The Queen’s Bath

‘Harold!’ the queen found herself yelling, although she really hadn’t meant to. No, this was going to be a nice, quiet discussion between her and the king — she found that she scared him more when she was quiet.

         ‘Yes, dearest?’ Harold asked, poking his head around the bathroom corner. ‘Something I can do for you?’

         The queen’s eyes narrowed. She hated when he called her dearest. It meant he knew he was in trouble.

         Harold, for the record, had no idea he was in trouble.

         ‘You can start by telling me just how much this bathtub remodel cost us?’ she gestured at the newly-renovated tub.

         ‘I have no idea,’ Harold frowned. ‘You’d have to track down the bill, I guess?’

         With a wry smile, the queen produced a piece of paper from one of the many folds in her dress. ‘Oh, look,’ she smiled tightly. ‘I managed to track it down.’

         Harold finally began to pick up the vibe in the (nicely tiled) room and a bead of sweat appeared at the base of his neck.

         ‘The contractor said that it might be good, so I just gave him the all-clear. Is it…’ he gulped. ‘Was it expensive?’

         ‘Let’s have a look, shall we?’

         She snapped out the paper and brought it up to her face. Her brow creased slightly as her eyes flicked across the invoice.

         ‘Actually… actually that’s not too bad,’ she conceded.

         Harold’s whole face lit up, and he experienced a brief moment of elation. Was he really not in trouble?

         Suddenly, the queen — still reading the bill — stiffened.

         And the blood froze in his veins.

         ‘Dearest?’ he asked meekly, after nearly a minute of silence.

         She turned back to him, furiously holding up the paper.

         Bathtub cut out for elderly women in the Sydney CBD?’ she spat.

         ‘Wh-what?’ the king stammered, taking a step backwards.

         The candles in the room flickered with the queen’s anger as she advanced on her husband.