Monday, March 25, 2013

The Duel

            It was numbing. A revelation. It was so unexpected, shock set in faster than expected. The air was silent for a long while as John and Marie realized how much they’d hurt each other. They dropped their swords and stood in awe of the bloody carnage they had caused. Marie held her hand on her chest over a long slash from John’s blade. John clutched his left side where Marie had pierced him and nearly run him through.

            “Why didn’t you tell me,” asked John as he staggered and wavered on his feet.
            “I didn’t want you to know,” said Marie.

            Marie fell backwards into a lounge chair in the study where their pitched battle had left the room in ruins. Books they bought together were strewn about and the globe they picked out on vacation to India was shattered on the floor. The large wooden desk was flipped on its side and had crashed into the glass case of the items collected from Egypt.  Blood was ebbing down the front of Marie’s night dress through her hands. John tried to walk toward her but stumbled on the Ottoman Marie had thrown at him early on in their heated duel. He fell to a knee in front of Marie.

            “Now, you get on your knee,” said Marie as she tried to straighten herself in the chair.
            “Very funny,” said John.

            John slid along the floor closer to Marie and pulled himself by the arm of the lounge chair so he could look at her beautiful face.

            “Why did it have to come to this,” he asked, “we are so in love. Why this then?”
            “Because you’re a fool. And I’m a fool,” said Marie.

            She placed a hand on the top of John’s head and gently smoothed his sweat matted hair from his forehead. John closed his eyes and let himself feel the softness of her hand. He let her hand slide down his face and he kissed it gently as it passed by his lips. He reached up and took her hand in his.

            “We are fools aren’t we? No two bigger fools ever walked this Earth,” said John.
            “Well, you’re a bigger fool than me,” smiled Marie.
            John rested his head on Marie’s knee and tried to catch his breath. He felt it getting more labored but still felt the urge to laugh. It was something he and Marie could always do together no matter what. They laughed together at most things.

            “Remember how you threw the candelabra at me and shouted ‘How about a little fire scarecrow’. Where did that come from,” asked John.
            “I knew you’d laugh at that. It was to my advantage,” said Marie.
            “I did laugh, but you laughed too. The advantage was sort of lost then,” said John.

            Marie smiled down at John as he looked up at her. Their blood was now mixing on the floor about the lounge chair, staining the open books at their feet.

            “I wish we’d worked on our relationship as hard as we did our fencing skills,” said Marie.
            “Me too darling, me too. I’m afraid we’ve cut each other too deep this time to recover,” said John.

            A painted portrait of the two hung over the mantle over the large roaring fire in the fire place. The wood crackled and popped as the flames licked the wood. The portrait of Marie and John was bathed in the alternating shadow and light of the flickering flames. Their portrait still expressed the optimism in their young eyes but also seemed to now judge them as they clutched each other in their nearing death.  

            “My love,” asked John.
            “Yes my love,” said Marie.

            John struggled up to his feet and tried not to groan. He straightened his suit jacket and fixed his collar. Marie looked up at him.

            “Will you dance with me,” asked John as he stretched out his hand.

            Marie smiled and reached up to John’s waiting hand.

            “I’d love too,” said Marie.

            John pulled her up from the chair and they fell into each others arms and stood in the middle of the study. Marie rested her head on John’s shoulder and he started to hum to her in her ear. They swayed in each other arms in the firelight as dusk turned to night outside. 

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