illustrative media

Learning to Live

When they crossed the threshold of the queen’s chambers, Nulandia felt it was more than the appropriate time to inform Luna about one of the most important occurrences in her life, and said, “There’s something I feel you should know about me”.
“Okay, I’m listening”, Luna said as she sat on the edge of her bed.
“This should also explain why I made you take our pledge again, as well. When I was thirty years old, I met an elf named Jonan. We instantly hit it off, and after five years he moved in with me. It took that long because we both had military careers we were dedicated to, and we’d decided that until we had both finished with that chapter in our lives, marriage wasn’t a subject of discussion.
“Jonan and I, wound up ending our military service tenure during the same week, and we both went to my place within a few days of each other. After a year, he proposed marriage, and I said, ‘Yes’. Our biggest issue came after that because when I would bring up the subject of the wedding, he wouldn’t talk about it. Foolish me, I let him stay, and act like a coward for ten years. Don’t ask why. I loved him, and I kept hoping he would eventually get to a point in his life where he could discuss the act of getting married.
“When I talked to my mother during the beginning of the tenth year, I told her everything that had been going on, and she advised me to toss him the hell out. I didn’t hesitate. I went home, packed his things, and told him to get out. Then, I fought the hardest battle I’ve ever been in, which I refer to as ‘My Darkest Days’. I got it stuck in my head that the reason Jonan wouldn’t marry me was because I wasn’t worthy of his love, and I’d convinced myself that he didn’t leave before I forced him because he never wanted to hurt me.
“For the next ten years, I stayed obliterated on anything I could get my hands on. When I would black out from the intoxication caused by the substance I’d taken, I learned where the door to my own inner darkness was located. Eventually, I spent so much time there, I was crowned queen, and there’s a comfy spot on the throne with my name on it if I should ever choose to return”, she confessed.
“I had no clue you’d ever been through something like that”, Luna said.
“You weren’t supposed to know. At least, not until now”, she replied.
“Why not?” The queen’s feelings were beginning to get hurt. She had a look on her face as though her friend had reached out and slapped her face”.
“I can see that expression on your face, and you need to cut it out. That injured look is not gonna work with me. You get your feelings hurt over some of the smallest things. The reason you didn’t ever find that out until now is because the occasion never arose where I felt it was appropriate to share my story. My not telling you about my heartbreaking experience had nothing to do with anything that was going on in your life over the last seven years, so I didn’t bring it up. I promise, it’s nothing personal towards you”, the maid told her friend.
“Okay, I guess I’ll get over it”, the queen replied.
“Good, because I’ve got some other stuff I want to share with you, and I’m gonna need you to focus on the things I say to you”, she responded smiling.
“All my attention is on you, and the stage is yours”, the elven ruler said to her friend.
“One of the most important things I have learned since I came out of my own inner darkness is that it’s easier to love yourself than it is to have someone else love you. It is also a lot easier to go into the darkness than it is to stay out of it, however, with a friend like me, staying out of that place is your only option”, Nulandia said.
“You can be sure there’s no need to worry about me giving in and taking the easy way, because simply put, I could never see myself violating the trust of our pledge and its bond. Not only that, but I wouldn’t ever be capable of forgiving myself if I lost you as a friend”, Luna confessed.
“It’s good to hear you say that. Now for at least the next year, you’re going to go through a lot of emotional sorrow, and the best thing you can do is cry and let it out. It’s normal for you to do that, but you cannot even walk on the outside edges of darkness because no matter how far away you stand from it, the evil that lives inside can reach out. The sad part about that is, you don’t even know when it has taken you in, and by the time you realize what’s happened you’ve been there for a while making it almost impossible to escape. You also need to know that I don’t have a problem with you talking about the hurt you’re going through, but I don’t want to hear anything like what I heard outside that door because that kind of talk is what breeds negativity. You have to remember that your husband did what you asked him to do, and no matter what, you have to live with the consequences. Maybe you should have talked to him before you asked him to leave, my queen”, the maiden elf said.
“Wow! You have a lot of knowledge on that topic, and I would be crazy to ever lose you as a friend”, the queen said
“Exactly right”, her friend replied.
“What did you do to get out?” the elven ruler asked.
“What do you mean you say ‘to get out’? Get out of where?” The maid inquired.
“You said you were lost in your own inner darkness, and that you have a crown and throne waiting for you in case you ever choose to return. So, my question then becomes, ‘What did you do to get out?’ It’s not that hard to follow”, Luna said.
“One day, a totally different ex-boyfriend from school came and found me at the lowest point in my life, and his wife offered to allow me to stay with them in an entirely different city than the one I lived in with Jonan. When I got to their place, he told me I was expected to get a job, and by the end of the week I had work and I started school. Now, I’m gonna give you the most helpful piece of advice that was given to me during my grieving process. The easiest way to get beyond the hurt, especially in the first year, is to keep your mind busy”, Nulandia confessed.
