Published by New Flash Fiction Review

If she had not been the sort of princess who, as a child, liked to trip her servants, would she have come to this moment? In this blackened room crowded by fabric and limbs and hair and moans, her face half-buried in the dirt floor, asking her lungs for just one more breath? Would she know the taste of gun smoke, of plaster dust, of her mother’s blood?
She should not, after all, have climbed that tree and refused to budge. She’d tasted her own blood, then, her mouth kissing a scraped hand as she perched on a branch and pretended to be a sparrow. Her cold eye followed the figures on the ground; just there her mother (always her mother), by the cart of apples a sister, crouched along a low hedge two gardeners. She licked the blood and then spread her wings, steadied herself.

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Photo from Wikimedia Commons. The Governor’s Mansion in Tobolsk, where the Russian Royal family was held in captivity between August 1917 and April 1918.