The king's therapist

Someone is talking to the king right now, I think to myself as I walk home at 8 pm.
Someone is talking to the president too.

I wonder if they have a therapist. Maybe they have the same one. I wonder if the therapist is so full of secrets that they will explode and become pink mist. Apparently that’s what they call people who have exploded.

I wonder if it would make the news. Probably not, because there would be too many people taking trains, and buses, and planes to go to the place where the therapist exploded. To pick up all those little pink secrets. They would shove them in their pockets like you do with confetti after a concert. You think that you will remember the songs and the dancing and the hot guitarist every time you look at the confetti. In reality, it ends up at the bottom of some backpack, with a piece of gum and a receipt from two years ago.

But I don’t really think about the confetti.

I think about the king. and the person he is talking to.
don’t they feel bizarre? and alone?

Have they been to the supermarket? Have they ever put frozen spring rolls and ice cream into one of those plastic bags that is supposed to slow down the thawing? Have they then sometimes felt lazy and instead thrown in everything with everything? Have they ever taken the little yellow cubes of yeast and carefully placed them in a breast pocket so as to keep them safe and far away from all the much heavier and harder packages? Do they know that tomatoes always go on top? and that the pot of basil gets to be carried by hand all the way to the kitchen? Do they know how hard it is to go to the supermarket when you are hungry?

I think about the king as I walk home at 8pm. I think about the king and all his secrets and the poor therapist who may have exploded.


His majesty has been on the news quite often these days, but his honour the President hasn’t. This makes me worry even more about their therapist (or therapists, I’m still not sure).

The news says His Majesty hasn’t been well as of late. He hasn’t been able to perform his royal duties. The crowds haven’t seen him on the podium of the palace; normally he greets us twice a week. Rumour is that on his last foreign trip, he contracted a rare disease that we don’t have here. Perhaps the therapist is helping him sort out his thoughts. The news won’t shut up about what possibilities there are for His Majesty’s absence from the public and the royal staff have all been bound by secrecy. A few weeks ago, the National managed to interview a maid who claimed to work in the kitchen, she said the King had been pacing the halls coughing. Soon after, the guards of his bedroom were coughing too. Soon after, the maid disappeared.

His honour the President has had to pick up the slack left by the King. He’s been doing the public greetings and speeches; been visiting charities on behalf of the Crown - why the Queen or Prince don’t do that, I’m not sure, but it could be because no one likes them. But though we know the President is doing all of the King’s work in addition to his own, the media has been oddly silent about him. No rumours, no candid pics, no paparazzi. It’s as if they’ve gone mute about the country’s actual political affairs. I’ve got to say that this does worry me.

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The Prince liked to take what he jauntily told himself were ‘incognito’ walks. His idea of passing for a commoner. Although, to be clear, he only liked the idea of passing for a commoner, his grandmother and all the people who were always so keen on surrounding him on a daily basis were always very keen to ensure that commoners were definitely not desirable to people like ‘them’.
Hi incognito walks were his (completely un) magnanimous nod to being ‘one of The People’. The People that he would one day rule when darhhhling Pa was no longer.
It wasn’t a thing that he looked forward to. He felt his incognito walks were plenty of exposure for him.
His walks would take him down the main avenue. It was a broad road with simple, wide, gravel path either side. Punctuated with stunning trees that had been growing and overseeing life for far longer than he could (or would) ever appreciate. It was true to say that the Prince was, generally, rather pleased with himself and quite self-centred. Had he not been a prince he would have found it awkward to make friends at school and anywhere else. But he was the Prince and this was an incognito walk! He knew his personal protection officers would be following him. Darned annoying but necessary when one is so important. But he did enjoy these moments of…blending in. Getting a feel for what it was really like to be one of those people, walking down a real street.

(No one had ever bothered to tell the Prince that his walk was actually taken down a private avenue that was owned by the Crown, he wasn’t bright enough to wonder why he never really saw any people on it).

But since that last walk he had not been allowed to take any more. For four sevenths of the way down the avenue (easily measured by the fact that he had reached the fourth of seven enormous mansions that lined the easterly side of the avenue) his personal protection officers had come up to him “Pardon your Highness, we need to escort you back to the palace immediately”. A four by four vehicle had immediately driven up and he had been bundled* inside.

*He had not been bundled, but this is what the Prince likes to think happened in his mind. And this is the part that he will recount to his therapist multiple times since he currently has nothing else to talk about

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As 8pm has passed, and I near my home, walking to it, from my work, I think once more that it is likely the King and the president share the same therapist, who is yet unexploded, and the Prince has no outlet whatsoever. Hence the walks. No therapeutic outlet. The Prince is a man without a therapist. As clear as day I think this.

