Widow’s Bay at Sunset
“Turn back, dear heart,”
said the young spear-wielder
to her warrior lover.
The setting sun bathed her in ethereal pastels,
giving her the air of a beautiful archangel,
standing on the path
between the warrior and the bay below.
She continued carefully,
perfectly articulating each of her next words,
hoping to drive them home for effect.
“I must confess; I have deceived you.
I’m no bodyguard; I am an assassin.”
“I know,” the warrior replied,
slowly reaching for the hilt to his sword,
sunset enveloping his
tormented countenance in silhouette.
“And I hoped it wouldn’t come to this.
But across the bay lies my lost father,
and answers to questions
that have driven my lifelong ambitions.
You and I have fought side-by-side
and shared much until now.
You’ve seen my heart,
and you know I cannot turn back.
Why betray us now?”
“Oh, how I’ve dreaded this moment,
my love,” said the spear-wielder
with a mild quiver in her voice,
deliberately lowering the tip of her weapon
to bear-down on the warrior,
widening her stance for balance. “And yes,
I’ve seen your heart and offered you mine
in quieter moments.
I know you cannot turn back.
But I have a sworn duty to eliminate
anyone who gets too close to the truth.”
“Sworn duty?” The warrior’s voice rose
and shook incredulously. “To whom?
Who sent you?”
“If you set foot on that cove,
the Syndicate will find out,
and it will be over for you, me,
and everyone else close to me.”
The spear-wielder spat those words
like rancid milk.
“Please,” she hissed,
almost in a shout-whisper. “Turn back.
We can run away together,
start a new life.
No one else has to die,
no one would know- “
“I would know!” yelled the outraged warrior,
now in mid-crouch. “Now please! Stand aside!
Forget your bounty, your duty
and I will forget your betrayal!
I promise I will protect you and your family
when this is over.”
“You know you cannot!”
the spear-wielder shouted back,
gathering better footing.
Then, much softer,
“You know I cannot.”
The air between them slowly faded
from sepia to soft fuchsia as
blackbirds returned to tree lines
to roost for the night.
Even the evening breeze paused to contemplate
the star-crossed combatants’ predicament.
“I am most regretful
that it must come to this,
conceded the warrior,
the grip on his hilt now firm, resolute,
the fire of outrage in his eyes giving way
to misplaced compassion
and the near-perfect serenity
of pre-combat Zen.
“As am I, my beloved,”
the spear-wielder wearily replied,
twirling her weapon, brandishing it,
coiling into an attack stance,
she, a reluctant cobra,
preparing to battle the only man
she ever loved enough to die for
to the death.
“Don’t hold back.”
“Oh, how I loved you so,”
the warrior lamented,
drawing his sword.
“That is a lie,”
the spear-wielder said
with a morbidly-amused sneer.
“You still do.”
The calamity of their weapons meeting at near-dusk
roused roosting birds from surrounding tree lines.
Written for imaginary garden with real toads Penultimatums: Voyages’ End (Almost), imagined by Brendan.