Ill-fated, ill often, teen king. Son of that bloated tyrant who hacked up a few wives, you’re pretty much all I’ve got right now. Fifty eight minute BBC documentaries that number in the dozens. I watch your brief life story play out again and again. I get to the fiftieth minute and push the button backward on the youtube frame so I can start watching the brandy voiced orations of the narrators wander again through Hampton Court and Windsor Castle. The camera pans outward to sixteenth century sylvan Britain. Wild stag. Centennial oaks bleeding their branches out into skyscraperless vistas. And some modern version of a lute melody I have heard four or five times in the past 24 hours soaking the scenery in the sound of history.
The end credits roll upward and I start to feel the fray of anxiety tightening my throat so I scan the sidebar with its endless row of thumbnail suggestions for the next. Will it be Medieval Foods, Part One? Or The Unknown Prince John, The Royals Best Kept Secret? Or will it be Isabella and Margaret: Forgotten Queens of the Middle Ages? Maybe this time I’ll branch out to Last Days of The Romanov Dynasty or Jenny Jerome: Mistress, Heiress, Mother of Winston Churchill.
If there were a niche Jeopardy game show for legacy families, monarchs and anglophiles I’d be a straight ringer. It turns out when you no longer feel capable of doing anything other than lying in bed, you can become a wizard at almost any collection of knowledge in a very short amount of time. Especially if youtube spoons this into your depression-heavy noggin one hour at a time.
When he started to stalk me, two months ago, I stopped tossing a novel into my purse before leaving to take the kids to school. The first few days into the harassment, I thought there was no way it would last longer than a week. My body sank fast into the somatic recognition that my brain was tap dancing real hard over a pile of bullshit. I’d take the book out, open it up and stare at it. Then I’d think about what he had sent me most recently, and maybe why. Then I’d wonder how, how, how while I stared off at my kids on the school playground and told myself it was going to all work out fine through the knot of nausea. Of course it was going to be fine because he was my friend and he loved me. Everything was alright and alright meant normal and normal meant that I read a decent amount every day. I refocused on the book and stared at the same sentence like a plate of something you know is going in the garbage. Then I stopped bringing the books. Because I was ready to get back into bed the moment I got home where my body could act out how not-normal things were in the privacy of my own space. I would wake up in the clothes I had worn the previous day and I would not care.
He would have sent me another message. Maybe two. Sometimes three or four. He would condemn me for abandoning him. He would praise me and express his gratitude at having ever known me. He would remind me that he would never harm me. He would tell me he was crazy and that he needed help. He would tell me this was the final time I would ever hear from him again. He would tell me he was going to kill himself.
I blocked him from accessing me in every way I knew of and researched how to block him in order to find other ways that might be more effective. He would find me on these accounts using dozens of fake identities. He would tell me that this would all go away if I would only start talking to him again.