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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2199259
A legend from somewhere deep within my left-sock drawer.
Thank you GabriellaR45 for the lovely awardicon! *Bigsmile*

Full Counts
All Words: 1056

Short Shots Image Prompt (August 2019)

Once upon a time, there lived a king. He lived with his queen, in a castle far, far away from anywhere.

The king and queen loved each other very much. And they loved their home -- except -- there were no doughnuts available nearby, and the king was passionate about doughnuts.

The queen wasn't a very good cook. She knew how to use a computer, she could do complicated mathematical sums in her head, she could climb trees, ride bicycles, write poems, paint, fix the furniture ... but she didn't know how to cook properly.

The king wasn't a very good cook either. He could knit, he could sew, he could take the engine of the car apart and put it together again better than before, he could cure the cat when the cat was unwell, he could play the guitar and the piano ... but he didn't know how to cook properly.

The king and queen usually got on pretty smoothly, in the castle. They divided up the chores between them, depending on who was good at what was needed, and shared stuff like gardening or changing the chandelier when it blew a fuse.

The only thing they could not agree on was -- who was going to cook?

Each day, in the royal kitchen, they bargained with each other, trying to get out of doing that chore for the day.

"I have an ingrown toenail," the queen would say.

"Well, my eyebrow is stinging," the king would retort immediately, as each attempted to push the task off on to the other.

'If you cook today, I'll fix your rocking chair," the queen would say.

"I can fix the chair myself, thank you," the king would reply.

"You'll fall off and break a bone," the queen would shoot back.

"Better a broken bone than a stint with the oven," the king would quip, with a quick *Smirk2* at his own wit ('Bone' and 'oven' sort of rhyme. Sort of.)

Finally, one or the other of them would burn the breakfast, lump the lunch, traumatize the tea and destroy the dinner. The one thing they had agreed on was that whichever spouse cooked, the other spouse (neither of the spice, actually) never complained. You didn't criticize her/his cooking, you didn't criticize your own.

But what to do about the king's doughnut craving?

While both of them could slurp the soup or chew the cheese sandwich, neither had been able to make a doughnut decent enough to devour.

The queen could not bear to see her husband in despair. She clicked her mouse all over the house, and ordered from Greedy Gut an instant mix for doughnut. When the package did arrive, her creativity did thrive, and she whipped up the water, made the oven hotter ... then, what a rotter, got in to a fix with that instant mix.

Yes. Our queen could do a lot of stuff, dear reader, but she could not cook. Not even with instant doughnut mix from Greedy Gut. The outcome was a sticky mess, which the king, per their agreement, ate without a single grumble, or a double grumble, or multiple grumbles. What I mean is, the king didn't grumble at all, which was mighty self-controlled of him, given how much he had been looking forward to his desired doughnut.

The queen, however, was not a give-upper. (A giver-up, if you're worried about grammar at a time like this.) She could not see her man in pain, she clicked her mouse again and again. This time, oh, what a miracle, she clicked on a recipe from Dessert Debacle. She put on her apron, she got out her frying pan, she positively-reinforced: "I CAN I CAN".

Lo and behold! The resultant mess took hours to unfold! The king sobbed, the king cried, his heart's desire once more denied. Then he remembered the 'no criticize' rule, and at once he tried to play it cool. But she knew what he was feeling, and her loving wifely mind was reeling.

Her mind finally reeled in an idea. She would pretend she wasn't making doughnut, but something else! Maybe that would fool the wooden spoon and the oven and the baking tray, and they'd let her make a delicious doughnut at last!

So, she pretended that nothing very much was going on. In fact, she *Whistle* whistled quite nonchalantly as she cooked. "I'm making curry-rice," she hummed, so that the cooking implements, the walls, the windows, the roof -- everyone could hear.

Upon catching sight of what she offered on his plate that day, the king turned a delicate shade of green-in-the-face, but he did not criticize, that would've been a disgrace.

The king saw how much his wife was trying to make him happy. To reward her for her efforts, he bought her a new bicycle, a new poetry book, a new set of paints and some nice shoes to wear while climbing trees. He composed a song for her and sang it and accompanied himself on the piano. He even broke some furniture on purpose, to give her the joy of fixing it.

The queen made three hundred and sixty attempts to make doughnuts. She took off on her birthday, the king's birthday, Christmas, Easter and the day the cat joined kitten-kindergarten. Otherwise, she made an attempt a day at a desirable doughnut, for an entire calendar year.

Once the year was up, the king decided that it was his turn, and, rather reluctantly, he attempted making doughnuts. He made only two hundred and ninety-eight attempts. He had a lot of cousins who had birthdays, so he could make more excuses to get off cooking. He even cheated and took a day off on some anniversaries, which wasn't fair, but there it was.

The next year, the queen broke her own record, with three hundred and sixty-two attempts. Then, the king, with two hundred and forty. Queen - three hundred and fifty. King - one hundred and ten ...

So the legend goes, dear reader, so the legend goes. The king lived to be a hundred years old, the queen lived to be a hundred and four. But never, ever, in that castle, was a doughnut made, fit to devour.

That's why the ghost of the doughnut that never was hangs above the castle to this day, waiting, waiting ... for we know not what.

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