Elizabeth: Name of Queens

February 15, 2013
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Chapter One
A little girl who isn't aware how hard her father worked to pay for her new shoes splashes through a mud puddle on her way home from school
She swings the kitchen door open and sweeps in, eyes bright, cheeks flushed
"How was your first day?" her mother asks her, giving her a kiss on the forehead
The little girl says, "Mommy, what were you thinking when you named me Elizabeth? It's so long and the teacher wanted everyone to write our names on our books and it took me so much longer than everybody else and I don't even think I did it right! It was so embarrassing!"
Her mother sighs and smiles, then bends down and unties her daughters muddy shoes. As she slips them off her feet she says
"It's the name of queens"
"What?" asks the little girl
"Elizabeth is the name of queens,” her mother tells her
"I bet the queen of England couldn’t write her name on the first day of school either" says the little girl as she skips off into the living room, leaving her mother to clean her new shoes, without even thanking her
Her mother is not bothered
She hums while she works

Chapter Two
A little girl, nineteen years old now, who isn't aware how hard her father worked to pay for her wedding dress has to restrain herself from skipping down the isle
A boy named Charlie lifts her veil and smiles a million-dollar smile
All the women watching, from age 9 to 90 whisper to each other about how lucky she is and pout in their jealousy

Chapter Three
Two little boys run around the house of a young woman and her young husband
One will grow up to be a priest, the other a policeman
A third sleeps inside her womb in a swirl of fluid and heartbeats
They will stay nearby where they grew up, just like their mother did
The young woman loves her children and her husband more than life itself, but she doesn't tell them so very often

Chapter Four
A beautiful woman wakes up, brushes her hair, and skips downstairs to start cooking breakfast
She stops to read a list on the table entitled, 'Things Charlie's Gonna Do Today'
She gasps, runs back up the stairs, and flies into bed, waking her husband
He laughs at her and gives her a kiss, "What the hell was that?" he asks
"I just read the list and I'm already exhausted!" she says, snuggling closer to him
He laughs again, flashing that million-dollar smile
He is still just as handsome as twenty years ago, she thinks
"I love you so much," he tells her
She smiles and gives him a kiss on the cheek
Saying things back was never her strong point

Chapter Five
The queen of the house swings the kitchen door open and sweeps in, eyes bright, cheeks flushed
"Your haircut looks nice," Charlie says
The queen smiles and gives him kiss on his forehead
"Now I'm gonna go do nothing for the rest of the day," she replies with a smile and skips off into the living room
Years later, she would describe their marriage as a sitcom
Sometimes she wanted to scream and shake him, but she would just laugh instead
He was a wonderful, wonderful father
She never told him that

Chapter Six
The queen stands in a crowd of family and friends, wearing all black
Her sons are beside her, but Charlie is not
She cries and cries and cries
She doesn't stop for hours
Then days
Then weeks
Words were never her strong point but now she has hired someone to teach her how to talk again
About everything
This time, including in her vocabulary things like, I love you, and thank you, and I’m sorry

Chapter Seven
A little girl, now ninety-three years old, lives in an assisted living home for dementia
In the same town she was born and married in, she will on day die
She loves to talk
She loves to tell stories
She will tell anyone who sits still long enough about Charlie and about how she doesn't learn to appreciate things until they are gone
During a meal, she puts down her fork and says out loud to no one in particular, "I wonder if I would be different this time if I could have him back."
But she still complains about her name
"How could any mother give their daughter such a long name? It's too hard for a first grader to learn how to write."
Perhaps she will never appreciate the name her mother gave her as a child until she finally is forced to take off her crown and lie down next to a boy named Charlie without a word, and rest there with him until the skin curls off their bones and returns itself to the earth, leaving their million dollar smiles naked and shining

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