The authorities come, in the middle of the night, on ignoble steeds, to take Hannahbella away.
They come to take her away and they took her away, but she remains, for I have built this palace for her on the 13th, and therefore nonexistent, category of reason.
They come to take her away and they took her away, but she is still here rehearsing her walk off the tiny plank. And there she is again, begging our prehistoric bird for another ride around the rotunda.
But here are the authorities, coming on their strapping steeds, to take Hannahbella away.
They took her away, and their stomping upset our fragile beams, and we, Hannahbella and I, have been left behind to right them. We right them like spines, one after the next, up four floors of the palace, and then together Hannahbella and I walk the roof wire and right the spire.
Now the palace is becoming crowded. There is Hannahbella, and there is I, and there are also all the Hannahbellas who have been taken away, who are also still here, in cages suspended from the palace’s high ceilings.
They come to take her away and they take her away and the palace is peopled with Hannahbellas, each rehearsing a different scene cut short from the life of Hannahbella.
And one of the Hannahbellas rehearsing a scene from adolescence asks me why, if I am such a believer in effacement, why do we live in a glass case where all can see our movements? And they come to take her away and they take her away and it is very difficult for me for I miss terribly even this most belligerent of Hannahbellas, who, a teenager of terrible grace and anger, has been left behind and is lighting the palace on fire.
(But Hannahbella, when they take you away the palace grows rooms, rooms, there is so much room in here to think, such large rooms, Hannahbella, I am not exactly sorry to have.)
The townspeople are coming out to watch the palace glass shatter, to watch my Hannahbella pour cold piercing light all around her. A shard may have struck me from above, but I am busy, very busy, because here are the authorities charging in on shining steeds to take away all the Hannahbellas in existence, all the real ones and all the memories of what was real and all the memories of what about her was not real but still exquisite, which means that of course they must take me too, for it is I who keep insisting that the fragile princess exist.
They come to take me, the queen, but I am cleft in two, and when at first they do not know which of me to take, I announce to them a riddle I think may spare me:
Do not despair; one of the queens is saved. Do not presume; one of the queens is damned.
But they took us both.
Copyright © 2016 Darcie Dennigan
Used with the permission of Canarium Books.