I think that I should think less of what the President might say in their sessions, as they are just a President, temporary, and more about what the King will say. The King is hereditarial. Hereditaried. Given by God. To Rule. Now, that is a burden. To be appointed by the divine right of King’s, and not by the people. I think the President likely gets a lot of their frustration out in the campaigning. They secretly hate the people they have to convince to vote for them. They hate them because they know the people require lies to be convinced. So the President is self-aware at least. But the King. The King in Therapy. That is where the therapist might myst

It is 8pm. The Prince is practicing his walk in his wing of the palace. He calls it his “people walk” and will eventually use it among them. The people. That’s the plan.

He begins in a corner of the vast living room with one hand on his hip. And starts off with careful pacing. One foot directly in front of the other, with a formal sort of sass. Like a Tory on a hot tin roof. Each step with a robotic swing, becoming oddly accented by awkward knee jerks, as if slipping from a New York accent into an Aussie one. “Sigh! I cannot walk among my people like this.” He goes back to his corner and puts some current youth music on the grammophone. It has dizzying rhythms with an aggressive talk over it (rap?). He begins his pacing again, this time, over the 4 or so mins, his thighs dilate greedily and he bobs his booty, up and down, back and forth behind the 18th century chaise longue. “I believe I will take this music with me on my next meet and greet.” He says to himself and sips a sherry with expression.

He hear’s his father’s office door open, so he pops his head around the velvet, quilted door of his bijou realm. The King is being wheeled out by his P.A followed by the therapist. The Prince ignores the previous 2 people and walks toward the therapist.

“A moment of your time?”

THERAPIST: “Of course. Lead the way.”

The therapist joins the Prince in his quarters. “How can I help?”

PRINCE: “I need an outlet.”

THERAPIST: “An outlet, you say.”

PRINCE: “Yes. An outlet. Sherry?”

THERAPIST: “Um. I’d better not, my lord.”

PRINCE: “Fair enough. How is my father?”

THERAPIST: “Errr. Ah. Well…”

PRINCE: “You know, the media pulls me apart because I haven’t found a wife. And also, nothing - NOTHING - has ever happened to me.”

The Prince straddles the therapist’s knees. A puff of pink confetti bursts out of the therapist’s ears.

“I don’t want a wife. But I want things to happen to me. Forthwith.”

“I seeee.” Says the therapist, slowly crossing their legs on the 18th century chaise longue, ignoring the feel of the Prince’s tautening, sinewy thighs against his shanks.

“Yes. Will you help me find an outlet?” Says the Prince looming over the therapist until he is kissing them full on, passionately on the lips. The Prince’s buttocks tense and the therapist explodes like a gender reveal party in his arms.

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The funeral was short and though in this country confetti is common for funerary rites, in this case no confetti, not even any cut paper, was allowed; and absolutely nothing pink, not at all. Part of the reason was out of politeness; after all, you wouldn’t have a noose at the funeral of a man who had been hanged, so by the same logic, you wouldn’t have confetti of a man who had died of internal emotional explosions. No gay couples were allowed either, but that was much harder to enforce. The larger reason for keeping such sensitive paraphernalia away from the rites were to make sure that the omnipresent media did not pick up on the reason for death. Such a death only happens when an individual has consumed too much information, so much so that the brain rips itself apart as if a pink textbook that had been crammed by a student only to be ripped up in a moment of ecstasy after exams.

The Prince did not want to attend the funeral but his father, who knew nothing about his encounter with the therapist, asked him to and later commanded him to with the royal pejorative. The sensitivity of the event meant that crown had to ensure that all visuals were up to expectations. The whole royal family had to be there, the government would not. The President had wanted to attend, but once again by royal pejorative, he was asked, politely, to abstain from arriving - though the King promised that the President could have a private meeting about a month later once the media had forgotten about the whole ordeal.

After the funeral was taken care of, the Queen sat down at her desk in her powder room, and from behind the grand framed mirror pulled out a piece of parchment. On this parchment was a list of names. A carefully curated list of names.

The intersection of secret-keeping therapists and attractive closeted gay men was understandably small. The Queen was very proud that she had found as many as she did, and it was with great masochistic pleasure that she struck through the name of the most recently confettied man. Time to hire another. The next man on the list, the Queen remembered from her research, was a lumberjack lookalike, magnificently maned. He would gather many secrets before inevitably the Prince or the King overloaded him.

Thus continued the constant carousel of therapists, pink confetti swirling around with each rotation. No therapist would become the confidant of the KingPresidentPrince, no therapist would harness all that influence and power, and so there would be one less chess piece the Queen had to worry about.

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“Another pink death reveal yesterday as locals mourned the death of Mr. Joshua Smith” the newscaster blared in his static RP accent “27 year old therapist is the latest in a string of odd deaths where the individual explodes from within into confetti. Scientists are still exploring the phenomenon and has yet to come up with an answer as to why a human being would combust into paper mache, however they are making strides in the research.”

