The King Takes a Vacation
Author’s note: I wrote this as an exercise with my writing group; the prompt called for a story with a king, pirate, and pitchfork. Sometimes being forced to write something in a short amount of time can really unleash your creativity. And sometimes, it can’t. I’ll let you be the judge of which scenario applies to this!
Once upon a time there was a king who thought of himself as being very daring and bold,
But one day he realized he was actually timid and old.
He sat on his throne and felt like crying.
His daughter wandered by and asked, “What’s wrong?” He wanted to tell her the truth, but he couldn’t help lying.
“I’m going away on an adventure, for a very long time.”
“Hmm,” said his daughter. “If I were you, I wouldn’t cry; I’d feel fine.”
“I’ll miss you, is all,” the king said, and then he got up and patted her head. “Be a good girl while I’m gone.”
“Goodbye, Father!” she called after him. “And don’t worry, because nothing will go wrong!”
The king packed up his bags and struck out on the path.
He hadn’t made it far when a pirate jumped out at him and screamed, “Fear my wrath!”
The old king shrieked and fainted away.
The pirate looked at him, shrugged, and went on his way.
Meanwhile, back at the castle, the princess was in charge.
“I know,” she said, “I’ll throw a party. A big one. Huge. Large!”
The invitations went out and everyone was excited.
All except the peasants, who weren’t even invited.
“It’s not fair,” they grumbled under their breath.
“We toil for the king and work ourselves to death.
But what thanks do we get? None at all.
We have no choice then. We’ll ruin the ball!”
They plotted and schemed and came up with a plan.
All were in agreement, except for one man.
“Life isn’t fair, I agree, but neither is this.
The princess is nice, so listen to me, lis-”
“No,” the peasants shouted, and locked him in one of their huts.
“We have to get even, no ifs, ands, or buts!”
The day of the ball arrived and the princess was glad.
Although also worried, no word from her dad.
The king had recovered from his initial scare.
He’d joined the pirates; enemies beware!
The king was now fearsome and daring and bold.
He loved his new life, whatever it might hold.
But sometimes while pillaging he thought of his daughter.
And one day, finally, he said, “Well, I oughter…”
And so he told the pirates that this was the end,
But when the time came, he couldn’t leave his friends.
“I know,” the king shouted. “Come home with me!”
“Okay,” they agreed. “We’re sick of the sea.”
So back to his kingdom went the pirates and he,
And his daughter, when she saw them, shouted merrily,
“Father, welcome! You’re just in time for the ball!
Everyone is invited, everyone, one and all!”
The party had started, and everyone danced.
But the king looked around, rightly and then askance.
“Not everyone is at the ball, my daughter dear.
It seems that none of our peasants are here!”
The princess was shocked at her horrible mistake.
“I’ll right it, dear father, whatever it takes!”
But it was too late; the plan was in motion.
If only the king had come back sooner from the ocean!
But wait — there was one person who could stop the plan.
And fortunately he’d gotten free, and he ran and he ran
Up to the castle, up to the king.
“I know just what to do, to right everything!
Round up your pirates and have them attack.
The peasants will be too afraid to fight back.
The pirates can herd them all up to the castle —
Yes, I know it’s a hassle.
But the peasants will see that you wanted them here,
And they’ll eat and they’ll dance and they’ll drink and they’ll cheer.”
“Great idea!” said the princess and gave him a hug.
“It’s worth a try,” said the king with a shrug.
So the pirates herded peasants like cows on the range.
The peasants complied, though it felt rather strange.
They came to the ball where the princess made amends,
And they ate and they danced and they drank and were friends.
As the ball wound down the king looked around.
“Things turned out so well, perhaps I’ll head back out of town!”
His idea was met with peels of nervous laughter,
So his daughter went instead, and they all lived happily ever after.
E.D. Martin is a writer with a knack for finding new jobs in new places. Born and raised in Illinois, her past incarnations have included bookstore barista in Indiana, college student in southern France, statistician in North Carolina, economic development analyst in North Dakota, and high school teacher in Iowa. She draws on her experiences to tell the stories of those around her, with a generous heaping of “what if” thrown in.
She currently lives in Illinois where she job hops while attending grad school and working on her novels. Read more of her stories at her website.