Aug 9, 2011

"fall on us": a short story for the merry sisters of fate

Over on the Merry Sisters of Fate blog, the wonderful trio has decided to hold a contest for some very desirable books. The challenge was to write an original piece based on the following image:

"The Turret Stairs" by Frederic Burton

Fall on Us

We met in the stairway. Always. Such a place, where the stone steps curled up like a strand of my sister’s hair, made it easy to ghost away together.
It was Eoin’s idea. He was the one who first took my hand and led me to a corner of the castle I’d never before laid eyes on. My duties as a lady-in-waiting kept me close to the queen and her chambers. King Alfred’s wife was not one for unnecessary walking, so I spent my days sitting, waiting for the moment she would tire from her needlework and send me on some hapless errand. It was these stolen moments, these few minutes of the day I called my own, that I discovered Eoin.
It wasn’t that his face was strange to me, I’d glimpsed him many times in the court. He was a knight—one of King Alfred’s more privileged men.
He had seen me too. I discovered this much and more in our secret times together. It was my hair that first caught his eye, he told me. The way it sparked with deep red when the sun hit it—how it brought out a glow from my skin. He saw me and wanted me. But he was not the only one. For this reason we met in the secret places, in the shadows of the stairs.
Our love grew, slowly at first, like ivy inching into the cracks of my life. Soon it was everything. It was all I could think of, see or know. Eoin, his words to me, his touch, they filled what was missing. I lived for our moments together, for the times I could truly be myself.
But this meeting was different from the others. The knowledge weighed heavy on us both. It was behind every word said and every fleeting touch. All of them precious simply because they could be our last.
War was coming. For month we’d known this. It was a looming shadow in the edges of our existence here. Men from across the sea, garbed in horns and furs, had breached our shores with their boats and axes.
And now Eoin had to leave. His soul and his sword were sworn to Alfred. And the king was sworn to defend this land. I’d seen and heard enough of war to know that many men never came back. Eoin might never come back.
It was this thought that flooded my heart and my heart today. I could not rid myself of it.
“Worry not, Marion,” he said softly and placed his hand on my cheek. His thumb grazed my cheekbone with a whisper. “I will come back for you.”
I hated the tears that rose up inside me and blurred my vision. I loathed the emotion which swelled the lining of my throat. Part of me wished I didn’t want him, that letting him go would be easy. But I knew that would never be the case. I would always desire him. He would always haunt me.
I couldn’t say anything. I was emptied of words. All I could do was let him hold me and pray, somewhere in the back of my mind, that God would let his mercy fall on us.

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