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The Lost Heart

by Mahriya Zahid

The Lost Heart by Mahriya Zahid

Read by Elizabeth Counsell from the BBC Radio Drama Company.

She wore a crown of roses on her head. Or rather, the crown wore her. It sat elegantly, while fresh green stems curled around each other and the blood red petals brushed each other slightly.

She missed everything. She missed her home, with the cinnamon aroma that followed her everywhere and her grandma who had skin like crumpled paper and a warm smile and twinkling eyes. She missed the plain white walls and she missed the secrets whispered against them. She missed the candles that burnt low and she missed their warmth. Oh, how she missed the comfort of her bed, the cosiness that wrapped its arms around her. She would do anything just to be warm.

But she was queen now. Queen Eladora, the feared queen, the cold queen. She knew that's what they called her. In the dark corners of alleyways and in the depths of the night, they would whisper low, about her, the heartless ruler, the one who would kill without blinking, the one who would steal and betray and lie just to get her own way. They would shiver just at the mention of her name.

And she was happy for a while. Crowds would part for her, she wore fine silk clothes and she had a crown and a crown meant power. But then things got worse; it happened slowly. Like how summer slowly creeps into autumn and you don't even realise it. She began to feel a bit of her heart crumble and, as time went by and her anger grew, more of her heart fell away and she began to feel so hollow and empty inside. She began to feel scared. She had her throne and her glass palace and all the riches in the world and yet her home was gone, and her heart was withering away.

That's why I'm here, she thought. I want my heart back.

Her white dress trailed behind her and she disappeared into a forest of green. She walked slowly, her toes tingled and her bare feet sunk into the grass below.

Her skin was the shade of a silver moon peeking amongst grey clouds painted against a midnight sky. Her eyes were black and were glazed over with fear and regret and her lashes were so long that they twisted and turned with every inky lie she had ever told. And underneath her petal-like skin and her dark hollow eyes, there was a small fractured heart and it was not healing. Something broke. She could hear a part of herself crumble away and land in a blue river of tears.

Finally, she reached the middle of the forest. There were tears in her eyes but she had to, she had to. Slowly, carefully, she removed the crown from her head and with shaking arms, laid it on the grass. Power, strength and anger seeped out of her and she was left with just her beating heart. She was whole again.

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