This year, I've decided to challenge my writing skills by creating a weekly short story based on suggestions from my readers posted here or on Facebook. Suggest any three of a character, location, object, or genre, and I will craft a story.
I'm playing around with my new art program and I had fun creating these sketchy pieces to go with this week's story.
One of his friends called to him, a good-natured jibe that brought laughter from the others. He used it as fuel to gain speed, not deigning to muster a response.
Slowly, surely, he outstripped them, shining with exhilarated effort. He knew she was waiting for him, eager for his touch, his love. He would win her and with his support, she would blossom as never before. He could see her in the distance, delicate and pink, resting on the emerald hill. The day was warm; she had taken shelter beneath a great, mothering maple.
She had her own light, he thought. How often he and his companions had watched her from afar, seeing her emerge that first day and suddenly, the hill, which had seemed too plain and ordinary, was anything but. She lent her beauty to it. The grass seemed greener, the trees stronger; even the lovers who came to enjoy the view seemed touched by her magic. Yet, there was never anyone with her. He had noticed such things. After all, she was not yet fully mature, hovering at the edge of sweet innocence, and though his friends often joked about the day when she’d open up, he preferred her much as she was. He knew that someday, the one would come along to whom she’d reveal her inmost secrets and he hoped, day after day, that he might be the one. Now, here he was, on his way to meet her, the rest of his friends hot on his heels.
The sky began to darken and before he could alter his course, the bullies appeared. Dark and puffed up were they and the twin grins they offered him dripped with malice. He was not willing to stop, but he slowed almost involuntarily. Their grins widened and they drew shining blades that fairly crackled as they swept them through the open air.
Not to be outdone, he brought his own golden blade into the open. He made no swipe, but merely held the blade before him as an extension of himself, pointed and deadly. His enemies rumbled forth with laughter, but the sounds were drowned by his companions’ battle cries. They sallied past him to meet the foe, but their enemies were ready. Blade clashed against blade and silver sparks flew. Each enemy was haloed by the fighters such that he could barely see them. Undaunted, he pressed onward, his own sword slicing in sharp arcs, twisting to parry, and pressing forward once more.
One friend danced around the enemy blades and tried to race on toward the verdant hill. Not to be left behind, the hero followed his companion only to see him cut in half a moment later as their enemies rallied. Their sheer size and strength should have given them the advantage, but they were also cumbersome and subject to the elements. The thinner, lighter group made better headway. It was soon clear that the hero and his companions would win the day. Dodging and weaving, he dashed around the enormous foe in front him, hearing the howl of frustration as he achieved his escape.
The thought that there were enemies behind him spurred him to greater speeds and his brief success emboldened him. The bullies attempted to cut of his retreat, but the battle overcame them and he could hear them crying out in pain. There was nowhere to go but forward and so he soldiered onward.
He was getting closer; she was no longer a tiny, pink dot in a sea of green. She looked even lovelier than he could have imagined. His heart quickened and lent wings to his feet.
Without warning, warriors in brown leapt into position and he had to parry and dodge once more. These were more adept; they knew what they were doing and it took every inch of his skill to avoid attempted skewering. They whistled and cat-called him. There were no companions to rely on now; none had made it past the bulk of the enemy force.
With a mighty sigh, the soldiers struck as one, stabbing forward, but he was ready for it. He thrust his sword at them and they went on the defensive. One of them caught a lucky break and sliced straight through his left side. He let out a grunt of pain, but did nothing in retaliation. He dreaded getting caught in a fight and missing his opportunity. He made it through the hazardous terrain thus diminished, but breathless and gleaming with triumph.
There she was. She had not yet seen him, but as he ever so gently brushed her shoulder, she turned her face to him and smiled. It was the first genuine smile she had ever bestowed upon anyone and he was eternally grateful that it should be his. He caught the smile and tucked it deep inside his heart. Without speaking, stepped in and embraced her fully. As he had always hoped, she warmed to his touch and a soft sigh was heard, though from him or from her, no one could say. It had been a long journey in so many ways and, finally, they were together.
It was momentous and poignant and would have gone completely unnoticed had it not been for one little girl, who still relished the simplest discoveries (as only the very young can). She called out in a glad voice:
“Mama! Look at the pretty flower in the sun!”