Part I: A Matter of Time

It is only a matter of time.

I sit by the window in my chamber, watching the leaves of the persimmon tree slowly fall to the earth. A delicate rain. Time passes so slowly when you're waiting for death. My husband, the king, has locked me in because I refused to take my medicine. At least, that's what he insists on calling it. But I know better now.

For two days I have suffered from fits, and the king sent the imperial doctor to see me. To no avail. He prescribed a strange tonic that tasted bitter in my throat, but my fits remain uncured. In fact, I have only gotten worse, the fits longer and more violent now.

From my window, I can see the king and my lady-in-waiting walking the lawns by the fountain. The same fountain the king dedicated to me once. She is his latest favorite, just one of many in his string of conquests.

As the tears blur my vision, I place my open palm on the cold glass of my window. I try to imagine the poison in my blood like a hungry snake, slaking its thirst on the fruit of my heart.

Part II: Once Beloved

My once beloved queen is at the window, her pale heart-shaped face reflected in the glass. Her posture is perfect, as always, her diminutive figure austere. Poised. From this distance I cannot see her eyes, but I envision the pain swimming in the black pools of her irises. She gives no outward sign of the poison that is at this very moment eating away at her. I wonder if she knows that she is dying.

"Night blooming mushroom," the imperial doctor told me as he drew the black bulb out of his bag and placed it in my hand. "Very poisonous." It crouched on my open palm like a deadly spider, ready to pounce and deliver its venom. "The intended victim should drink tea distilled with its essence every six hours, and within 72 hours he will suffer irreparable heart damage and fall into a coma."

"Can she—I mean, he awaken from the coma?"

"No, the effect is terminal. Once the poison reaches the heart, he will surely die."


A fitting end for a traitorous wife. For one who gave her heart away so freely.

Part III: Lady in Waiting

From where I stand in the garden I can see her face, pale and pinched. It is hateful to me.

The king speaks with me, taking care to listen to my words. I giggle and smile coquettishly, hoping he likes my new dress. It is cut specially to accent my bosom, which is one of my best assets. He keeps sneaking glances to my breasts, and when I caught him the last time, I got the satisfaction of seeing him blush. But I only smiled.

My plan is beginning to take effect. Already I have turned the queen against her husband by leaving clues of our (supposed) tryst. By his bed, I casually dropped one of my handkerchiefs, monogrammed with my initials and scented with violet. I am the only one of her court that wears violet, and she will surely know it is mine.

It was harder to convince the king of her infidelities. With my kisses and caresses, I paid the stable boy to spread rumors of the queen's loose ways. It reached the king in no time.

Now it is only a matter of time. I sit in my web, patient as a spider. And wait.

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