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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This article has 255 comments. Post your own now!

KatieDeLavani said...
Dec. 20, 2011 at 7:30 pm
A celver piece. The description was satisfying, the dialog intelligent, and the format inviting. Though it refrained from delving into a deep story, it reflected built personalities and was definitely worth the time. Continue writing!
CarrieAnn13 replied...
Dec. 20, 2011 at 7:31 pm
Thanks for commenting! :)
Aron Rogers said...
Dec. 19, 2011 at 10:14 am
i hate this article! there is no point of it.
CarrieAnn13 replied...
Dec. 19, 2011 at 3:24 pm
I'm sorry you feel that way.  Thanks for taking the time to comment! :)
Andromeda said...
Dec. 17, 2011 at 9:48 pm

I really enjoyed the story line, I've always liked historical fiction. I personally, do not like long dialogues so I liked the fact that the dialogue that was present was short and direct.

Your grammar and spelling had no issues that I could detect. The only wording that maybe was a bit awkward was "I was not long for this world", though I'm not sure if that was for a specific purpose.

Your story was descriptive without being wordy.

Overall I really liked your writing sty... (more »)

CarrieAnn13 replied...
Dec. 17, 2011 at 9:50 pm
Thanks for such a thoughtful comment!  I really appreciate it. :)
Cams05 said...
Dec. 17, 2011 at 8:22 pm
vey good. I love the history and I really like the way you write. :) 
CarrieAnn13 replied...
Dec. 17, 2011 at 8:23 pm
Thanks for commenting! :)
seanspiveyjr said...
Dec. 12, 2011 at 8:14 pm
It might just be me but I didn't really like this. I'm not into the historical fiction that much but I did like the way you set things up. I'm the type of person that likes to feel what I'm reading and I didn't feel that here. Maybe that's not your style but it was still pretty good.
CarrieAnn13 replied...
Dec. 12, 2011 at 8:46 pm
I'm sorry you feel that way.  Thanks for commenting!
Aron Rogers replied...
Dec. 19, 2011 at 10:12 am
i realy hated this article. there is no point of this.
CarrieAnn13 replied...
Dec. 19, 2011 at 3:25 pm
Why do you say there is no point to this?  How could I improve and make it have 'a point', as you put it?
Zenny said...
Dec. 11, 2011 at 1:45 pm
Hey, I thought I commented on this already. Oh well, I'll do it again. I'm mutual with Tristis. I usually don't like history, but this was cool. Neferuru... i like that name.
CarrieAnn13 replied...
Dec. 11, 2011 at 1:46 pm
It was Neferura.  It means 'Beautiful one of Ra.'  Anyway, thanks for commenting! :)
Noni3280 replied...
Dec. 12, 2011 at 6:23 pm
i looked at this the other day and didnt get a chance to comment. I really like it. This was AWESOME!
CarrieAnn13 replied...
Dec. 12, 2011 at 6:28 pm
Thanks!  :)  I'm glad you took time to comment now.
Tristis said...
Dec. 11, 2011 at 1:41 pm
I love the historical contents in here. She sounds like a ... a bad woman, though. Manipulating through... gender. But that's probably exactly what would happen back then.
CarrieAnn13 replied...
Dec. 11, 2011 at 1:42 pm
Thanks for your comment! :)  Oh, and you don't get to be Queen without manipulating a few people.
danceonwater said...
Dec. 10, 2011 at 10:23 pm
I loved how you retold the story and didn't go overboard with drama; very good; very creative.
CarrieAnn13 replied...
Dec. 10, 2011 at 10:24 pm
Thanks for commenting! :)
Tbug1997 said...
Dec. 10, 2011 at 7:40 pm
Very good i have nothing bad about this to say i enjoyed reading it u have a talent
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