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The Champion I Gave a Rose

by LaVerne Zocco

An old acquaintance came to call. He wore a medieval helmet like the knights of old. Fright squeezed my heart when he told me of a game he wished to play. I followed him to a secret place in the garden where a blood red moon looked down upon us. He mesmerized me, and chilled my blood with stories of death, how releasing it was, how final it was. Though he remained near me, he never touched me.

He crowned me Queen of Zanzibar with a diamond crown, and adorned me in beautiful silk gowns. He was my Champion dressed all in black, riding a coal-black steed whose two nostrils blew steam and whose mane was fiery. The steed stomped the ground and took flight. It swooped toward me with my Champion’s gleaming, iron-shod boots swinging dangerously near my head. I lay on the ground crying, but my Champion saved me. I only felt the wind behind the hooves. They never touched me.

My Champion always claimed victory so long as he received a rose from his queen, though he never explained his conquest.

I went on to live my life. For a long time, by grace, these delusions went into remission. What a life it turned out to be! My husband adored me and worked feverishly to give me all that I desired. We roamed the world to every country and visited as honored guests at balls given by the crowned heads of Europe. He bought us mansions and designer cars, and lavished gowns and diamonds upon me. He had become a renowned surgeon specializing in anomalies in the brain.

One day, my husband told me I was to become one of his patients. I had a stubborn illness he could not correct with surgery. From childhood I had suffered a malady of the mind, which was what caused me to have my dreams about the Champion I gave a rose.

Soon after my diagnosis, my husband died. I was left without friend, counselor or savior. I went on alone.

But yesterday my old acquaintance called again. For the first time, his horse’s hooves scratched me and left me with a blinding headache. My black knight took me in his arms. His touch assured me that he was yet my Champion.

Now I understood that my Champion had been fighting the anomaly in my brain, a short-circuit of axons and neurons twisting in disarray around blood vessels. The disturbance emerged in my mind as a black knight on a fiery steed. And he is death. Tomorrow he will be back, and the hooves will come closer.

Copyright © 2012 by LaVerne Zocco

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