I wrote the following piece of fiction in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge: Traces, in which we were encouraged to talk about leaving our mark. Interestingly enough, I posted on a similar topic in January. As WWC posts are supposed to be written specifically for the challenge, I have created something new (below). If you would like to read my non-fiction thoughts on the subject, feel free to visit YOLO or YOLOL | A Post for the New Year.
Valkyrie | Chooser of the Slain
With her finger, she traces the engraved letters, one at a time.
The stone feels cold. Cold and hard. And final.
That’s all. The rest had worn away. It was a long time ago for this world that forgets so quickly. And yet for her…
He was young and strong and strong-willed. She loved him instantly. She watched him for months before he noticed her. And even then, only because she wanted him to. His training was over and he would leave soon for the war. She knew she shouldn’t, but she did it anyway.
He sat alone at the bar, staring into his drink, his right leg shaking anxiously. She’d been studying him long enough to know that he wasn’t worried; he was impatient and excited, but not worried. Like so many others, he was eager for battle, for a chance to make a difference, to give his life for what he believed in.
She, however, had seen too many wars. Not dozens or hundreds, but thousands. Thousands upon thousands. Her heart, drenched and heavy with the blood of a million men, felt light when she looked at him – his dark hair and bronzed skin offset by bright, green eyes. His earthiness, his humanity pulled her toward him.
He started when he saw her. It was as if she had just appeared in the seat next to him. He stared, speechless, at first. Her beauty…it was otherworldly. Golden-red hair tumbled in waves over her bare, fair shoulders and her eyes were the most unusual purple-grey. He felt himself relax into her smile, as if he’d known her all his life.
“You smell like lavender,” he breathed.
“I…what?” she laughed, almost embarrassed.
“You just…I’m sorry…I just,” He let out a sigh and smiled. “Hi.”
“Hi,” she smiled back.
Three days was all they had. Three days.
Confident and maybe a little naive , as the young so often are, he kissed her tears and promised to come back for her. As he walked away, she let him think he was leaving her. Let him think she’d be there when he returned…if he returned.
Sometime later, he saw her again. She’d been watching, as she was destined to do. In the fighting and the fury, among the gunfire and the screaming, she glided, seeing but unseen. Watching, waiting. And choosing. She had no choice but to choose.
Just as she brushed her hand over the terrified eyes of a soldier too young to be a man, closing them forever, she heard him. His screams tore into her. His humanity, again, drawing her to him, above him, by his side.
She understood instantly, as her kind always does, that his wounds, while not fatal, were devastating. And so she chose.
He lay on his back, his face waxing pale as the agony began to overwhelm him. But his eyes, darting back and forth, searching the gun-metal sky, glistened green like springtime. He began to call her name.
And then, because she wanted him to, he saw her. His anxious eyes settled on her face and his body slackened. With her fingertips, she brushed the hair away from his face, so he could see her better. And at her touch, his breathing calmed.
“You…smell like…lavender,” he whispered with a playful smile.
She intended to laugh, but a sob escaped in its place.
“Hey. Don’t cry. It’s OK. See? I promised you I’d come back. And here I am.”
Swallowing her tears, she replied, “And here you are.”
She gazed into his eyes for a long moment before resting a hand on either side of his bloodstained face. She leaned into him and touched her lips to his. They were cold, as she knew they would be.
But hers were warm. Warm and soft and gentle and painless and….
…for her, it seems like days, hours even, though more than a hundred years and thousands of battles and countless souls have passed. Yet, she would never forget, could never forget.
She holds the lavender close and, taking a deep breath, fills herself with the earthiness. Then, just as she positions the purple and green flowers beneath his name, she’s gone.
© Nichole Liza Q.
Weekly Writing Challenge: Traces
- Archive of Comments | Arlen Shahverdyan. Author’s Blog
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- The Regular | The Human Rights Warrior