Valkyrie | Chooser of the Slain

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.

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Valkyrie | Chooser of the Slain

The Valkyrie's Vigil by Edward Robert Hughes

The Valkyrie’s Vigil by Edward Robert Hughes

With her finger, she traces the engraved letters, one at a time.

The stone feels cold. Cold and hard. And final.

A-R-D-E-N

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.

Photo by Erica

Photo by Erica | Click to view in orginal post

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.

 

Weekly Writing Challenge: Traces

  1. Archive of Comments | Arlen Shahverdyan. Author’s Blog
  2. WEEKLY WRITING CHALLENGE: FADING TRACES AND OLD MEMORIES | SERENDIPITY
  3. Traces | Kansa Muse
  4. Breadcrumbs | Master Of Disaster
  5. The Art of War | K beezy is viral
  6. Wet cement | Margaret Rose Stringer
  7. She was a memory | thinkerscap
  8. Traces: DP Challenge | Lead us from the Unreal to the Real
  9. Arrogance Insults My Intelligence | Bumblepuppies
  10. The Lavender Flowers | Stories From My Mind
  11. Trace | MindMeld
  12. Lavender and Rain | So This Is Writing?
  13. Like Flowers on a Grave | loveletterstoaghost
  14. Day Twenty-Four: Veteran At Death | Clearing My Voice
  15. it’s veterans day | Musings of a Random Mind
  16. Traces of You | UP! With Jesus
  17. Weekly Writing Challenge: Traces [Week 1] | Goss Family Blog
  18. DP Weekly Challenge/Traces: The Things He Left Behind | Between Madness & Euphoria
  19. Weekly Writing Challenge; Traces | terry1954
  20. Remembering You | Lucky Number Devin
  21. Lilac | Momma Said There’d Be Days Like This
  22. My Life in Stuffing, Words, and Paint: Searching for an Identity | The Positivity Project
  23. 12/11 Weekly Writing Challenge: Traces | Family, Photos, Food & Craft
  24. Weekly Writing Challenge: Traces | imaginations
  25. Traces of my soul | મન ની વાત
  26. Gone fishin’ | Thin spiral notebook
  27. in the middle of | y
  28. Ode To Something Great | The Dread Pirate Buttercup
  29. A Chinese Dragon in an English Garden | An Upturned Soul
  30. A Father’s Legacy | A mom’s blog
  31. Traces Left Behind | Rose with Thorns
  32. Traces | Weekly Writing Challenge | A chain of thoughts…
  33. Maybe, just maybe… | mostlytrueramblings
  34. We All Need Band-Aids | Broken Light: A Photography Collective
  35. Weekly Writing Challenge: Traces | Diary of a light worker
  36. The only polite thing to do … | Empressnasigoreng’s Blog
  37. WWC – Traces “A Family Affair” | aliabbasali
  38. The Last Bouquet | Home’s Cool!
  39. Trace. — Souvenirs of His Soul. | mommyverbs
  40. Wooden Spoons | lemon lime follies
  41. The Photogragh | The Crone’s Apprentice
  42. Message From The Flowers | conscientiouseconomist
  43. Traces of Her | 1st Check Off The Bucket List
  44. The mark of our time | Ernest Marlin
  45. Whats a Non-Traditional Meta For? | knappermiester
  46. Traces Left Behind | Perceptive Pot Clueless Kettle
  47. Top 10 for When You’re Pregnant | Fruit Loops & Foie Gras
  48. Traces | Insanitree
  49. My Blog isn’t My Mark | Avoiding Neverlan
  50. Friendly ghosts | LynnSlyWrites
  51. I remember you. (Wed Fiction) | Tales of a slightly stressed Mother!
  52. Summers 13D | Keigh Ahr
  53. The Graveyard Shift | S. J. Paige
  54. A Gift For Someone in Need | A Day in the Life of Anything that Happens to Catch My Interest
  55. Weekly Writing Challenge: Tracing Family | Making Life an Art
  56. Traces| Leaving Your Mark | Words from the heart
  57. Weekly Writing Challenge: Traces | Write Through Life
  58. The Sticks You Left Behind | eternal Domnation
  59. Every mom’s Jean Valjean moment. | jenny’s lark
  60. Evergreen Remembrance | Simply be, simply me
  61. The Mark of Me in Three Words | Mary J Melange
  62. Leaving Traces of Myself | tuckedintoacorner
  63. Riding With Peppers, The Video | A’A IN PARADISE
  64. Love Left Behind | Holoholo Girls
  65. Ligon’s Store | Ron Mayhew’s Blog
  66. Mosaic | Chopstix for Six
  67. Weekly Writing Challenge: Traces | roastbeefandrakija
  68. “Adding to the cabbage patch cause it looks like you swallowed a watermelon…” | Fruit Loops & Foie Gras
  69. Leaving Traces is all About the View | Cassie ~ Jux.ta.pozed
  70. Traces | medicinalmeadows
  71. The Regular | The Human Rights Warrior
  72.  
     

