A Courtier in the Valley

The swish of feigned elegance ripples across the crowds. Hushed whispers, malicious giggles, and lackadaisical comments eddy through the air carrying with them the promise of fresh gossip and delectable intimacies. She steers herself and her doubts through the massive crowd, trying to be friendly while remaining inconspicuous. She finds a place near the stage and waits… though waiting for what remains to be seen. Desperately she yearns to fit in, for the acceptance of the court, yet her every premeditated step is dissected and rejected as a misdirection; a rejection snubs her at every corner. An outsider and related to none, she finds herself with a deck stacked against her in a hopeless game. She spies a lawyer or two, a merchant, a banker, and a senator’s relative (though the relation is quite unclear) all in their pomp and glory. Their clothes shine brightly and their wealth ostentatiously glows about their beings. She watches as ladies’ eyes roam about the room, spying for the slightest stirrings, the slightest detail out of place. One leans into another, palm turned inward in a desperate attempt to conceal the mirth behind the words. Another grabs her friend’s elbow, and they sashay themselves outdoors to regale one another with stories regarding those with whom they are most intimate. Her eyes meet those of a friendlier face. The green eyes crinkle as a smile stretches across a lovely countenance. She smiles and awkwardly gapes at her shoes, inspecting them in a way that leaves one to think she had not realized she’d been wearing them at all. A shadow envelopes her, and she raises her eyes to meet the gaze again. The mouth opens as though to speak, but is jerked forcibly sideways. A delicate hand is at the elbow, persistently tugging in the opposite direction. The power and force behind such a tiny hand is off-setting, and she moves away from the couple to avoid any potential contention. Tip-toeing her way as though on eggshells, she lands safely in the presence of other “would-be” courtiers. She mingles among them settling in the familiar currents of conversation.

An intimate hushed inquiry weaves its way into her ear. She turns toward its source and realizing a familiar face, she confides her opinion.

A push, a shove…. she is violently vaulted out of the realm of the court. Such an opinion is never welcome, never permitted. Such is not to be thought, much less spoken aloud… certainly not from an outsider, a no one.

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