The Frustration of Rhiannon
by Rachel Parsons
I have a right to be frustrated. Some would deny me this, as I am queen; others would nod in perfect agreement, as I am condemned to go naked for all my days, being the cursed of Graymulkin, what the minstrels call the “unadorned adornment of the people of New Fairy.” Phooey! Pardon my language. But I am frustrated. At least I was that morning.
The, well, frustrating thing was I knew not what I was frustrated about. It wasn’t that I was naked; I will never get used to that, but it wasn’t that. Nor the stack of correspondence; I had yet to start on my replies to my viceroys, my generals, my petitioners, but it was all in a day’s work.
And my latest story was going well. I looked at it as I got up from my desk, then bent over to make a correction. My bosoms dropped on the parchment; I got ink on my left nipple. I took a tissue, made of silk, and wiped the ink off. My bosoms, exposed, were the butt of witticisms which I was not supposed to know about. Oh, I could hear it now: “And she doth use her nipples to wipe her writings. Her milk will erase the most horribilist stain, methinks.” I was not a mother, I knew not what milk I would give, but at that moment I wished it to be streaming acid. “Take that, varlet,” as I squirted in the imagined jokester’s eye.
That was my mood. I walked over and looked at my grounds. The well-manicured lawn; the servants toiling in the dawn’s light for my benefit. I smiled. They were in their yeoman’s pantaloons and shirts and it might be a little less frustrating if they, like I, or like a New Prydain slave, had to perform their duties unclad. Especially that one, a young man whose buttocks were firm enough you could strike a flint on them and start a fire. Oh, my goodness.
Where was I? Oh, yes; I was frustrated. Part of it was that I had rung the bell for my lady-in-waiting, Rosalyn, oh, a half hour ago, and she had not dropped everything she was doing to attend me. This was obvious by the fact that she was not in attendance. The shrew. The bell chord dangled above my desk and I yanked it. It came down. Lovely.
But the coffee on the wood burning stove would surely help. I went over to it and noticed that the percolator wasn’t steaming. I picked it up carefully. I cannot use a glove or a cozy; that would be a covering. And my servant still hadn’t come. The shrew.
I bent the percolator over to pour into a cup; it was from my latest collection; ivory from the Great Northern Jungle; made from unicorn horns. Offworlders say that hunting beasts for their ivory is some kind of sin, but what do they know; they don’t even believe in unicorns and their world has no animals, they having hunted them all to death. The rogues.
I screamed. The coffee pot was empty. I slammed open the cupboards above the stove to no avail. Some varlet had taken all the precious beans. The grinder was still there; I picked it up and futilely turned the crank. Cranks can’t satisfy if they have nothing to crank.
I went back to my desk, sat down, and picked up a pamphlet. It contained a review of my last story, “The Year of the Dead Rose.” It started off very flattering; then got to almost treasonous criticism. I am not “full of myself during my time of blessings.” How dare he? Let him go about naked and bleed for all the world to see. Let him make a flood while others make merry. Let him swallow the spiky snake. Let him... but I digress. (And no! This wasn’t my time of blessings, with all due regard for your solicitude.)
The criticism ended with “her majesty writes novels like a queen.” I caught the reference to the Terran Emperor. Hah. Hah.
My father had always cheered me up at these times by taking me to a beheading. Maybe I should arrange for one. Critics first; then the lawyers; then anyone who jokes about my bosoms being so large their milk could replenish the Don, should it go dry. Hah. Hah. Varlets, all.
I got up, descended the pair of half stairs that allowed me to look down at all who needed an audience with me, burst out the iron doors as if they were made of paper, and went stomping after my lady in waiting. She was going to hear of my frustration. The shrew.
I found her in a drum tower where the servants would congregate on the off hours. Off hours? She has no off hours. She is to attend to me twenty-six hours a day, seven days a week. She knows this. The little bitch.
She was sitting at a table by a corbel with three men; all scoundrels by the looks of them. I shall terminate them all. Off with their heads! As the greatest Terran monarch, the Red Queen hath said. Rosalyn’s brown hair just lying on her back down to where it could cover her, should she be in my predicament; she was in a silver kirtle, leather buskins, and had on a chain that adumbrated the kirtle. It had coins dangling right below the nipples. Well-concealed nipples, I noted sourly. The men were in various stages of undress. One only had his codpiece on. I put my hands on my hips and coughed. No response.
Rosalyn’s eyes were intently focused on her cards, which she held close to her bosoms. The men were sweating at her anxiously. I couldn’t stand it anymore.
“Little Mistress Morgan, cease what you are doing and attend me.” I knew I sounded like my mother as I said this, never speak ill of the dead. Especially those days, as the rupture I had created between the living and the dead to win the war with the offworlders still hadn’t healed.
The men shook off their trance at Rosalyn’s cards and gaped at me.
She jerked toward me. “Not now, Rhiannon. Can’t you see I’m busy?”
