In this week's story, Queen of Everything, a young woman gets a chance at the job of a lifetime
Suggestions for writing prompts are always welcome! Today's prompt came from more of a random thought about how people can find different meanings in the same statement.
More about Susan Quilty
Susan Quilty mainly writes novels, including two standalone novels and her current YA series: The Psychic Traveler Society. Susan's short stories for Freely Written are created during quick writing breaks and shared as a way to practice her narration skills before she dives into recording audio versions of her novels.
Below is the transcript for Season 1, Episode 42 of Freely Written, a podcast by author Susan Quilty:
Welcome to Freely Written where a simple prompt leads to a little unplanned fiction.
[Light piano music]
Hi, friends! I’m Susan Quilty and today’s prompt is Queen of Everything
Before we get to today’s story, I have an announcement. To keep myself from going too crazy during the busy holiday season, new episodes of Freely Written will now be released every two weeks, instead of weekly. At least through November and December.
Stories will still follow our usual method, where I use a word or phrase as a prompt to write a story—with no planning and very little editing—and then share that story with you.
During the weeks without a new story, you can always relisten to your past favorites or catch up on any stories or bonus commentary you may have missed.
Now, on to today’s prompt: Queen of Everything. This prompt came about because I saw a picture that reminded me of a journal I’d once been given that said “queen of everything” on the cover. I don’t know what ever happened to that journal, but it sounds like a good phrase to prompt a story.
Let’s see how that turned out…
Queen of Everything
Ruby walked into the personnel office wearing a suit as bright as her name and an attitude twice as sparkling. Her hair was pinned up in a stylish twist, and her feet carried her on three-inch sling-back heels.
The receptionist who checked her in stuttered as he asked her to take a seat, and Ruby smiled at him with coy understanding. She knew she was dazzling and recognized the effect she had on other people. Yet, she wasn’t one to make anyone feel foolish for their awkwardness in the face of her charm.
On the contrary, she enjoyed setting others at ease. After a few simple words, she and the receptionist were soon laughing together like old friends.
When it was her turn to be seen, Ruby entered the hiring manager’s office with a casual stride and friendly greeting.
“Ms. Green,” she beamed as they shook hands, “between your last name and my first, we’re all set for the holiday season!”
“Oh, yes, I suppose we are,” Ms. Green laughed in return, though there wasn’t anything especially witty in the observation. That was the effect Ruby had on people.
“I’m here to speak with you about a new job,” Ruby began directly. “I’ve been very happy in my current position, but I do think it’s important for a person to grow and explore new opportunities.”
“Very important indeed,” Ms. Green nodded wisely, her eyes clinging to Ruby’s pleasant face before turning to reference her computer screen.
“You’ve had a rather illustrious career with us,” Ms. Green continued, scrolling through Ruby’s sterling employment history.
“You began in our Social Media department where you became a Community Wizard, then spent a year in Sales where you reached Marketing Rockstar.”
“Yes, those were lovely days,” Ruby reminisced fondly. “I moved into Human Resources after that…”
“Where you reached our highest level, Chairman of Office Happiness,” Ms. Green added with pride.
“I did enjoy making the office a happier place,” Ruby admitted with a twinkle in her eye.
“And now, in our publishing division, you’ve climbed all the way up to Editor Extraordinaire!” Ms. Green crowed, giving Ruby a moment to blush and cast her eyes downward demurely.
Ruby was not shy of her success, but she was worldly enough to realize that a bit of well-timed modesty kept her from appearing boastful and made it easier for others to sing her praises without jealousy.
Ms. Green nodded, approving of Ruby’s reaction whether it was feigned or not.
“After all the success you’ve found,” she went on brightly, “I believe it’s time to take a wider approach to your career with us.”
Ruby gave the impression of sitting straighter in her seat, despite already having perfect posture. She was intrigued by the idea but wasn’t sure what it meant from a practical standpoint.
“I would have to discuss this with the Board,” Ms. Green warned, “but I think it’s time to talk about positioning you to become our Queen of Everything.”
“Queen of Everything?”
While anyone else might have sat forward in eager anticipation, Ruby settled back in her chair with an air of bemusement. She had read the company history and knew that the position was one that had existed in its earliest days. She, like many employees, had joked over small annoyances by saying, “Not when I’m Queen of Everything…”
“No, thank you,” Ruby answered smoothly. “Perhaps something in Finance?”
“Finance?” Ms. Green’s face fell as she studied Ruby’s complacent composure. “But… But I’m offering you Queen of Everything!”
“Yes…” Ruby answered with careful consideration, not wanting to belittle the honor. “But that would include being in charge of…?”
“Everything!” Ms. Green finished eagerly. “You would be at the top of the company. Final say on every project. Arbiter of all disputes. It’s been decades since we had someone worthy of the position, and you, my dear, would be a perfect fit.”
“No, thank you,” Ruby repeated kindly. “But if we could discuss a role in Finance…”
“Finance?” Ms. Green half-shrieked the word, standing with the shock of Ruby’s refusal.
In all her years in Personnel, she’d never found anyone as universally skilled as Ruby. As affable or as intelligent. She knew she’d finally—after so many years—found the Queen of Everything the Board had tasked her to hire, and she simply could not believe that Ruby would blithely refuse.
“Why limit yourself to Finance?” She carried on. “If you were Queen of Everything, you’d have control over Finance… and over every other part of the company!”
Ruby tilted her head and cast a gentle eye on Ms. Green’s frazzled face. After a moment of quiet, Ms. Green felt her emotions settling under the serenity of that gaze. She returned to her seat, took a steadying breath, and nodded for Ruby to answer.
“I don’t want to be Queen of Everything,” Ruby explained softly. “Don’t get me wrong. Queen of Everything sounds like a dream come true. The best anyone could hope for. But then, I would be in charge of, well, everything. A little of this. A little of that. And it’s too much. Too much of… everything.”
Ms. Green flopped back in her chair, letting Ruby’s reasonable explanation wash over her.
“I want a more focused challenge. Not from the top of the company, but from the bottom of a department. A place where I can start with the basics and learn as I go. As I said earlier, I think it’s important for a person to explore new opportunities. For me, that means beginning at the beginning. Not ruling from the top.”
Leaning deeply into her office chair, Ms. Green studied Ruby’s earnest smile and the determined set of her shoulders.
“Okay,” she agreed with a curt nod. “So, you’re interested in finance?”
Within twenty minutes, Ms. Green had found a suitable transfer, one that met Ruby’s thirst for a new experience and would still give her room to grow. As she walked Ruby into the outer office, Ruby placed a friendly hand on her arm.
“You’re not disappointed in me, are you?” she asked with an innocence that Ms. Green only doubted for a passing moment.
“Of course not,” Ms. Green reassured, hiding the complexity of her emotions. “You know what’s best for you and your head isn’t turned by a flashy title or the promise of power. I’m prouder of you than ever.”
Ruby blushed with genuine pleasure and waggled her fingers in a quiet goodbye as she passed by the receptionist.
“What was that about?” the receptionist asked, a moony look pasted on his face as he stared after her.
“Nothing,” Ms. Green responded wistfully. As she stared off into the distance, she realized that their top position would never be filled. Not as long as she was the hiring manager. Because anyone worthy of being Queen of Everything would never want the job.
Thanks for making time for a little story break today. If you’d like to learn more about me and my books, you can visit my website, SusanQuilty.com. You can also connect with me on social media or offer your support through Patreon.com/SusanQuilty.
Until next time, try a little free writing of your own. Let go of any planning and see where your imagination takes you.
[Light piano music]