All the King’s Puppets and All the King’s Strings

King Alexander of Greece

All the King’s Puppets and All the King’s Strings
by Avra Margariti

King Alexander dreams of puppets. Stringed dolls of tanned wood and fabric-scrap fatigues fighting losing battles for freedom. You must never forget that we are foreigners, his father used to say before his exile, but you must make your Hellenic subjects forget. In his dreams, puppets are split in half by crescent swords and shotgun bullets, wood splinters flying, blinding and bloodying. He curls against his wife Aspasia, a commoner. She knows he is also made of knotted strings and sapling wood. Together they descend deeper into slumber, their German Shepherd snuffling beneath the royal bed. Chasing ethereal prey.

On the sprawling grounds of Tatoi, palace monkeys squeal between trees. A mated pair of domestic macaques share an apple, sugared juice dripping over tawny fur. Within the swirl of cyanide seeds and intoxicated worms, the macaques dream a choreographed battle of their own. The king’s German Shepherd, on a stroll with his young master. A split second: canine jaws unhinging, clamping around the male monkey’s throat. His mate retaliating, sharp fangs sinking into King Alexander’s leg. No grainy wood now, but pampered skin pierced, blue blood tainted. Septic prophecy. In the mountain winds, the puppet king’s strings of life, snapping loose.

Avra Margariti is a queer Social Work undergrad from Greece. She enjoys storytelling in all its forms and writes about diverse identities and experiences. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in SmokeLong Quarterly, The Forge Literary, Baltimore Review, and other venues. You can find her on twitter @avramargariti.

Audio read by Mileva Anastasiadou.

Detail from photograph of King Alexander of Greece, 1917 via Wikimedia Commons.