“Here I have me now one such scientist, Ms. Isabella Cartwright.”

“Doctor” replied Cartwright.

“Sorry your honour” replied the newscaster “Can you let us know a bit more about your findings, professor?”

“Sure” replied the Doctor barely holding in her childish enthusiasm. She reached into her briefcase and brought out a stack of papers giddily, yet stoically, as a teenager might show their parents a particularly not terrible school report card.

On each sheet was a scribble of barely legible doctors handwriting, some dates and a picture. All the pictures were of attractive men around their mid twenties; some of them were very camp, others less so.

“Azir Thompson” said Cartwright “Twenty Five. Local therapist at Southwood”

She flipped to the next sheet

“Max Wong, Twenty Seven. Therapist at Brunswick Square”

And the next

“Steven Connors, Twenty Four. Therapist in Chinatown”.

“There is a link between these men, they’re all therapists in their mid twenties and pretty hot” she paused “um conventionally attractive”. Another pause. “But there is one more relationship, though we’re operating partly on hersay for this one - there are rumours that they all served as therapists for the Royal family before they blew up”

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It spread like wildfire of course.

Dr. Isabella Cartwright’s comment was the sort of thing that the many headed monster that is the internet gobbled up whole.

Only hours after there were memes of the comment. Some of them, of course, were the regular sexist nonsense aimed at Dr. Cartwright. Most of the rest balanced on the fine edge between impeccable satire and actual conspiracy regarding the crowns involvement.

YouTube blew up about it during the following week, conspiracy mingled with science, there were videos by laymen trying to explain the phenomenon, the usual claims of someone in the line being a reptilian, someone tried to do a music piece off of the interview but it never got traction, the usual works.

The fact that Dr. Cartwright made an official apology a week after the initial interview, stating that she hadn’t intended to cast any shadow of suspicion on the royal family, went unnoticed by most.
The few who did notice drew their own conclusions and more conspiracy content bloomed.

Marcus Stevenson sat in his office which was inconspicuously not placed within the confines of the royal palace grounds nor the presidential palace grounds. After all, no one could know this job. Like a Michelin reviewer, Marcus’ position was kept under absolute wraps but for the benefit of the company but also for himself. This was always done but it was never officially policy, however after the blunder that was Dr. Cartwright, it was enforced by His Majesty’s Secret Service.

In lieu for vows of secrecy, the King’s therapist did get all expenses paid. The office, the apartment and travel for the deliberately long commute designed to throw the paparazzi off, was entirely filed as expenses of the state. The health department paid for it. It was only right.

In order to keep up appearances, the state mental health advisors (as they were officially known), were allowed and indeed encouraged at the barrel of a confetti explosion to continue on with their old jobs. As much as possible they would keep their previous clients, only letting go of enough to balance their new responsibilities. The pay was good, the risk was gradually getting higher. The majority of therapists though did this for the sheer excitement of knowing about the skeletons in the closets of the King, the Prince and the President. Literal skeletons as Dr. Wong found out before exploding the next day in his office in Brunswick.

Today, Marcus did not have any high ranking guests but yet the President walked in.

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The President walked in with a faltering gait, and the smile he sent the secretary out with was cordial. As soon as the door shut however, he strode straight towards Marcus, heels clicking impatiently, and that smile twisted with disapproval.

“Mr. President!” Marcus greeted with the same sort of pleasantry that the President had just dropped. Marcus after all was a mental health advisor, and maintaining a polite facade was one of the greatest skills in his arsenal. Plus, he knew it irked the President, who wasn’t his patient, and thus whose feelings he did not need to mind. “What brings you here?”

The President stopped in front of Marcus’ desk and without waiting for the other man to stand, slammed his palm down with such force that the paperweight was knocked to the floor. “You are lasting rather longer than the previous one–”

“Don’t sound so disappointed!” Marcus cooed, patting the President consoling on the shoulder of his sharp suit.

“-- and yet!” President continued briskly, slapping the offending hand away. “We are no closer to discerning any of the royal family’s secrets! How have you not pried any out of the prince’s vapid head after all this time?”

“Patience!” Marcus cried. He rose from his desk and walked to the President’s side. “While I’ve found nothing quite yet to ruin them, I do have a juicy tidbit for you!”

Somewhat mollified, the President huffed a sigh and then growled, “Well, go on then!”

Marcus grinned.

The young man handed Mr. President a slip of paper.

Sceneway Gardens, 25 Kingsway. Office A

“See you tomorrow night, Mr. President” said Marcus.

“You’re in an oddly unhappy and rushed mood today, Marcus. Before I leave, I’d like to remind you that you work for -”

The president was cut off by a loud beep from the practice’s reception.

