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Clare Martin Clare Martin
Recommendations: 12

Drunken Airwaves

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She had a friend.

Somewhat inspired by Queen Dido's death in Virgil's "The Aeneid", a sister's love is always stronger than a man or woman's, and a sister (or brother) will always stand by you, be it in life or, in this case, approaching death.

The cries of mourning were heavy on the hearts of the warriors. The ceasefire was so sudden it was as though fire hadn't burned at all, as though arrows hadn't launched themselves from their bows, like swords hadn't been impaled through the hearts of the failing heroes, like no blood had ever been shed. But the fires still burned by the branches, the arrows were still scattered across the sands, the swords, stained with flaking blood, were back in their sheaths and blood glistened, still wet and shining, on the grasses and leaves. Nothing could be heard but the gasping of the dying and the sobbing of the heroes who loved her.

She was growing paler, bleeding white, trying to keep her eyes open. If she hadn't been bleeding from the chest, sweating and shaking, she could have been falling asleep, the kind of sleep you wouldn't want to fall into, the rare times you actually want to stay awake and endure the world and what it has to offer. A butterfly rested on her forehead, fluttering like her eyes. Her fingers made an attempt to reach it, but they failed, sinking themselves back into the red sands which were once white. The fighting had stopped, but the mourning continued with the cries of the survivors filling the smoke-corrupted air.

A young woman knelt beside the dying hero. She bore the same grey eyes, the same golden hair, like sunlight trying to break through the clouds. Clearly, she was the hero’s sister. And the storm clouds continued to rain, the drops heavy and painful as they hit the ground. A cloth was clasped in her hand and she wiped the wound gently. Deep down, she knew her sister couldn't be saved. That the war had taken its toll on every warrior on the field, but her family most of all.

Soldiers from her side screamed the hero’s name, and the sister knew that she could hear nothing but the rasping of her own breath against the waves on the sea. She lifted the hero up by the shoulders and held her in her arms, pressing her head into her chest. Gripping her hand with might, she sobbed as she rocked her sister back and forth and made no attempts the cease the flow of the stormy waterfall trickling down her face. Her voice emerged in dull, broken cracks. The hero was so brave, fighting to keep her eyes open, fighting to lift herself from the ground but only falling back into the arms of the last person left in the world she loved.

“I loved him,” she whispered to her sister. “And he betrayed me,”

“And at what cost?” the hero’s sister said. “He lost the most beautiful girl this Earth has ever seen,”

“A debt that can never be repaid,” the hero said. “He will suffer when I’m gone,”

“He deserves it,” her sister replied. “After what he’s done to you-”

“Don’t,” the hero cut in. “Don’t let’s talk about what will happen. Don’t let him suffer. Just hold me now. And never let me go,”  

The hero’s head fell back, her chest still rising slowly. Her sister pulled her in closer and wept quietly.

Her brother-in-law married the bravest hero she knew. They swore they’d grow old together, with four children, two boys and two girls, in their own palace where their reign of peace would bring tranquility to their home and the homes of their family and friends.

Then the war struck and the people were forced to choose sides. The hero’s husband joined the rebels. The hero remained behind on her family’s side. She was heartbroken, cracked at the core, but damaged only to the point where she could be mended. She never spoke to her husband again, but many times she saw him on the battlefield, and many times he would stare back coldly, alongside a woman two years older than her, with long black hair and bright green eyes. She would glare too, but never did the hero think that her husband was in love with this woman.

The golden-haired woman lifted her head from her dying sister to glimpse the rebels. There he was, her brother-in-law, broken down, half hysterical with grief and guilt, sobbing into his hands, refusing to fall into the arms of the woman with the black hair, whose forest-like eyes stared so blankly ahead. And the other soldiers, as blank and unreadable as her. He seemed to be the only one with truly humane feelings. Good enough for him, the sister thought.

Her head bowed again and she cherished the fading warmth of the hero’s breath against her lips. She longed to say something, words that could stretch out to a thousand pages if printed on paper, to sum up how heartbroken she felt as her younger sister lay dying slowly but peacefully in her arms. The only words that were able to pass her lips were “I love you,” and tears spilled, yet again, down her cheeks.

The hero forced her eyes open and met her sister’s eyes. Their hands gripped each-other even tighter and the hero, weak with pain and fatigue, lifted her head as high as she could. “I love you too,” she whispered.

Then her head fell back a final time and she let her eyes close, ready to accept the sleep that she was about to slip into. She breathed in one last time and let the breath escape her lips, then the warmth left her body and her life faded into the smoke-sedated wind.

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