YOLO or YOLOL ~ A Post for the New Year

I admit it. I had to Google YOLO to find out what it means. (I guess I really am almost 40.)

YOLO: You Only Live Once.

True enough. I really don’t want to debate reincarnation in this post, so let’s leave it at that for now.

You Only Live Once. Like many catch phrases, YOLO can inspire us.

Of course, some people just use it as an excuse to act like an idiot.

That’s the way with words. They’re powerful, but the direction of that power depends on the meaning we give them.

After reading the Facebook debates about YOLO – is it about getting drunk or skydiving, making your life count or experiencing everything possible – I began to wonder…is there a better motto to live by? One that captures the essence of YOLO but with more lasting impact?

Not that I’m a big “motto to live by” person. Because, really, most mottos are formulas and most formulas don’t survive the tests of life. If we had formulas, we wouldn’t need God.

Anyway…I was mulling it over (yes, I said “mulling”) and here’s what I got – I mean it literally popped into my head:

YOLOL. You Only Leave One Legacy.

Isn’t that a better perspective? If you’re really going to make this life count, forget about living for the moment, feeding your selfish desires, amassing a fortune or making a name for yourself. And consider your legacy.

I believe that as a culture we’re in danger of forgetting what it means to leave a legacy. We live selfishly, haphazardly blazing a trail that future generations will have to navigate. What are we leaving them? What will be their inheritance?

We spend money in the hopes of getting through the week, the month or the next debt ceiling increase.

We spend time – on the computer, the TV, at the amusement park (umm…guilty!) – because we’re tired and just want a little something for ourselves…right now.

We spend energy, talent and gifts and when we don’t see results, we get discouraged. Because that track plays over and over again in our minds: You’re wasting your time! Life is short! You Only Live Once!

But the thing is, making a difference takes time. Often more time than this life offers us. And that’s where the legacy part comes in.

Our family just spent a week in Disney World.

Have you any idea of the reach, influence and extent of Walt Disney’s legacy? From animation to movies to music to clothing to Broadway to amusement parks to agriculture to technology to philanthropy to I don’t even know what else, Disney is doing it and they’re doing it all over the world.

Walt Disney started out with nothing and every time he found success, he leveraged it to try something new. For a wealthy man, he sure was broke a lot – mortgaging everything he and his family members had multiple times. He could have left his success in the bank, put up his feet and enjoyed the good life. But Walt never stopped dreaming, because he never stopped thinking about the future…and the generations to come.

In 1966, before construction began on Walt Disney World Resort, Walt died. He only lived once. But just look at his legacy.

Recently, a missionary visited our church. He and his family serve a people who are very “closed” to the gospel. And naturally, this family often feels discouraged. They live in a hut in Africa, walk to a well for water, grow vegetables, dig latrines, fight malaria, parasites, cultural challenges and spiritual battles. All for what? The villagers still practice Islam and witchcraft and polygamy and spousal abuse.

But they found encouragement in the sacrifices of other missionaries. Missionaries with stories like Nate Saint, who, in the beginning of his mission to the Waodani people of Ecuador, was brutally murdered by the very ones he longed to reach with the gospel of Christ.

To some, Nate’s life and death may appear futile. But just look at his legacy: Despite their grief, Nate’s family stayed in Ecuador and today, approximately one in six Waodani are believers. Nate’s son, Steve, considers the Waodani his family.

Jesus lived a mere 30 something years on Earth. He was conceived out of wedlock, poor and nothing special to look at. He was tortured, nailed to a tree and mocked by those He came to save. He suffered the agony wrought by all humanity’s sin, endured the rejection of his Father and paid a penalty undeserved. He died a criminal’s death and was buried in a borrowed tomb.

He left behind a handful of confused followers including His mother, a formerly demon-possessed woman and some guys who were so freaked out for their own safety, they locked themselves away in the second floor of someone’s home.

At first glance this doesn’t look like a successful approach to the whole YOLO thing.

But just look at His legacy.

YOLOL.

What’s yours going to be?