Constitutional Hazard © Marie Gail Stratford

Rulers can be dangerous to love.

They say he married her for her magic.  They say he demands too much, giving her no time to recover.  They speculate on what disturbing spells she performs, willingly, for her husband.

I’m only a maid.  I cannot afford an opinion.

Her hair disintegrates under my gentle comb.  I plaster cream on her grey cheeks, administer drops to whiten her eyes.

She is a willow without leaves, a wilted reed, a flower without its petals.

When she collapses, he divorces her.

I don’t believe his new wife loves him. Perhaps that will save her.

Word count: 100. Written for this week’s Friday Fictioneers flash fiction challenge.  Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting, and to Marie Gail for providing this week’s photo!  Click on the link to read other 100-word stories inspired by this photo, or contribute your own.

Bonus points for anyone who understands the title.  ((wink wink))

In real life news, I just got back from another excellent writers conference, and I am so excited about writing, WOO HOO!  If you haven’t tried these before, I highly recommend them. This one is small enough that you can get to know people, share experiences, learn from others who are farther along the publishing path, and just generally feel supported.  There’s nothing like being in a room full of people dealing with the same frustrations you’ve dealt with, who are still excited about writing.


49 thoughts on “Constitutional Hazard

    • It’s true, some people are just self-centered narcissists who can’t truly love another — probably rulers more often than others. I hadn’t thought about how he would eventually fall, but given what a jerk I’ve made him out to be, it’s a nice thing to imagine, that it will cause his downfall in the end!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I wonder at why she wilted so quickly. Was she consumed by the use of too much magic. Perhaps she didn’t have the constitution to cast so much? Too bad for her. Perhaps the new wife won’t cast so much and live longer. Great story as always!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love your writing here Joy. As others have sad, using the maid’s perspective works so well and your descriptions of the wife’s slow disintegration are at once chilling and beautiful. Really loved it. Glad you enjoyed your conference – filled with writing vim and vigour now?

    Liked by 1 person

      • Ugh, I wish — but somehow my whole week has been taken up with other things, and I’ve barely had time to write at all. I haven’t even gone over my notes from the conference to check all my “to do’s”. Hopefully I won’t forget so much that I can’t tell what my notes mean…. Although maybe I’m misunderstanding: do you mean a specific writing challenge?


  3. Oh dear. Does D & D refer to Dungeons and Dragons? Never played it, so I’m in the dark 🙂 However, I loved the story. This is a different kind of abuse, no less deadly than any other, crushing the energy, the soul, and the spirit. I like the maid. Sharp cookie 🙂


    • Thank you, glad you enjoyed it! I agree, the maid is sharp, and smart enough not to broadcast what she sees and thinks. And yes, I meant Dungeons and Dragons. The idea isn’t unique to that game though: that casting certain spells saps your “constitution” (think, health and vitality) and you have to rest a while to get back up to your healthy self. This was my interpretation of what having a reduced CON score due to repeated casting might look like.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ha ha, I don’t know how virtuous it is, but *not* being overly selfless might save the new wife’s life in this case! Although if she was stupid enough to marry him, seeing what happened to the last wife, maybe not. Everyone thinks that the narcissist/cheater/wife-beater won’t be like that with *them* — and almost all of them are wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. A lovely descriptive piece, one that evokes sympathy for the wife and kind thoughts for the caring maid. Ageing that quickly can’t be fun. (It’s bad enough ageing slowly!) I’m glad you explained about D&D because I had no idea what the Constitutional Hazard referred to.
    Your writers’ conferences sound really good. I’ve never been on one, so perhaps I should think about doing so.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad the story made sense to people who didn’t get the D&D reference, which was just a little side joke, really.

      The conference was great! It seems to be pretty unusual in its focus on writing skills, while not being a “workshop” setting. I’ve been looking for others to supplement it, especially something that is focused more specifically on fantasy/science fiction/speculative, and most of them are really fan cons — for the readers, less so for the writers, where the sessions are more on themes than on writing skills. Still, they sound like fun, and I’m scheduled for one of those in two weeks.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The local writing conference really is so supportive and educational, too. If you can find something like that in your area, I would definitely recommend it. The science fiction/fantasy cons, I’m less sure about, in terms of writing. But at least I’ll be watching panel talks and conversing with others who are interested in the same type of books that I like (and that I write). It seems like a good place to meet others who also like to spend all dinner talking about magic systems or world building. 🙂 I know there are conferences specifically for romance writers and mystery writers; I’ll bet there are some for historical fiction, too.


  5. Pingback: Interview with Writer, Published Author, and Blogger: Lynn Love #interview #nonfiction – Mandibelle16

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