In the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the queen was waiting impatiently. She strode the floor, pacing back and forth, feeling her anxiety rising with each step she took. She’d been locked up for days under the king’s orders. Outside, she could hear construction. “By Gods, he’s at it again,” she said, picking up her cup of black tea and taking a shaky sip. Not that she didn’t love her husband; she did, he just had very … specific, expensive, and not always logical ideas about how to show his love. It’s how the Hanging Gardens were built in the first place. She asked for a garden at the palace, and he took it too many steps further, and began the process of building gardens that literally hang in the air, off the side of the palace, anywhere he could make it happen. This, of course, was not practical even though it was shaping up to be beautiful and wondrous beyond measure. She’d just wanted a quiet, lush green space to stroll through in the mornings before the day got too hot, and in the evenings to cool off. But her husband was flamboyant and ostentatious (he said that was his duty as the ruler, to show off his wealth, that it would make his subjects respect him), and as a lowly woman, she never got to second guess his decisions … to his face, at least. She was also supremely sensitive to noise, and the sound of construction for days on end was rattling her down to her last frayed nerve. She’d purposefully kept her windows shut to drown out some of the sound, but it wasn’t nearly as effective as she needed it to be. He, somehow, was not bothered by any sort of construction sound, so naturally his chambers were the furthest away from all the hubbub.
Now, waiting for her captivity to end so her husband could “surprise” her with this newest addition to the gardens, all she could do was ruminate, drink tea, and eat the food left by her handmaidens … who were also her lovers, and the only ones allowed past the guards posted at her door, so at least she had other things to keep her busy between meals. For the moment, though, she was alone.
She refilled her cup of tea and sipped again, daring to peek out the window at the construction. Then she picked up an orange and peeled it slowly, gazing down on the men working outside on the hot sand. Hundreds of men were moving boulders, chisling rocks, and doing other heavy labor she didn’t even know how to describe. It looked terribly exhausting, and she was also tempted to throw fruit down to them so they could have something juicy and fresh to enjoy. Her aim wasn’t great, though, and from that height someone could get hurt, so she just kept eating her orange and gazing wistfully, trying to discern what exactly they were building now.
Time passed; more tea and oranges were consumed. She moved to her bed and was dozing in fits. She’d been unable to properly sleep for days due to all the construction noise that felt like it was drilling into her head. She was debating in her more awake periods if she should call for a handmaid or seven, when the doors to her chamber burst open. “My love! The time has come!” her husband announced, barging in and scooping her off the bed. He tried to lift her but couldn’t, and awkwardly set her back down on the bed. He fancied himself far more agile and strong than he actually was. She stood up while he pretended not to have pulled every muscle in his back and arms. “My love,” he said again, “I have been adding the best thing to the Hanging Gardens. Follow me; I cannot wait to show you.” She obeyed, following him out of the tower and down through the long, winding hallways of the palace.
She held her breath as they got closer to the courtyard, when he turned around and put his hand over her eyes to guide her outside. “Just a few more steps now,” he said as he steered her. She was about ready to pass out when he uncovered her eyes. “Ta-dah!” he said dramatically as she opened her eyes directly into the sun. Blinking back spots and trying to adjust her sight, she stared around in silent horror. He’d turned the Hanging Gardens into some sort of massive public spectacle. “Don’t you love it?” he asked, not understanding that her look was one of pure horror. “I’m calling it a ‘theme park.’ We’ll charge admission for people to come and wander the gardens. We’ll sell food for a marked-up price, and I’m working on different rides and attractions for people to enjoy.” He pointed at a structure rising high into the sky that looked like it would soon be right next to her multiple bedroom/chamber windows. “I’m calling that a rolling coaster. People will ride it and go up and down into the sky. It’s highly dangerous, but it’ll go right past your windows so you can see the common people zooming past you all day, inches from their potential death! Screaming! With Joy! All Day! Won’t that be fun? I’ve already sent servants to tell the local commoners to come and visit the glorious Hanging Gardens of Babylon for a fun-filled day of frights and delights!” He smiled a wide grin at her, obviously pleased with himself. Her eyes blazed with fury; she was sure he’d recognize her anger, as she felt like her blood was made of fire. “No,” she whispered in the deadliest voice imaginable. “Absolutely not. Get rid of it all. NOW!” The last word she screamed with all of her might, exaggerating it for what felt like minutes. It rose above the din of construction; it set birds flying from the trees; it shook fruits down off their vines and branches; the earth itself seemed to quake in fear. He jumped back, scared by the power he saw in his wife, knowing that even though he was the ruler in name, he was clearly not the ruler in this relationship. “Okay,” he said quietly. “Okay. We’ll tear it all down and I’ll make the quiet garden you wanted in the first place. I’ll find another spot to build my park.” The anger died out in her instantly, and she flashed her most brilliant, authentic smile at him. “Thank you my love,” she said, giving him a kiss on the cheek. “If you need me, I’ll be back in my chambers … with the windows firmly closed.”
Scent Notes: Cup after cup of spicy black tea, African musk, hot desert sands, juicy oranges.