It had to be a dream; not because his dead mother was setting out dinner; nor because his father was sat at the table, red faced and laughing like he had never seen before; not even because his sister was sat with him, smiling happily. Really it was a dream because it was sunny. Long shadows streached across the dark wood floor, light spilling in through the double doors at the back of the room. The fresh yellow paint lit the kitchen, his family stood out against it like a pop up Christmas card.
He wanted to freeze this moment. He wanted to stop time and drink it all in. The family he had never had.
His mother had died when he was eleven, his sister seven. For a reason he had never understood his father had blamed his sister, and her life was full of abuse and misery since then. He was powerless to stop it.
In the years that had past he had learnt how to set bones, soothe bruises and bandage cuts, but he couldn’t learn how to mend a broken heart. She didn’t talk about it but he knew that their mother was fading from her mind. If she had ever known a kind word from their father it had long since been forgotten, only terror and anger remained.
He escaped it all because he would take the crown. In his fathers eyes he could do no wrong, until he abdicated.
As the dream continued he watched his father lean towards his sister and whisper something to her. It gained him a light smack from his wife and playful teasing. He smiled at his sister’s laughter. She wouldn’t be a little girl by now, she would be twenty in June. He frowned, a bitter taste on his tongue. He wondererd if she was even alive, if his father had enough restraint not to kill the only heir he had left
He watched the dream unfurl. For it could only be a dream. It was never sunny here, in his cell, his prison, his punishment.