“The Queen is here, the Queen is here!” an excitable knuffel announced.
It was a peaceful day—or, it was, until the excitable knuffel made himself known—and the Queen was visiting their village, as she did with many others between her royal duties. It was tradition now, one without remembered origins, much like the Queen herself.
Some things just were.
“Oh, I hope she likes these flowers,” came a soft voice. “I gathered them myself this morning.”
“Don’t worry so much, Izzy,” a knuffel braiding Izzy’s hair replied. “She’ll love them. Just…don’t squeeze them so hard; they’re not trying to run away.”
“I’m just nervous,” Izzy admitted. “The Queen is so kind, and wise, and good. I want to be just like her someday.”
Her friend laughed. “All knuffels are wise, Izzy. We know tomatoes are fruits, but ketchup isn’t jam!”
The excitable knuffel produced drums out of nowhere and started banging them. “We’re going to be LATE!” he warned darkly. “LATE!”
Every knuffel in the village (and some from those nearby) was in the main square, anxiously craning their necks to catch a glimpse of the Queen.
“Oh no,” Izzy moaned. “They all brought flowers. What if the Queen can’t hold them all?”
“I’m sure she thought of everything,” her friend soothed. “Look! She’s there! With a giant basket, too!”
Izzy only saw other knuffels pointing. “I’m too short, and we’re in the back. Maybe we were late, after all.”
“The Queen’s here all day; she’ll be able to meet us, Izzy!” But as the crowd shifted, Izzy and her friend became separated from each other.
Ominously, booming started.
Upon a moment’s reflection, Izzy realized the excitable knuffel had started pounding his drums again.
She hated crowds and noises.
The sun was almost setting, and she had been bustled about all day, politely, as knuffels were gentle souls. But she was about to meet the Queen!
Izzy glanced at the flowers, and her heart sank. They were limp, exactly as her friend had warned. The Queen would probably throw them away. She had so many other, prettier flowers.
At the sound of footsteps and a tinkling laugh, Izzy panicked. She was about to meet the Queen and give her day-old flowers! She couldn’t even look in the Queen’s direction, choosing to look at her feet instead.
“I’m sorry they’re wilted,” Izzy whispered, placing her flowers delicately in the basket. “They were prettier early today.”
The Queen smiled, eyes shining. “Izzy, right?”
Izzy startled. “How – ?”
“I met your friend earlier, and she told me who to look out for.” Lowering her voice conspiratorially, she continued, “Don’t tell anyone, but I used to be shy, too.”
Izzy glanced up in wonder. With a wink and a smile, the Queen was gone.
The Queen used to be like her! Maybe she’d be like the Queen someday, too.