Pageant by Brit Medlock

She lies in the dark, shrouded in sleep, heavy with memory. The skeleton of her bed sags under the weight of blanket and body, its bones as tired as hers; each has stories, each keeps secrets. She is swaddled in silks, frayed, papery with dust. The hoary record crackles, well acquainted with its role.

This bed was her castle.

One by one she sees them enter, a peacocking procession. First, the straw-haired boy whose lips still brush her cheeks. Second, the gray-eyed stranger whose hands still haunt her wrists. Third, the quiet gentleman whose words still fill her lungs.

More and more they come, make their journey, pay their respects. Every lover she ever took; the ones who paid, the ones who left. They hover, she waits. Oh, how she has waited. Her throat is thick with the sight of them, with the years of them, and she cannot help but quiver. Each still holds a part of her; some stolen, some given.

This bed was her castle.

As they pass they touch their hats, stroke their brows and look away. The old song begins to call and the figures start to fade. Some part with their coins, they know the boatman must be paid. She breathes out softly, so softly, softer still.
Familiar notes shimmer, the murmuring memories quelled.

This bed was her castle; who can tell when she lost the key.