Wednesday, 1 January 2014

In the green

The hall is deserted now, quiet. A soft wind blows through the open doors, stirring dust and memories alike. On the floor is a small scrap of green fabric, blowing around with the wind. As the sun sets, the breeze first picks up and then dies, but not before the scrap of fabric dances in the air again, one final time.

"...and in her lifetime, she saw great challenges. Great change. Saw these challenges and met them. At the end of her life, the Lady in Green was surrounded by people who knew the difference she had made. "She will be remembered."

The oration delivered, the old man stepped slowly away from the centre of attention, using his gnarled stick to stay steady. He did not pause at the door to listen to others speak. The Lady in Green had touched many in her life, many more would speak today, but in his heart he knew that the words they would say would not help him, would not ease his pain. He stumbled as he passed from the dim hall to the bright afternoon sun. The Lady in Green, they called her, never knowing why, never knowing that she was his Lady in Green.

The healer looked tired. Deeply sunken eyes in a face worn with more than age. He had been working hard, late into each night, trying to ensure a little more time for the great Lady. She had none left. He did not need to speak, did not need to say the words to cause pain and despair. The look on his face was sufficient.

The old man stayed where he was, cold hand held in cold hand. He would not leave his lady now, not until the final rites were done. Even then he would not say goodbye, he would never say goodbye to the Lady in Green.

The old man stood proudly, bearing arms once more. The last of the sod had been returned, his Lady's Lord had made his way to his final resting place. She had married for her people, for alliances. There may have been love, but if not there was always respect. While her Lord had ruled over the fighting men, the Lady in Green had always been the true power.

His Lady stood proudly, still erect and graceful even as the years took their toll. Her pale green dress now hung from her with less than the perfection of her prime. With kind words she thanked those who had attended, but not him. For him alone was kept a smile, sharing a long history. Never had they shared a bed, but the Lady in Green held a special place in his heart.

She had asked him once, after the birth, why he had never married. Had he wanted to be a husband, a father.

He simply smiled at her. She understood.

He stands, watching. Guarding. Ready if needed, content to wait until his Lady in Green calls upon him. While his Lady has married recently, he still considers her his only mistress and prime duty. It is a pleasure to serve his Lady, service that will continue until he meets his glorious end.

A young, well-dressed lady races through the field. Free again from the restraints of her training, she is enjoying an afternoon of sun and grass. Following closely behind is a sturdy young man, a slight frown on his face as he tries to keep up. Running is harder for him, as the axe across his back slows him.

Later in the afternoon the young man and woman are stretched on the grass, resting after a luncheon devoured with the hunger of the young and fit. Together they spoke, of dreams, of lifetimes to be lived. Regardless of the difference in station they spoke for hours, only to run home again through the green.

The young boy was turning into a man. Strands of wiry muscle were visible across his chest as he swung a practice sword again and again. Sweat formed small droplets, joining together before running down his face and forming small craters on the dusty ground.

A girl, younger than the boy, watches from a window. She has been working on embroidery, a lopsided attempt at a flower fills most of the cloth in front of her.

He was watching her, again. The father could see the serving boy loitering outside the nursery. The young boy never did more than watch, but he seemed to be there whenever his duties allowed. Sometimes more than his duties truly allowed.

Later in the evening the father sat behind his desk. His steward, recently summoned, knocked once on the door before entering. They spoke long into the night.

Foam covered the sides of the horse, blowing away with the wind of passage as the rider kicked hard, forcing a killing speed. The blown nostrils showed a brave animal who would never bear another rider, ruined by this desperate ride.

In the middle of the field, a soft moan. No more screams to be heard, her throat worn too raw to continue, only moans and whimpers to express the pain. A difficult birth, a long birth, in this lonely field. The young serving boy, little more than a child himself, did what he could to help the lady as she slipped away slowly in exhaustion, terror, and pain.

As the horse buckled and fell to its knees, the rider staggered along, desperately racing against time. He pushed past the open gate, into the field. Racing as fast as exhausted legs could carry him, he reached the middle. The boy, terrified, was cradling a squalling infant in his arms, his lady lay on the ground. The boy spoke, finally. "She was born in the green."

No comments:

Post a comment