Two Soldiers at Sunset
“What are we fighting for this time round? Another provocative message that flew in through the window of the high tower and then out of another window of the king’s private chambers?” Stewart cried out to the heavens. “They always find something to go to war for, don’t they?” He turned to his companion Robert who stood up a while ago from the washed up tree trunk and was now leaning against the towering bedrock behind him.
“They sure do” he sighed as he stirred his right foot through the shingle beach. It’s a beautiful spot that they tended to retrieve to whenever their company set up camp on the hill above, which happened to be the case a lot lately.
“Lord knows, I have slaughtered so many men that I keep killing at night when my mind’s asleep. I can’t remember the last time I’ve had a dream that did not involve scenes from a battle, and faces that I have split.”
“Me neither” Robert sighs again, “after our last fight against…who was it again? The Northerners? No, wait…”
“Yeah, some small village from the North that got tired of the kings demands and thus had to pay the price of trying to trick him.”
“Yeah, something along those lines. Anyways, after that fight, I had bloodstains under my fingernails and on my scalp for weeks. I couldn’t get them off no matter how hard I tried. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed, but it just wouldn’t help.” He said and reenacted the scrubbing motion. He then stretched out his arms and spread his hands towards the blistering sun, so he could inspect his nails once more. “Look, there’s still some blood under there!” He exclaimed and sat down on the tree trunk again, showcasing his nails to Stewart who inevitably had to chuckle at his friend’s absurd tribulations. All these deaths and the faces that haunt one’s nightmares and all he seems to be complaining about are his nails, he thought quietly to himself.
They sat there for a while then without saying a word, both of them captivated by the deep red sun, which patiently sank in the farthest distance, before vanishing completely behind the horizon. They silently watched the tide take its turn and enjoyed the fresh air that came drifting from overseas until the flow slowly crept up on them and the water started tickling their toes.
“I’m tired, Rob. I don’t want to end up dying for this scum of a king and his countless battles with made-up enemies.”
“I hear you, Stew. But there’s nothing we can do, is there?”
“I tell you we should simply run off and…”
“Not this again”, Robert shakes his head and interrupts his friend before he could finish his proposal, “I’ve told you time and time again that we can’t just desert our company. They will hunt us down and behead us without blinking an eye. I don’t want to live as prey that scavenges through the woods, always scared to be caught and slaughtered.”
“What’d be the difference to our current situation? That way we could at least be free”, Stewart pauses for a second, knowing that his friend is ultimately right, “if only for a little while” he then adds, while trying to look into the maroon eyes of his friend, whose head is bowed too far down however, his gaze directed towards the mud between his naked feet that are washed clean by the tiny waves that began to reach them more and more often as time flew by.Their conversation stopped at this point as there was nothing left to add. They both knew that each of them were right. They could neither leave, nor stay. They were condemned to keep on living inside this vicious limbo. They were ramifications of their surroundings; two petty branches of a giant tree. They could merely sit here, together, one this washed up tree trunk, and admire the beautiful scenery, praying that the day would come where their swords were not needed anymore. Thus, they did just that, as their eyes got weaker and their sight slowly faded into a deep black, followed by visions of their past nightmares or, perhaps, even of the ones that were still to come. Shoulder on shoulder, they rested innocently at the shingle beach, oblivious to the imminent changes that were bound to happen come dawn.
Geschichte vom Mai: The Dare