A 5 minute writing session turns into 15, then rounds out into 60 and a half minutes. God is good to this shiftless squanderer. I have no business experiencing inspiration or having ideas, let alone enjoying their tangible creation.
Soli Deo Gloria
Even after she asked an enemy solider if her chainmail clanged too loudly for their sighing, dying ones, she took me by surprise.
She’d tromped down the hill, which was muddied and bloodied and littered with parts from man, metal and leather things. The red cape she wore tucked into her tasseled shoulders was twisted limply to the side, soggy and soiled. Sword barely grasped dug a haggard line in the turf behind her. Her hair was coming unpinned. I’d never seen anything like it.
“No you don’t” I told her, still plunging my sword through an imp’s heart.
It was hard to see through the spurting black blood, but over its shoulder I saw she lifted her head just enough to meet me. “Yes I do. I just decided. I’m quitting. We’re surrendering. Save that blade for carving our oxen tonight. We’re feasting and dumping the cannons and I’m going home.”
I shoved my sword hard so the imp squealed (imps have excellent circulation, even after major blood loss). It buckled and flopped into a dirty heap. His long, dark coat nearly camouflaged him in the blood-drenched grasses. I spit on it and looked up, wiping my face with the back on my hand.
She just stood there slumped like my little apple tree back home. Somehow Spring brings the little gal to bear barrels of fruit, but if no one comes to pick it, she just droops under the weight, and rots. Though I’d cried and screamed and growled in rage, never once in this war did I want to throw up, until now.
“After everything you’ve done,” I said, when I remembered my voice, “you’ll stop? You’ll leave everyone locked in the tower? What, will you climb back up and join them?” I’d forgotten my rank.
But she did not so much as frown at me. “Send a letter to make it official. Send a minstrel!” She squatted by a tiny trickle of a stream dividing the battlefield to my right and dipped her hands in for a drink. The water was stringy with imp blood, but she just shook it off sucked it up.
“I won’t let you surrender.” But I knew I would.
I had followed her ever since we found each other after our tower fell. She was of nobler birth, a sort of celebrity in my district. I was the one who found out how to slowly work my hands through my wrist shackles, gradually constricting flesh and bone until my hands could pass through. Her idea was to escape by a flaw in the change of guard. We huddled by a sliver of moonlight making plans drawing in the dust, which always glittered from shattered crystals from tiaras and gowns. God had other plans.
We barely survived, digging each other out of the stone and chiffon wreckage. Over fire-roasted snails and kudzu that night– our first dinner in freedom, under the blackest sky with the brightest stars– we told each other we would mend, train and equip ourselves to return and set the other princesses free.
I said some more things to her, but they didn’t matter. She staggered away over a hill to the East. She moved like a toddler, wearing pink lipstick and once white pantaloons tucked into journeyman’s boots that she’d pulled off of a wealthy imp lord. One foot plunked into the stream and she plodded on.
Wiping my sword on the one scrap of fabric still clean on me, a cotton scarf I saved just for sword-cleaning, and I turned West toward the forest, the setting sun dipping behind its coarse branches. There were enough approaching imps in sight to keep me busy until I could escape into the trees. That was my plan anyway.
For the moment, all I knew was that I wore a ponytail. I would not allow my hair to fall in my face, unpinned.