Only a Woman This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

August 12, 2011
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“My Lady, Octavian is here.” Neferura, my only loyal servant was in a panic. “It will only be a matter of time before he finds you here.”

“I won’t hide any longer. Bring my paints, my best red sheath and my most expensive jewelry. I’ve charmed two Roman men; there’s no reason I can’t charm this one too.”

Neferura bowed, then ran out of the mausoleum I had been hiding in for the past few months. Had it really only been a couple of months since everything had gone wrong? Our fleet was destroyed at Actium, Mark Antony committed suicide and now the Emperor had arrived in Egypt. If I couldn’t charm Octavian like I charmed Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, then I would soon return to my mausoleum as a corpse.

Neferura soon returned with all the things I had requested. She helped me wriggle out of my plain white sheath and into my sumptuous red one that left little to imagination. Then she brushed my tangled black hair, pinned it up and slipped my wig of a hundred ringlets into place. I sat very still as she outlined my eyes in kohl, used henna to redden my lips and covered the dark circles under my eyes with powder. From the small selection of jewelry she brought, I chose a silver circlet with a huge red jasper stone that hung on my forehead, bracelets of electrum, a belt of moonstones and rings of lapis lazuli. I looked at myself in the small bronze mirror Neferura brought and smiled. I looked perfect, as usual. Now all I had to do was make Octavian agree.

“You manipulated a good Roman man into turning against his own country.”

“Me? I am just a woman. What influence could a woman have over a strong Roman man?”

Octavian spluttered at my words; he was not buying into my story. And he definitely wasn’t falling for my body like Julius and Mark had. My intelligence only threatened him, so that definitely wasn’t helping my case. Time for Plan B.

“You need a powerful ally in Egypt; I can maintain control over my people. Let me remain Pharaoh and Rome will reap the rewards.”

For the first time in our meeting, Octavian smiled. “Cleopatra, you are an intelligent woman. Tell me why would I need a powerful ally in the newest Roman province?”

“You’re annexing Egypt?” I gasped.

“Of course. I have no wish to quell the rebellion of yet another tempestuous Eastern Queen.” He snapped his fingers. “Take her away, but do not harm her. I wish to display her at my triumph when I return.”

The Roman guards marched me at sword point to a tiny room in the palace that had been a guest room. Before they locked me away for good, I turned to face them and suggestively lifted my sheath to reveal my right calf. One of the soldiers hesitated, but the other pushed me into my prison and slammed the door behind me. To my surprise, Neferura was there, setting up a simple cot by the door. Seeing me, she bowed before speaking.

“I convinced the guards to let me tend to you. My Queen, what are you going to do now?”

“I am going to deny Emperor Octavian his greatest prize.” I smiled reassuringly to hide the fact I was ready to break down and cry. “I don’t care how you do it, but bring me an asp. I’m going to die with the honour that befits the last Pharaoh of Egypt.”

Neferura nodded and I could see the tears in her deep brown eyes. I walked over to her and pulled her into a hug, a huge breech of station on my part. But I didn’t care; I was about to die and I needed to thank her for her complete loyalty to me. I felt the tears run down my face, but I let them flow. After all, if I had my way, I was not long for this world.

After Neferura retouched my makeup, I was ready. She had smuggled the asp past the guards by hiding it in a basket of figs. I reached in the figs and nearly smiled in triumph when my fingers closed around the asp’s cool, smooth body. It hissed as I pulled it out of the basket. Good, it was already annoyed at being kept under the heavy figs.

Its eyes stared coldly at me as I stroked its head, enticing it to bite me. Finally, it struck my wrist with lightning speed. I bit my tongue to keep from crying out in pain. When the snake let go, I quickly dumped it in the fig basket and put the lid on it. I didn’t want it to slither out and bite Neferura, my only friend left.

Within minutes, my breathing became laboured. I lay down on the bed and carefully composed myself. I was going to die with dignity, the way a Pharaoh should. My last breaths were steeped in agony, yet I was strangely happy. I had thwarted Octavian, denying him his greatest prize.

