Only a Woman | Teen Ink

Only a Woman

August 12, 2011
By CarrieAnn13 GOLD, Goodsoil, Other
CarrieAnn13 GOLD, Goodsoil, Other
12 articles 10 photos 1648 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." --Douglas Adams

"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." --Marcus Aurelius


“My Lady, Octavian is here.” Neferura, my only loyal servant was in a panic. “It will only be a matter of time before he finds you here.”

“I won’t hide any longer. Bring my paints, my best red sheath and my most expensive jewelry. I’ve charmed two Roman men; there’s no reason I can’t charm this one too.”

Neferura bowed, then ran out of the mausoleum I had been hiding in for the past few months. Had it really only been a couple of months since everything had gone wrong? Our fleet was destroyed at Actium, Mark Antony committed suicide and now the Emperor had arrived in Egypt. If I couldn’t charm Octavian like I charmed Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, then I would soon return to my mausoleum as a corpse.

Neferura soon returned with all the things I had requested. She helped me wriggle out of my plain white sheath and into my sumptuous red one that left little to imagination. Then she brushed my tangled black hair, pinned it up and slipped my wig of a hundred ringlets into place. I sat very still as she outlined my eyes in kohl, used henna to redden my lips and covered the dark circles under my eyes with powder. From the small selection of jewelry she brought, I chose a silver circlet with a huge red jasper stone that hung on my forehead, bracelets of electrum, a belt of moonstones and rings of lapis lazuli. I looked at myself in the small bronze mirror Neferura brought and smiled. I looked perfect, as usual. Now all I had to do was make Octavian agree.




“You manipulated a good Roman man into turning against his own country.”

“Me? I am just a woman. What influence could a woman have over a strong Roman man?”

Octavian spluttered at my words; he was not buying into my story. And he definitely wasn’t falling for my body like Julius and Mark had. My intelligence only threatened him, so that definitely wasn’t helping my case. Time for Plan B.

“You need a powerful ally in Egypt; I can maintain control over my people. Let me remain Pharaoh and Rome will reap the rewards.”

For the first time in our meeting, Octavian smiled. “Cleopatra, you are an intelligent woman. Tell me why would I need a powerful ally in the newest Roman province?”

“You’re annexing Egypt?” I gasped.

“Of course. I have no wish to quell the rebellion of yet another tempestuous Eastern Queen.” He snapped his fingers. “Take her away, but do not harm her. I wish to display her at my triumph when I return.”

The Roman guards marched me at sword point to a tiny room in the palace that had been a guest room. Before they locked me away for good, I turned to face them and suggestively lifted my sheath to reveal my right calf. One of the soldiers hesitated, but the other pushed me into my prison and slammed the door behind me. To my surprise, Neferura was there, setting up a simple cot by the door. Seeing me, she bowed before speaking.

“I convinced the guards to let me tend to you. My Queen, what are you going to do now?”

“I am going to deny Emperor Octavian his greatest prize.” I smiled reassuringly to hide the fact I was ready to break down and cry. “I don’t care how you do it, but bring me an asp. I’m going to die with the honour that befits the last Pharaoh of Egypt.”

Neferura nodded and I could see the tears in her deep brown eyes. I walked over to her and pulled her into a hug, a huge breech of station on my part. But I didn’t care; I was about to die and I needed to thank her for her complete loyalty to me. I felt the tears run down my face, but I let them flow. After all, if I had my way, I was not long for this world.




After Neferura retouched my makeup, I was ready. She had smuggled the asp past the guards by hiding it in a basket of figs. I reached in the figs and nearly smiled in triumph when my fingers closed around the asp’s cool, smooth body. It hissed as I pulled it out of the basket. Good, it was already annoyed at being kept under the heavy figs.

Its eyes stared coldly at me as I stroked its head, enticing it to bite me. Finally, it struck my wrist with lightning speed. I bit my tongue to keep from crying out in pain. When the snake let go, I quickly dumped it in the fig basket and put the lid on it. I didn’t want it to slither out and bite Neferura, my only friend left.


