Would Be King

Entry by: Alex Fleet

24th September 2022
He felt as if he had not slept for days, for weeks. But finally his head had relaxed on the pillow, his body had sunk thankfully into the softness of his bed.

He hadn't realised the tension in his muscles, but gradually he felt it ebb away, as he breathed deeply to consciously slow his heart rate and try to steer away the onslaught of thoughts that threatened to overwhelm him.

These past three weeks or so had been a sudden frantic burst of activity that seemed totally endless, schedules upon schedules deluging from all quarters, all meticulously planned years in advance but still needing co-ordination and co-operation when there was a realisation that not everybody had the same plans in mind.

Somehow, though it had worked. The public had seen a militarily precise operation carried out by innumerable different organisations with scarcely a fumbled moment. They had noticed the uncooperative pen that squirted ink all over his hands and wondered if it had been a bit of sabotage by some minor individual. But apart from that he was relieved that the days had passed without major incident.

The past had not been without it's crises, sometimes of a terribly controversial nature where the media had been cruel and critical but he had to bear all that, all those things he had to tolerate and in addition all those things he had to do but not necessarily wanted to do, with the best face he could muster.

He had learnt long ago that it was difficult to please everyone all the time and relieved that now, of all times, the media as a whole had been supportive and sympathetic. Despite their criticisms in the past, they had honoured his Mother, his predecessor.

His Mother. How he missed her. And his Father, also not long passed away. They had both been strong, the strongest people he could imagine. They had helped him grow into this position, though it had actually taken a long time for him to arrive here.

He knew that his position was a unique one. How many men, or women, would pass retirement age, then take on such a challenging job knowing that it was, literally, a job for life. He would be doing this now until his deathbed.

How many people would have taken this career choice, not knowing how long they might wait before stepping into dead men's shoes, or in this case, a dead woman. And they were big shoes to fill.

Had he chosen to take this career? He might have refused, as other had before him in the past. But his Father had pointed out that free as this country is, not many people actually have a choice in the passage of their lives. Best thing is, to make the best of it. There will be certainly things he would not wish to do, but that applies to everyone.

So, here he was, in this situation he had waited patiently for. It seemed surreal. Perhaps he would wake up in a minute.
The thoughts crowded in on him, random, without rhyme or reason, the voices of a thousand people, a crowd of heads all looking at him, talking at him, a thousand wise counsellors giving him sage advice but each with their own agenda and each of whom he had to give consideration to and choose what he felt was the best and most achievable course, without offending those he wished not to follow just at this particular time.

Then he realised it was of course more than a thousand, for beyond them was another sea of heads, all demanding his attention.
Amongst them was a little boy, small, surrounded by smart trousers and portly stomachs. The little boy looked up to a sea, an ocean, of serious, stern faces, ignoring him as they consulted wisely with his Mother or his Father. Occasionally one might glance at him and remember to smile patronisingly. He was only a small boy and not worthy of more and he could not understand the significance of his own future.

Suddenly he realised that the boy was himself and felt his heart gallop and race in panic, overwhelmed by the pressures put upon him, by the trousers and polished shoes surrounding him. He was a little boy again, turning to look for the reassurance of his little friend the teddy bear, the only one he could turn to and share his worries and his secrets. But the bear was no longer there, had not been for decades. His Father had sternly reminded him that Teddy Bears are only for little boys, not for him now that he was growing into a man, a leader of men. Leaders did not have Teddy Bears. Leaders of men did not cry. He had not seen his Mother cry, despite the cries of the media who thought that, sometimes, she should be seen to cry. But still he felt her warmth, her gentleness, her humour and . . . well, her motherliness as she smiled at him across the years, from decades before when he was that little boy.

Suddenly, he felt alone. So alone. After a lifetime of support from his parents, although he had made his own decisions for decades they were still made within the general policies of the family, of the firm. There was always co-ordination and co-operation, but now the Principals of the organisation were no longer there: he was the Principle and he would have to make the decisions from hereon, treading the knife-edge between what is popular and what he felt was right. He felt his Father's reassuring arm on his shoulder and his pulse slowed. He had a lifetime of advice to help him with his new responsibilities, as well as of his own experience.

He would make the best of it.

The voices reduced, the small boy stepped back quietly into the past and once again he breathed slowly and deeply and reflected on this strange new experience.

Yes, it was a strange thing,
being a King.