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The water dripped down the window, stripping away the condensation and revealing the red snow beyond the glass. Red like bright new blood, alive and fleeting. It fluttered through the air and stuck to the glass, glistening like fire that simply melts away. Danielle laid beneath the window, still rousing from sleep. She watched the water drip steadily down the glass until she could not deny what laid beyond the walls. Today, she would be the queen. And tomorrow, she would not.

The red snow only fell every hundred years. Sometimes it would take longer, sometimes less. There was no predicting it as much as the historians tried. Danielle came from the line in wait, the children raised only in anticipation of that snowy red morning. Because on those rare red days, the reigning monarch was locked away, to pray and plead with the gods for the cursed snow to disappear. Fearing the chaos that could ensue from that one day left without charge, Danielle’s ancestors had been chosen to fill the role. And that meant today, Danielle was the queen of the red snow.

Somehow, she had known this would happen to her. Every night Danielle went to bed in anticipation of it, wondering if tomorrow was the day or the day after that. She had trained herself to enjoy an extra beat of darkness each morning before opening her eyes. She had known this dread her whole life, as though red had been following her invisibly, a shadow in the dark. Most of her ancestors did not know the red snow, raised only to wait and then die. Some of them did reign uneventfully. And some of them raged.

She heard the trumpets in the distance, signaling the new queen. Danielle visualized the monarch being walked down the long hallways, locked away and powerless for that one day. There was no turning back now. Danielle rose from her bed and looked outside at the sheet of red snow. She only had one thing to decide now. Should she reign? Or should she rage.