A Short and Not-Sweet Story

Two days ago I was driving to my writing group. My mind was wandering and I was thinking about different ideas. When I got to the group and the doors were closed I realized that we didn't have the writing group this week because the library is having a book sale. Nevertheless, the idea for a short intense story was already turning over in my mind. I will see what it comes to here.

Let's begin.

- - - - - - -

This story has a tragic ending.

May 3rd
He had never seen something so beautiful. The brilliance of her smile was beyond that which could be achieved by any mortal woman. It was not just the smooth lines of her lips. It wasn't just the soft vibrant glow of her cheeks, or the way her eyes lit up. It wasn't even the smell of her hair as the wind played and twirled with it. There was something more. Something beyond words. Her mere presence was a heavenly gift to be cherished above all else.

May 18th, Six Years Later
He stared down into the coffin, unsure how long he had been standing there. The green emerald in her ring was freshly polished. Green was - had been, her favorite color. Some of the light coming through a window had found its way through the emerald and made part of the sleeve of her white dress a light shade of green, like dye mixed with too much water. His eyes traced her sleave, and along her neckline... and her face. It was a dead face. A beautiful face, still, but only beautiful. The life that had been her gift was gone. He stared at her closed eyes. There could be no light in them now.

May 22nd
He stood over the man on the ground. A scout, the leader of just two other men. The other men were dead. The sergeant on the ground was unconscious. But, he would soon wake up. Then, he would give them the location and soon their chase would come to an end.

May 23rd
The scout in front of him was barely conscious. Both eyes were swollen shut. The man would have fallen to the ground if he wasn't tied to the tree. Took a long time to break. Money hadn't been persuasive enough. You can't believe a man just for money anyway. He motioned for the lieutenant to take another finger. The man's pleading was more whimper than words now. He wanted to be sure. One more should do it.

May 26th
His dead eyes stared into the clear blue sky. Blood was drying on the blade. His right hand still grasped the handle, but the arm had been separated from the rest of the body. His left hand clutched to his chest. From his fist protruded a strand of hair. The wind played and twirled with it, sending a heavenly scent across the sounds of dying. King and Queen had been reunited once again, sent by the same man, Lord Dethsmith.

- - - - - - -

Alright, I think it's pretty good. I hate spoiler alerts. I think that if you can spoil a story then it's not a very good story. I thought that would be fun to play with in the prologue. I also thought it would be fun to have a tiny prologue for a tiny story. Jumping scenes across time is fun too. You have to have some fun if the story is going to be so dark.

Notice how I bracketed the story by mentioning the hair at the end. I didn't think about foreshadowing that. When I got to the end I realized I needed to bracket it to feel like a conclusion and I thought about which item I could use to signal that. I even thought about adding something in the beginning just for that occasion. Then I realized the hair would work. My mind jumped to the ring for a moment, but that should be in the Queen's coffin. And, I didn't want to use hair color. It could be any color. I didn't know they were King and Queen until the end either.

I just read through it again and adjusted a couple of things. I could change a lot. The tracking of the identities of the characters is in question once we introduce the scout. Maybe it's too much of a jump from torturing the scout to the King being dead on the battlefield. Maybe. Maybe it works. I'm not sure. I struggled a bit with the torture scene and changed it quite a few times.

I like how the story is this broken series of scenes that you have to put together. It requires a lot of closure on the part of the reader. That's a key with writing epic short stories, you're trying to make the story come to life in the mind of the reader. You have to give the right pieces so that the reader can supply the rest.

I also like how it's a classic revenge story. You don't realize that fully until the end. But, instead of a successful revenge it's a failed revenge. Now, Lord Dethsmith sounds like a powerful, scary, dangerous guy. He just murdered a Queen, and then when the King came after him for revenge he killed him too. Who is this guy? What does he want? Why did he kill the Queen in the first place? Good questions. There are stories there. I spent quite awhile trying to come up with that name. I was going to end the last sentence with "...sent by the same man." But, then I realized that the sentence was just calling out to introduce the adversary. I was going to make him a servant of some sort, and symbolic, like Death's Recruiter. But, that didn't work. Several names later we arrived at Lord Dethsmith. I like it. I was just thinking about Robert Howard today, who invented Conan the Barbarian and that whole genre of fantasy. I felt like birthing a character that was a true bastard. So, it worked out well.


You can find more of what I'm doing at http://www.JeffreyAlexanderMartin.com


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