Twelve

With the last embrace long forgotten,

Arms still cradling your silhouette

Tingle with atrophy.

Eyes completely black in concentration

I impose beauty upon you.

Every crack in your skin, every wound…

You absolutely glow with warm red light bled from many men.

So when you lay your hands upon me-

I crackle and my pulse slows- then quickens.

Losing my train of thought,

The palms of your hands sliding down my back feel all at once rough and turn my skin raw.

Your lips are as broken glass and cut deeper as your passion increases.

Utterly devoid of inner strength to contain the delicate beauty draining from your person,

I gaze upon you.

And sink deeper in love.

 

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1947

When I wake up, the war is behind me. Brutality fading as if it were in another person’s lifetime.

The thick polished curls of my hair are my art this morning. The air is heavily perfumed. I still have time to breathe it in slowly.

I recite in my head the name of every person I will meet on the way to the market. I make sure I have a dime and a nickel for the freshly baked bread we needed.

I think of the late afternoon with nerves and excitement. My mother would like me to marry soon but my Daddy wishes I would wait until after secretarial school. I only think of the dances I’ll get to do tonight. My palms sweat at the thought of the newest dances, I may not be brave enough to try. I would prefer to spin, spin, spin and laugh and grab hold of my partner’s hand to keep from tumbling to the floor.

I asked my mother to listen intently to Bob Hope this evening so I wouldn’t miss anything on his radio show. I almost wished I could just wipe off my makeup and wear my housecoat and lounge in front of the RCA. But I would die of embarrassment to miss my date.

Skirt ironed. Collar stiff. Cheeks rouged. Lips painted. I’d like a small wedding at the church I suppose. Only three children. My mother has five and she is always cooking. I don’t enjoy cooking the way she does. It’s always too hot in the kitchen and my blouse is constantly damp with sweat. I most likely look like one of those overly athletic girls with the shine on my nose.

The night was long. So long it felt as if it were two separate days merged into one. My feet ache and my throat is raw from so much talking and laughing. I know mother won’t mind if I’m late tonight. My date had changed my dance card so that his name was on every other line. I felt a warmth in my cheeks when I had seen this. He was very forward. I could tell he wanted to dance closer but our chaperons were older and very old fashioned. He had brushed his hand over mine when he walked me home though, much to my delight.

I had tried a glass of champagne for the first time. I couldn’t even twist my braids properly the room was spinning. I gave up and flopped on my bed. I thought of him nervously asking me to see the latest Robert Montgomery picture with him next Saturday. I detested Robert Montgomery films but smiled dreamily thinking of sitting so close to him.

My eyes grew heavy and I yawned deeply. I hummed a Doris Day tune until I felt my consciousness drifting away.

The Death Silencer (Portrait of A Guild Member)

He came to us having fought many battles.

Not illustrious as most of our warriors, but strong hearted.

He stayed to himself mostly at first, fighting beside us but sleeping and dining alone.

As our numbers grew, we needed to explore farther in the world.

And we needed volunteers that would represent us well to the other tribes and guilds.

Fierce warriors and competent healers. Battle leaders without fear.

This newest member to our guild stood before our Empress and bowed in a symbol that he too would join us in our travels.

She had doubts as did we all. He was not strong enough, we thought.

Our Empress had him stand and questioned him,

She asked, “This journey is not for the faint of heart. There will be death and evil following at your heels.”

She continued, “Perilous terrain and ancient magic… why do you stand before me? You wish to die?”

He spoke, ” If I die, I die for you, in your name.”

She laughed, shortly, “You die in MY name? What am I to you? You have not been here long, what loyalty could you have for us?”

He bowed again, ” I do not possess many titles or have as glorious achievements as your other warriors. But I have a sword that I have blessed with the blood of my ancestors and my loyalty, when given, is to THE DEATH. I came here from across the land and sea because I heard your call. I have seen many leaders and many that command more bloodthirsty guilds, but your kindness and heart has gathered the most noble and honorable fighters in all of this world. They have laid down their lives for you and so must I. It is my destiny and you cannot convince me otherwise.”

Kneeling down so she was eye to eye with the warrior, she spoke very slowly and deliberately, “What is your name, warrior?”

“I am the Silencer of Death, and I am now yours.”

“Death Silencer, go with our men and women to the lands of the Queen of the South, the Jungle lands. Defeat her and end her reign. Prove to me there that you love me as you say. Bring all of my people home safely and you will get your titles and my love in return.”

We travelled south with the Silencer of Death across mountains dry as deserts for weeks upon weeks.

We came upon the gates of the Queen of the South.

Our Battle Leader cried out for us to harness our bravery for the honor of the Empress.

“Magic is here my friends, be wary.”

Our group trekked through the gates and the air became unbearably humid.

We drew our weapons and our healers gathered their potions.

Through the jungle, killing unnatural and aggressive creatures that followed us and hid among the trees.

Traps set by the Queen’s spies were detected by the mystics that travelled with us.

We reached the Queen’s throne upon which she sat, arrogant and tempting, with seemingly no defense.