Within minutes, my breathing became laboured. I lay down on the bed and carefully composed myself. I was going to die with dignity, the way a Pharaoh should. My last breaths were steeped in agony, yet I was strangely happy. I had thwarted Octavian, denying him his greatest prize.

But my happiness didn’t last long. The gods in Judgment Hall were calling for me, Queen Cleopatra, the last and greatest Pharaoh.


The author's comments:
Historical Note: Although we know him today as Octavian (or Caesar Augustus), in his time, he was known as 'Gaius.' I didn't want to fight convention by using his Latin name because that would just confuse everyone.

I hope you like my story! Tell me what you think of my portrayal of Cleopatra in the comments.

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This article has 257 comments.


on Aug. 20 2011 at 6:29 pm
rage_against_the_machine BRONZE, St. Augustine, Florida
4 articles 7 photos 106 comments

Favorite Quote:
Difficult takes a day. Impossible takes.. oh, about a week?

This was great! Historic fiction has always seemed to me to be difficult to write, as you have to get the facts correct. I applaud your creativity and writing prowess. Excellent!

on Aug. 20 2011 at 1:45 pm
CarrieAnn13 GOLD, Goodsoil, Other
12 articles 10 photos 1648 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." --Douglas Adams

"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." --Marcus Aurelius

Thanks for reading my story! :)

on Aug. 20 2011 at 1:43 pm
CarrieAnn13 GOLD, Goodsoil, Other
12 articles 10 photos 1648 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." --Douglas Adams

"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." --Marcus Aurelius

Thanks so much! :)

on Aug. 20 2011 at 1:18 pm
AlwaysAntlers SILVER, Kingsport, Tennessee
5 articles 0 photos 72 comments

Favorite Quote:
“Don't forget - no one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell.”
― Charles de Lint, (from his book,The Blue Girl)

This is great! I've always been fascinated by Cleopatra.

Faerie said...
on Aug. 20 2011 at 10:48 am
Faerie, Lala, Illinois
0 articles 0 photos 18 comments

I've read this before, and this is just excellent. You have a great talent in writing. Everything looks perfect. I didn't find any mistakes.

This definitely deserves an Editors' Choice award.

Keep writing! :)


on Aug. 19 2011 at 10:42 pm
CarrieAnn13 GOLD, Goodsoil, Other
12 articles 10 photos 1648 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." --Douglas Adams

"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." --Marcus Aurelius

Thank you very much! :)

on Aug. 19 2011 at 10:02 pm
BorderlineGenius777 SILVER, Lewiston, Idaho
7 articles 0 photos 80 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If all our misfortunes were laid in one common heap, whence everyone must take an equal portion, most would be content to take their own and depart."- Socrates

You my friend, are an amazingly talented writer. good job!

on Aug. 19 2011 at 9:03 pm
CarrieAnn13 GOLD, Goodsoil, Other
12 articles 10 photos 1648 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." --Douglas Adams

"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." --Marcus Aurelius

Thanks for taking the time to read my story! :)

on Aug. 19 2011 at 9:02 pm
CarrieAnn13 GOLD, Goodsoil, Other
12 articles 10 photos 1648 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." --Douglas Adams

"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." --Marcus Aurelius

Okay, thanks for the feedback! :)

on Aug. 19 2011 at 9:02 pm
CarrieAnn13 GOLD, Goodsoil, Other
12 articles 10 photos 1648 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." --Douglas Adams

"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." --Marcus Aurelius

Thanks!  I'm glad you liked my portrayal of Cleopatra. :)

on Aug. 19 2011 at 9:01 pm
SweetPolarBearHugs PLATINUM, New York, New York
27 articles 0 photos 75 comments

Favorite Quote:
"All conflict in literature is, in its simplest form, a struggle between good and evil." - unknown author.
"All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream." - Edgar Allan Poe

Amazing, it really pulls you in until you get to the ending and again amazing:)

on Aug. 19 2011 at 7:45 pm
lucygirl26 GOLD, Greensboro, North Carolina
11 articles 0 photos 68 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Life is like a bowl of spaghetti. Every once in a while, you get a meatball." - Sharon Creech

You know, normally I don't really like historical stories. Sometimes I say, "Really, I could care less." But this was fantastic! I loved it a lot. I knew it was Cleopatra right away when you talked about her charming the other two guys. Great work! The only thing is that it would be nice to hear some of her thoughts as she's talking to Octavian. 

