my entry for Declaration of War: The Battle of Emotions.
Here's my piece its much darker/main stream/sci fi than i usually do. like seriously, i hate sci fi but i feel like this is fantasy/sci fi? idk...:S. I hope i did okay? fingers crossed tightly. how is it?? tell me :)
Some people believe that It is beautiful, heavenly and sweet. Others think It is ugly, hateful and something to fear.
I don't know what I think, but it doesn’t matter. Nothing about me matters, from my long dark hair to my scrawny body. I am nothing to everyone, a nobody to everybody.
Sometimes I pretend that I matter, that somebody loves me, that somebody wept when I was exiled. I pretend that someone notices when the sunlight streams through my hair and my long and dark eyelashes cast soft shadows across my face. I wish with all my heart that somebody would see and love, see and smile, see and dare to believe that I am more than nothing, that I'm something.
A cat's cry jolts me from my day dream. The cry is harsh and desperate, slicing through the darkness.
I gasp for air as I bolt upright, eyes flickering and hands on the knife.
Nothing. I see no glowing eyes and no slinking body.
Every time it happens. I sink back into my dream of being someone, of being loved, and I bolt forward in panic, as if emerging from a nightmare, instead of a beautiful daydream.
My heart is still racing and I’m afraid it will explode. Madre once told me of a man whose heart raced so fast that it burst. She told me many things, of the cruel things that would happen to me.
I gasp and shake my head wildly. No, Gervaise, do not think a moment of the things that the old witch spat at you.
My grip tightens on my knife and it brings me comfort. My heart rate slows and becomes normal and I lean against the mossy trunk of a tree.
Oh why, why was I named Gervaise? Why was I born to my mother? Why couldn’t I have been born to Sandra, who loved her children so dearly? Why am I nothing?
I groan. Nothing has gone right in my life and that’s why I’m here wallowing in my misfortune at the base of a tree in the middle of a dark wood.
Nothing in the woods is welcoming. It’s dark and dangerous, filled with awful creatures and people. It’s filled with carnivorous plants, simply waiting for an unsuspecting exile to stumble along so that it may reach out and seize the exile’s leg, pull her to the ground kicking and screaming and open its plant jaws and-
Suddenly the sky is purple. It takes my breath away, what is left of it.
I feel so desperate to see that sky, see it in full, not in tiny patches between the ugly leaves of the trees, between the furry vines.
A little morsel of energy limps through me and I stumble up from my spot under the tree.
The cat screeches in agony and the hair along my back prickles as my grip on the rough knife becomes so tight that I’d strangle it if it was a bird.
Oh, if only it was.
I run. I run as fast as I can, desperation and frustration clawing at my insides. Tears slide from my eyes and slip down my cheeks, but I don’t care. I just want to be safe, to be someone, to get out of this place.
And then I see it.
The tall shape stops me in my tracks and I trip over my foot in my haste to stop. I land hard on a tree root and the wind is knocked from me, along with my precious knife. My heart races again and I pray that it explodes. That would get me out of this place, away from the shape, away from myself.
A light shines in my eye and I’m gone, sinking back into it, welcoming my exploding heart. It doesn’t feel half as bad as I thought it would…. I slip away into nothing.
I resurface, calmly and slowly, not like I usually do when I wake from lovely daydreams. But then, that was no day dream.
I hear a fire popping and snapping. I hear the sound of heavy breathing.
Oh, joy. Madre would be proud, ever so proud, of whoever is preparing to boil me or roast me, or however they eat an exile here.
I dare to groan, ever so softly. I dare to tell myself that it’ll be over soon.
But I do not dare to open my eyes.
I feel a hand, a hand and not a claw or a leafy limb! Ha, that sure makes it better I think bitterly. Cannibal.
“There, girl, you’re alright,” croons a deep voice.
Yes, I am alright with being killed. I only wish I had been born a stillborn, so I wouldn’t have to be here now.
A bowl edge is placed gently on my lips and a soft liquid trickles through them and hits my tongue.
I bolt upright, tongue on fire. I dare to use my voice, something a nothing never does.
“Who in the blazing fires of-“I roar, my eyes open wide.
I hear the deep rumble of a laugh and push my hands against the ground, the…furry ground.
My eyes dart to the bear skin I sit on to the face of my kneeling capture.
It’s a smiling man with a small beard and sparkling eyes. He slaps his knee and nods. “Yep, I knew that’d do it!” he announces and stands swiftly, moving out of my range.
My tongue still burns and I’m surprised it hasn’t made a hole in the roof of my mouth. If only I had my knife for the sporting man.
My knife… I quickly pat down myself, hoping that by some freak of chance, it had caught on my buckskin leggings or red tunic. But no, it had not. The next best I could do was to find a knife or plan an escape.
I carefully survey the cave in which I am. It is small and domed, with a blazing fire in the center and piles of bear and deer skin piled along the walls. A small wooden chest sits as far from the door as it can be and the top is open, bearing clothes and meat.
The man rummages in it, his back to me.
Carefully and silently, I stand and get past the fire before rough hands seize my hips and drag me back.
“No, you won’t,” the man’s gruff voice grumbles.
I shove my elbow back, as far and hard as possible, into the man’s stomach.
“Little tiger, aren’t you?”
He swings me back onto the bear skin, but his route directly over the fire terrifies me.
He sits next to me, watching carefully. “Who are you, girl?” he asks, sizing me up. Probably wondering how much meat I’d give him. Not much, sorry sir, I think spitefully.
