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Alphabet Soup

A young man sits on a throne, wearing a too-big crown. Beside him, another young man sits but with none of the easy grace his brother exudes. Carefully, he shifts in his seat, angling away from the boy king. Duty insists he stay and support him but he’d rather swallow broken glass. Everyone else looks appropriately pleased to see the new king but they are all lying. Forgetting all the blood and death that preceded this day. Grim determination shines in his eyes as he stares into the sea of faces. His mother stands among them, resolute and unwavering. Instead of smiling like a benevolent queen, she scowls, reminding him of his lowly place as the spare heir. Just when he thinks he’ll crack under the intense pressure of her gaze, she turns toward the window. Knowing it might be the last thing he ever does, he bolts from his seat. Luck is on his side. Men sneer as he races past but his steps don’t slow. Neither does his racing heart. On and on he runs as if his life depends on it. Perhaps it does. Questioning his future will have to wait. Right now, he needs to get away from the stifling, suffocating air crushing his lungs. Sunlight spears his eyes as he bursts into the courtyard. Trusting his instincts, he turns right toward the stables. Unless he’s mistaken, a horse will be waiting for him. Voices float behind him but he pays them no heed as he launches onto the horse’s back. Without a second thought, he kicks and the horse jolts forward. Xenial landscape rolls in front of him, and his heart soars. Yes! Zeus will be so proud.

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