Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cymbaline's Duel

Nikolai shifted the box in his hands, licking his lips nervously. Emile was standing on the opposite side of the field, staring at him in a sort of angry horror. Nik clutched the box tighter, and cast a nervous glance toward Tomas, who stood beside him. “I don’t know if I can kill him, Tomas. Emile was my friend once.”

“It’s a matter of honor. Shoot into the trees and it’s done. Emile doesn’t want to kill you either.”

Nikolai nodded slowly. “He’s angry; I wish we didn’t have to go through any of this.”

Tomas clapped him on the shoulders. “Nik, look who Emile brought as his second.” He gestured toward the edge of the field, where a fourth person was joining them. “Would he let his sister come if he was serious about this?”

Nik frowned. “You don’t know Emile. Cymbaline is an even better shot than he is.”

Meanwhile, at the other end of the field, Cymbaline was shifting her weight from foot to foot. Her trigger finger itched, and she eyed the pistols that Nikolai and Tomas were handling.

“Why does he get to pick the weapons?”

“Challenger’s choice, dear,” Emile replied. Cymbaline ignored his condescending tone- he might be dead in ten minutes, she couldn’t afford to be annoyed with him.

From the other side, Tomas called impatiently, “Shall we get this over with, then?”

Emile nodded, drawing his lips tightly together. “Get the pistol for me, Linnie. Don’t want them to see…” he trailed off, but Cymbaline looked down at his hands. They shook more than usual. The doctor had said the disease was getting better, but he still couldn’t manage fine work. Gossip said it was a curse, but Linnie believed the physician- and Emile had never been a healthy man.

She ran back quickly and handed her brother the pistol.

Before he took his position, Emile grabbed her arm. “You do know that I never meant anything, don’t you? The remark he took offense to- he misheard- I could never-“

“I know, Emile.” Linnie kissed his cheek. “Do me a favor and don’t die.”

The crunch of fall’s leaves was deafening under his boots as Emile took his position. He heard Tomas’s voice with an awful, supernatural clarity from the other end of the field...

© Mariel Redwood

1 comment:

  1. Oh, dear. You were too weak to post the ending...