“I knew there was a reason I asked you to go with me to the clubhouse that day”, the queen said.
“Really? And, what would that be?” The maid was curious to hear her friend’s response, and she listened intently to what the queen had to say.
“The reason I asked you to go that day was because I could see something in your eyes I had not seen in the eyes of any other being for a long time at that point, and I knew it would be smart for me to get to know you on a being-to-being level”, the queen told her friend.
“That’s all fine and well, but you’ve left out one thing. What it was you saw in my eyes. You cannot tell me all that sweet stuff, but forget the most important element to that story. I know you have not left all matter of your senses. You have to tell me that part. You can’t leave me hanging like that”, her maid responded.
“What I saw was someone who would be a true, loyal, honest and faithful friend”, Luna said.
“I’ll take that as the highest form of compliment since it came from my best friend the queen of Interraton”, Nulandia replied.
“You should take it that way because that’s exactly how it was meant to be taken. To be honest, I’m sorry it took me so long to invite you to the clubhouse”, the queen said.
“I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. In my world, there are few times when you can say what’s happening is coincidental. Even if you die, and go to your grave not understanding the significance of a specific time in your life, there’s always a reason that something has happened. There’s an answer to every puzzle, every riddle, and every question you can think of. Nothing can occur in my life that doesn’t have an explanation”, she explained to the queen.
“That’s not exactly true”, the queen challenged.
“Explain what that means, please”, she quickly shot back.
“It means that just a few minutes ago, you said that you and Jonan ended your military service careers, “coincidentally’, so there’s that”, Luna said.
“Actually, I already have the explanation for that. I hadn’t said anything to see if you were listening to what I had to say, and I’m proud to know that you paid attention to me”, the maid responded.
“Explain it to me, please,” the queen said.
“Jonan heard I was going to finish my career in the military, and he set it up for his life in the elven army to end at the same time so that we could build our lives together because we both started at the same time. That, by the way, is like the only thing that did wind up being coincidental in my life. You wanna know something? Sometimes I think Jonan had a lot of stuff setup for us on purpose, but I never could understand why he would do all of that work to make our lives parallel one another if he didn’t want to make a life with me. That was the number one reason why I got caught up in my own inner darkness because I blamed myself for his shit”, Nulandia explained.
“My goodness. You have been through a lot. I don’t think I could’ve been strong enough to dig myself out of my own head. Not especially if I had to do it alone”, Luna said. She was astonished to learn those things about her friend, and didn’t know what to say.
“How do you think I felt? I had all kinds of others around me day in, and day out, but do you think any of them were intelligent enough to pull me to the side? Actuall, they did, and I lied. I told them all that I was fine, but I continued to spiral downhill. I was completely out of control. That is, until my ex and his wife rescued me. When Stavros and Jane came over four hundred miles to take me back with them, I couldn’t refuse”, she said.
“How did they know about you and Jonan?” Luna inquired.
“Stavros ran into my mother at Crennec Bazaar, and they got to talking. My mother told them everything that transpired between myself and Jonan. Stavros and Jane went home, they had a discussion about what they could do to try and help me, and a few months later the two of them boarded a dragonflight to my place. Or, at least, that’s what Jane told me after Stavros passed”, Nulandia said.
“Did Stavros and Jane have a lot of money? I mean, I only ask because they were able to travel to Crennec Bazaar, and they turned around a few months later to come and get you. Out of respect for someone who’s going to be a guest in their house, if they had any manners, they paid for your flight to their place. No matter if you could afford the ticket or not, right?” Luna asked. She hadn’t understood how anyone who worked a regular job could pay that much for three tickets as quickly as her friends did unless money was no object to them.
“This is something I never expected to be telling you. Luna, my entire family has money. The reason everybody in my family works menial jobs is because none of us wants the money to change us into someone we’re not. Remember, absolute power corrupts, absolutely. To be honest, I’ve got enough money to buy the planet, if I wanted. However, I choose to allow my riches to keep me humble. I never use the money I have because quite frankly, I can’t. When I was younger, my mother and I agreed that I wouldn’t touch any of my money until I’m a few thousand years older. As of now, I’m only one hundred and twenty seven years old”, she explained.
“You’re not allowed to touch any of the money?” Luna inquired.
“No, I’m not. The only way I’m allowed to get into my account is if myself, or one of my children. were to fall ill, and need an operation. I can’t even get into the money to save Cassius. It was part of the agreement mom and I made. Since my childern are healthy, and my ticker is strong, I haven’t needed the money. However, if that were to change tomorrow, I’d get into that account, and I’d drain it if it meant I could save one of my children”, she said.