But my happiness didn’t last long. The gods in Judgment Hall were calling for me, Queen Cleopatra, the last and greatest Pharaoh.

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immortal1290 said...
Sept. 9, 2011 at 8:53 pm
This was extremely well-written. I don't know much about history, but i still really enjoyed your story :) Also, from what I do know, your portrayal of cleopatra was realistic. I always pictured her like that.
CarrieAnn13 replied...
Sept. 9, 2011 at 8:57 pm
Thank you! :)  I'm glad you enjoyed it.
InsaneKitten said...
Sept. 5, 2011 at 9:39 pm
O i love ur potrayal of cleopatra, I never imagined her death to be so well, I love how differently she's potrayed :D you deserve a cookie :3
CarrieAnn13 replied...
Sept. 5, 2011 at 9:40 pm
Thank you! :)
ItsAshMal This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 31, 2011 at 12:07 pm
This is really well written, and the dialogue compels the reader to keep going. I like all of your mechanics and such, but I must say your portrayal of Cleopatra makes me a little uncomfortable. It's just not how I picture her. Then again, an author's job is to make the reader feel , and you definitely did that!
CarrieAnn13 replied...
Aug. 31, 2011 at 4:28 pm
Thanks for your opinion.  It's okay to have a different picture in your head of how Cleopatra was.  I just wrote from the picture in my head.
Mystiecub said...
Aug. 31, 2011 at 11:41 am
I don't know much of the history, but this seemed SO realistic, I loved it! :D
CarrieAnn13 replied...
Aug. 31, 2011 at 4:27 pm
Thanks!  I'm glad you enjoyed it.
ChocoMint said...
Aug. 28, 2011 at 8:12 pm
I really liked it! You did a really good job at portraying her situation. I give you an extra bonus because I understood everything very well and I don't know a lot about Cleopatra.  =+)
CarrieAnn13 replied...
Aug. 28, 2011 at 8:13 pm
Aw, thanks!  I'm glad you liked it. :)
itsbeautifulandsoareyou said...
Aug. 26, 2011 at 10:30 am
I love it!! Its so dramatic, like Cleopatra was, and so real. Its like I was there in the room with her as she died. Amazing!
CarrieAnn13 replied...
Aug. 26, 2011 at 12:42 pm
Thank you! :)
Saphirra replied...
Aug. 27, 2011 at 11:26 pm
you write so amazing! I love the historic-ness in your pieces!  When I read this, I felt like i was reading one of those sneak peeks for a new barnes & noble book! Great Job! 
CarrieAnn13 replied...
Aug. 28, 2011 at 12:13 am
Wow, thank you! :)
.Izzy. said...
Aug. 25, 2011 at 8:15 pm
This is definitely a unique piece, making it stand out from other cliche stories on here. And your title is perfect. A little more detail wouldn't hurt, but there's always room for improvement in any story!
CarrieAnn13 replied...
Aug. 25, 2011 at 8:19 pm
Wow, thanks!  :)  I'll consider your feedback.
alex198 said...
Aug. 25, 2011 at 11:49 am
My critique for this piece is pretty much the same as the last one, however since this piece was an extension of the last one I think that I am able to relate to the characters and understand the time they live in better this time, if not as wholly as I would like. But once again, very well written and you do create some intriguing characters. Well done! :)
CarrieAnn13 replied...
Aug. 25, 2011 at 12:12 pm
Thank you! :)
owkey said...
Aug. 24, 2011 at 8:40 pm
Great stuff. I like how you take on Cleopatra from a completely different angle than what I thought of her. You porttray her as a a character I'd actually support, unlike history's version. Truthfully I'd like more imagery and stuff but that's just me :3 Keep up the good work.
CarrieAnn13 replied...
Aug. 24, 2011 at 8:46 pm
Thanks for the feedback!  Which specific parts would you like more imagery in?
owkey replied...
Aug. 25, 2011 at 7:54 am
Any part where anything is being described really XD So I'd say anywhere. THere's always room for more detail.
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