The Queen’s Eyes, by Kim Allouche
Once upon a time, a long time ago, there was a lovely, young queen with black locks who lived high up in a castle with an angry, white-bearded king. The young queen had a problem with her eyes: sometimes they would seal shut and she couldn’t see what was right in front of her face. One day, the queen birthed a beautiful, pea-sized child named Princess Pea. Overjoyed, the queen spent her days with her new daughter reading poetry, singing songs, but also confiding her own very secret sorrows. The queen didn’t think her child would understand, but Princess Pea could, because tears, especially a mother’s tears, make children wise. With her teeny princess, the queen was not blind at all; she could even see inside her own mind.
Until one day, the king, in a fit of rage (his porridge was too hot) raised his hand and smacked his queen hard enough to make the stained-glass windows shake. At once her eyes closed— almost all the way; sometimes, though, she could still see her daughter through the slits at the bottom.
Later, on a dark night, the queen gave birth to a fat, generous, little boy the king wanted very badly, just as he had wanted his queen. But when the little boy vomited up his second bowl of porridge, the king kicked his plump babe into the gold-speckled air. The prince landed at the queen’s feet. Sobbing, she clutched her baby to her breast. The king bowed his head and stroked her inky hair. Again, the queen’s eyes betrayed her; she went completely blind.
Alas, like wild creatures, Princess Pea and Prince Poe learned to fend for themselves. The queen couldn’t see the scraggly hair they tore from each other’s matted heads or the jagged nails they used as talons fighting for dinner scraps.
Finally, when the last princess was born, Princess Pie, magically, the queen’s eyelids popped wide open. But there was now a different problem: The queen could only see her newest baby.
There was no happily ever after. Years later, when Princess Pea left the kingdom, she married and had peas of her own. All seemed magical until, little by little, like her mother, her eyes began to close, not completely, just enough for each little pea to cry out: Mother, please, open your eyes, open your eyes.
Kim Allouche's personal essays and short stories have been published in The Psychotherapy Networker, AlterNet, Storyscape, and The Penmen Review. Her most recent story, “You’re the Broccoli,” has been accepted for the Winter 2021 edition of Moon City Review, and a version of a chapter of her novel, "When Everything Beautiful Was in Her Reach," was recently published in Shark Reef. Much of her writing stems from her work as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist and her interest in exploring emotion.
Tricia L. Townes is a painter who enjoys making both figurative and abstract work.