Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Just For One Day

Now and then my writing partner and I feel like writing something random.  I find us several prompts, we scribbled something, sometimes it goes on to become more, sometimes it's one scene and then done.

My scene from tonight's session, based the prompt below and written to the soundtrack of David Bowie's "Heroes", The Script's "No Good in Goodbye", and Shiny Toy Guns' "Somewhere to Hide".





I never understood: why me. Why of all the people she could have chosen, why me to follow, to befriend, to love.

It was not an uncommon question for me to ask silently of any of them.  But it’s unimportant right now, in this moment flying too fast.

Her breath catches in her throat, and I press her hand harder, trying to hold back the ebbing life.  “Rest,” I urge, and my voice catches in a strangled sound like a rusty blade being pulled from an old sheath. 

Her eyes flash open, and I shove my feelings away so the worried look will leave her eyes, so that she won’t worry about me in these moments. Her last moments.

She is hard to fool, and her indigo eyes tell me that she understands. But then, she always did. “You did your duty,” she whispers. “We all did.”

Diola was one of the most beautiful women I’d ever met. Hailing from southern lands, her dark skin was highlighted with a dusting of gold freckles that always seemed to make her eyes glow like a lake under the noon sun…or so her second always used to describe it, especially when under the influence of too much tangerine wine after a long battle. 

He wasn’t wrong. 

Her black hair was always in five braids that represented each member of her family no longer living. Those braids are stiff with blood now, seeping from the wounds on her torso. The wounds no healer or wizard can close. 

She gasps, her fingers scrabbling in my hand, signaling for me to bend closer, to listen. I don’t want to turn my head to put my ear closer to her mouth because I want to hold her eyes as long as possible. I want to be the last thing she sees; I want her to know how sorry I am.

But who am I to deny the wish of a dying woman to salve my conscience? I tilt my head and lean closer, my ear level with her mouth.

“I wish…I wish we’d had more time to…gether,” she croaks. Her breath hisses through her teeth as she fights for one more breath and then another one.

“I wanted to turn to dust with you.” Her lips seem barely able to form the words, but she keeps going, and I can hear each one as clearly as if they cost her no effort. 

“I wanted to be your captain for a long time. To see your new kingdom. To grow old watching the children we all saved.” 

I want to tell her to save her strength. I don’t want her last words to be about her loyalty. About what she would have done for me. I don’t want to be reminded of the weight that is settling crushingly over my shoulders, never to leave it now. The weight of her death.

There have been so many deaths, so many people I’ve sent to die. That is a reality of war. But some sit more heavily than others, as hers will for time and an age.

I lift my head enough to meet her eyes again. They are starting to flutter closed, but they lock onto mine one last time. I bend to kiss her brow and as I straighten, I draw the sign for peace lightly on her forehead, clammy with deathsweat. 

She can still feel enough that she knows what it is; she has drawn it on enough foreheads in the aftermath of battles. Her lips twitch, and I know she is trying to smile.

“Never…stop...queen.” 

I stare into her eyes for a long time, but she doesn’t see it. She’s gone, fled with the echo of her last word to me. 

I wanted her to turn to dust with us too, my band of cohorts who have spilled more blood for this land than it would ever know, than the people we’d saved would ever realize. 

“Goodbye, Diola,” I whisper, folding her arms over her chest, and then, squaring my shoulders, I rise.
There is another battle to fight, and it will be won in her name.
  

7 comments:

  1. That's a very neat little story - love the prompt lines :) I like how you said "salve my conscious"

    keturahskorner.blogspot.com

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  2. Stop trying to make me cry. *sniffs* It's beautiful, sis!

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  3. Excuse me, Missy, but who gave you permission to give me FEELS today??? UGH. THIS WAS BEAUTIFUL AND HEARTBREAKING. Also the WRITING. It was breathtaking, and tugged at my heartstrings from basically the first sentence. I loved it. And hated it. Because MY HEART. D':

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    1. I make my own permissions. :D

      THANK YOU SO MUCH! Loved and hated - you've just made my whole day. *beaming*

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  4. Uuuuugggghhh, the feels! :'-(

    Up until the bit where Diola says, "Never...stop...queen," silly me thought this was a romantic snippet. :-P
    Now I'm thinking it feels like something from your Fidelias series (probably isn't, though).
    You hit a lot of nails on the head with this one. The gritty reality and consequences of war. Little details that tell a lot about the characters. Even the fact that those the warriors protect never know the full cost of that protection. Wow.

    ~R~

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