Thou Shalt Not
the story of Mallow's birth and
Valentina's one desire
3 months later...
King Nimbus stood before her. She bowed low, not meaning a moment of it.
If this was the day, she knew, she would never bow to anyone again. Rising,
she asked him, "Yes, Your Majesty?"
"The Queen and I are going out tonight," he told her, "and... well, as much
as we love our son... well..." He found it hard to finish that sentence.
Patiently, Valentina waited while he thought. "We'd like to be completely
alone," he finished slowly. "So... if you could do us a favor..."
"I would be more than happy to babysit Mallow for you, Your Highness." She
smiled, completely polite.
The King looked relieved. "Thank you, Valentina..." He left to get Mallow,
and Valentina actually hopped up and down, grinning from ear to ear.
"Yesss!!!" For once, she could hardly wait to see the baby boy.
"Finally..." She danced around her desk clockwise, counterclockwise, and
all kinds of other wises, until the King and Queen returned with Mallow.
She took him in her arms, never showing the evil behind her gratitude. Their
Majesties turned, walked off, and so left the baby prince to his fate.
As soon as she heard the door close, Valentina called for...
He entered the room a little more slowly, it seemed. Did he know? It didn't
matter. He was too stupid to understand... wasn't he?
"I'm taking the baby to the garden, Dodo," she told him, staring him
in the face. "The garden. Have you got it?"
Dodo nodded... slowly.
"Good." She tested him. "So if anyone asks... I've taken him... to Midas
Dodo shook his head... slowly.
"Right." She glanced around. "Entertain yourself as best you can, Dodo. I'm
taking Mallow out... to the garden." And she walked away.
It was late in the evening, and the sun was slowly flaring down below the
white and gold horizon. Valentina was dressed in an long emerald green robe,
carrying Mallow with her in a wooden basket. Cradling the doomed prince in
her arms, she walked out to the royal bus.
"I need a ride to Midas River," she told the driver none too politely.
"Of course, Miss Valentina."
He saw Mallow. He smiled.
Avoiding the driver's friendly gaze, Valentina stepped aboard the royal bus.
She tried to keep her goosebumps down as the cottony cloud flew softly over
the rolling ocean, playfully gliding up and down with the chilling wind.
She kept a tight hold on Mallow, and for the shortest few seconds, was able
to enjoy the blossoming of the stars in the ultramarine sky. Letting her
mind wander, she stared ahead, hardly noticing the trees, beaches, and quiet
towns below. This is it, she told herself. This is it.
The bus floated down to the riverbank. Stepping carefully onto the damp,
slick grass, Valentina got off the bus and headed upriver. "Just taking the
prince for a walk," she told the driver. "Be back in a few minutes. Wait
for me." He waited. He didn't say a final word, he just looked at Mallow,
and he smiled again. And he waited.
Valentina made her way through the lush trees and flowering plants growing
along the river, fighting a hundred nervous doubts and the urge to hurry.
It'll be all right...
Finally she stopped. The bus couldn't be seen. Neither could she. There was
no one there but her... and him. There was almost no moon, but in its pearly
light she seemed almost angelic, even as the night covered her in a supernatural
darkness not unlike her own. She knelt by the water and lowered Mallow into
the river. But she didn't let go.
He was so small, wrapped warmly in a lavender blanket. His round black eyes
shone through the night, and on his white lips was a beautiful smile, a message
that broke on Valentina's heart: I trust you. I love you.
A current caught the basket, and it slipped away from her thin fingers. The
baby drifted away...
"Go," Valentina hissed. She watched him float, so helplessly. "Go! I
don't ever want to see you again!" As she shouted over the hills, she could
hear Mallow start to cry.
At his screaming tears, raindrops began to fall. They hit the river and rippled
on his rushing path. His sobs brought thunder upon the darkened earth. Lightning
flashed across Valentina's face and illuminated something deep and terrifying
in her soul. Then the light was gone.
Under a night that had seen the work of hate, thunder roared her name.
Monster. Killer. She stood, tearless, as it cursed her heart-- Know
what you have done. And on and on, a baby cried as the river took him