

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