The Tale of the Black Queen

Lexi sat on his board looking out across the desolate industrial landscape as he let out a deep and heavy sigh. The kind of sigh that you would expect to hear resonating from the cavernous chest of an infinite being upon whose shoulders the weight of an entire universe rested, yet here he was, just a mortal boy and so deeply burdened. “I know you’re there,” he whispered into the air and, as if by magic, a familiar wide smile appeared before him. “Come now, Lexi, why so sad?” said the mouth of the Cheshire Cat, whilst fading away just as quickly as it had appeared. “Take me home for a warm bath of bubbles and I shall tell you what you long to hear,” said the cat upon reappearance over Lexi’s shoulder. “It’s a frightfully dank and dirty place, this land of yours, and I would like terribly to be clean, once and for all. What do you say?” Lexi hung his head low, giving the impression that he’d been here before. Here, in this situation, with this tiresome cat. “Tell me first,” Lexi spat with a rigidity old Cheshire Cat knew better than to toy with. Knew better, but toyed with all the same. “What truth can come from such a filthy cat? Cleans me, boy, and I shall return the gesture to your muddied soul.”

With this, Lexi jumped onto his skateboard in an effortless motion and soared down the slope towards the impending estate. The landscape was grey with a hint of pink in the sky as the sun set down in the west. Lexi’s hair flowed with the breeze of his gliding motion, as did the fur of the Cheshire Cat, who drifted alongside him. “This isn’t the way, Lexi,” said the Cheshire Cat, grinning less than he was before, but more than he would be if he failed to give something away. “They always said she was the wisest of them all. So much so, they didn’t dare to speak of her.” Lexi stopped in his tracks. “What else?” “She was neither beauty nor ugliness. Her look was one that the pen could not transcribe, but that is not why her story was never told, no. She never wished it so.”

Lexi began to see a passion in the eyes of the Cheshire Cat that he had never seen before. Love and sorrow entwined behind those beaming cat eyes, masked only by his wide, untelling grin. “Did you love my mother, Cheshire Cat?” Lexi asked. “Did I…? Boy, such stupidity is the very reason you are where you are. Do better.” For the first time since the Cheshire Cat had shown himself to Lexi, he appeared in full body and sat on the ground at Lexi’s feet, staring up into his face. “The Black Queen has no reason for love or hate. For good or for evil. She does not contend with such simplicity. Must I tell you everything, child?” “Yes,” insisted Lexi, with urgency. “So be it.”

“Let us commence at the beginning of all things…” The Cheshire Cat embarked upon his tale as long as time itself. Transcendent of solar systems and galaxies, reaching far beyond all mortal realms and physical things. To a time long before the concept of good and evil had been created in the minds of the human race and neutrality was absolute. He told this tale, for this was the time in which the spirit of the Black Queen lived. “But what of me? How could I have come to be?” Lexi asked with more frustrated confusion than when he knew nothing at all. “Child, she is your mother, as she is mine. She is your mother as she is all of ours… You think yourself divine?” With these words, a grin, wider and more sinister than ever before, spread far across the face of the Cheshire Cat. “Filthy lies come from the mouth of the filthy cat!” cried Lexi, in despair. The Cheshire Cat bellowed out a tumultuous laugh that tore through Lexi’s soul. He fumed at himself for falling, once again, for the tall tales of the tormenting Cheshire Cat. Rage boiled inside him like a furnace of hatred and sorrow. He was lonely to his core and vulnerable in his heart. He picked up the Cheshire Cat, from the ground where he sat, and squeezed until he vanished from his arms in a puff of smoke.

After a little time, Lexi hopped upon his skateboard and sailed through the concrete maze of abandoned industry. He basked in the cold air as it flowed across his body, slowly relinquishing the burning within until the fire was completely out. Darkness filled the sky as artificial light flooded the streets. The Cheshire Cat’s grin was harder to see under the orange glow, but it was still there, alongside Lexi, as it always was.

Later that night, as the silence of slumber swept across the group home, Lexi locked himself in the bathroom and ran a steamy, hot, bubbly bath. “Why do you love the bubbles so much?” Lexi asked. “Good God, boy, how could you not?” With that, both boy and cat laughed heartily as the Cheshire Cat dived and bathed, with such delight, in his wondrously bubbly bath. “Is my mother really the Black Queen?” Lexi asked as he brushed bubbles through the fur of his old friend. “Aren’t all mothers queens, my dear boy?” the Cheshire Cat replied, as he playfully squirted a fountain of water through his wide, grinning teeth. “And what of the others? The Queen of Hearts, the Red and the White?” “Oh, Alexis,” purred the Cheshire Cat, “in what realm of madness could such characters ever belong?” Upon finishing his question, the Cheshire Cat floated high above the tub of bubbles, shaking away the water from his fur and covering the room with a sparkling glow. Alexis looked all around, in awe and, as he turned back to his floating friend – poof – he was gone, leaving nothing behind but his Cheshire Cat grin.