Our Battle Leader spoke to her,

“We have come to defeat you and end your reign of night and death, in the name of—“

“I KNOW for whom you fight,” she snarled.

She stood. We trembled in her glory and beauty.

“She has tried to take my best warriors! For a ‘better’ purpose they told me…… but If they cannot be loyal to me, they will be loyal to no one!”

She waved her arm to her side and the trees parted slightly to reveal a gruesome sight. Men and women garbed in full battle gear, their bodies twisted and deformed. Dead.

“Try your very best, peasants. For I will kill you all in MY NAME.” She let forth a bloodthirsty scream.

Our Battle Leader, hardened by war, had no fear of this lady of dark magic.

He let loose the warrior’s battle cry which strengthened us all.

And we advanced.

As we did we saw dark creatures with no faces crawl out from behind the Queen’s throne and double in size before our very eyes. Sharp teeth and hands with a mystical glow.

Our best warriors ran towards the creatures and dodged attacks of magic and of their sharp ripping claws. They used their sheer will and determination to cut these creatures down. We used our shields to protect our healers who were chanting to keep us alive.

As our strongest group bettered the last of the dark creatures and approached the Queen once again, they were lifted up in a gust of mighty wind, turning them and twisting them in pain. They screamed out.

Our healers stood and used their magic to no avail.

The Queen laughed.

The rest of the Warriors ran past our brothers and sisters writhing in agony in the air, to stop the evil Queen’s spell. Only to be thrown backwards.

We faced certain defeat.

The Death Silencer stood back and had not tried to attack once.

The Battle Leader yelled down towards him, in a tortured voice, “You owe the Empress your life. FIGHT, at least try to fight. We need every…..last…soul….”

“I know.” He spoke softly.

He drew open his cloak and we could see his hands and arms trembling and from his fingertips there was a magic light. Slowly he held his arms out pointing this light at the Queen.

“What is THIS?” she shrieked.

He let out almost a disappointed sigh and turned his hands towards the warriors, near-death still twisting and turning in air.

Our remaining warriors screamed at him to stop. Our Battle Leader closed his eyes to accept the death from this traitor.

“What? Oh this is grand! You are going to kill your own? Oh this is grand indeed.” She spun around laughing in glee.

She spoke to the Death Silencer, “Let me help you.”

With an evil smile she cancelled her spell and our warriors dropped to the ground harshly. Most too weak to even lift their heads.

“At your will, kind sir.” The Queen of the South presented our fallen men and women as an easy target for this man with magic he had kept hidden from us all.

He took a deep breath and let loose his magic on our people.  And as his light surrounded them and they let out moans and the Queen continued to laugh, a most peculiar thing happened.

The leaves from the trees surrounding us began to fall. They turned a brilliant green and fell. When they reached a fallen warrior, that warrior was overcome with a warm feeling of well-being and health.

Our strongest warriors began to rise.

“Deception! You, you are a HEALER??” The Queen raised her arms and the sky darkened.

She threw a gust of blisteringly hot air to rip through us all. We would be boiled alive.

But when her spell reached the front of our peoples it simply ran over and around us.

We were unharmed.

A great scream rose up from behind us.

The Death Silencer was on his knees, hands outstretched, holding onto some sort of protection spell that was shielding us all. But it was causing him agony.

Seeing this, our Battle Leader, now at full strength let loose his battle cry once more.

We rushed forth in an onslaught and as easy as any mortal, we slay the Queen.

In a great celebratory spirit we turned to see the Death Silencer lying on the cold ground, unconscious.

“We must get him back to the Empress. He saved us all.”

And so we travelled in half the time it had taken to arrive, back home.

We were greeted with a great Victory Celebration.

The Death Silencer, who had not regained consciousness still, was laid before the Empress.

“Leave us please.” The Empress walked to his side.

The Empress, herself possessing great magic, lay her hand on the chest of The Death Silencer. And his eyes opened.

“I am not a great healer like you are, so I cannot return you to full health. Only time and the help of our healers will do this.”  She placed her other hand upon his brow.

“I am so very sorry Empress,” he whispered.

“Sorry? For saving all of our people and returning them home? Yes I could see why you would be sorry, ” she teased.

He let out a weak laugh. “No. I wanted to be a warrior for you. To fight your battles. I’m not a healer….”

“But you are.” Her voice softened.  “You know the only people that come when I call? People with greatness inside them. With good. You are a competent warrior but not a great one. There is no shame in that. You have a great power that saved us all. I am proud of you. And I thank you.”

She walked away from him, “I must leave you now. I have arranged for our best healers to help you and for a celebration in your honor. You have your title which we will talk about when you are stronger and, Silencer of Death, you have my love.”

When the Death Silencer was once again strong he was instated to the High Council of the Empress. The only people who held posts here were the most trusted and beloved members of the guild.

He gradually gained more control over his powers of healing and became the personal healer of the Empress. He fought in every major battle for the rest of the guild’s history.

When the guild was disbanded, he was made to move on and could not stay with the Empress. But even to this day, he loves her still.