The people changed, the land changed, the language changed—but the same golden crown ruled these hills for centuries. Vibrant as the summer sun with the power of the stars, it had perched atop hundreds of heads of hair, had spent years on a throne. The rim stretched into seven peaks, arching around seven jewels, signifying the corner of the kingdom from whence they came. The blue corner was lost in a war a hundred years after the crown was made, and now, of course, all the corners are in different countries, but the jewels stayed. People forget. Crowns do not.
The crown passed through families like a genetic disease that skipped generations but always led to death. It went best with the two hundred years of black hair and worst with the seventy some-odd years it had to clash with blondes. It carried its people through floods and droughts, through famine and feasts. One king didn’t like to wear it, and so it spent thirty years in a box. One queen found it too manly, so she added a string of crystals along the rim. Her son hated the crystals and pried them off, leaving small dents in their place. Each ruler perished, but the crown lived on.
The crown spent most of its life right-side-up and off the floor, much like the kingdom it ruled. A young prince liked to wear it upside down and call it a knight’s helmet. Leave it to that family to father a prince who would rather be a knight. The crown transferred from pillow to head for years and years, but it was once worn into battle and splashed with blood, then rinsed by the king in a river. The crown resided in the castle, the stone walls and fresh fruit, the children using it as a plaything when their parents and caretakers weren’t paying attention. No matter what the children did, it always ended in its rightful place, and the children were lectured about the importance of the crown. Nearly the same speech each time, though eventually in different languages.
The crown ruled those hills for centuries, but then the hills began resenting its rule. They rose like tidal waves, powered by rebellion, and knocked the crown to the dirt. The crown hasn’t seen the hills for ages.
The crown will spend the rest of its life in prison, here, in this glass box. It rules over the museum, the kingdom of the past. Its jewels, kept in place with glue, gleam and sing of glory. Its gold, dulled with age, yearns for its lost power. Its rim, buffed with polish, speaks of tyrants, queens, and kings, hums with history, rings with death. The crown ruled these hills for centuries, but the hills will never be ruled by a crown again.