Queen Joan and the Cobalt Blue Mirror (8)

by cheri block

Queen Joan, too, was readying herself to move, one last time.

She adjusted her crown, tipping it back a bit for balance and appointment.

She valued balance since her body had lost it 15 years ago in a virulent attack by an assertive virus.

Her crown’s positioning she could control, so she lifted her little chin upward, rested on her walker by the sink, and primped.

What did she see in her mirror? She wasn’t sure, this morning.

Who was that tiny woman with boundless determination trying to survive in a body and mind that were wearing out.

She leaned in toward her mirror, confused about the reflection.

One moment, when the mirror bordered the medicine cabinet, she saw an old face, one strained by pain but buttressed by faith. In it, her lips moved nervously in anticipation of the big day ahead. The large ruby in the center of her crown sparkled, reminding her that Queens must be leaders, despite all pain.

Suddenly, her mirror trumpeted a royal tune (she jumped at the announcement!) transforming itself into a shiny diamond shape, bounded by a cobalt blue and gold rococo frame. The medicine bottles, formerly lined up by the sink like hostage negotiators, obediently took to the air, exited the bathroom (as if ordered by Peter Pan himself), flew out the window, and  plummeted into the trash bin below.

Then, the trombones involved themselves in the magic. The deep tenor blast rocketed the plastic seat in the shower straight out the door (almost hitting Queen Joan in the back), followed by the cyclonic exodus of ointments and salves, vitamins and supplements, cochlear implants and batteries.

What did she see in her mirror now?

She was absolutely positive she saw the real Joan.

She adjusted her crown, brushed her beautiful white teeth, winked in the mirror (which winked back) and readied herself for the  move to the mound.

About Cheri

Writer, photograph, artist, mother, grandmother and wife.
This entry was posted in My fiction, The Dragon in the Lobby: a fairytale about Assisted Living and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to Queen Joan and the Cobalt Blue Mirror (8)

  1. wkkortas says:

    It’s finally hit me–this tale reminds me of (well, it’s not as breezy in tone, but that’s probably not a bad thing) of John Gardner’s Mad Queen Luisa stories; there’s the same beguiling mix of dry wit and nonchalant, matter-of-fact flights of surreality making for enchanting reading.

  2. Cheri says:

    I am not familiar with John Gardner’s stories. When such a wordsmith as you, leaves such a kind comment for me (on such a challenging day , ), I am so appreciative of your thoughts and kindness.

  3. I hope Queen Joan always has days like this!

  4. Long live Queen Joan..and Princess Cheri.

    • Cheri says:

      Welcome home, Paul. I missed you!

      I saw your photos of Mexico on your blog but haven’t had a chance to comment. So much going on. I do expect a blog post about #4…the one where you were doing an extreme sport with your grandkids…but the ride in the car/jeep was horrible?

  5. Kayti Rasmussen says:

    I worship at the feet of Queen Joan and her evaluator!

  6. Cyberquill says:

    I don’t recall the last time I read a post on this blog that I actually understood. Every time I check in here I feel I’ve landed on a random page in the middle of a novel I randomly picked off a shelf, and I don’t know who’s who nor what’s going on.

    Is there an official complaint form I could fill out?

    • Cheri says:

      No particular reason except that color jumped into my mind while writing the chapter.

      Is Cobalt on the periodic table? 🙂 I’ve been looking at the elements lately.

      I’ve been studying physics (true) so I can understand Richard Rhodes’ The Making of the Atomic Bomb. What an amazing story teller he is.

      It may be one of the best books I have read! (even though it is 800 pages). I’m only on page 225. I’ll tell you why I am reading it later.

      • Richard says:

        No particular reason is as good as any.

      • sledpress says:

        The mention of Cobalt-Blue in the title was one thing that drew me into this chapter especially powerfully. It made me think of old apothecary jars (the color is still used in the containers of the arnica that I use professionally and, sap that I am, I save the empty bottles and put them in the window).

        I think of the periodic table as one of the great romances of the rational mind.

  7. Cheri says:

    Thank you Paul.
    The Cult of Ambiguity works well for me, especially considering my performance during the month of August.

    But September has arrived! A new month.

    And we’ve learned we’re to have a baby granddaughter in January!

  8. steven block says:

    I kinduv agree with CyberQ; knowing Queen Joan the way I do, the piece choked me up, but without the history, it is amorphous-maybe you should write a biography of Q. Joan starting in Dallas, Tx at Highland Park High with her high school pals, Doak Walker and Bobby Lane, and mention of her friendship with Elliot M. See, an astronaut killed in 1966 in a T-38. Her sojourn to the West Coast, her return to Dallas, and Prince Hugh’s scramble to Texas to find her, two years and White Sands and the Honest John program, it really is a great story. Then, end the biography with this post-it’s a great ending….there I go again, I’m getting choked up.

    Long live the Queen!

  9. Cheri says:

    With all the prescriptions, doctors’ appointments, hardware store runs, and general hamster wheel effort we are putting in on her behalf, I am expecting her to live long.

    Getting choked up is good for middle aged men. In fact, I find myself much attracted to me who get choked up, need a hankie, or show their feelings. All good.

    So cry your eyes out.

  10. Man of Roma says:

    Cheri, I am printing your story with all its parts and will read it during the week end. Didn’t have a chance to do it earlier and comment. Ciao Princess!

  11. Man of Roma says:

    And congrats for the next baby girl!

  12. Wonderful, Cheri! My salutations to Queen Joan. Long may she reign in her majesty and courage. And congrats on the granddaughter!

  13. Cheri says:

    Hi Solid Gold,

    After reading your latest post on ambiguity, I went back to this piece and edited, so thank you for taking the time to create that post. Very valuable for all aspiring writers…

    We all hope for the best for Queen Joan.

  14. Richard says:

    Beautiful portrait of Joan. All her character, personality and potential, as you have conveyed them, are there, even at so young an age, and are immutable.

  15. Cheri says:

    We treasure this portrait. Imagine sitting for such a painting as a five year old. I believe it took the artist about 6-7 weeks…

    Immutable, yes.

  16. Man of Roma says:

    A striking tale that is also moving, considering your difficult moment with your mother. In moments of grief the princess (and surely the Queen) show imagination, strength and faith in life no matter what. The birth of a little girl is a good omen. I suppose the painting is real. The Queen was and is beautiful. And I agree there is something immutable. Of the princess, I’ve already said many times. Hate to be repetitive 🙂

  17. dafna says:


    i read all your posts about your mother, but they were too close to the heart to comment. we went through this process many years ago when my grandmother who was living with us had to enter assisted living and then the nursing home.

    the process is now beginning with my parents who both show signs of dementia. unlike your mother, my parents are convinced they are “doing fine on their own”, therefore baring a sudden death, i’m staring at the unpleasant prospect of having to acquire power of attorney against their will…

  18. Cheri says:

    Thanks dafna.

    My siblings and I are heading into a difficult period with my sweet mother. I haven’t had the heart or the humor to write about this situation.

    Several of my friends are going through the same thing that you are characterizing about your parents. It is very difficult. My sleep patterns have been wrestling around with these private griefs all summer.

  19. Cheri says:

    Thank you, Richard.
    Much appreciated.


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