Any other servant would be boiled in oil for that, but aside from the shipment of oil being late, she was my truest companion. When I had been tossed out by King Ferrell, naked and alone, on the mean streets of New Prydain, she had been mother, sister, mentor, and, um, friend to me. When it had been her turn to crawl to me for help, she had become my servant, but was still, um, my friend to me. But enough was enough.
“You attend me, not some silly game.”
She looked at the codpiece wearer. “But it is just getting interesting,” she whined.
“Oh, very well. I will play your game in your stead, but you must attend me.”
She got up; we exchanged places. Goddesses, the chair, wooden and hard, made my buttocks quiver. Servants don’t have buttery fine leather like I do, an omission I vowed at that moment to look into, in case this happened again, which, knowing Rosalyn, it would.
“Now scoot,” I commanded, as I picked up her cards. Nearly choked when I saw her hand.
“Oh, give away all my secrets, why don’t you, Rhiannon? Just because you can’t have any doesn’t mean we all have to be as unveiled. And I will not ‘scoot’ as you say, until you tell me what it is you wish.”
“Coffee, of course, you silly goose. Get me my coffee!” I demanded.
With a dramatic display of sighing, and a rolling of the eyes to signify to the men, ‘What can I do; she is queen,’ she left; her buskins making a military cadence.
I knew there would be hell to pay if I didn’t play her hand the way she would, so I tensed up. The men went back to their feral focusing, which was disconcerting, as their pupils were obviously on the cards in my hands, and not on my royal nipples. (I’ll never understand the stronger sex.)
I had nearly forfeited all of Rosalyn’s advantage when I had choked at her cards, so, to make it up, I began whistling. Then snickering. Then laughing. I stomped my feet. Finally, the men folded.
Mr. Codpiece became Mr. Naked, and the others removed their shirts. I became fascinated by the stakes of the game; especially of the one whose pectoral muscles showed him to be the servant in charge of chopping the wood. But then a horrible thought occurred to me. I had won this round for Rosalyn.
But if the stakes were clothing, what would I bet next???
My thoughts were broken when Mr. Naked asked to see what hand had made his manhood a trophy for me. After glancing at it and smirking, curling my left index finger nail in a manner that would really hurt should I actually do it on his exposed tool, I placed my cards down. Showed the pathetic little pair.
“You shamed me over a pair?”
“Most men are shamed over my pair,” I returned. His fellows started forth to restrain his treason, but he was too fast for them. He was almost on top of me. I jumped up, knocking the chair down, and kicked him in what had involuntarily become a very large and swelled target. We were in closed quarters, so I used the top of my foot to thump and scrape. He went down, clutching his member, whining and crying.
“Oh, I knew this would happen.” Rosalyn had returned with a silver plate that had on it a demitasse. That was it? She brought me a demitasse? Oh, there would be hell to pay. The shrew.
“Knew what would happen?”
“That you would spoil the game. I suppose you were a sore loser.”
“Look at him and the others. Does it look like I lost?” I said smugly.
“Aye, that it doesn’t.” She grinned, setting the plate and coffee down.
I inhaled it like it was the breath of a goddess. “But is this all there is?”
She came up to me; kissed me. “Of course not, Rhiannon. But the rest will have to wait until we get to your chambers.”
Arm in arm, we left the men to tend to their wounded member, and him to tend to his wounded member.
We arrived at my chambers. Rosalyn opened the door.
“Man-God, Rhiannon, you need to have a guard open your doors for you, if you are going to make them of iron and eitann.”
“Stop sniveling and attend me,” I said, still frustrated.
“As you wish, your highness,” she said with treasonable sarcasm.
She sashayed into the office ahead of me, the shrew. Then she went to the percolator, put on the insulating glove, and poured a cup of coffee. She inhaled the steam.
“Oh, this be wonderful, Rhiannon.”
“That coffee is for me,” I said, stomping my foot.
“What are you going to give me for it?” she grinned.
“A good spanking if you don’t give it to me right this instant.”
“A good spanking? Aye, that would be a good start.” She put down the coffee, pulled off the kirtle and stood there, once again taking my coffee in her hands. “Come and get it.”
“Oh, don’t think I won’t.” I stalked up to her. She lifted the coffee over her head and then pretended I was some bear she was baiting. She danced around the room, taking sips as she did. Sips of my coffee!
I finally launched myself at her; fell on top of her. The coffee cup came crashing down, but being of unicorn ivory, it did not shatter. The magnificent brew made a sad puddle on the wooden planks of my office.
I did not care. I was no longer frustrated.
“The Frustration of Rhiannon” is in the vein of “The Most Exasperating Woman on the Planet.” It was inspired by a day in the life of Catherine the Great. She once rang for a servant; he never came. She found him playing cards. She made him do whatever she rang for and played his hand.
Copyright © 2007 by Rachel Parsons