Harebelle GOLD said...
on Aug. 19 2011 at 6:55 pm
Harebelle GOLD, Vancouver, Other
14 articles 1 photo 121 comments
Pretty much same comment as the last one: I like how you made Cleopatra seem realistic. I also like the description here of how she thinks her beauty will get her what she wants, and the hugging scene with Neferura was very touching. Well done!

on Aug. 19 2011 at 5:33 pm
CarrieAnn13 GOLD, Goodsoil, Other
12 articles 10 photos 1648 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." --Douglas Adams

"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." --Marcus Aurelius

Thank you! :)

Musika BRONZE said...
on Aug. 19 2011 at 5:07 pm
Musika BRONZE, South Lake Tahoe, California
1 article 0 photos 7 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Why does one begin to write? Because she feels misunderstood, I guess. Because it never comes out clearly enough when she tries to speak. Because she wants to rephrase the world, to take it in and give it back again differently, so that everything is used and nothing is lost. Because it's something to do to pass the time until she is old enough to experience the things she writes about."
— Nicole Krauss

This is really an interesting & unique story. I really enjoyed reading it. I love the vocabulary you used and how detailed you were. Good job. :)

on Aug. 19 2011 at 3:29 pm
CarrieAnn13 GOLD, Goodsoil, Other
12 articles 10 photos 1648 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." --Douglas Adams

"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." --Marcus Aurelius

Thanks for such a detailed critique! :)  I'm glad I made Cleopatra seem more real to you.

on Aug. 19 2011 at 3:26 pm
RhythmAndRhyme BRONZE, Rockford, Michigan
4 articles 0 photos 91 comments

Favorite Quote:
"There's no half-singing in the shower, you're either a rock star or an opera diva." ~~Josh Groban

Hi! I'm pretty sure I've commented on one of your pieces before, but if not, I review with a "Stars and Wishes" method. Stars are things I liked, while Wishes are things changeable, confusing, out of place, etc.

Stars: I loved the strength and power portrayed by Cleopatra in your words. It made her seem like a real person, not just a name accompanying dates in a History textbook. I really and truly felt like I was there, hiding with her, facing her same dilemma.

The description was great, too. You did a nice job of describing Cleopatra herself, but also the premise of the story. It was very interesting to add in.

Finally, the bond between Cleopatra and Nefurura felt very real, especially at the end. I could feel the emotion emanating from the words.

Wishes: It's honestly hard for me to find something "changeable, confusing, out of place, etc." in this work. I can't find anything wrong with dialogue, description, or anything grammatical. Very impressive!

Well done! I really enjoyed this, and I am not a fan of Historical Fiction. Great job! 5/5!


on Aug. 19 2011 at 2:39 pm
CarrieAnn13 GOLD, Goodsoil, Other
12 articles 10 photos 1648 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." --Douglas Adams

"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." --Marcus Aurelius

Thank you!  I'm glad you like it. :)

on Aug. 19 2011 at 2:38 pm
Readqueenz7 SILVER, Oak Park, Illinois
6 articles 9 photos 16 comments
I liked this one a lot too. Your writing is beautiful, and very detailed. I felt more of Cleopatra's strength in this piece. This is really nice.

on Aug. 19 2011 at 9:27 am
CarrieAnn13 GOLD, Goodsoil, Other
12 articles 10 photos 1648 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." --Douglas Adams

"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." --Marcus Aurelius

Thank you!  I'm glad I got into Cleopatra's head that well. :)