A Day Off
One of the constants in the Realm is that Tera, on the whole, tries very much never to take a day off from her duties. Whether they are real or imagined by her, they matter and, as such, she finds it to be the most difficult thing to take some time away for herself.
However, amazing as it may be, and though it is a story that seems to most to be impossible, she did, once, take a day off. The universe didn’t end, and there wasn’t a massive disaster or some other event to bring things to a screeching halt.
Of course, that day began with her trying to get out of bed and going off to her duties in the Realm. She even managed to make her way as far as the kitchen before she found herself carried back upstairs by Keith, her Eternal, tucked back in and told that things had been taken care of. The thing was, she had never noticed His Majesty picking her up, because, feverish and feint, had passed out into his arms when she sneezed.
“You are sick, my love,” Keith whispered warmly, “and the rest of us can handle things while you rest.”
She of course, said that she wasn’t and they couldn’t, insisting that she needed to be up and about. But, after a good deal of persuasion and a bit of tail rubbing done in the way that only Tera’s Eternal could know, she relented and fell asleep …
… at least until Keith had left.
Then she was up again, this time rummaging for a warm sweater in one of the bedroom closets. Of course she couldn’t take time off! There were things to be done, and she needed to do them. Having just pulled her favourite fuzzy red sweater on, she found Rianna standing in the doorway and frowning. The Princess told her mother that she would look after the visitors to the Realm and the Queen should be back in bed. Tera brushed that off, saying that she had to be there, but in the midst of doing so, she sneezed—quite loudly—and, with that, Rianna laid her mother back down, pulled the covers over her, and went off to take care of things.
Tera, of course, couldn’t stay in bed. She managed this time to make it out of her front door, all bundled up and looking quite miserable—something that, if she was in her right mind, would have concerned her. As she walked into the yard, her heart called out over the fence: “Dear One, you shouldn’t be up.”
“Things to do, my heart. Simply cannot be lying about in bed, otherwise they will never be done.”
“Couldn’t you try to do them from bed instead of making yourself sicker still by going out?”
She paused in mid-stride and replied: “Well … no, not really. I mean, it wouldn’t do for the Realm to see me sick in bed.”
“So it would do for them to see you sick in other places?”
Again, Tera considered, her tail in its cozy flicking slightly: “I am expected to be, as they say, ‘on the job’ my heart. I’ll be fine, I won’t overdo.”
He shook his head and sighed: “Dear One, you are overdoing right now. Turn yourself around, go back to bed. The Realm can carry on as things are for a day … or two … or longer.”
Adjusting his glasses, he replied: “There is no ‘but,’ Dear One. Turn your Royal Tail around and go back to bed.”
She smiled, a little bit of her usual mischievous self appearing among the sniffles and snuffles: “I have the feeling that you are in cahoots with Keith and Rianna to keep me home, my heart.”
He chuckled: “I assume you are aware of baseball and what it means when you have three strikes?”
Nodding in the direction of Tera’s home, he explained: “Well, you just had your third. Now go back inside, crawl into bed, and get some rest. You are, at least for today, out of the game, Dear One.”
Tera looked at him for a moment, as if thinking that she could just continue onwards, suffer through the day, and just manage as she needed to. But he took her left hand in his own, put his right on the small of her back, and began to lovingly but firmly lead her back to the Royal Bedchamber. “Be good, Dear One, and I’ll bring over some fresh-baked cookies.”
Tera started to laugh, but the cough overcame her for a moment. She thought she could wave him off, but he was there and guiding her back inside.
He returned the Queen of the Realm to her home, to her bed and, after a bit of searching, found a warm green blanket to put over her. Within moments, he had a mug of tea—his special blend, of course—in her hands.
She lay curled up there, looking at him on the other side of the room, and sighed: “I am sorry, my heart. I will be fine.”
Settled into a rocking chair, he looked up from the book he was reading: “Oh you will be, Dear One. I’ll be here in case you need something, after all.”
She started to protest, to explain that she knew he had things to do and needed to be off doing them. This took some time between the sniffles, but she managed to do so.
He just smiled: “I’m taking a day off, Dear One, and you wouldn’t want me to not enjoy my day off, would you?”
Tera blinked: “But you don’t take days off, my heart. Your sense of duty is every bit as strong as mine.”
He shrugged: “If you can, then I can.”
Setting the mug on the floor beside her bed, Tera snuggled a little deeper into the blanket: “Really cannot, you know.”
He turned a page: “Really can … we both can. One day will not be the end of things. We are simply putting the world on hold. It can wait, for a time.”
Closing her eyes, Tera asked: “What are you reading?”
“I’ll tell you about it sometime. Sleep for the moment, Dear One. You’ll feel better tomorrow.”
He thought that she had fallen asleep and had turned through several pages when she asked: “Will there be cookies?”
He chuckled: “Promise.”