My entry for this week’s #BlogBattle challenge by Rachael Ritchey, where the challenge is to write a short story based on that week’s chosen word. Visit the link to read more about it! Anyone can participate, and it’s a great way to hone one’s writing skills! This week’s word is: “Silver.” This is part 4 of the short story/flash fiction series: Clover. If you haven’t read it yet, please do.
Over a month had passed since the soldiers of their Forest village departed for battle. Soon, news would come. Any day now, the Casualty Notifiers would arrive, sent back from the warfront to inform the city and its neighboring villages of the casualty count, so far. After that would come the grim task of delivering news and collected dog tags of the fallen soldiers to their family and loved ones. Any day now.
Clover peeked out the window, checking the streets and village below once more, before scurrying out the classroom door after her classmates. With the school day over, nerves were getting the better of her; she needed something else to do, anything to occupy her mind from grim thoughts. The warm air and shade greeted her as she stepped outside the school, its structure like a tree house playing on the branches of the massive, ancient oak.
Urgent whispers caught her ears’ attention, and she looked where one student was pointing to a friend. Two Casualty Notifiers had entered the village; she could see them stopping at one of the houses. She felt the urge to run; dropping her backpack, she sprinted in the opposite direction.
She didn’t stop running until she reached the small meadow where she and Fhern had often played growing up. She sat down in a patch of clover, and drew knees up to her chin. Her hands wouldn’t stop shaking. She would wait until the Notifiers were gone, even if it took late into the night. She wasn’t going back to the house until they were gone.
“Brother isn’t dead. I know he isn’t,” she talked to herself, rocking back and forth. “They won’t stop by the house. It’s other houses they’re here for…not mine.”
Light through the high canopy dimmed and took on a mellow orange hue while the day faded into sunset. She waited, unmoving from the clover patch. Sunset began fading, and the sounds and life of night slowly crept back into existence.
She heard a clumsy thump, and then felt a rough snout nudge her shoulder from behind. She didn’t have to look. “Brokeart. I don’t have any snacks for you.”
The purple scaled dragon grumbled, and circled around her. Now the size of a small house, his tail easily wrapped around her. She shoved it off, “You’re too heavy. You’re not a baby anymore. Stop bothering me.” The dragon cocked his head, rumbling as if asking why she was in a rotten mood. She looked away. “I’m not mad at you. Just…want to be alone.” He laid down beside her and curled up to sleep for the night. She rolled her eyes, “So much for saying that.” Her hand stroked the smooth scales, reflecting a silver moon through the trees.
“Don’t run away from your problems, or they’ll create more problems.” She could hear Brother say. “And if my problem is that you’re dead, how am I supposed to face that?” Idiot Fhern. She wiped her eyes. Maybe the Notifiers were gone, now; she should get back to the safety of the village before it grew any darker.
A knock echoed on the door. It wasn’t yet dawn in the world beyond the window. She stood before the door. She didn’t want to answer it, but the knocking wouldn’t stop.
“Miss Clover? This is the Notification Officer and Consoler. We must speak with you. Please, open the door.”
She didn’t move.
Finally, her body moved on its own, unlocking the door.
The two fairymen greeted her with a head bow, and she returned the gesture. “It is with great sorrow that we come here today,” said the officer, a rehearsed speech. “We come to inform you that your brother, Soldier Fhern, was fallen in battle three days ago. The dog tags have been recovered from his armor.” He held out a small leather purse. Stoic, she took it in calm hands, and dumped the contents into her palms: twin rectangle pieces of plated silver bearing her brother’s name and information engraved.
“…Are you sure?” she murmured, staring down at the pieces. “Did you see his body? Was he there?”
The officer frowned as if it was an odd thing she asked. “Dog tags are secured on the inside of the chestplate, so unless his armor came off in battle, his body would be present with the tags, Miss.”
“But you, your own eyes, didn’t see him?” she persisted.
“It wasn’t my job. I’m only here to report what was found on the recent battle field.” She stared down, and his mouth moved to say more, and the Consoler moved to take a step near, but she shut the door, shutting them and the world out.
Her legs collapsed from under her. On the floor, she fingered the tags, their silver shine catching light through a distant window. “Fhern…” the silver was then hidden by the clench of her shaking hands, “You said you would come back to me! Idiot brother, you couldn’t keep a simple promise.” She slumped against the door. “I can’t…” She bit her lip until it bled. “…What am I supposed to do without you?”
Dappled light played on a last bit of exposed silver, winking in and out, as if waving goodbye. In her mind she could make out his face, one last smile before waving and turning away as he had on that last day…
“You’re a smart girl; I know you’ll be okay without me here….”
She refused to believe him.
With this, Clover’s story will be put on hold for a little while. You can browse through other short stories, meanwhile! I have future plans for Clover and her brother, and I need time to set everything up. It will be an introduction to the world of V.Chronicles, a prequel that will give you further insight into the world’s history before the first book in the series takes place. This prequel’s title so far will be:
“The Fairy, The Hunter, And The Quest For Fhern”
Crazy title, but it has your attention, I hope? 😉 Stay tuned! In the meantime, sign up to the email list to be kept up-to-speed on this project. And “follow” the blog if you aren’t already! (it’s that button on the side bar)
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