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My Girl

Chapter 1: My Girl

by Havetoist

She is frozen.

Stands in the middle of our bedchamber.

I want to shout at her, move her with more speed to choose out a few precious belongings that she feels she cannot leave without.

I want to shout, 'What do you do?! Leave it!' But there is a look in her beautiful eyes I have never seen.

My girl is terrified.

I stand quietly. Finding steel, not in my belt, on my shoulders and breast, but in myself.

A trembling hand tucks a loose lock of fiery hair behind a seashell ear, and she looks to me.

I give her a tight-lipped smile. An upward tilt to my chin. All will be well, my girl.

In the high street a noise we have never heard before. Cries and shouts of anger, fright, commands are growing louder.

The acrid odor of smoke permeates the air and I realise I can no longer smell the jasmine from the garden below our windows.

I want to smell the jasmine and marvel on the last time we made love. I close my eyes and feel her skin against mine, hot, slick. I hear the sound of her voice pitched low.

Her bed voice.

I am charmed a moment, feel myself sway intoxicated. I open my eyes.

Long fingers reach for a book. A soft cloak of deep yellow, embroidered with feathers. My gift to her. I take the cloak from her, throw it on the bed and drag out another. Coarser. Warmer. A cloak for flight not a stroll on a cool evening.

"Your gloves." I motion to the chair where she had tossed the softest leather I could find. She had worn them as she practiced to master the bow. Had tossed them into the chair, onto the soft red cushion with a pout of defeat. Before this hell knocked on our gate.

She tucks them into her belt and closes the small, dark leather satchel that holds all she loves.

Not all.

I look at myself in the mirror as she passes between me and the silvery pool shimmering on the wall.

She turns in the archway of our bedchamber. Our bedchamber and looks.

Not seeking anything.

She only looks to see a room that has had much joy.

I can look on only one thing.

Eyes brimming with tears turn up to meet mine.

I can shatter now. If I bend my neck the slightest, if I angle my face toward hers I will shatter.

I look down my nose.

"Come, girl."

I lead her through our home. Along the windowed gallery. Down the winding staircase.

I exit the door ahead of her. Something I have never done before.

Outside the noise is a din. Indistinguishable words pitched loud to carry over other indistinguishable words.

I take her hand and walk her along the flagstones that meander the garden to the gate of our courtyard.

"Hold tightly to your bag." I tell her before lifting the bar I have never lain across the doors until two days ago.

My hand does not tremble.

My heart does.

I love you. I want to tell her.

I have never said those words beyond our bed. I do not remember what foolish reason I had given myself to speak them only then.

You have been my only desire. One I had had to possess. And so I did much to my deep mystery. I am so much older…I study her face as I had only when she slept or was busy and unaware.

You have brought me happiness beyond my imaginings. I want to tell her.

You mastered me as I had all instruments, all songs. How I sang and played for my pride.

How I sang and played to watch your eyes brighten.

I love you. I want to say now. Here. Behind our gate. In our garden. Under the low boughed tree she coaxed me to make love beneath one night.

It would only frighten her more.

In the courtyard of the fountains I point toward the stream of women and children making their escape.

"Go."

She blinks. Lower lip quivers. Chin wobbles.

Her reluctance to part from my side unmans me.

"I will find you." I smile and laugh.

Willowy arms encircle my neck. She has dropped her bag and all in it that she loves.

Not all.

"I will find you, girl." I whisper, tighten my arms a moment around her waist. I will shatter if I tilt my face into her hair. I will shatter.

I pull her away. Hold the balls of her shoulders in my palms, I stiffen my arms.

"Go."

Fluidly she bends. Sweeps up the bag into her hand, higher to hold against her breasts as if it were a child.

The child we had yet to make.

Something, the only thing, of which today I am glad. I would not want to see her flee with a child in tow.

She is saddened.

She leaves me behind and goes holding no small hand in hers, no babe curled into her sweet breast, but empty handed, empty armed.

I point. "Go."

She turns. Reluctant to leave.

There are cries that freeze her again. Fire blazes in the white city, noxious smoke billows.

"Go!" I shout at her. Loosing my fright. Tuning it to sound of anger that she pauses at my command.

She steps away. Moves too slowly toward those who are now running.

Now it is my turn to stand frozen. I cannot move and when she disappears from my sight I find myself walking to find her.

To watch her.

If I can keep her in my eyes she will be safe.

I stop. Turn toward the palace.

~~~~~~~~~~~~
So tired.

I touch my shield arm. Cut to the bone.

I lie beside the deep fountain among those who are wounded as well.

A wave of women, children and men fall back into the courtyard of fountains amid much shrieking, crying, clashing of iron.

She stops.

As does my heart.

Sweeps a fallen child into her arms and turns on their pursuer.

The guards press around her in their retreat.

She is knocked to the ground. Tosses the child upward before she falls to her knees and is suddenly left alone.

I hear a screaming. Deep. A man’s voice.

My own.

A lash of fire cracks over her.

Cracks again and wraps round her slender neck.

Jerked forward she tumbles and is still.

He strides forward. Peers down. Roars from the very pits of hell and steps over her.

My girl.

Deep gray eyes laughing in the pale morning sunrise.

Her face turned in profile against the pillow in the flickering candlelight.

Sweet arms lift as she turns to the song I play.

Full mouth parts slightly for my kiss.

He is upon us.

I do not feel the blow that drops the sword from numb fingers. Numb hand, numb heart.

I grab the beast. The monster. The killer of my girl.

"My girl!"

It is ripped from my soul as I plunge the spike of my helm into his breast and lean back over the lip of the marble fountain, deep, clear, cold.

"My girl!"