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The queue seemed to stretch on forever. They had been there for hours and had not even reached the boundaries of the Sanctum, where they would be required to sink to their knees, shuffling the rest of the way in respectful silence until they reached their destination.

There were some around them who were already on their knees. Perhaps it was a show of devotion, and indeed in some of their faces there was a kind of smug piety, a sense of superiority as they looked up at those still standing. Perhaps it was simply more comfortable for some to kneel than to stand, he thought, gazing idly ahead at a young woman whose long blue dress failed to conceal the fact that her left leg came to an abrupt end just below her knee.

Personally, he would always prefer to stand, rather than wear his trousers down to the last thread, and at the current pace he could do so for another hour yet, at least.

Beside him, his bride to be glanced around, her grip on his hand tightening ever so slightly. She bobbed hesitantly, almost a half curtsey, and he smiled ruefully.

“We can kneel now if you like,” he whispered.

She looked up at him gratefully, and sank to her knees.

He resisted the urge to sigh as he lowered himself to his knees beside her. Somewhere up ahead, between the twin pillars of Law and Liberty, they would come before the most powerful man in the world. They would shuffle awkwardly forward on their knees to prostrate themselves in front of him. Kings, queens, dictators and tyrants, all had knelt before him in the same way. He held the keys to heaven, it was said. He was a physical bridge between it and the world of men. Thousands came before him, seeking his wisdom, his knowledge, his benediction in all matters.

If they gained his blessing upon their marriage, none could look down on their union.The voices, the whispers – all would be silenced. For that it would be worth spending three days in a queue.

He glanced at his young bride, who knelt quietly with her head bowed, and wondered if she was as nervous as he was.

© Kari Fay

(Author’s Note: A challenge today; to take the Three Word Wednesday prompts and apply them to a particular story, rather than just writing whatever they made me think of. Tricky indeed! In the end, I approached it from a slightly tangential angle, but I think it worked out. The words in question are Grip, Prefer and Thread.)

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