Note: This piece is a satire of the writing style of Ernest Hemingway.

The King

A dark, dreary castle, sat at the top of a dark dreary hill. The dark clouds in the sky hung overhead, blocking out any hope of the sun peeking through, taking all the hope and happiness from the lands below as well. Within the broken, crumbling stone walls of the kingdom, on a throne covered in cobwebs, sat a king of perhaps his late thirties, early forties, still rather young for the position in which he held.

"My liege" his servant beckoned. "I bring horrible news."

"What is it?"

"Your wife, she has died in childbirth"

The king looked down, contemplating the situation. He had loved his wife dearly, and the news of her death was surprising and quite upsetting, but it could have been worse.

A few weeks passed, the servant went about his business, and the king went about his kingly duties, with the occasional fox hunt or tea with nobles in between to bring some fun into his otherwise dreary position. He was about to mount his horse to venture out on a hunt when the servant called to him once more.

"My liege,"

"What is it?"

"I bring news from the ongoing war; your eldest son has perished in the most recent skirmish. They found his body in pieces, after being blown apart by an artillery canister…they, however, could not recover…all of him."

The King glanced down in thought, before mounting his horse. The war was gruesome, and took the lives of many young men, but it was a valiant and noble way to go, and their memory would be regarded with the utmost respect. It could have been worse.

Months passed without much commotion, the servant and the king were kept busy with their respective duties as a harsh, early winter settled over the land; the heavy snowfall freezing over the crops not yet harvested. The servant, out on an errand for his majesty, surveyed the towns surrounding the kingdom. The people were impoverished and freezing, threadbare clothing hardly giving them any protection to the bitter cold. Children were frighteningly thin, from the famine that had settled in from the months' worth of harvest that all the townspeople and farmers depended on so heavily being destroyed. Poor beggars on the street were slaughtered and desiccated in the town square, before being stuffed into sausage casings in attempt to save the helpless young creatures from starvation. With haste, he spurred his horse to a full gallop toward the kingdom.

"My liege!" he cried, upon arriving within the castle walls. "The snowfall has made the crops wither on the vine…the citizens! They're starving! Resulting to cannibalism even!"

"How can they be starving, if they have people to eat?"


Sure, the famine was a horribly unfortunate event, but what was he to do about the weather? He was a king, not a god; the weather was beyond his control. Money couldn't pay for food, if said food had been destroyed by the weather. There were plenty of townspeople; the towns could serve to lose a few people here and there. Less people meant that there were less people that were starving. It could have been worse.

That evening, he sat as his grand table, alone, waiting impatiently to be served. He didn't understand what could have been taking so long; his servant was usually so punctual. Finally, after he'd lost count of the time he spent waiting, his sickly servant emerged, the large silver dish in his quivering hands. He set the plate in front of his master, before weakly making his way to the other room, coughing along the way. The time spent out in the harsh weather had evidently gotten to him, and if the sickness progressed, he would most likely die soon. But it could have been worse.

The king rubbed his hands expectantly, cutting his meat and sampling a taste, before dropping his knife and fork, and nearly knocking over his glass of wine. His hands clenched into fists as tears fell freely from his eyes, for his dinner, wasn't by any means hot, nor was it entirely, but it was, the horrible medium between the two….it was….lukewarm. It could not have been worse.