The next day dragged on while a dark cloud hung over Mary. She was overcome with dread. She was already tired of this school, these people, especially Elizabeth, and the last thing Mary wanted to do was debate her. But last period came before Mary could find an excuse to miss it and once again she found herself in Elizabeth’s verbal death grip.
“At restaurants, they always give you bread to distract you from the fact that your food will take much longer than you would like to get to your table. The bread placates the customer. It draws their attention away from what is really important, the main course. Mary is just giving you verbal bread to distract you from what she is really saying. She has been telling you about police training, education, and while education and background is important, it does not address the real issue. It does not address the area where the issue is prominent.”
They were discussing police brutality. Mary was on the side of the people. Elizabeth was on the side of the police.
Mary fired back, “No, Elizabeth, I am not feeding the audience verbal bread, I am enlightening them about the basis of this great nation’s police force. Without understanding of the education the police go through, we cannot address the problem. Education is the area where the issue is prominent. Yes, the public sees the issue most when the police have completed training, when they are on the streets. But think about where the problem begins. It begins at the source. It begins when seeds are planted. It begins with training.”
“Oh, so the experienced chiefs and justices are too incompetent to do their jobs, that’s what you’re saying?”
“No. I’m saying--.”
Elizabeth cut her off, “What you’re saying is that you’re against the police. You’re trying to discredit the police force and their education system. You’re meddling in the issues of a country you’ve only been a part of for what, ten minutes?”
“We are not discussing my background here, Elizabeth, we are discussing police brutality. So if you could kindly keep my personal background out of this argu--.”
“I can’t keep your personal background out of this, Mary. Your background affects your judgment. You’re basically a citizen of France. Admit it. So you can’t discuss this country’s policy and systems, because you are not loyal to it.”
“I—.” Mary started to answer, but she was overcome with the strangest feeling. It was as if all of the doubt and rage and exhaustion within her was suddenly washed away. In its place was a fuzzy feeling. It was as if the sun was inside of her, illuminating everything that had been hidden by the darkness. She felt calm. She felt at peace. But at the same time, she felt like she was expecting something. She was waiting for something.
And suddenly, she wasn’t at the Academy anymore.
All around her, Mary saw faces. Faces with freckles, faces with dimples, faces with kind smiles, even faces with scowls. But none of the faces belonged to people she recognized. She saw gowns. Gowns of satin and gowns of cotton, tattered and torn, as if they had been worn until they were no longer gowns. She saw men and women. Cobblers, children playing, girls laughing together and pointing at boys they must have fancied.
Mary saw sight after sight of things that felt so familiar she could almost explain how she had seen them before, but she hadn’t. It was all new. And suddenly, someone called her name.
“Mary!” The voice was a woman’s, kind and sweet. It was familiar. She knew that kind, sweet voice, but it was different. It had an accent. It had a Scottish accent. Mary turned to see whom the voice belonged to, and as she turned something caught her eye.
She herself was in a gown as well instead of her business casual school attire. It glittered in the sunshine. It was sapphire blue, and very elegant. It must have cost a fortune. She ran her fingers along the delicate beading on her skirt. A shadow fell on her beautiful dress, and she looked up.
It was Malorie.
But it wasn’t Malorie. This Malorie’s brown hair was long and braided in a more intricate way than Mary had ever seen. This Malorie was dressed in a gown as well, but it was less grand. It was a light green with a flower design winding through the satin fabric. It was beautifully simple. “Very Malorie,” Mary thought.
“Your Grace?” Said Malorie. Why was she Scottish? And why was she calling Mary Your Grace?
Mary looked around again. People were staring at her all throughout the square. It must have been some small village. The people, they looked to be peasants, bowed a little when they walked near her, and then couldn’t take their eyes off of her as they walked away.
Behind Malorie was a carriage. It wasn’t a regular, run of the mill carriage, if carriages could be run of the mill. It was clean and intricately decorated, with something very strange on the side of it. Something that made Mary’s stomach turn. Something that Mary would know anywhere.
It was her family’s crest.
And all of the sudden, it made sense. Well, it didn’t make logical, real life sense, but Mary understood. This was it. This was her flashback.
This was Mary, Queen of Scotts.
“Queen Mary, the carriage is waiting. Should I tell them go around the village once more? The people do seem to be enjoying your presence.” Malorie beamed at her. She seemed pleased to be standing at her side, attending to her. Waiting on her.
“No thank you Lady Mary. We should return to the castle. Francis will be worried.” The words came out of her mouth in an accent. It was a little different from Malorie or as she had just called her, Lady Mary’s, but it was an accent.
They walked through the square and to the carriage. Mary stood up on the step of it and looked down at the townspeople. “Good people of France.” They all turned to her and bowed. “I, your Queen Consort, believe that while this may be a country divided by religion, divided by money and power, King Francis and I are anything but divided. We wholeheartedly believe as one, that this great and powerful country will not be divided by anything. It will not be weakened by a war between its own kind, gracious, and loyal people. We hear you. We understand your struggles and beliefs. And we will fight for you with everything we possess.”
The crowd erupted with cheers. People smiled. People cried. And then something amazing happened. People bowed, just as the group of her classmates had that night in the secret basement. They bowed, and as one, they bellowed, “Long live Mary, Queen of Scotts.”
She bowed her head in thanks and ducked into the carriage, Lady Mary, not far behind. And in that moment, in that powerful and spectacular moment, Mary understood. She looked out the window as they drove out of the town. As they passed trees, houses, and people waiting to see their queen, Mary knew what all of it was.
She knew she was Mary, Queen of Scotts. And with the blink of her eyes, before she could try to hold on to her beautiful, spectacular moment, she was back at Scottsville Academy.