Near Death

Today’s prompt was to write about a near death experience. While pondering what to write, I realized there are many ways to be ‘near’ death even when it is not our own.

She watched him march away, his sandy hair soon obscured by the dust of a hundred trudging feet. ‘A necessary war,’ they called it. It wasn’t necessary to her.

He carried the sword she had carefully sharpened and polished for him, whetting it with her tears and her steeled heart. She had bid him farewell with a hand on his cheek, willing away the fear in his eyes.

Their tiny village grew quiet and stern in the shadow of the necessary war, laughter and joy marching away across the countryside. As the weather turned cold, she hauled the last of the firewood he had gathered into the tiny home he had built for them and sat by the fire mending his clothing for his return. At night she lay alone, listening to the wind wailing and the scratch of branches on the wooden walls.

Eventually the rains of spring washed away the marks of their departure, soft green grass filling in the hollows their march had left, but it could not ease the hardening of her heart. When she saw the letter bound with black ribbon in the messenger’s hand, she already knew what it said. She left that night, her hair in a pile on the floor of what had once been their home, to fight this necessary war.

Fortuitously, this story has already been rattling around in my head for a while, and it’s one I hope to continue developing. It was partially inspired by Tolkien. In the book I’m reading, several women keeled over from grief upon learning their husbands died in war. Come on J.R.R., women are tougher than that.

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