Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Salome and the Feast- Short Story

From the moment she laid her eyes upon him, the quiet man with an intense gaze, captured her imagination. He was not the first man to visit the palace and definitely was not the last. In fact many people came from far and wide to carry out their business or re- establish their alliances with the kingdom, and as usual upon the arrival of any important guest, the palace showcased their greatest luxuries by putting up a great feast, serving the best wines and the most exotic dishes. However for Salome, the young princess who was mesmerised by this quiet man, all the delicacies at the table could not make her stomach churn with hunger.

Generally the Princess suffered from a lack of appetite, no amount of food served in a delectable luxurious manner before her, could foster her interest. She spent most of her days within the palace walls, haunting the multiple corridors of mosaics. At the tender age of sixteen, Salome had no sense of curiosity or aspirations for life. The only thing that gave her futile sense of existence a trivial spark of beauty and gist, was her love for singing. Whenever Salome studied and practiced singing, her pale skin suddenly rejuvenated, her sunken eyes danced with fire and passion, and frail body became infatuated with rhythm.
That night she sat at the table and stared at the, quiet man with an intense gaze, she wondered to herself, who this fascinating stranger was. From what ends of the earth did he and his magnificent stallion, come from? What business did this reputed foreign prophet have with my father the king? What stories could his sweet lips utter that her innocent ears dare listen to? As she sat there pondering the majesty of this stranger, she soon realized that, this quiet man with an intense gaze, showed no interest in her and barely knew she existed
Regardless, the delicate young princess could not deny the changes her body was experiencing. For the first time she knew what it was like to yearn, living, and to ache for more than just an existence, to desire meaning! For the first time, she felt a little fire under her bony casing of a chest, and smiled
That night as the palace walls fell quiet and the surrounding garden lights that lit up the cemetery, grew dim, the Princess snuck out of her chambers and slipped into the guests’ room. There, the fragile young woman boldly asked the, quiet man with the intense gaze, to take her as his bride and in return, he could have anything in the kingdom his heart desired.
“This kingdom is not where my heart wants to settle” he replied, “I am not interested in the riches and wealth you possess, nor does my loins desire the likes of someone so brittle”
“Your father, the King, has threatened my people with war, the love I have for my people and my land, is far greater than anything your foolishness can offer. I have promised to return to my people, there is where my heart belongs”
Humiliated and disillusioned, Salome returned to her chambers, wishing for nothing more than to sleep beneath the dim garden lights
The next night as the Princess carried out the monotonous and gratuitous task of sitting down to a dinner table polluted with the finest cuisine, the King made a proposal to Salome, her spirit could not refuse
“This evening, my beautiful Princess, I want you to sing for your dear mother and I, in return for agreeing to this request, I will bequest to you, your hearts desires. Whatever you want, shall be yours”
“Promise me, it will be whatever I want” she implored
“I promise Salome, whatever your heart desires, shall be yours”
“Then my heart desires the quiet man, with the intense gaze, that has stolen my mind’s eye. I want the prophet”
“Then I will grant your wish, my child” the King quipped with a hearty laugh
Disappointed that the Prophet was not at the dinner table that night to appreciate her charm and listen to her sing, but nonetheless inspired by her fathers promise, the Princess sang the King’s favorite song to perfection. And as she gracefully, poured out of her soul, the final words of the song, the guests at the table cheered and smiled, clapping delightedly at the beautiful transformation that they just witnessed
As Salome sat proudly at the table and stared at her father, he replied with a smile on his face,

“Salome, your wish is my command”
And with these words, the servants began to serve the guests at the table; their glasses were filled with the finest wines. The best silver cups and dishes decorated the already copious feasting table, and right at the centre, a silver platter was placed, with a dish of sweet- smelling meat, prepared with fruit, walnuts and spices from a far away land, and yet again, Salome, laid her eyes upon the dish and was enchanted by that quiet man with the intense gaze!
For the first time in her life, the Princess partook of the palatable feast before her, savoring every last bite, overflowing with joy, knowing, that every bite of the dish in the centre of the table, meant the fulfillment of the promise by her father. The king from the head of the table, with out eating at all, stared at his daughter and smiled.

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