baby, take me to the feeling --
Carly remembers running, spinning around. Late nights spent exploring cities, being free. Karaoke and shots and chicken wings and tiny expensive sushi places, dumplings and pizza and subway cars that were almost empty and.
She ran and she danced and she sang. And sometimes she wants to run. Right now, she's home. Right now, she's not running. Right now, she's royalty.
She presses her wrist to her forehead. Hot, hot. But not clammy. Powder puffs into the air as she drops her arm back by her side again, and she takes a deep breath. She hears the word Queen echo from somewhere far away.
She opens her eyes.
Flowers, everywhere. Flowers on every surface. It smells like a greenhouse, but the air is cool. There are flowers in her hair. There are flowers on her shoes. She feels that if she opens her mouth there may be a flower there.
But then she blinks, and the feelings go away. The flowers bloom more with every blink, every step.
The palace is crystalline; each wall, each pane, each angle of roof is made of crystal. If Carly pays too much attention to it, and the lilac or pink or blue or purple colour of her hands, wrists, cheeks, then she worries that she will become crystal too.
But no, she wouldn’t allow it.
What appeals about the crystal? It is tough, adaptable, translucent, vulnerable. It’s beautiful. It’s not floral, and yet here are so many floral colours. Yellow flowers turned purple and pink in the light.
If Carly closes her eyes and feels her heart like golden clockwork, she will know, she will remind herself, that it is down to her. That it is hers. That what she makes refracts and splinters her; but that it can also be unmade.
As she sweeps her skirts across the hallway and towards her throne room, she hears a voice. What’s it saying?
Queen of Flowers.
Carly thinks: oh. And as she glances sideways at the flowers, they grow. Each plant expands outwards. Pots shatter and earth falls to the floor.
“Stop!” she calls. She gestures down . The flowers shrink back, their faces still held towards her as if she’s the sun. They stop growing, but they are still blooming. There is so much colour and pollen in here.
She changes course and runs towards her bedchamber instead. Much less dangerous. She hopes, she hopes.
She needs a break.
She runs past an open door and thinks she has been quick, but maybe not quick enough. Because there it comes, a moment later, one cry:
Queen of only showing the left elbow!
So they only caught a glimpse. She looks down at her dress. It’s white, with a pale floral colour over it. As she considers it, the dress grows longer and bigger until just one arm remains bare.
Carly sighs, but she’s got this. This is easy. “I’ve got worse problems,” she says. She pulls up her skirts and continues to run towards her bedroom, her sanctuary.
Another cry reaches her! And another!:
Queen of lights
Queen of green lights
She gasps as she hears them. The crystal ceiling above her bursts into light. It glows green down on her. She feels like she’s a flower in her own atrium, like she’s about to grow and burst free. But it’s too much, too much. She raises her hands in the air -- her dress has returned to normal -- and she lowers them. The lights dim, but they’re still green.
Huh. Green light -- she thinks about that. Is that taken? Maybe she can get a song or two from the feeling the lights gave her, that first moment. The aloneness, the heat, the colour.
Shit, Green Light is the lead single from Lorde’s new album. She strikes the mental note from her record. She forgot for a second. She prefers The Louvre. It’s a good album. She likes Lorde a lot -- but everything is different here. Every day is different. And she’s still running. Her room is just ahead.
She propels herself through her door, and immediately reads the affirmations that are pinned to the wall above her dressing table:
Queen of magic. Queen of night time. Queen of wrapping arms around women.
She takes a deep breath as her friends appear. They start to ask questions, but Carly doesn’t mind. She wraps her arms around each one in turn. And hey, there’s Lorde!
It’s dark outside. Her room has these big, big mirrors. And the green lights have followed Carly here, but she doesn’t mind. She’s in her space now. It can be so tiring being queen. It can be so tiring being queen of, like, everything. Sometimes Carly just has to be by herself? And by herself with all her best women.
“What’s going on?” Lorde says. “Where are we?”
Carly smiles and rubs at her head. She’s still not totally used to the new hair colour. She keeps catching sight of it in mirrors and it surprises her each time. But she likes it.
“It’s kind of hard to explain,” Carly says. There’s a mini-fridge next to her bed and she opens it to offer everyone a cold can of... whatever they want. It doesn’t run out. Written above it in sparkly sharpie pen are the words:
Queen of cold beverages
“This is where I’m from,” Carly says. She gestures at the bed, the fridge, the crystal windows. “I grew up on earth, but I guess, this is my home? Like, I woke up here one day? And it feels pretty good?”
OK, she can't explain, it was silly to try. time for an example. “Give me your diet coke a sec,” she says.
Lorde looks down at the can, then hands it to Carly. She looks slightly bemused. So Carly clears her throat, and reads:
“Queen of converting casual settings into surrealist disco raves.”
It all gets a bit crazy after that.
“Wow,” Lorde breathes. Carly agrees. They’re dancing on the ceiling, then on the roof, in the gardens, running away across the heath only to arrive back where they started. Confetti and glitter and stars rain down from the sky and then rush back up again, and real rain hits and is so warm that it almost scalds Carly’s skin, but then a second later it feels like ice, and there is music playing far away but she can feel it in her bones and it -- and --
It has been a very long day.
“I’d welcome you all to my court,” Carly says. “But you all deserve to have palaces of your own. Maybe you already do.”
It’s hard to say out loud. It can be lonely being queen of anything. Sometimes she needs to have her friends around. She pulls them in for another round of hugs, and another song, and fizzy soda, and pink lights, green lights, dancing all night, on the roof until dawn.
Birds fly past the palace, and they caw. No, they call.
Queen. Queen. Queen.
over the weekend
we could turn the world to gold--