A #HoldOnToTheLight post
My Lady of Inconvenient Memory
My Lady of Inconvenient Memory is the guest who always comes late to the party, usually after the wine has been poured.
No one in the grand court is glad to see her, because she is always whispering things no one else wants to hear. The courtiers in gorgeous dress avoid letting the hem of her black garment touch theirs. They make way, trying to pretend that they do not see her.
But you, princess, you greet her gladly, with an outstretched hand and a kiss on the cheek. You want her to speak. You invite her to sit beside you, and say the things you do not dare say yourself. She’s an uncomfortable guest. They let her come only because you are ill, and you believe that she can make you well. Her memory is inconvenient not because of what she has forgotten, but what she remembers.
“Remember when you beat Her Highness for taking one of the sweets before the Harvest Day feast?” she will ask your royal father, swaddled in his ermine and velvet like a large, moody, very expensive baby. “And you shouted abuse at her as if she was a scullery maid?”
He harrumphs and puts his nose into yet another cup of wine.
“You must not talk to His Majesty like that!” one of the courtiers says in horror.
But it happened, you want to shout. His ring cut my arm, and it bled! The room rang with his voice!
“That’s not what occurred at all,” insists the Royal Historian, a stout and pompous man, and pulls out a long scroll that has been written ever so beautifully and illuminated with gold. People believe things that have been written down, whether or not they are true. He bows to you with a feeble smile. “Your Highness was, unfortunately, wandering in the dining hall before the feasting began. You may have inadvertently sampled a sweetmeat that was meant for the Grand Toast at the end of the dinner, and in so doing, slipped and injured yourself. Your royal father saw you there and caught you as you fell. His outburst was his concern for your wellbeing, Your Highness. The injury you suffered, and ever so minor it was, came from the edge of the platter, not his hand!”
“The edge of the platter, the edge of the platter,” the courtiers all murmur in unison. It is the traditional response.
They have told it that way for such a long time you began to doubt yourself, until the Lady came along.
“And you didn’t stop him or comfort her,” the Lady says, turning to your royal mother. “You pretended that nothing happened at all.”
“Children are always hurting themselves,” the queen says, fluttering a hand to make the words fly away. “He wasn’t even there. He told me so. And what was she doing in the feasting hall in the first place? So disobedient. It’s her own fault, really.”
You open your mouth to defend yourself, but no words come out. You are weary of the ailment that has kept you mute all these years. The Lady pats your hand.
“Here’s what really happened,” the Lady says, and you sit up in your padded chair, willing the others to hear her. “The princess was curious. She went to see the beauty of the table. The subtlety, the big sugar sculpture, stood in the middle of the table for everyone to see. The green dragon with its outstretched wings was a true triumph of the confectioner’s art. It looked delicious, and almost impossible for a child to resist. There was a tiny corner at the end of one claw that she was sure no one would notice if she broke off. Snap! She took the little sugar morsel and turned away to find a place to eat it. But she was wrong – the king had also come to see the table, and perhaps steal a piece for himself. He saw the princess, and his anger rose up in his chest. He has a terrible temper, and well you all know it, though you all pretend that he doesn’t. He grabbed the child and beat her, brutally. She fled crying to her mother, showing her blood and bruises, but the queen did nothing to protect her or even chide her husband for his roughness. You let him do what he wants just to keep from feeling the back of his hand yourselves. You lie to the child, telling her that nothing happened. But it did.”
The court still isn’t listening. Her stories make them too uncomfortable. They play music and talk loudly as though by sheer noise they can dispel her words. They pretend too much time has passed to listen to old stories.
But this is your story. You are entitled to have it told and remembered, in the way that matters to you. The Lady’s words ring in the minds and souls of the court, though they pretend they don’t.
She is Truth.
She will tell your story when no one else will.
No one wants to hear it.
But she never forgets. Keep inviting her. One day, you can make them hear her, too.
From that day forward, you will begin to get well. And some day, you vow, when you are queen, you will become someone else’s Lady of Inconvenient Memory and speak out for one who cannot speak for herself.
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