“I must apologize, Mr. President but I have an actual client” He pressed a button on his intercom “Nurse Felecia, please let the next patient in. And show Mr. President out while you’re at it please. Make him a drink if he requests. He can use the quiet room to relax before he leaves”.

The President did not stay for a drink. He huffed out of the white walled building which had seen the passing through of no fewer than six therapists; none of which were the President’s. At least three of the therapists here had become confetti. Although the state paid for this building, the therapist’s fees were partly paid by the office of the President. It was known as a solidarity tax; one that the presidential office and the royal family had agreed to after the last civil war. The republican rebel state, as they were then known, was eventually caught in a stalemate with the royal army. They met at Kingsway and there signed an agreement in which the Crown would sign over their authoritarian rulership in favour of a constitutional monarchy with power held by a president, however the president would pay for a therapist for the Royal Family. Some century later, the deal remains to the ire of just about every president. After all, the Royal Family did not pay for their therapists.

Sceneway Gardens was not just a garden. Though it certainly looked like one with its sparkling green grass and bright bushes of flowers, it was a construct built atop a great knot of tunnels and underground highways. Any real sort of vegetation would have grown into the structures beneath and ruin the tunnels, so every plant had its roots coiled into pots and troughs.

The Queen had been the one to propose such a feat. The plot of land was originally a forest marked for development into a highway, but the environmentalists had rallied overwhelming protests, and a meeting with the King and the President had been called to negotiate something that the people would both appreciate and profit from. The Queen was there, for some reason, eager for publicity, and the President hadn’t thought to stop her.

With a vapid little smile she had leaned forward in her throne and prodded the map with a manicured nail so fiercely that it went straight through the parchment. “Let’s just go down under all this trees and grass!” she suggested with that the President judged as too thoughtless even for silly royals. But because it was the Queen who had spoken, the royal architects and arboriculturists had leapt into action. When she had carelessly scribbled off a design for the ‘garden’ that resembled more a maze than anything aesthetically pleasing, they had obeyed as well.

Now, the President found himself staring down a massive maze, with hedges reaching higher than his head. Was he to believe that Office A was located somewhere in this labyrinth? There was only one way to found out.

The sun was already setting when the President finally made his way to Office A. God help the locals that live here, he thought; however, in the typical demeanour of a politician, he didn’t really think any deeper than that. Those that live here choose to live here, why ought the government attempt to alter the infrastructure for the better? Nonetheless, the President did feel a little pang of guilty insofar as he understood that as long as the pathways weren’t at the very least clearly marked, he would have to waste precious time every time he visited Office A. And he did intend to visit Office A a lot.

knock knock went the knuckles of the President. A slit opened at eye level. The door nudged open at its side; a hand gestured for the President to enter.

Sceneway Gardens was not a wealthy neighbourhood. It had never quite been. The environmentalists that fought the developers had not been locals of the forest that once stood here, the majority of them had to travel no less than three hours on the train in order to arrive at the protests. Some argued that the forest was natural beauty that belonged to everyone, others said something along the lines of ‘global warming will flood the dams’. For the most part, the rural woodsmen and farmers that lived off the land of the forest had already given up hope of saving the forest. Some, believe it or not, were looking forward to moving into the city. The developers had planned to build some new apartment blocks, shoddy but livable, in the suburbs, and as part of developing the forest, would have given each local family a flat of their own. However, after what was then after known as the ‘sceneway compromise’, the families were left to their own devices. The issue was that the architecture of the forest had still been altered. Gone were the oak trees that sheltered wild game and in its place were potted shrubbery and hedges. The soil beneath the ground had been removed and replaced with the infamous catacombs and highways that none who lived above ever entered.

The developers and politicians hailed it a victory of compromise.

Office A was an exception to this history. Designated ‘A’ as the first office built in the forest district after the civil war, it was built as grandly as the royal palace itself. The right wall had hand painted portraits of every royal therapist since the war; photographs of every president and official portraits of all the monarchs. The office spanned several ballrooms and had a large marble reception, a bedroom currently decorated with fine oak - oak taken from the land on which it now stands (the furnishings are rather new), and of course the office itself. Ironically, the office was the least spectacular out of the myriad of rooms.

“However” said Marcus to the President on the grand tour which lasted no less than half an hour “it is the original room. Everything else was an addition”

“Even the reception room and gallery” asked Mr. President

“Especially the gallery” said Marcus as he made himself a martini “You may find it funny, Mr. President, but most therapists actually don’t see their portraits. The painter only arrives one year after we begin official service and as you’d know, most don’t last that long. Those paintings in the hall way? They’re largely modeled after photographs”

“I’d like to see my own picture, Mr. President. I’ll help you, if you’ll help me”