The End (version 2)

The night you said you loved me, the stars fell into the lake. We sat on a hill watching them approach from the horizon. Pinpricks winked out and tails of flame extinguished themselves in the water. I wondered what would happen when the sky was empty.

You looked into my eyes and I said nothing, but thought if the world is ending, at least you’re holding my hand.

Help a Blogger Out, Will Ya?

Hi, Friends! Want to do me a favor? Well, are you willing to? It won’t take long, I promise…

 

If you’ve been keeping up with my world of words for a long time, you may have noticed that a little rating feature has appeared on each post, in the form of a row of stars (blue for posts, green for pages). I added this last week, and have since gotten one rating on one post. It was exciting at first, but now it just points glaringly to the lack of overall ratings.

Here is where the favor comes in: If you remember any posts that you liked, could you take a moment to locate and rate them? I’d particularly appreciate ratings on my fiction, but if you feel like rating more blog-type blog posts, I’d gladly accept them too.

If you’re newer to the blog, or don’t remember many posts you’ve read, I’d be so grateful if you would go read a few and rate them. Pick from Top Posts or the category cloud on the right side of the blog.

I believe all ratings are anonymous, but if you feel inclined to let me know you rated something, comment on this post or the one/s you rated.

I won’t go into any updates or excerpts right now, in an effort to keep it simple. So, thank you in advance for helping me out with this. And if you choose not to, that’s all right to, I still appreciate you reading.

Helen: Chapter 2, part 2

Click here to read part 1 of chapter 2.

When the nurse finally accompanied Helen into the main hall for the celebrations, Clytemnestra was already there, but Tyndareus was not, nor were their new guests. Disappointed, Helen moved toward her sister, who was currently circling the hall in a half-hearted inspection of the room. Helen slipped her hand into Clytemnestra’s and joined her in looking over the festive additions to the room. Gauzy golden fabric had been hung over and between the usual tapestries – well out of the way of the torches, which had all been lit, as the sun was obscured behind thunderclouds – making the room seem to glow. Numerous polished platters of food covered every surface. Musicians tuned lyres and harps.

“There are more musicians than usual,” Helen noticed.

“They are going to great trouble with the entertainment for Hector, I imagine,” Clytemnestra commented sagely. “I heard that there will be dancers later tonight.”

“I don’t understand… no other land’s princes come to stay with us, and Father doesn’t usually stay so long away from us. Why do we do all of this for the Trojans?”

Clytemnestra sighed. “You were very young the last time Father voyaged to Troy. He was gone for a long time – not as long as this time, but longer than I can recall him being away in any other kingdom. I don’t know why any more than you do, but there is something about Troy that makes it special to him. And Helen, don’t ask such questions in front of the Trojans. It will seem ungracious.”

Helen did not understand why she should have to be so gracious, but she was excited to have a brother at last and would rather not insult Hector. With this in mind, she agreed to show only happiness and hospitability in the Trojans’ presence.

Lightning flashed. It must have struck an arm’s length from the castle, for the shimmering fabric decorating the walls lit the room to impossible brightness. It appeared like all lightning, powerful but fleeting. It was over before Helen had a chance to properly admire the effect. The room seemed unbearably dim in comparison, with torches as the only source of illumination, although she liked how everything seemed to glitter. While the gray clouds grew darker outside, the hall felt like a cozy, dreamy nymph-dwelling.

Clytemnestra and Helen, completing their first circuit around the hall, met their father’s brother Icarius at the main entrance. They each received a cordial greeting from him, then a warm embrace. Their affection for him was nothing like what they felt for their father, but still very strong.

“Is Father coming out soon, Uncle?” Helen asked, unable to contain her excitement.

“As soon as he can, little one,” Icarius answered, patting Helen’s cheek lightly. “He had a few matters to see to before the feast – needs to get caught up on the past year before he can get back to running the kingdom. It’s a lot of information to study, but don’t worry. He knows how much his daughters want to see him.”

Icarius excused himself, joining a group of the Spartans who had accompanied Tyndareus to Troy. He had grown up with them and missed their company in the past months. A goblet of wine in his hand, Icarius was soon exclaiming and laughing as animatedly as any of the Spartan warriors.

Another half an hour passed, and neither Tyndareus nor Hector had yet appeared. Helen wondered whether it would be more polite for Tyndareus to arrive first, making him present to welcome their royal guest, or for Hector to come out and wait for the king of his new host country. She wondered if their opinions on the matter would be the same.

She would have asked Clytemnestra, but her sister had claimed a sofa and was currently picking delicious-looking morsels from a golden plate at a leisurely pace. The plates of gold, Helen’s nurse had told her, were special and few, nearly always reserved for the royalty. Helen only saw them brought out for feasts; she was provided ceramic and silver dishes for everyday use. It distracted her momentarily, seeing that golden plate. They were so polished, bright, rare, that she loved to eat off of them. She began to wander toward the food, in search of her own golden plate. When she found it, she would, as always, briefly inspect her reflection. It was not often that she had the chance to see herself in a plate’s surface, and the novelty always amused her.

Helen had hardly begun her treasure hunt when she heard Tyndareus’ arrival announced. She did not wait to see him, but sprinted toward the door, weaving between bodies when they blocked her way. Her small, perfectly formed feet (her nurse had commented on the shapeliness of her feet many times as she did the laces on Helen’s sandals) carried her swiftly to the entrance, where she ran headlong into her father’s arms. He staggered back one step as her force hit him, chuckling deeply.

“I’m so glad to see you, dear daughter. You look lovely. What a pretty belt of ribbons.”

Her father always noticed things like that. Helen smiled broadly. “Thank you, Father.”

An especially loud crack of lightning resounded through the room, flashing several times before it was gone. Startled, Helen gripped her father’s arm until the lightning stopped. The scowl on his face made her nervous. It was the expression he always wore when a thunderstorm became particularly violent, or a lightning strike was especially close.

That one, drawn out bolt signaled the end of the storm. The rain soon abated to a few drops here and there. Once Tyndareus had said a fond hello to Clytemnestra, he made his way to the head of the long table in the room’s center. Some of the men sat with him. Tyndareus promised them his full attention once he had taken advantage of the food, and they laughed, their spirits no doubt lifted by the ceasing of the rain. In no time at all, the clouds had melted from the sky, leaving them with a view of a lovely twilight.

Twinkling pinpricks of stars were slowly dotting the sky, soon to be filled with thousands of bright lights, when Hector led the Trojans into the hall. …To be continued

Write About Anything: “Insomnia”

In the night I lie in bed. Stars, invisible through ceilings and city air, burn through me, through the body of the earth and out the other side, until their light and life-force collides with the light from other stars. I am awake, but dreaming. My mind leads me to places fantastic and mundane, images of what will happen tomorrow and things that will never happen, specters I will never meet. Fairies chuckling and monsters shimmering. I suspect that if I saw such things in real life, I would be unable to look directly at them for fear of them disappearing, or of them being too real. And when at last I drift off, the dreams I have in sleep are fuzzy and unformed. I wake feeling unrefreshed, as if my lucid half-nightmares beckon to me, enticing me back into their world.

The End

One night the stars fell into the lake. Side by side we watched, wondering if the world was ending. I thought: if this is the end, at least I’m holding your hand.

Note: This is one of my favorite microfictions that I have written. If I ever publish a collection, I plan to put this one first.