What if teens ruled?
“Your highness,” he started.
“No,” she interrupted before he could continue. “I want to finish the plans for the hospital. And make sure the funding is complete for the schools.”
“Are you planning for them to be your legacy?” he asked.
She nodded. Each king or queen would choose something to leave behind, something for the next generation to build on. Aribella had spent most of her reign planning what she was going to do, even as she also worried about the day to day life of her people.
The last king had left her a legacy of shelters for people who’d fallen on hard times. She’d continued what he started, improving them and expanding the job assistance program. Since each member of the monarchy had only six short years, they had learned to work quickly.
Aribella crossed to the desk and took a seat. “Have you had a chance to look at the plans?”
The advisor sighed, allowing himself to be drawn away from his own concerns and directed to Aribella’s plans. He would make the transition with the new monarch and had learned to bow to the needs of the ruler.
Aribella patiently cut a rose from the bush in her private gardens. She found her time there soothing and tried to spend an hour or two in the garden each day. It didn’t mean she was able, but she often found the time early in the morning or just before bed. Today she was using the time just before her meetings with the candidates for the monarchy.
She had instructed to Alys escort each candidate to her once they’d been vetted. She would be able to get a better feel for them here in the relaxing setting then in the more formal court atmosphere. Normally the queen would choose with two years left in her reign, but Aribella’s heir had become sickly not long after being crowned. She’d been devastated when Pauletta had entered the afterlife; going so far as to order a week of official mourning, but had been unable to spend the time needed to choose a new successor. Now though, she was running out of time.
“Your majesty?” Alys broke into her thoughts. “Your first candidate is here.”
Aribella nodded. “Bring him in.” She took a seat on the bench, setting her roses down, and preparing to interview each of the candidates.
Three hours later, she was beginning to wonder if she’d ever meet the person she could choose as her successor.
“Your majesty,” Alys said after the latest candidate was escorted away. “There’s one more.”
“For today? Or overall?” Aribella asked.
“I believe just for today unless you find her acceptable.”
Aribella nodded in response to the reply. “Bring her in.”
The queen expected the new candidate to be escorted in within a few minutes, but no one appeared. Aribella picked up the roses she’d laid aside and began to fuss with them, trying to decide if she wanted to cut more or just take the ones she had in for her bedroom.
“Queen Aribella?” a timid voice broke into her musings.
Looking up, she spied a small dark-haired girl standing before her, hands clutched in front of her waist. When the girl spied Aribella looking, she quickly bobbed a curtsy. “I didn’t mean to interrupt,” she said.
“Come closer,” Aribella instructed. “Let me look at you.” Slowly the girl crept forward, ducking her head when she saw Aribella watching her closely. “If you wish to be Queen, you must raise your head firmly and walk with pride,” the current queen instructed. “There is no room for shyness when you are ruling the country.”
The girl raised her head, meeting Aribella’s eyes. “Sorry, your majesty.”
“What’s your name?” Aribella motioned towards the bench, indicating that they should both sit.
“Cordette, your majesty,” the girl replied.
“Cordette.” Aribella smiled, rolling the name around in her mind. “And why do you want to be the next Queen?”
Cordette took a deep breath, straightening up more as she clearly prepared her answer. “I feel I can contribute to our society in the best way by taking your place as our next queen. I know you’ve been making plans to improve education and create a new hospital. I’d like to create a better emergency response system and possibly build two types of new parks. One a park for children to play in and one a hiking and trail park.”
“What else do you feel you can contribute?”
For the next thirty minutes, Aribella listened as Cordette outlined her plans and ideas for how to run the country. By the time the young girl finished, the current queen was sure she’d found her successor.
“I think,” Aribella said when Cordette finally wound down, “that you need to begin training in the next few days.” She took the young girl’s hand. “I’d like to hear more about your plans. And begin introducing you to the Council.”
“Are you sure, your majesty?” Cordette asked.
“I think you are just what our country is looking for,” Aribella answered. “A strong leader to succeed me.”