The night was filled with screaming. The recently widowed Queen lay in her bed as she screamed into the night. Pain suffused her body as she clenched the bed sheets beneath her that were slowly stained with blood. The doctor who had been pulled from the comforts of his bed had arrived at the royal house as soon as possible. Maids rushed about trying to help the doctor as best they could.
Beyond the bedroom door, the newly appointed King paced in the corridor. Hand clasped behind his back, he sent up silent prayers for his sister-in-law. He begged God, Buddha, all the high powers in the universe, to not take away his sister-in-law as they had done to his elder brother just a few hours ago. When they - himself, his wife and sister-in-law - had heard the news of the car crash that killed the King and the two attendants with him, his sister-in-law had collapsed immediately. He truly believed it was a broken heart that prompted the Queen to go into labour two months early.
He stopped by a chair which had been dragged out for him to sit on in the hall. He kicked it ruthlessly before continuing to pace. He felt guilt itching through him. He was supposed to be in that car, not his brother. He was supposed to go to the press conference, not his brother. Now, as the Queen gave birth, he was pacing in the hallway when it should be the late King doing so.
The door cracked open a few inches and a familiar face appeared. He froze, barely breathing as he asked his wife for a status report. She smiled weakly but shook her head as another scream pierced into the night. She was called back into the room and closed the door once more. Unable to do anything, he continued pacing. Several times a butler had come to offer him some kind of refreshment, anything to help the new King. He silenced him with a stare at the title of ‘Sire’ then waved them off without a thought.
He had been raised as the second son, as the spare. He wasn’t given the extensive training to be a King as his brother had. No, their father had favoured the eldest son from the moment their mother gave birth to a second son. He was as well educated as his brother, but it was his brother who sat in on conference meetings, who the King would explain matters of the crown to in the library.
Just a few hours ago he had become King and it never truly hit him until now as the Queen was in her bedroom giving birth to - hopefully - the next King. He direly hoped that the baby would be a boy, he then would only have to rule over South Korea for eighteen years and then when the boy came of age, he could lift the burdens from his shoulders. Yes, that’s what he would do. He wasn’t ready to be a King and couldn’t be one his entire life. With the world entering a world of internet and new technology that would make things easier, he knew that he couldn’t handle the pressure of leading a country.
The night was split with a second cry joining the Queen’s. Suddenly, he couldn’t take it, he opened the door to chaos. The doctor was extracting a crying baby from the Queen’s body. When the Queen collapsed and began to shake, the doctor all but shoved the baby into a maid’s hands to clean it off. He called for more help, coaching the Queen to stay awake, to stay with them.
Scared and with nothing to do, the King walked over to the maid who was standing still, watching the Queen convulse upon her bed. He took the crying baby from the maid who didn’t even look at her charge once. He brought the baby over to where a cleaning station had been set up by the Queen’s vanity and carefully sponged the baby clean.
As calamity reigned behind him, the King was absorbed and awed at the little bundle of life in his arms. He dried it off and wrapped it in a waiting blanket. He looked down at the baby, rocking it, whispering for it to stop crying. His attention was broken when silence suddenly fell upon those behind him.
He turned away from the vanity and looked as everyone was very still. The doctor reached and pulled down his mask that covered his nose and mouth. He silently crossed himself as did the others around the Queen’s bed. His eyes sought his wife’s, but she had fallen to her knees by the head of the bed, hand tightly clutching the Queen’s limp hand.
He felt the edge of a chair behind him and plopped down in it, his arms still securely around the babe. He looked down into its angelic little face. It was a miracle, a profound mystery of life in his arms. Now, as he pulled his eyes from the lifeless body of his sister-in-law, he knew that so many burdens and trials lay at this newborn’s feet.
The doctor approached as he drew off his gloves, “Your Majesty? What is it?”
The King looked down at the baby who began to cry again, presumably hungry for the milk its mother could never give. Over come with so many emotions, the King strugled for the right words. He took a deep steadying breath as he met the doctor’s gaze, “A baby girl.”
(The Beyond Words Series)