“I guess it’s a good thing we live extremely long lives, or you’d never see any of that money. Do you mind if I ask how your family came into riches?” Luna asked.
“I’m not exactly sure how it started, but I do know that my great-great grandmother was frugal with what she inherited from her family. She wrote a specific clause in her will that everyone of her children was to get a job, and make something of themselves. If they couldn’t function in society because they didn’t want to, she would see to it that their money went to charity”, Nulandia explained.
“Sounds like someone was quite clever. If I do say so, myself”, the queen remarked.
“You may say so because I agree. Due to that clause, every one of Clymora’s children did what their mother wanted, and they took the same stance with their children. And, so forth, and so on until time got to my generation. I’ve chosen to be the same way with my childen, and I’ve already made out my will. I don’t want my kids thinking that money will be their saving grace or that they’re gonna get by in life without working. I don’t want them dependent on my family’s money”, she said.
“Sounds like you inherited your family’s intellect”, the queen said.
“Mother didn’t raise any fool, my friend. I may have done a lot of foolish things in my life, but that doesn’t make me one. I don’t know. Since I was capable of pulling myself out of the darkness within, I’ve lived a clean, and sober life. When Cassius and I met, we had the same objectives, with a few annoyances we learned to incorporate into our lives. He proposed within a year. The next year we were married, and we’ve never looked back. Our love continues to grow stronger with every change in tide. When one of us falls, the other one extends their hand, and there’s no judgment. When one makes a mistake, we discuss the solution. We apply the solution to the problem, and we don’t ever bring it up again. We compliment each other in so many ways. He made my life inexplicably full when he gave me our children. I believe my life will be complete when my children have their own set of toddlers they’re chasing around. There will be nothing else left to ask for after I’ve become a grandmother. Luna, I’m sorry. I’ve been so inconsiderate of your feelings. I didn’t mean to – -”, the queen held up her hand, and cut off her words.
“Nula, don’t apologize, please. I’m the one who asked about your life, and you shouldn’t feel bad because I wasn’t able to keep Ecko. It’s not your fault. I created my own mess, and I’ll be the one to clean it up”, Luna said.
“I’ll be there to help you. No matter what the mess is, or how big it is, I’m not going to make you clean it up alone. There will be times when you have to do certain parts of the cleaning by yourself, but I’ll be there. Right beside you, so you won’t be alone”, Nulandia said.
“This has been a real eye opener for me. I’ve learned a lot about you, and look, the lighting in the sky has changed. It’ll be daylight in a few hours, and we’ve never gone to sleep”, the queen pointed out.
“That happens from time to time. I’ll be feeling like I could sleep for three days, but something happens to give me an extra boost of energy, and I can continue forward. Sometimes, I’ll be awake, naturally, for a day and a half. If I’ve got an upcoming event that I’m hosting, I’ll push myself to three days. However, my body will force me to sleep at the end of day three, and I will never go any further”, she said.
“What was your preference? Did you like to be awake or asleep? I only ask because we’re getting to know each other”, Luna said.
“I liked to sleep”, she said honestly.
“Between you, me and the fence post, I’ve experimented with some stuff. Of course, this was before I became queen. At the time, I liked being awake. Now, because of my title, I won’t touch it. When I hand over my title, it’ll be over two hundred years from now, and who knows what I’ll do then”, the queen said.
“You will still be my best friend, and I’ll keep you sober. That’s what you’ll do. There won’t be any falling off the wagon because that invites the darkness in. Are you an idiot?” the maid asked.
“No”, she responded.
“You damn well must be with that way of thinking. Especially if you think that after you’re done being queen that I’ll be done with our friendship. Or if you think that I’ll break my sobriety for you. Or whatever you were thinking to make you say those words. Either way, I’m your friend now, and like I said before, I’d take death to ensure your life. Let me make this clear, I would do anything for you, except forfeit my sobriety or sit on the throne in my own darkness. Those are the only two things I won’t sacrifice for you, but that’s only because without them, I can’t be who I need to be for you”, Nulandia explained.
“Why would you do that for me? I’m not anyone to you”, the queen said.
“At first, that was true. Now that we’ve made that pledge, and sealed it with a magix casting, nothing will stop me from being there for you. I’ll eventually have to go home and tell my husband what’s been going on since I haven’t been there for almost a week. He will absolutely encourage me to come back here and do my job because he supports everything I do. Besides, he’s busy with his work, too. The kids have been grown for years, and they’re all in college as per requirement of my will”, she told her friend.


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  • Daniel

    Wow. There are so many people, especially women, who are going to bath in your novels. . Deep and emotional and powerful. Great writeup!

    • Pennywyze

      Wow! You really think so? I’ve been working my rear-end off creating this story out of the clear-blue, and I’ve been having my doubts.

    • Pennywyze

      You have no idea how good that makes me feel. Sorry it’s taken me so long to respond to this, but every time I tried before I didn’t see where the comment was located.

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