I give him an icy glare and wonder why he cares. No one else in the village cared to ask. Of course, they cared when they heard my name. My stupid, stupid name. They also cared, even more so than they cared about my name, when they heard who my mother was.
His eyes soften and sparkle once more as his hand slides to the bowl that gave me fire in my mouth.
I spit out the hateful word and wonder why I didn’t lie, “Gervaise!”
He keeps his eyes on me, his reaction completely sane. Normally people would widen their stupid eyes, taking their knives to their sides. But this man seems indifferent. “Skilled with weapons, eh?”
I shrug. Of course I am, and not just because my name means ‘skilled with weapons’.
To my surprise, he darts his hand behind him and tosses me my knife.
I catch it easily and stare at him. My stomach is in turmoil and I cannot believe that he just handed me what I could use to kill.
“Why are you here, in the woods, Gervaise?” he asks.
He asks many questions, I think as I stare back at him, refusing to answer.
He stares right back and finally sighs. “I am Stowe,” he says.
I raise my eyebrows. What kind of name is Stowe?
We live like this for days. I try to escape. He brings me back. He asks questions. I refuse to answer. He tells me about himself.
Stowe lived in the village. He loved a girl, who was killed in an accident. The villagers blamed him and threw him out, shouting that they refused to have a murderer in the villages.
He tells me that last part today and I snort.
Stowe looks up at me sharply from his whittling of a small stick. “What?” he asks.
I take a deep breath and say the longest speech I have ever said in my life. “They are a band of murderers themselves.” My heart thumps wildly when I hear my own voice. Did I really say that?
Stowe abandons his knife and stick and stares at me. “Oh, are they now?”
I keep my mouth shut.
I spend my days in the cave, staring at the ceiling, thinking about how to escape. How to anger him so much that he kills me. Then my awful life would be finished for once. I have become brave.
But Stowe is the kindest man I have ever seen. Everything I do, from knocking the meal he spent hours preparing onto the ground, to ‘accidently’ kicking his latest whittled creation into the fire, he takes with a smile. It intrigues me.
One day, he stands at the mouth of the cave staring into the dark wood. A cat screeches and he doesn’t even flinch. Unlike me. I live in fear of the creature, simply waiting for it to come for me like Madre said it would.
When I think of this, I don’t know who I am, what I am doing. My escape route is right there, I realize one day. Just attract the cat and you would be finished.
The thought gives me pleasure and cold fear at the same time. I curl up on my bear skin and clench my jaw, toes, and fingers.
I don’t want Stowe to be eaten by it either.
The thought invades my soul like Madre’s bleeding knife cutting dangerously into one’s flesh.
No, it cannot be, I scream inside myself. No, no, no. I do not care. Not a bit for the man keeping me captive.
One night, as I lay on the skin, staring into the fire, another whisper enters my soul.
He keeps you captive, in body and heart.
My body turns cold and I can’t decide whether to hurl myself into the fire or bask in the thought.
I cannot love him. I do not know what love is.
I lie back in the dewy grass and remember that day I first met Stowe, four months earlier. I remember the first time I thought of loving Stowe. I hated the thought then, I thrust it away.
But now I hold it close and dear. Love is like a whisper in the midst of terrible noise. It’s magical.
I think about these things and inspect the night sky. I search for the cupid and find him. Dear cupid, I think, pull back your bow.
I slowly sit up, my heart beating. Ha, Madre with her stupid tales of hearts exploding.
“Stowe,” I whisper.
I can see his silhouette on the grass, his sword at his side. He slowly turns to look at me. “Yes?” he whispers back. His eyes reflect the stars in the sky and it takes my breath away,
“I…” I can’t say it. I can’t tell him that I love him.
I don’t have to. Stowe sits up and leans over, taking my face in his rough hands. His lips meet mine in a soft kiss. I sink into it, knowing that this is the best moment of my life. I am something. I am someone. I am loved.
We spend hours lying side by side, finger tips touching, and swords between us. Occasionally we kiss, but mostly we just are.
I have found It. And I know what I believe about It now. It is love, and it is heavenly, beautiful and sweet.
We whisper about what we will do. It feels that we have eternity together, stretching before us. It feels wonderful.
The cat screeches and I bolt upright. The screech was close, hair raising-ly nearby.
Stowe sits up too and he grasps his sword. There is a new fire in his eyes that I know I have given him.
There is the screech again. It is too close, dangerously close.
Stowe stands and I follow, gripping my weapon harshly. He stands close in front of me, murmuring, “Don’t do anything. I can’t let you get hurt.”
I cannot promise anything, I think.
Suddenly a huge black shape flys towards us and a scream sticks in my throat, like a piece of stale bread that refused to go down.
Stowe shoves me back and I fall hard on the grass, dropping my sword. My heart pounds wildly when I hear an awful noise- Stowe’s groaning, the cat’s hiss.
I leap up and scrabble for my sword in the grass. Finally my hands feel its cold blade and I fling it into the black shape. I cannot see Stowe anywhere.
My strike hits home and the cat slumps with one last shriek.
A pale hand appears from under the cat. Tears pour down my face as I heave on the body. It falls off and I kneel, cradling Stowe’s bloody head in my lap.
“Stowe,” I whisper over and over. “I love you! Don’t go!”
The man opens his eyes and looks into my face. “Gervaise, my dear…”
I weep over his lifeless body until the sky turns purple. I weep until the birds call one another, rejoicing in the death of a monstrous cat.
The cat that took away the love of my life and It is suddenly so painful.